Listening to Nyesom Wike , the other day, talk about ending kidnappings in the federal capital, Abuja, you would think in the next minutes the heavens would come down on the kidnappers and bury them out of sight for ever. In the manner of the Great Flood of Noah’s day. Or “I See You, You Can’t See Me” soap epic. The FCT minister was angry that Abuja to which he had brought his no nonsense had just exploded in his face. Two days earlier, kidnappers swooped down on a residential estate and took away a man and his six daughters and demanded a N600 million ransom for their release. When they saw the money wasn’t forthcoming, they killed the eldest daughter and raised the ransom even higher.
Wike’s wrath was directed toward chairmen of local government councils in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) whom he accused of being in the habit of abandoning their areas of jurisdiction and flying out of the country. “We have (received) reports that the council chairmen travel anytime, and if anything happens, they will not call anybody’s name but the FCT Minister’s. They must wake up to their responsibilities,” he told them during a meeting with security officers. “This time around,” he said, “we’ll not be happy (with any chairmen) who abdicate their responsibilities and travel out.”
On the security challenge, the minister, however, assured his audience that there was no cause for alarm. “We’ll do all we can and we assure Nigerians who reside here (FCT) that there is no cause for panic. We’re taking every step to make sure that the challenges are resolved.” During another Town Hall meeting at Bwari, the epicenter of the kidnappings and killings in the FCT, Wike promised “a robust approach against bandits.” He said he would “create an unbearable environment for their operations.” According to him, President Bola Tinubu had instructed him and “all service chiefs to employ all necessary means to end the menace of kidnappings and killings in Bwari and other FCT areas.” For that, the president had approved “the provision of of all essential tools and logistics for security operatives, leaving no room for excuses.” With all that, Wike said people should expect that there would be “significant changes in the security situation in the next few days.” Wike was followed almost immediately by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Kayode Egbetokun, who launched a “special intervention squad” for the FCT. “The specially trained mobile police officers will provide rapid response to security breaches and engage in extensive community policing,” he said.
Two takes from Wike. One is his anger against travelling council chairmen, and two, his promise that things would change for better “in the next few days” for fear stricken residents of the FCT. There is a third point that has nothing to with the minister but everything to do with crime fighting in the country as a whole. First, Wike’s quarrel with the chairmen. I think the fire flashes flying from his eyes were misdirected and, for that reason, unfair. Firstly, they do not command troops or the police to guard and protect their people. Not even governors have control of security in their states. I’m curious if Wike has his own force to police the territory he administers besides the one controlled by the federal government. His saying the President has directed this and approved that tells me he has none. So, whether or not they “trave out” too often has nothing to do with what kidnappers do and where they choose to strike. They pick their targets based on the intelligence they get. And they get it, regrettably, from some of ‘us’ good citizens so called. Again, if his council chairs are “abdicating” their responsibility, who is to sanction them but he, the minister. My advice to the minister is the same as given by a man of God: “Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to wrath, for wrath doesn’t work out the righteousness of God.” Anger befogs reason and leads to unreasonableness.
Take two, Wike’s promise or pledge it should be. It was a promise he knew wasn’t within his means to deliver. The power and will to grant are someone else’s – the president’s. And I don’t know how much of the president’s ear he has got. In 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan’s Chief of Defence Staff pledged to finish off the terror group Boko Haram in three months. Alas! the group outlived his presidency. It was his successor that eventually crushed the Hydra’s head. Nigerians are all too familiar with politicians’s empty promises, sweetly uttered but cold in delivery. As for Wike’s promise, if you ask me and I say wait and see, I’ll be speaking for millions of my country men and women.
Now to the all important point. A former communications minister, Isa A. Pantami has alleged that security forces are unwilling to leverage the National Identity Number-Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) linkage to fight crimes such as kidnapping and banditry. President Muhammadu introduced it in 2020, principally to check phone related offences. Pantami who implemented it, in a tweet, wondered why the security forces were not making use of the technology to curb the rise in especially banditry and kidnapping for money. “The NIN-SIM policy has been effective … However, the main issue lies in the lack of utilization, not the policy itself,” the tweet read. “I’m concerned (because) my life was threatened by criminals for introducing it. If the relevant institutions responsible for safeguarding life and property are not making use of it, then I’m even more disheartened, having risked my life (to introduce it).” The question is, are the security forces balking and why? None of the forces have ready answers. If Pantami is right about an unwillingness to use technology to fight technology driven criminality, see my hands up in the air and head bowed for obodo Nija.