Osun has been known to be one of the most peaceful states in Nigeria, owing to the commitment of the government under Governor Rauf Aregbesola to the security of lives and properties of her people. KAZEEM MOHAMMED considers the measures that had been taken by the government and its trickledown effect on the people of the state.
Section 14 (2b) of the Nigeria 1999 Constitution as amended in 2010 stipulates that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”. Meaning that security of lives and properties is a major fundamental objective of government at any level, be it federal, state or local. It is in line with this tenet as stipulated in the constitution that government must do everything possible to ensure that people in its territory are safe.
Osun is one of the states in the country known to be peaceful, owing to the security measures that have been put in place by the administration of Governor Rauf Aregbesola to support security agencies to carry out their responsibilities effectively.
Before the advent of the administration in 2010, Osun was one of the volatile states in the country, as bank robbery cases, extra-judicial killings, political violences and such other crimes were rampant and to a large extent, the residents of the state, particularly in some major towns like Ilesa, Osogbo, Ile-Ife and so many others could not sleep with their two eyes closed because of fear.
The story began to change shortly after the ‘power-shift’ to the hands of Governor Aregbesola, who, as part of his security measures declared that none of his supporters should attack any member of the opposition, who attacked them when they were in power.
Not too many residents of the state knew what was in the offing until the administration, within its 100 days in office engaged 20,000, youths under Osun Youths Empowerment Scheme (OYES). The scheme was one of the major factor that drastically reduced the crime rates in state, as majority of the youths that were active engage in criminal activities due to joblessness were taken off the streets for productive engagement. Some of the youths were engaged in community service works; traffic marshal, paramedics, neighborhood security watch, and environmental marshal amongst others. What followed were commendations from all and sundry, as analysts projected that as long as the scheme continues, the state would continue to remain peaceful.
Since then, the government has been engaging in similar other preventive measures, by engaging youths in other programmes like agriculture, Information Communication Technology (ICT), skill acquisition programmes amongst others and these have immensely contributed to the appellation given to Osun as one of the most peaceful state in Nigeria.
What then followed was the procurement of five sophisticated Armoured Personnel Carriers and 125 Patrol vans and some other security equipment to combat crimes that already had an established ground in the state. The impact of this was the reduction in crime rate, particularly in the state capital and some other major towns in the state. This was a feat that had never been recorded by any government in the state. The vans were distributed among all the security agencies, including the Army, Police, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Immigration and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) amongst others.
The state government also subsequently inaugurated a combined quick emergency response team, Swift Action Response Squad (SARS) which comprises security forces like the Army, Police, and NSCDC officials whose activities reduced crime rate significantly to the barest minimum in Osun.
Capping it all was the procurement of a Helicopter for Aerial Security Surveillance and presentation of another set of more sophisticated 20 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) to the Nigerian Police Force, a feat that has never been achieved by any government in the state. The procurement of the helicopter and the APC’s has particularly driven away many undesirable elements from the state.
It was during the presentation of the 20 APC’s in 2014 that the then Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, who was represented by the Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of zone X1, Mr. David Omojola saluted the courage of the Governor in fighting crime in the state, saying, the Aregbesola administration has demonstrated high sense of responsibility in keeping the state safe in line with the dictate of his office.
Also, the then Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Ibrahim Maishanu described the gesture from the Governor as the first in the history of the state, assuring that the equipments would be properly put to use and Osun state would be one of the most peaceful states in the country henceforth.
However, in order to make communication easier for security purposes, the state government as part of his commitment procured Modern Communication Gadget for security agencies in the state and ensured installation of various communication equipments at various security commands for easy communication. Also, the government established Osun Emergency and Citizens’ Inquiry/Contact Centre in Oke-Fia, Osogbo, which has since been serving as the easiest way of reporting any emergency situation to the security agencies.
It is also on record that the state has from time to time provided logistic supports to security agencies in spite the paucity of fund, as the government was reported to have prioritised meeting the demands of the security agencies.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Security Matters, Tope Adejumo in a chat said, the government of Osun has decided to give security of lives and property a priority in line with the dictate of the Nigeria constitution, saying, the government has invested a huge human and material resources to ensure that the state remain peaceful.
According to him, in spite the economic situation of the country, the Aregbesola administration has never at any point in time deviated from its commitment to support security agencies saddled with the responsibilities of maintaining laws and order in the society.
He recalled that before the Aregbesola administration, Osun was an abode for criminals, especially armed robbers who have gained ground, saying, the story has change since the state government began to pay adequate attention to security matters in the state.
Adejumo further noted that the administration would not relent in giving supports to all the relevant security agencies, with a view to permanently making the state the most peaceful state.
However, in spite the investment of the government on security, what has been of serious concern to the people, of recent are the rampant kidnapping for ritual purposes in the state, which Adejumo has said, the state government in conjunction with security agencies have been taking proactive steps to tackle.
He said, “If you observe, as these people are perpetrating these acts, they are being caught and arrested and that is to tell you that adequate attentions is being paid to it. The government will not stop collaborating with the security agencies until these people are wiped off the state”.
The State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fimihan Adeoye said, “the APCs and patrol vans procured by the government are still serviceable and effectively deployed as a means of fighting criminal occurrences in the state, saying the peace that is reigning in the state is a testimony that the gesture of the government has actually assisted the command to discharge its duties effectively”.
On the ritual killings in the state, Adeoye said, the police command has decided to up the ante on intelligence gathering with a view to ensuring that the human and financial commitment of the government and the police are not jeopardized.
“For those cases we have been able to investigate successfully, we are collaborating with the relevant agencies and government to ensure that they are also successfully prosecuted. If we are able to prosecute successfully, we would be putting away the suspects, so that they won’t be able to commit such atrocities in the future. Also, the successful prosecution of the suspects would help and also send a signal to those who may want to do the same thing that the long arm of the law will catch up with them.
“We are also intensifying our intelligence gathering activities as a way of nipping such acts in the bud. We are effectively collaborating with members of the public in order to get them involved in the policing of their communities. We are also embarking on advocating to and for the residents so that they can raise the status of personal safety and security so that we can forestall such cases of murder that is related to ritual”.
Urging the people to be conscious of their safety and security, he said the era of learning the security to the government, the police and other security agencies alone should be jettisoned by providing credible information that would assist in curbing such crimes and other related ones in their environment.
“Everybody should be conscious of his or her personal safety and security. If they have useful information, they should not hesitate to pass it to the police, as the identity of such informant would be strictly protected, but in the case of volunteering information, they should also be conscious of security of information by sharing with the people who need to know and be able to provide solution to it”, he said.