Since time immemorial, Security and Safety have remained one of the foremost fundamental responsibilities of those in government to the people they govern.
Government all over the world at different level ensure it pays close attention to the security apparatus that exist within its domain, as any threats to securing the lives and ensuring the safety of its citizenry connotes an attack on its 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 act of criminality.
The mindset of diligence and uprightness had since paved way for corner cutting and short-term success and so the numbers of young persons who engage in the act of criminality are on the high side.
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 many remained idle, they become culpable tools of evil and end up venturing into the underworld.
The responsibility of the Governor of the confluence state, that shares border with about ten states of different ethnic disposition becomes more tedious as there remains an evident influx into such region without restrictions.
Governor Yahaya Bello from the inception of his administration on January 27, 2016, had an understanding that as the executive Governor of the State, he was obliged to ensure that the people whom he now governs are adequately secured so that they can go about their daily businesses without fear of attacks.
While previous administrations allowed the security conditions in the State deteriorate into a deplorable state of anarchy and could then be best described using Thomas Hobbes, the political philosopher’s coinage of a situation where life was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”
The Governor with his New Direction Administration refused to settle for this status quo and was resolute in their blueprint to nip in the bud acts of criminality and its sources in the confluence state.
A critical comparison of the volatile security conditions before his inception and the evident progress made by his administration within the first six months until date had since become a model, which other Governors had since adopted. This success stories have also attracted awards from stakeholders within the security strata.
For instance, the State between the periods of January to June 2016 recorded 167 kidnapping cases, acts of terrorism held sway with record of attacks on churches, residences, security operatives’ offices and even Boko Haram cells, which served as factories for manufacturing Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs, were discovered in some parts of the State between the year 2011 and 2012.
During this period; a serving Commissioner was kidnapped while on his farm with his orderly murdered by the kidnappers.
In 2014, two High Court judges, expatriates and missionaries were among countless number of kidnapped victims but were released after huge ransoms were paid.
Under this period, Kogi State recorded mass exodus as influential citizens have had to relocate their families to a more secure environment such as the Federal Capital Territory.
Bank robberies also took place in sixteen banks in different parts of the State including Lokoja, the state capital between the year 2011 and 2015 with deaths and casualties recorded.
Aside from these, the State Government also inherited a situation where there was seemingly a low level of collaboration and synergy between security agencies in the State, a poorly structured intelligence mechanism, lack of right logistics for security agency to operate and a state proliferated with political thuggery.
It was quite imperative that these security challenges required immediate solution, 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 and the undertaken required action, have in the last three years of his administration ensured that the state has moved truly towards the New Direction most especially in the area of securing the lives of the people of the state.
Measures 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 and 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, and has so far recruited, trained over 6,000 operatives in the last three years. This singular act has recorded huge success in intelligence gathering, ensuring that these operatives assist security agencies to gather intelligence within their locality.
Some of this information, which might be inaccessible by other mainframe security agencies because of their lack of understanding of the terrain or the locality, but the local vigilantes, has the perfect understanding of the language and the terrain allowing them to easily penetrate and access valid information.
The government remains optimistic that it would continue to expand such programme and ensure that these operatives are available within the nooks and crannies of the state, as they would help to complement the effort of other security agencies in the State.
Kogi State amidst concern of merger 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 three years of its administration.
Some of these huge spending including the purchase, maintenance and fuelling of over 210 patrol vehicles for security agencies and building of Forward Operation Base for the Nigerian Army in Okene, which gulped over N270million, hundreds of motorcycles for the vigilante operatives have helped moved Kogi State from its scary and gory past of insecurity to become the Confluence of peace and tranquility.
Similarly, the monthly payment of about N58million for Kogi Vigilantes, payment of about N50million monthly allowances as well as introducing a whistleblowing policy with a reward of N500,000 for persons with reliable information that could foist any act of criminality or nab perpetrators of crime have boasted the morals of security operatives and sincere citizens.
Through the ‘Whistle Blowing Policy’; the Governor audaciously went after kidnap kingpins and high profile political thugs in the state, got them arrested with their ill-gotten proceeds such as homes and vehicles destroyed in broad daylight, rendering their operations none-lucrative.
The state has also in recent times infused technological advancement into its crime combating apparatus as it recently commissioned a quick emergency reporting and response operation centre in Lokoja codenamed under 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 believed that security has transcended beyond manual operations, and the state was obliged to follow in similar clime, while he was also optimistic that the new operation centre would improve on the level of security currently in place in the State.
The recently commissioned technologically driven security and safety apparatus, which comprised of three major components namely, the mobile reporter, the dispatcher and VGs responder is believed to be another step in the right direction by the New Direction Administration that would enhance quick responses by security and safety operatives across the state.
The vital truth is that the project of security is quite expensive, but Governor Bello has remained resolute that nothing could ever be too much, to expend on the security and safety of the lives and properties of the people.
As an administration, its belief is founded on the premise that, once security is guaranteed other aspect of the people’s life would also thrive and as such the desire to deliver a secured Kogi State can never be overitsted.
And of course, the reward of a working model is the absolute security situation in Kogi state and Leadership Newspaper in her editorial wisdom has recognised the Bello Security Template with the award of Good Governance in Security.
– Onogwu Muhammed
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor,
Kogi State Government House, Lokoja.