More than any government in Ogun State, the Senator Ibikunle Amosun administration is believed to have shown more determination to contain crimes in the state despite its limitations, writes Olawale Olaleye
In the thick of the Lagos doctors’ strike that lasted several weeks early in the year, not a few understood the pains of Governor Babatunde Fashola. The picture that came across the minds of less discerning people was that of an obstinate governor determined to punish men of such a reputable profession. But those close to the governor knew his pains. Amongst the various sectors of the state’s economy, the health sector is one area the governor had and has continued to make huge investment. The standard created at many levels in the health sector is such that would compete with some of the foreign countries where people often rush to for medical attention.
But despite Fashola’s huge investment in that critical sector, government, sources said, was always under pressure to fly people abroad for medical attention because the medical personnel here could not handle some simple cases. This, the source said, often comes at such a huge cost to the government. Particularly annoying, another source added, is that fact that often times, the result upon which many of such people flown abroad were treated were usually generated from the Lagos medical facilities. What this meant, according to government sources, is the fact that government has played its part by creating the environment for resounding medical practices of world standard but what is lacking is the personnel to efficiently man them.
Rather than impress government by showing a degree of efficiency in the handling of some of the equipment, the doctors wanted new salary package and as a result of that, they had embarked on strike about six times in two years despite salaries increase a couple of times. Such disposition was believed to have infuriated the governor who refused to succumb to the doctors’ apparent blackmail in the face of its huge consequences on the state’s health system.
The Ekiti State Government has also had a dose of such a challenge. A source in the government told THISDAY recently that Governor Kayode Fayemi’s effort to improve the medical facilities of the state was often slowed down by doctors’ lackadaisical attitude to work. In fact, the source said the foreign doctors brought in by government to teach their Nigerian colleagues how to handle some of the new facilities also noticed the doctors’ poor attitude to work and complained.
For instance, the source said not only would they turn up late for work when their foreign counterparts would have reported hours earlier; they would sometimes leave early on the pretext of going on break and never return to work. Perhaps, it is a Nigerian thing.
About a month ago, the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, raised the alarm about suspected sabotage of efforts by his administration to make lives and property more secured in the state. Amosun who had met senior journalists to update them on the state of the state drew attention to some unidentified interests in the state who seemed bent on bringing down the administration on the strength of insecurity. He also cited acts of sabotage allegedly carried out by the detractors of his administration.
Shortly after he took delivery of six out of the 13 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), and assigned same to designated authorities in different parts of the state for coordinated policing, Amosun said two of the APCs assigned to Ijebu area of the state, an area notorious for criminal activities, were said to have developed fault. While the argument that the APCs were new was not sufficient, the problem attracted Amosun’s curiosity.
The two APCs in question, Amosun said, developed the fault because those managing them had erroneously turned in diesel oil into a tank they ought to have put transmission oil despite the fact that there was a clear instruction on the kind of liquid to put in the tanks of the two APCs. This, of course, had worried the governor because it looked more like sabotage than a mistake.
While Amosun was not certain about what might have actually gone wrong, an incident about six weeks ago when some banks, especially in Ijebu area of the state reportedly shut down because of a possible robbery attack in the wake of the faulty APCs strengthened the suspicion of a sabotage. Upon making inquiry, the governor learnt from the police that the APCs did not just work that morning without warning signs. Amosun later discovered that it was the brain box that was tampered with, obviously by a familiar hand.
Curiously, if all of that had not been premeditated, how come then did the banks know that the APCs would not work to the extent that they resolved not to open to customers on that day? How did the media also know about the news the night before and were able to publish it? Was there a meeting between the banks and the security operatives to the extent that the state of the APCs was ascertained the night before that made the non-functioning a public thing without the governor knowing? The posers are endless and have raised issues on the culpability of the police in such situations.
Police complicity in the alleged sabotage is based on the fact that the APC is not a regular vehicle for the civilian or the ordinary mechanic to handle as it requires specialised knowledge that only some security agents could posses.
But much as the security of lives and property of the people of Ogun State is inexcusably the sole responsibility of Amosun who ironically does not directly control the police; it, however, amounts to bad politics to not only sabotage government as it appears the case but also present the administration as inept. The feeling that some interests are stoking the insecurity level is rife in the state.
For a government that has done so much for security in terms of support and efficient policing, the governor’s anger about recent development is therefore justified. Indeed, there have been pockets of reported cases of criminal activities in the state; such development is obviously not peculiar to Ogun State.
Worse incidents have been reported in other states and of particular note was the recent robbery in Auchi, Edo State, where robbers reportedly used dynamites to blast four banks. The incident, according to reports, led to the death of three soldiers and 15 civilians.
While instances like this cannot suffice as defence for the government or justify the menace the situation may have constituted in some parts of the state, it is also politics of dishonour that some interests, which many believe created the situation that has fostered insecurity on the state are making this an issue of politics, especially when it is common knowledge that previous administration did not come up with a quarter of the initiative that the Amosun administration has deployed in combating crimes in the state.
It is no wonder, therefore, that Amosun was recently honoured as the Best Security Conscious State Governor in West Africa by Security Watch Africa in far away Accra, Ghana. Security Watch Africa, an organisation that sets security agenda for African leaders and at the forefront of celebrating security and safety excellence in Africa, recognised efforts of the Amosun administration and acknowledged same with the awards.
Since assuming office less than two years ago, the Amosun administration has purchased for the use of security agencies in the state, 200 Hilux vans equipped with communication gadgets, 13 brand new top of the range APCs, 500 bulletproof vests, 500 bulletproof helmets, 1000 AK-47 and two million rounds of ammunition. Government has also set up the Ogun State Vigilante Services which burst the kidnapping of the wife of Speaker of Osun State when the hoodlums who seized her in Osogbo had tried to take her through Ogun State. The administration also pays millions of naira in allowances and other emoluments to security agents every month, in addition to setting up the Quick Response Squad (QRS) and the Operation MESA, a joint Military-Police task force.
Ironically, this cannot be said of the pre-Amosun era. Instead, what characterised the state before the coming into office of the present administration was the reign of terror- from assassination to cultism, armed robbery, motor park thugs clashes and the likes. The state was literally unsafe even as gory tales of killings at will by agents suspected to be loyal to government scared people from visiting the state until the breath of fresh air brought by the Amosun administration.
Above all, observers expect that the governor should be more assertive and not fall cheaply for subtle ploy designed principally to distract the administration from further entrenching the culture of standard it has begun to institute in the state. The issue of security must, therefore, be reviewed and redefined with a view to ensuring that the liability of public distrust it inherited from the previous administration is completely smashed while at the same time reinstating the trust and confidence of good governance in the people.