Since time immemorial, security and safety have remained one of the fundamental responsibilities of those in government to the people they govern. Governments all over the world at different levels pay close attention to the security apparatus that exist in their domain. Any threat to securing lives and ensuring the safety of the citizenry connotes an attack on government sovereignty and legitimacy.
The challenges of ensuring security have in recent times become enormous and herculean. This is because many youths, due to the collapse of societal values, have plunged into dangerous acts of criminality.
The mindset of diligence and uprightness amongst the young people had since been jettisoned for corner-cutting to get quick but short-term success. Another very crucial point to note as a cause of the complexity in combating crimes in our society is the overwhelming unemployment rate, which has remained unattended to until recently.
While some of the idle youths have taken to the social many media to vent their resentment and antagonism in the social media, majority of them have become willing tools in the hands of agents of evil operating in the underworld. What we now have as crop of leaders of tomorrow in the country are the later day generation of Nigerians that erstwhile presidential spokesman and renowned columnist, Dr Reuben Abati, once described as “idle and idling twittering collective children of anger”.This explains why the responsibilities of any governor of Kogi, a confluence state which shares boundaries with about 10 states of different ethnic disposition, become more tedious given the influx people into the state without restrictions.
Governor Yahaya Bello, inception of his administration on January 27, 2016, had a distinct understanding that as chief executive officer of the state, he was under obligation to ensure that the people whom he now governs are adequately secured.
Previous administrations allowed the security condition in the state to deteriorate into a deplorable state of anarchy which could be best described in Thomas Hobbes’ presentation of a situation where life was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”.
Governor Bello, with his New Direction Administration, refused to settle for this status quo. He became even bloody and resolute in his determination to nip in the bud acts of criminality and their sources in the confluence state.
A critical comparison of the volatile security condition before he came on board and the evident progresses made by his administration within the first six months till date has since become a model other governors have adopted.
These success stories have also attracted awards from stakeholders within the country’s security strata. For instance, between January and June 2016 Kogi State recorded 167 kidnapping cases in the Central senatorial district, 42 in the Eastern senatorial district and 39 in the WSestern senatorial district.
This ugly situation was however brought down in July 2016 following the concerted efforts by the Bello administration. As at today, only isolated cases are being recorded in the state. Before Bello assumed office in 2016, acts of terrorism held sway with records of attacks on churches, residences and security offices. Boko Haram cells, which served as factories for manufacturing IEDs, were discovered in several parts of the state between 2011 and 2012.
Several police stations were attacked between 2011 and 2015. The office of the Department of State Security Service (DSS) in Lokoja was attacked on September 25, 2015, leaving three people dead while some terror suspects kept in the facility were freed.
Another ugly case was an attack on the Deeper Life Bible Church, Okene, on June 8, 2012 where 19 worshippers were killed. Several other attacks and killings were also recorded in Okene and its environs within the period. Boko Haram cells were discovered in several parts of the state between 2011 where IEDs were made.
A total of 16 bank robberies happened in various banks across the state between 2011 and 2015. However, the situation was brought under control by the administration of Yahaya Bello. It is on record that only UBA Odo-Ere was attacked in 2016. Besides, the state government also inherited a situation where there was seemingly low level of collaborations and synergy amongst the security agencies in the state. There was a poorly structured intelligence mechanism, lack of right logistics for security agencies to operate and we had a state proliferated with political thuggery.
It was quite imperative that these security challenges required immediate solutions if the administration was ever interested in successfully delivering on its plans and programmes to move the confluence state towards a New Direction. These proffered strategic solutions required action, and Bello, in the last four years of his administration, ensured that the state moves truly towards the New Direction, especially in the area of securing the lives of the people of the state.
Measures put in place by the administration include the establishment of a well-structured intelligence gathering mechanism, creating the needed synergy among the security agencies in the state for smoother operation and intelligence sharing, identification of critical stakeholders like traditional rulers, youth leaders, women leaders as well as ensuring that they were incorporated as vital security stakeholders in the state.
The state, in order to improve on intelligence gathering, established the Kogi Vigilante Service (KVS) and has so far recruited and trained over 6,000 operatives in the last four years. This singular act has recorded huge success in intelligence gathering by ensuring that these operatives assist security operatives to gather intelligence within their locality.
Some of this information, which might be inaccessible by other mainstream security agencies because of their lack of understanding of the terrain or the localities are now accessible because the local vigilantes have perfect understanding of the language and the terrain, allowing them to easily penetrate and access valid information.
The Bello administration remains optimistic that it would continue to expand such programmes and ensure that these operatives are available in all nooks and crannies of the state, as they complement the efforts of other security agencies in the state.
Kogi State amidst concern of meager available resources has continued to prioritize the security of its people. This is portrayed in the huge capital and recurrent investment it has made so far in the last four years of the Bello administration.
Some of these huge spending include the purchase, maintenance and fueling of over 160 vehicles provided for security agencies and building of a Forward Operation Base (FOB) for the Nigerian Army in Okene, which gulped over N270 million. Theswe, no doubt, have helped to moved Kogi State from its scary and gory past of insecurity to a confluence of peace and tranquility.
Similarly, the monthly payment of about N58million to Kogi vigilantes, payment of about N50million monthly allowances as well as introduction of a whistleblowing policy with a reward of N500,000 for persons with reliable information to foist any act of criminality or nab perpetrators of crime have boosted the morale of security operatives and sincere citizens.
The state has, in recent times, infused technological advancements into its crime combating apparatus as it recently commissioned a quick emergency reporting and response operation centre in Lokoja codenamed Operation Total Freedom.
The Vigiscope (Vgs) Operation centre is a technological incorporated security driven initiative of the Governor Bello-led administration in partnership with a private company (Vigiscope Limited). The governor believes that security has transcended beyond manual operations, and the state is obliged to follow suit. Bello is also optimistic that the new operation centre would improve the level of security currently in place in the state.
The vital truth is that the project of security is quite expensive, but Governor Bello has remained resolute that nothing can ever be too much to expend on the security and safety of the lives and property of the people. As an administration, its belief is founded on the premise that once security is guaranteed other aspects of the people’s life would also thrive and as such, the desire to deliver a secured Kogi State can never be overrated.
In the last quarter of 2019, cult activities resurfaced in tertiary institutions across the state. The state governor summoned all heads of higher institutions for an extraordinary security meeting on January 3, 2020 and gave a stern warning that any Vice Chancellor, Rector and Provost who cannot curb the menace of cultism on the campus should resign before February 28, 2020.
With this directive and the internal security network, over 14 cultists have so far been apprehended while carrying out their illicit activities at different parts of the state between January 8 and February 20, 2020. In the same vein, over 200 people belonging to different confraternities denounced their membership at the Prince Abubakar Audu University, Anyigba on Friday, February 28, 2020.
The administration of Governor Bello, no doubt, has recorded unprecedented achievements in the area of security and the fight against crimes in the state, just as he has done in other sectors. All that is required is for the citizens of the confluence state to continue to give their unalloyed support to the government in its quest to provide good governance for the people.
– Onogwu is Chief Press Secretary to Kogi State governor.