Osun State Economic and Investment Summit is reportedly put on hold! Earlier scheduled to take place between June 25 and 27, 2019, reports have it that the postponement was not unconnected with the security situation across the country, from which Osun State is not isolated. If this is the true position, then, the decision was a buck well spent.
Without being immodest, the South West as a bloc is in need of programmes and policies that can help it recalibrate its socioeconomic consciousness. But can there be economic prosperity in the face of diverse development challenges on the socio-political-cum-economic front? So, needless to repeat that the just-concluded South West Security Summit, organised to “sustain the status of” the region “as the safest to live, invest and recreate” was timely.
In their separate addresses on the occasion, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State advocated state police in “policing lapses in the country”, while Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State urged his counterparts to “invest heavily in technology to be ahead and win the war” because “security wars are fought and won on the altars of intelligence gathering, planning and implementation.”
Well, it is no longer news that security is a current issue that has become relevant globally. The presence of it brings about prosperity while the absence of it leads to general social instability! Even in its narrowest sense, investments are secured only when the people feel secured. For us in the Southwest, insecurity has for some time become the greatest geopolitical threat and it is as if the powers-that-be are caught napping.
Basically, growing population amidst haemorrhaging economy, high rate of unemployment, poor, or decaying infrastructure, and unholy alliances between poor budgeting and implementation are some of the hindrances facing security in this part of the country. Besides, bad governance, influx of light arms from neighbouring countries, porous borders, coupled with our politicians’ “use-of-thugs-and-dump” attitude have also been seen to be responsible for a climate of fear and insecurity. Others are unprofessional conducts that are capable of tampering with intelligence, lack of 21st century-compliant equipment, poor selection process and training, poor salary and motivation, and lack of intra- and inter-agency collaborations among those that are statutorily saddled with the responsibility of protecting lives and property in the region.
Indeed, Nigerians expect President Muhammadu Buhari to proactively degrade this sense of shame that is currently troubling our Israel before he returns to Daura with his “reputation of integrity” in 2023. But then, history has shown without fail that the Southwest is one region whose rich heritage can’t be blackmailed or contaminated with illegitimate steps. Owu war (1820-1827), Ijaye revolt (1860-1865), Kiriji conflict (1877-1893), Ogun Adubi (1918), Operation Wetie (1962), Agbekoya uprising (1968-1969), even the violent protests which attended the outcomes of the 1983 elections, have presented the region as a no-nonsense zone when it comes to the protection of lives and property of its people.
Let it be known to the invaders that if the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, wants to live true to his office, it is possible to invoke the primordial powers to come to the rescue of Yorubaland, but that may not augur well for a society as modern as ours. Why did I say so? The geographical spread of the South West is not one where hoodlums cannot be fingered and flushed out because there are no abandoned or uninhabited lands in the whole region. Even, the hills belong to somebody! So, whoever doubts the powers of these ancient gods to act when their help is sought may end up blaming himself. It is therefore time the president woke up from his classic castle-in-the-sky mode and does something before this crisis snowballs into wars that are capable of consuming the entire country. Take it or leave it: if there is peace in the Southwest, there will be peace in Nigeria. It is as simple as that!
The DAWN Strategy Roadmap urges “the South West people” to “use the current national situation … as an opportunity to raise awareness and enlarge surveillance capacity”, based on “local knowledge and community ownership.” While I have no problems with State or Community Policing as a way out of this crisis, can this prescription be a “cure-all” indigenous strategy and how do we define its selection process and ‘rules of engagement’, especially, in a deeply confusing clime that recklessly places personal benefices above communal togetherness? Won’t its broth perceive the odour of the frustration and ‘order-from-above’ that corrupted similar efforts in the past? Can restructuring do the trick of tenderness and the freedom of healing in this interesting microcosm, where ethnic and political divisions are deep; and where life is with each passing day becoming cheap? Above all, how far can the creation of vigilance groups go as a remedy for insecurity in our region?
As Fayemi remarked at the event: “All criminal activities are heavy but they are not insurmountable.” To get out of this security mess therefore, the welfare of the officers and men who are putting their lives on the line to secure the lives and property of Nigerians must be prioritized while legislations which prescribe stiffer penalties for perpetrators of, and willing collaborators in crime must be put in place and seen to be effectively operational. While not sparing social media users with bad intentions, activities of fifth columnists and disgruntled politicians who are criminally bent on rubbishing the government because it is being led by a Fulani man should also be looked into. The possibility of the so-called bandits being active members of the Boko Haram on a mission to source funds from the South West for its activities in the North East is another angle that must be interrogated.
If resources also permit, investments in technology to determine who rules us as well as the establishment of Security or Traffic Radio to give information on the security situations in the region will go a long way in curbing the menace of insecurity. Lastly, benefits of installation of massive hidden security cameras (CCTVs) in strategic places across the South West are also enormous.
May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in the South West!
. Komolafe writes from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria and can be reached via [email protected].