Following the unprecedented upsurge of criminal activities especially that of kidnapping in Edo State for some time now, the government just like residents, developed grey-hair as to what could be the solution to putting this ungodly act at bay, if not completely eradicating it.
Towards this drive, the state government after much brain storming with stakeholders, recently launched the police/ military joint patrol squad code-named; “operation thunderstorm’’ charged to deal decisively with every suspect situation, and at check-points, stop and search every vehicle irrespective of position in society, including that of the governor, and monarch.
In the words of Governor Adams Oshiomhole; ‘’that is to say nobody in that state or traveling through this state, will be exempted. It is important we all go through this inconveniences, if this will bring peace to the people we really must turn and purge the state of criminals,’’ he emphasized.
Crime and combating crime are as old as the society itself. It has become phenomenal, that crime sophistication continue to grow simultaneously with the level of society’s civilization if not ahead.
The search therefore, for solution to reducing crime to its barest minimum if not completely stopped, could be likened to the ever elusive attempt to pin down one’s shadow even in the advanced countries of the world.
This becomes the situation due to many interfacing factors which include; continued fall of societal moral standard, the ever epileptic standard of leadership quality being product of society vis-à-vis poor followership insensitivity and lack of will to live up to its responsibility by government etc.
Looking at these factors, one would not be wrong to say that crime being a product of society just like many other ills in the system, is a collective responsibility and not just that of government alone to tackle at all fronts if we must make any impact.
Adams Oshiomhole once said; “tackling the problem of crime goes beyond equipping the security agents with sophisticated weapons instead, it is tackling the basic issue that thrown up crime amongst us that should be the primary task of everyone including government.”
Turning the heat on criminals, Edo state like other parts of the country, if not the globe, has gotten its fair share of criminal activities right from the word go. But most pronounced, was the late Lawrence Anini and his cohorts in 1986 until recently, we began to experience bank robbery, high-level fraud in high places, and kidnapping.
The Adam’s Oshiomohole-led government in response, having gotten approval from the president of the federation, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua, has put together 296 security personnel to patrol and be positioned at strategic points across the state, with a view to bringing relief to the people.
The break down of the security men is 170 soldiers, 16 airmen and 110 mobile police.
To maintain the square, it would cost the state government over N11 million monthly as N1,250 would be paid as daily allowance to each person; it was disclosed by the governor.
However, the question remains, would this act of government bring the much desired solution to criminal activities in Edo state?
The answer to this question is yes, but to an extent, as there is more work to be done by all.
Government has taken the right step by putting in place this square but it needs to increase action in the area of job creation which it has started with its programme of ‘’Edo Yes’’, open up the rural areas by attracting investors to establish industries especially in the agro-allied sector, and embark on aggressive re rehabilitation of infrastructure across the state.
In doing this, government must ensure contracts awarded, are closely monitored to ensure strict compliance to specification. The education sector too, must not be over presently more in a state of emergency which therefore demands practical action than just paying lip service which is the case now.
Though, one can acknowledge the enormity of the challenge facing government presently: scarce resource, but it is heart-warming to recall the comrade Governor saying it is not the duty of government to lament the prevailing situation, but to tackle it head-on.
Also, the people if they must get relief from stringers of confrontation facing them, which of course, criminal activities, they must re-orient their mind-set, re-position their moral values, de-emphasize the ‘’get rich quick syndrome’’ amongst us and endeavor always to divulge useful information to the police concerning criminals activities noticed around them, because criminals as the police say, are not ghosts, they live amongst us.
The police on whose shoulders lies the cross of liberation from the shackles of criminals, must also avoid complacency, be patriotic, and see their role in this battle as noble call to national duty which demands some level of sacrifice.
If every one of us can decide to do what is right at the right time, including government, then the battle against criminal activities will be won.
Ben-ose Ogbemudia, Benin City