(By Iheanyi Ezinwo)-The growing insecurity across Nigeria has been blamed on inadequate training and loss of focus among the security agencies, especially the Nigeria Police whose unwholesome activities, overtime, have turned them into enemies instead of friends of the citizens.
These were the views of resource persons and participants at a Round Table on Resolving the Emergent Security Challenges in Nigeria, which was organized by the Professional Development Committee of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, NIPR, Rivers State chapter at its June 2019 meeting in Port Harcourt.
Speaking at NIPR Round Table which was moderated by Rev. Francis Asuk and Dr. Ken Nweke, Chief Casca Ogosu, Fellow of Nigerian Institute of Public Relations ,Fnipr, and Chairman of Police Community Relations Committee. PCRC, in Rivers State, said that no body is happy with the poor security situation in Nigeria.
Going back to history, he said,” before independence, everyone was his brother’s keeper; people were busy with agriculture”; but that the oil boom of the seventies and abundant financial rewards in politics shifted the emphasis of many to making money fast and at all cost. This development, he said has worsened the security situation and limiting freedom of movement during the day and ruling out night life for many because of fear of being harassed, kidnapped or killed by marauders.
Chief Casca Ogosu observed that when Niger Delta youths realized that the resources from their locality was being used to develop Abuja and other parts of the country at their own expense, they suddenly became restive, and in the process, kidnapping expatriates for ransom. According to him, as companies relocated to Lagos and Abuja because of the hostile environment, the restive youths tuned to albinos, and later to fellow Nigerians, a development that made the environment unsafe for everybody.
On complaints of payment for bail, he blamed it on impatience among the citizens. He however said that, in some occasions, the PCRC had intervened and the affected DPOs have refunded bail funds collected from impatient people who later reported to them. He disclosed that a lot of the police personnel lack adequate training, and that their training centres are not suitable for the purpose. “Some of them are not there because of passion to serve the country but because there are no jobs”, he said, urging the citizens to be security conscious at all times, and not leave everything to the police.
Also speaking at the occasion, Dr. Uche Mike Chukwuma, Director General of Rivers State Neighbourhood Safety Agency, recalled that two constables could man the entire Ikwerre road at a time, but that things have since changed for the worse.
He said the “police we have now have problem of transfer of officers to anywhere, at any point in time, for national service”, and that the people posted from anywhere do not have the interest of host communities at heart because they can be posted out anytime, and so have nothing to lose if disputing parties kill themselves or communities are destroyed.
The retired Assistant Commissioner of Police and Fellow of NIPR, stated that the Federal Police has lost focus. “They take bribe openly; they are into kidnapping”, adding that officials of Nigeria Police, with multiple pockets on their trousers, also collect money from drivers and give them balance openly.
“State police will make a difference because of involvement of natural stakeholders. State police will depend on indigenes that will be trained and posted to their communities. Neigbourhood Watch was not allowed to exist. Army was attacking Rivers State. Meanwhile other states have it, where they are even bearing arms. But it was politicised in Rivers State’, he regretted.
In his own contribution, Dr. Jossy Nkwocha, Fellow of Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, said that insecurity affects the reputation of Nigeria, which according to him, is almost at zero level because of Boko Haram, widespread reports of kidnapping, cultism and other forms of extra judicial killings.
He recalled the advice issued by the United States recently, urging her citizens not to travel to some states in Nigeria. This development, according to him, is a dent on the reputation of the country and the affected states.
Dr. Nkwocha further stated that Public Relations approach also borders on information management in order not to provoke negative reactions, just as it is important for every organization to have crisis management plan, so as to reduce response time, in times of challenges. He also talked about issues management in a proactive manner, to ensure that situations don’t degenerate into unmanageable crisis.
In his own contribution, His Royal Majesty, Felix Otuwarikpo, Eze Opata Kingdom, Fnipr,Fharped on the need for cooperation between the security agencies and other stakeholders in the communities, especially the traditional institution.
Cautioning that the security operatives cannot do it alone but needed to synergise with those who know the boys and the terrain, the Royal Father regretted that lack of cooperation between security agencies and other stakeholders is one of the reasons frustrating sincere efforts at addressing the emergent security challenges in some communities.
In his own remarks, the chairman of the Rivers State chapter of NIPR, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, thanked the Professional Development Committee for a good work. He however decried the loss of cherished cultural values that defined the people of Rivers State and stressed on the need for reorientation of the citizens, an assignment he said should begin from home.