By Don Osehobo Ofure
Mr. Godwin Obaseki as Edo State governor sits on a security vote of N900million monthly (N10.8billion Annually), according to the Wikipedia.
It is one of the highest security votes by s
tates in Nigeria. Yet for many residents and even visitors passing by the state, Mr. Godwin Obaseki should be blamed for the very high level of insecurity the state is experiencing today. The state of insecurity is visible, as all parts of the state including the capital, Benin City, Edo north and Edo Central are deeply affected.
Although, relevant sections of the Constitution recognize the Nigeria Police Force as the agency responsible for the provision of security in the states of the federation, Edo is one of many states in the country which can set up organizations to complement the efforts of the police and ensure safety of lives and properties.
After almost three years in office and following public outcry over the spate of violent crimes ravaging the state, Mr. Obaseki said that the government he heads has created new state security architecture he called ‘Operation Wabaizighan’. He said the idea will complement the efforts of the regular police force in the area of combating kidnapping, cult killings, armed robbery, as well as herdsmen/farmers clashes. The organization was designed to be funded under the State Security Trust Fund, with the state government committing N2 billion as seed fund in 2019.
He had listed the components of the architecture to include 50 special security cars fitted with modern communication and security gadgets, 30 Toyota Hilux patrol vans, 30 patrol motor bikes and three Armored Personnel Carriers APC, three ambulances, Integrated Command and Control Centre and five special security check points, to be manned at all the entry and exit points in the state. Others he said are Special Patrol Units (land and waterways); Integrated Electronic City Surveillance Unit, Establishment of a Special Force unit/anti-kidnapping squad, establishment of K-9 unit, establishment of paramedics unit, establishment of the Public Works Volunteers (PUWOV) scheme with 3000 trained and kitted workforce and a community police radio network.
There are also indications that Mr. Obaseki was privy to a strategic document titled, “Contemporary security challenges facing Edo state, Nigeria”, authored by A.B. Jatto et al. In the paper released, the authors undertook an analysis of Nigerian security issues specifically evaluating Edo State, deriving from structured deliberations around the issue of security challenges in Edo State held in London in 2015 involving key stakeholders.
In their findings they said that the State faces serious security challenges arising from natural disasters and climate change, and the rise of sea levels resulting in floods and erosion. In the economic sphere, they said Edo state experiences high unemployment rate due to the absence of key industries and lack of investment and inappropriate models of education. In addition they also identified as an immediate concern, is herdsmen, whilst political security has remained unabated due to the rising numbers of political assassinations in the state. The paper advanced a number of recommendations to address many of these problems, none of which has been applied by Mr. Obaseki.
Many residents of Edo state insist however that it is the responsibility of a responsible government everywhere in the world to protect the lives and property of all its citizens, irrespective of age, faith, sex or vocation, lamenting the state of insecurity in the state. They say Edo people are not safe in their homes and they no longer sleep with their two eyes closed. Their conclusion is that it is a misnomer to hear, daily news of violent crimes, sometimes in broad day light by youths, who should be gainfully employed to help build Edo state. Their verdict, Obaseki has failed!
Worried by the trend, some residents and communities across Edo state have resorted to self-help to check insecurity. From Edo South, citizens have expressed concerns that their relatives abroad even before Covid19 stopped visiting home since Obaseki took office in 2016. They blame the unabated kidnapping, cult-related killings and rape in Edo, is alarming. They repeatedly called on the state government and security agents to intensify efforts at solving the problems to no avail. As one respondent said, “We are concerned about this insecurity, because of the fact that our children living abroad who would love to travel with their parents to Benin City, to experience or fraternize with their relatives and friends are increasingly discouraged”.
It’s the same story in Edo Central where citizens formed a Vigilante to help protect against destruction of lives and properties, farmlands, cash crops and other legitimate means of livelihood in various communities in the locality. They rationalized the vigilance group and said it will be involved in community policing and assisting security agencies to ensure the safety of lives and properties in the area. They also said they will be collaborating with security agencies to address incessant killings, kidnappings, assassinations, armed banditry, raping and destruction of lives and property in the area.
The All Progressive Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Edo State, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, has a plan to address the insecurity in Edo state, so citizens can sleep with their two eyes closed and news of violent crimes will be left for the past. He has said that even with the huge sum Mr. Obaseki receives monthly, he, “…has not been able to show commitment to security funding. Every month, the governor collects over N600 million as security vote and gives the police N5 million, not even enough to fuel vehicles”.
He says when he gets elected as Edo state Governor in September; his government will show sincerity in combating crime and make adequate investments in technology to combat crime. This is because Security and Social welfare is the first plank of his covenant with Edo people, he calls SIMPLE AGENDA. The other part is Social Welfare. There is no doubt that the potentials of Edo state are huge in terms of its ability to attract tourists, investments and quality jobs but the current security situation in the state makes the realization of these potentials unrealistic and unattainable.
Many in Diaspora have demonstrated willingness to come home and invest their skills and material resources for the state’s development, given proper incentives, but unfortunately, the current level of insecurity in the state makes the realization of its full economic potentials a pipe dream. In cases where some of the few some braved the odds and came home to explore some investment opportunities, they have fallen victims to either abduction or other violent crimes. But all that will change under the coming APC government led by Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu. The government will provide an enabling environment for Edo people so that they can channel investments back to the state.
Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s plan for securing lives and properties in Edo is a global best practice approach to security delivery, involving all stakeholders in our communities and the use of well-trained and motivated personnel, empowered with cutting edge technology for combating crime, will be adopted to make Edolites sleep with their two eyes closed once again. It will feature a new security architecture that is intelligence-driven, and an integrated state security system that collects information with relevant data from all security agencies and is able to analyze and use it to identify security threats and take appropriate and timely action to deal with them proactively and decisively. Best practice decision making procedures will also be put in place to enhance the rapid response of the security outfit to emerging threats without the usual bureaucratic delays.
The Simple Agenda’s other panacea to finding a lasting and effective solution to the security challenge in Edo, is the important role of the individual and the community. The fears people have about reporting crime because of their personal safety as they do not trust that the people they are reporting to may be complicit in the crime, will be eliminated. In this regard, a functional emergency system as part of the security architecture in the State with an emergency system like 911 will be put in the state. This will be achieved by the relevant state and telecommunication companies, working together.
The Simple Agenda also promise adequate provision of materials and institutional support for the Police and other security agencies in the state, including but not limited to operational vehicles and trucks as well as ultra-modern communication crime-detection and crime-prevention equipment such as the tracking device to detect the location of kidnappers and their hapless victims.
On the Edo State Security Trust Fund, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu will overhaul it in a manner that it will be function as a special purpose vehicle to mobilize adequate funding for security agencies on a sustainable basis. And it plans the Community policing Program involving Neighborhood watch and Vigilante groups in rural and urban areas. Under this plan the state government will partner with all Edo state traditional rulers, village heads, school authorities, civil society and religious organizations in the quest to find a pragmatic and lasting solution to insecurity because safety of lives and property is an ingredient for the state to move forward.
On Social Welfare, it draws from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which Article 22 says that as a member of any society, citizens have the right to Social Security. Social Security has been described as any government scheme that provides monetary or other forms of assistance to people with an inadequate or no income. The article adds that citizens are also entitled to its realization, through deliberate government effort and in accordance with the resources of each state. This is to ensure that he/she enjoys the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for human dignity and the free development of their personality.
Globally, Social security proponents argue that the society in which a person live should help them to develop and to make the most of all the advantages (culture, work, social welfare) which are offered to them. In more sublime climes, Social security also refer to the action programs of the state intended to promote the welfare of the population through assistance measures guaranteeing access to sufficient resources for food, water and shelter and to promote health and well-being for the population at large and potentially vulnerable segments such as children, widows, persons with disability, the elderly, the sick and the unemployed.
This is what the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the Edo governorship election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu has in mind for Edo state in his Manifesto of Hope called Simple Agenda, which he has promised to, implement, when he gets elected as State governor. As a matter of fact under the very difficult conditions Covid19 imposed on the world, including Edo state such as limitations of movements, loss of jobs, hunger and shortage of food, water and access to healthcare, Pastor Ize-Iyamu earlier this year gave Edo people a glimpse of what to expect with his Social Security Scheme. This was when he unfolded palliatives for vulnerable people across Edo state in the wake of the pandemic. With the lockdown due to restriction of movement of persons across the state as part of measures to reduce the spread of the dreaded Corona virus, he said he acted because of a compelling need to do so.
Covid19 Information, Education and Communication, IEC materials were put on TV and Radio as jingles, in addition to enlightenment leaflets, handbills and flyers sponsored by Pastor Ize-Iyamu, his wife, Professor Idia and their friends. In addition, they distributed Lorry loads of branded Hand Sanitizers and followed it up with foodstuff like Beans, Rice, Salt Garri and even water to the most vulnerable across the 192 wards in the 18 local government areas that make up Edo State. Pastor Ize-Iyamu had made public two emergency phone numbers as help lines for people in dire need of food and water within the state but could not come out. He took the palliative to their homes. The initial target of 4000 families was exceeded, so much that that an uncountable number of families in every part of the state, in every ward and unit became beneficiaries.
It is against this backdrop that Pastor Ize-Iyamu’s plan is to develop a comprehensive Social Security Scheme that will make social welfare programs work for all citizens can be understood. To actualize this he plans to establish a data bank where every resident of Edo State will be allotted a personalized life-time Social Security Number. With this, government will have ready information to enable it plan and provide the social security for children, widows, persons with disability, the elderly, the sick and the unemployed. And as a deliberate state policy to protect vulnerable persons from discrimination and exploitation, the coming Edo state government led by Pastor Ize-Iyamu hopes to facilitate the enactment of appropriate legislation as well implement initiatives to this effect.
Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s Simple Agenda, also plans the establishment of Social welfare offices to handle matrimonial problems and help resolve them through family counseling and mediating services. These will be set up for each of the three senatorial districts across Edo state and backed with the relevant enabling legislation. His policies will protect widows and children of the deceased from harmful traditional practices, harassment and intimidation are also in this lofty package. Also relevant provisions will be made to ensure that widows and children in Edo state have easier access to the Estate, retirement benefits, pension and other assets of their deceased husbands or parents as the case maybe.
A vigorous and proper enlightenment campaign of the provisions of the Child Protection Law of Edo state is also on the cards of the Social Welfare policy of the APC candidate. This will be pursued as a vital step against Child Labor and its twin evil, Child Abuse; not only to discourage its violation but to ensure its enforcement. And for a man who has high regard for Senior citizens like pensioners, who have served the state in various capacities as civil servants, Pastor Ize-Iyamu’s concern for their welfare can be better imagined. This is why his template for the care of pensioners is one of a kind.
Lastly, with a growing population of the qualified but unemployed, especially restive youths, and the failed promise by the current government to create 200,000 jobs since 2016, the Simple Agenda’s solution can better be appreciated. With the creation of the Edo State Employment Bureau (ESEB), responsible for identifying the unemployed and employable in Edo state, and capturing them in a database with their qualifications, the Bureau should be able to make available and at convenient notices, opportunities for employment.
Osehobo is Edo APC Media Council Scribe on Traditional Media in Benin City.