IDEAs Episode 133 IDEAs Radio “One Year after the vote: IDEAs in SECURITY”.

IDEAs 26th January 2024

One Year after the vote: IDEAs in SECURITY

Ayo Obe said that it would surprise many that IDEAs was back on air after it was supposed to have ended last July, but noting that “It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good”, she explained that the ‘ill wind’ of the collapse in the value of the naira had brought the ‘good’ that allowed IDEAs to do a further five broadcasts.  These would lead up to the anniversary of last year’s National elections, and would cover the Integrity, Democracy, Ethics and Accountability quotient of the government in five critical areas: Security, Elections, the Judiciary, the Economy and the behaviour of our Politicians.

We are starting off with Security which is very much on everybody’s mind at the moment, but IDEAs is not looking at the question of are we secure or are we not secure, but what is IDEAs element in how our Security is being handled.  Ayo then introduced her guests, Yemi Adamolekun of Enough is Enough Nigeria who is to join us online, and Monday Ojon of Cemepia Africa who is in the studio.  Ayo said that both Yemi and Monday participate in the #BringBackOurGirls movement, and as was well known, #BBOG is about Security, and it is also about Accountability.  It is about what happened when 276 schoolgirls were abducted from their school in April 2014, what has happened to them, and why things have not improved since then.  She noted that in those days the abductions were supposed to be for some kind of ideological reason, but now, they are just for money.

Turning to Yemi, Ayo referred to the #EndSARS protests and noted that they were about police brutality.  She asked whether such brutality was a price that Nigerians would have to pay if they wanted to be properly policed?

Yemi said that it was not.  Nobody has the right to profile a person on the basis of the work they do, or their appearance or hairstyle.  If there was a belief that a person had committed an offence, they ought to be told what that was and given an opportunity to defend themselves.  So brutality was just arresting people and extorting them.  She rejected the idea that brutality and extortion were a price that had to be paid for security.  Moreover, in the context of the fact that police officers are complaining about their welfare and the failure of government to provide them with a decent standard of living and proper wages for the work they do.  Yemi agreed that police officers face a lot of risk, but maintained that that did not give them the right to brutalise anyone.  Yemi also referred to the way that police officers lobby to be attached to politicians and VIPs, not because they were going to be doing any policing, but because of tips and perks and access to an elevated lifestyle.  Yemi accepted that this issue was not peculiar to Nigeria, noting that the US for example struggled with similar issues, but she said that certainly brutality is not a price that we have to pay for security.

Ayo asked Monday why he thought the police seem to be doing so much worse, or was the brutality that is complained of just a cover for incompetence?  Monday said that the challenge we are facing is extortion, and that leads to brutality when victims refuse to comply with their demands.  Therefore, the Nigeria Police should ensure that the prosecute any police officer – from the lowest to the highest rank – found involved in such behaviour.  He said that they should be trained properly so that they know the rights of citizens and their own limits.  Monday also stressed that the welfare of police officers is very important, commenting on the deplorable conditions in which some of them in barracks live.  He said you cannot give somebody a gun and leave them hungry.

Ayo noted that one of the things #EndSARS had demanded was efficient and smart policing.  She said that it was unfortunate that in the riots that followed the protests Lagos State had lost some of its forensic capacity, but asked Yemi whether such forensic capacity was not an essential part of smart policing that did not just stop at arresting and parading suspects, but went on to get them convicted and sentenced.

Yemi agreed that when people commit criminal acts, they should be brought to book.  This applied not only to people who burn buildings, but also to politicians who steal public money.  She said that if that did not happen, if people continued to get away with crimes and did not face consequences, it was human nature that they would repeat the offence, whether it was a child who did wrong and got away with it, or an adult who committed crimes.  Such impunity would only feed on itself and it will show up in every facet of society.  Yemi said that our politicians had created such an environment of impunity, and everybody was taking their cue from them, the police, the judiciary – they all feel free to behave ‘anyhow’.

Ayo asked Monday whether we really make the connection between the behaviour of those at the top and the behaviour of those lower down who feel that they too are entitled to enjoy what those are at the top are enjoying, no matter what they have to do to get it.  She asked whether expressions like ‘Tough on crime, Tough on the causes of crime’ have any meaning to our government.  Does our government make the connection between the way they govern and the way that some people decide that banditry and kidnapping are viable life choices?

Monday said that we cannot expect a good outcome when our leaders are living in luxury and lavish our money on unnecessary things, while those who are supposed to implement the policies of government are living in poverty.  So at all levels, governments should plan for the welfare of those who are implementing the law so that they too will enjoy the dividends of democracy.

Ayo interjected that the criminals too want the good things of life, to have nice things and send their children to good schools, and asked whether there wasn’t a link between government and not just those who are enforcing the law, but with those at the receiving end.  Monday said government should provide the enabling environment for business to function well so that they will provide employment that will make it unnecessary for people to turn to banditry and kidnapping.  He said that if the infrastructure was in place, it would reduce crime, but once they were not there, we should only expect crime to continue to increase on a daily basis.  Monday noted that some people join outfits like Boko Haram, not out of conviction, but because of the benefits they will get, because they could not engage in normal business.  He mentioned issues like electricity, the value of the currency as things that the government needs to fix so that companies will stop moving out of Nigeria but will instead come here and provide jobs for our people, as that is what will keep them out of crime.

Turning back to Yemi, Ayo referred to President Tinubu’s recent claim that the security situation in Nigeria is better than it is in many other countries.  She said that the raw figures e.g. on kidnapping, may seem to support this claim, but remarked that in other countries, crimes such as kidnapping were done almost in secret, whereas here, the criminals come in huge numbers with a lot of bombast, and abduct huge numbers.  While the Chibok Girls were not the first victims of such mass kidnappings, the fact remains that up till now, nobody has accounted for the 90 or so who remain in captivity, or even been honest about how those who had come out came out, and asked whether we missed our chance to nip this problem of insecurity in the bud when government did not react quickly enough.  Yemi said that we certainly did, and not just at the time in April 2014, but in the ten years since.  People were named as having affiliations with Boko Haram and being involved in what happened in Chibok, but nothing happened to them.  And just as she mentioned  in discussing impunity earlier, when people are not punished for their crimes, they and others get emboldened.

Yemi noted that both Presidents Jonathan and Buhari had complained that members of their governments were involved in Boko Haram but nothing happened, so it was not surprising that people lower in the value chain of kidnapping and corruption and abduction change their patterns of behaviour when they have senior people in the military or in positions of power in government covering for them.  There is no incentive to do anything different.

Ayo thanked Yemi and Monday for their contributions and insights and wrapped up the programme with some closing thoughts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *