24 June 2011

Nigeria: All Arms of Govt Should Ensure National Security - NIPR Boss


After the bombing of the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters in Abuja by Boko Haram, another threat came again, telling the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Hafiz Ringim to beg even resign or expect more havoc.

The implication of this threat is that there is no peace in the offing. Ironically, the enemies appear to be more battle-ready as they have made the North ungovernable. Robbers now hide under the cover of Boko Haram to rob and kill. These ugly incidents undoubtedly will degenerate the image of Nigeria that needs redemption.

Barrister Jide Ologun, Chairman, Nigerian Institute of Public Relation (NIPR) spoke to Saturday Vanguard on this issue. Excerpts:

The use of terrorism and other forms of violence have become a way of expressing grievances in Nigeria. What is responsible for this?

When we talk about grievances it depends on how people feel. When communication flow is not effective in expressing grievances amicably, then violent expression becomes an option. And that is a product of absence of understanding.

How can the society get rid of Boko Haram saga and the state of anomie?

You can't get rid of security anomaly. You can only minimise the situation because as long as we have human relations there will be friction, and professional approach is to be proactive, knowing that security is both a process and product, and one helpful device is to appreciate the needs and yearnings of stakeholders and seek to meet the need for mutual benefit to have a premium appreciation for the presentation/protection of lives and properties of humanity.

In June 3, 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan signed the Terrorism (Prevention) Bill 2011 and Money Laundering (Prohibition) Bill into law. Do you think this can arrest the situation of insecurity?

Yes, I believe it can arrest the situation if effectively implemented. But unfortunately, most times what we have is law on the papers. Law on the pages of papers are merely cosmetic letters that only become relevant if implemented. The people do not pay attention to law except there is deliberate effort to enforce it. In the light of terrorism, Boko Haram, are they ghosts? They are persons known to government,and the law is clear enough on the consequences of criminal involvement in terrorism.

But when terrorists escape deserved prosecution, then we reinforce their activities which constitute a huge national danger. We all know the status of the Police Headquarters, and the office of the Inspector General of Police, and the recent bombing of the office has shown us that the terrorists are not jokers - who may guess their next target of assignment, and while we ponder on their havoc-it was reported that they had already gone ahead to bomb Katsina killing a divisional crime officer(DCO), four police officers and a civilian just within one week.

Apart from the families that are affected, our collective responsibility is that our national image is involved. If you click on Nigeria on line by default or otherwise, it will shock you that we are now joining the league of terrorised regions. We need to counsel and plead strongly that professionals should be professionals rather than sit back or dose off in the privileges of office (while Nigeria is on the verge of a precipice) security agencies should stay awake in the exercise of mandatory professional duties. We should also note that politics has become a high yield venture in Nigeria so some profile politicians with their ill-gotten wealth can channel their resources to intimidate Nigerians to score political marks at the expense of our suffering.

What signal could this be sending to the populace that after signing the bill, terrorism don't seem to have abated?

The national situation is in itself a security threat given the level of unemployment, the epileptic power supply and economic hardship - the educational situation will all harmonise to make some Nigerians lose respect for harmonious living, knowing that while some of them are suffering so much (not by choice), some others are enjoying so much; they engage in some criminal activities to make a living... (There is always a ransom for kidnapping) - and this shows that these perpetrators want a share of "the goodies held by some select or elect few."

"If success is common nobody will envy the other talkless of intimidating the other." The disparity in the enjoyment of the national dividends of democracy is a cause for concern. And this problems can be fixed by the doctrine of sincere governance. We have also discovered that this national problems constitute good business for some.

For instance, those who prosper by offering alternatives to regular and reliable power supply in the nation while paralysing industrialisation, a key element in national development - should we not also mention those who collect and self-appropriate security votes that must continue to flow so much that insecurity is created to keep the votes flowing when the pivotal role models are questionable characters, what future has the youth who must look up to those who are ahead of them?"

Do you think President Jonathan is doing enough to handle Boko Haram saga,other forms of terrorism and kidnapping in our society?

Let President Jonathan be aware that some Nigerians perceive him as a very gentle president - and we strongly warn him to learn from the Obama/Osama Bin Laden episode. "Terrorists are no respecter of lives and property rather destroyers of same. Prevention is always better and cheaper than cure." All the arms of government should arise and secure the nation or else we all shall find ourselves running helter-skelter for need of security. God has endowed us with all we need to live securely.

We may either neglect this endowment or maximise them. Security is a collective privilege and responsibility. "When there is no internal security, external security is threatened."

"The government should not be bigger than the people rather they should be accountable to the people."

I am advocating the emergence of the fourth arm of the government which is the people who will hold the three other arms accountable. In this category we the likes of Lamido Sanusi Lamido, who cried out about the bumper earnings in the National Assembly that resulted in changing the electoral landscape in that political environment as witnessed during the last April 2011 elections.

Then kudos to the government of President Goodluck Jonathan for signing Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill into law - which has given the media and the general public access to relevant information on national governance.

What is your assessment of the media in the light of the recent episode?

The Nigerian media deserves great and resounding applause.All the same,I thank God for worthy representative, Abike Dabiri--who with limited support swam against the tide to deliver the dividend of democracy.

The privileges of office has the potential to dissociate the government from feeling the pulse of mass suffering."The angry man is not only an angry man,he has become a very dangerous man.Those who are up should be wise enough to pull those who are down up to consolidate the up".

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