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ON LAGOS’ PECULIAR SECURITY CHALENGE

Idris Olokodana

The reason for increase in crime rate in Nigeria is clear: Breeding grounds for crime is widening every day. The country is witnessing population explosion without any concrete corresponding development plan in place. Presently, policy makers across the country are unable to take advantage of the population bulge. Law enforcement infrastructure and practices were not enhanced in accordance with the expanding population and emerging crime trends. The weakness of the system has provided space for criminals to encroach into the available breeding grounds for crime at will.  Regrettably, increasing street crimes in the cities, moral and financial crimes across the board and existence of militia and ethnic-based crimes and criminals not only expose the system but also the failure of the nation.

Undoubtedly, the security situation in the country remains precarious. People are still quite cautious about moving freely within the country, even in broad daylight while greater doom awaits those whose legitimate activities revolves working round the clock or mostly at nights.  Rather than reducing, the scale of kidnapping, robbery attacks, ritual killings, murder and other devious crimes, appear to continue at a skyrocket rate.

Yet, globally public security is the primary duty of any government, be it federal, state or local government. The public security consciousness of any government is ultimately an indicator of its public acceptance. This is because public security is one of the most prominent factors that determines good governance and guarantees the extent of socio-economic growth and development.

The dilemma with our pseudo federal system of government is one where governors are called chief security officers of their respective States but are without control over relevant security agencies. The Nigerian constitution does not allow State police, whereas it allocates security votes to States. The implication of this is that bad leaders are also exposed to crime which is the reason why fingers are often pointed at some governors for the criminal’s activities of certain crimes within their States.

Being a cosmopolitan bursting city that rarely goes to sleep, Lagos, no doubt, has peculiar security challenges.  Its special status of Lagos as the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria and, indeed, West Africa, understandably poses a great threat to public security as diverse people from sundry parts of the world and for different reasons migrate into Lagos on a daily basis. With a population that is close to 24 million out of the country estimated population of 180 million, security challenge in the state is peculiar and therefore needs peculiar solution. Consequently, successive administrations in the state had evolved various strategies to tackle the menace of criminal activities.

Colonel Buba Marwa Administration responded to the menace of criminal activities in the State with a security outfit known as “Operation Sweep”. The outfit was restructured, re-organized and renamed, ‘’Rapid Response Squad’’ (RRS) under Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration who also devised various poverty alleviation programmes as economic infrastructure of fighting crime. Security was also an integral part of the Ten-Point Agenda of immediate past governor of the State, Babatunde Raji Fashola. Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF) was conceived to institutionalise an enduring public/private approach to security challenges in the State by BRF government.

Building on these successes of his predecessors, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, has been working relentlessly, with key stakeholders, to advance security course in the State. To underscore the Ambode’s administration seriousness in ensuring the security of lives and property of Lagosians, the governor has rebranded and repositioned the State’s Rapid Response Squad. Within six month of his assumption of office, he procured and handed over to RRS some equipment which included three helicopters, two patrol boats, 100 motorcycles, 13 BM power bikes, 60 ford salon cars, 55 Ford Rangers, 40 Toyota Land Cruiser SUVs, 31 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) as well as police uniforms and other kits.

Recently, it was discovered that the high rate of crime in the state is not just as a result of unemployment but there are even more crimes committed by illiterate touts who do not have what it takes to be gainfully employed in the society. Identifying these deficiencies, the Lagos state government through the Ministry of Education takes another turn of tackling the crime in the society through a programme aimed at reducing illiteracy in the society. In line with this, the state government launched the educational scheme named EKO N KE KO (Lagos is learning) which is targeted at educating the artisans, tradesmen, commercial motorist and early school drop-outs residing in the state. The government has gone into partnership with various trade associations to sensitize them on the needs to develop their ability to read and write.

Linkage between ‘Eko n ke ko’ and public security is that education infrastructure which the programme represents is an effective way through which people could add value to themselves. The ability to read and write has multiplier effect of eradicating poverty which is undoubtedly major cause of crime in the society as members of the society who are now literates will possess a more creative approach in their business and this will go a long way in contributing positively to the economy of the state.

Apart from the method of using education to eradicate crime in the society, the state government is also set to include the community in the war against crime as it plans to recruit 5000 safety corps personnel which will be drawn from the immediate society, thereby creating employment and reducing crime.

On the whole, Lagos is using youth friendly programmes, sports, security agencies, law, education and varied economic infrastructure to tackle insecurity problem. And this is the way to go for a mega city with a huge mixed population, chiefly made up of people who are all desperately in search of a source of livelihood.

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