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We can always go to Abuja

It is the responsibility of citizens to assess the performance of public institutions, owing to the fact that the existence of such institutions can only…

It is the responsibility of citizens to assess the performance of public institutions, owing to the fact that the existence of such institutions can only be relevant if their statutory functions benefit the citizens. But for such an assessment to be relevant, it must be objective and realistic, otherwise its purpose would be completely defeated.

Bala Muhammad’s July 22, 2017 back page column in Daily Trust newspaper captioned “Now we can’t even go to Abuja!” would have made an interesting reading if it was rooted in objective analysis of the security situation and the response of the security agencies to it. Taking the write-up on its face value, Bala is telling the world that Nigerians from the North West and North East can’t even travel to Abuja, the federal capital any longer, a position that is far from the truth, based on evidences on ground.  But taking it from historical perspective, Bala is implying that kidnappers may have succeeded where Orkar and his fellow coupists failed in excising the zones from Nigeria, a fact that is as unpatriotic as it is misleading.

It is understandable that Bala who, by all standards, is a member of the elite group in Nigeria, will feel seriously threatened any time he wants to travel to Abuja because kidnapers appear to have this group in their operational purview. Notwithstanding this, if he had analysed the incidence reasonably and objectively without having to exude unpatriotic sectional tendencies, his statute as a public affairs analyst would have remained unscathed

Unless one decides to turn his eyes away from the obvious, one would have come to terms with the efforts the police are making in curbing the scourge. While the Nigeria Police Force has earned general commendation for its success in nabbing kidnap kingpins in flashpoints like Lagos, Anambra and Imo states, Bala has dismissed that as irrelevant, claiming it did not affect the areas he navigates. Either out of ignorance or deliberate attempt to diminish the efforts of the police, Bala has refused to acknowledge that even the areas he crosses, have been in the operational coverage of the police.      

It may interest him to know that Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris’ commitment to halt this spate of kidnappings along Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Road, spurred his personal involvement in combating it. He has travelled the roads himself on several occasions. Only last Thursday, he rode the road, stopping along the way in different communities to address people on their roles and participation in fighting kidnapping. He also stopped to talk to the different troops deployed to man the roads. This sharply contradicts the picture Bala was trying to paint of a docile security operative.

The 600 specially-trained policemen patrolling the road presently far outnumbered those that operated during the renovation exercise at Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport earlier in the year. The writer misrepresented the fact when he insinuated the police only heightened security on the road when the Abuja airport was closed. Also, 60 utility vehicles are being used to cover the roads to ensure surveillance, rapid response and combat. The police are constantly on the trail of kidnappers, and there are results all over the country, Bala’s routes inclusive.  Only recently the IGP team arrested the following kidnappers: Ali Rabo, also known as Blakky, of Liman Ibada village in Chikun Local Government Area; and Awwalu Ahmad, aka Mota, of Rijana village in Kachia Local Government Area who is the main informant of the gang along the Abuja-Kaduna highway. Others arrested are Shehu Shagari, a 27-year old of Gadan Gayan village in Igabi Local Government Area; and Umar Antijo, also a 27-year-old of Rijana village in Kachia Local Government Area. Also in the net is Babangida Abdullahi of Rijana village in Kachia Local Government Area who is the alleged receiver of stolen cattle, phones and laptops.

As much as the police are toiling day and night to secure our roads, the incidences of kidnapping and other crimes for that matter cannot be overcome easily. The police and other security agencies know this well enough. Bala Muhammad is also expected to know this. He led the A DAIDAITA SAHU, an agency on societal re-orientation in Kano state once. It was an agency which the government of Malam Ibrahim Shekarau funded so lavishly well. The question was, how instantly did Bala succeed in re-orienting the people of Kano, despite all his efforts and the funding he enjoyed? That single experience would have thought him that anything dealing with human activities cannot be robotically automatic.

For record purposes, police investigations have revealed that communities along the roads Bala was concerned with equally play negative roles in accommodating, transporting, shielding and generally aiding the kidnappers. That was why the IGP had to go to these communities to sensitise them on the consequences of their actions, and the need to cooperate with the police in apprehending the culprits.

It is also true that Nigeria has less than 400 thousand policemen and officers manning about 180 million people, one of the least in Africa. And for a police force that has to go cap-in-hand begging state governors for utility vehicles, choppers, speed boats and all that, where is the capacity to work effectively? For a police force whose take home cannot take them home, where is the motivation to work hard?

In 2016, N360 billion was budgeted for the police, out of which only N4 billion was released. For the year 2017, nothing has been released so far!!! With all these odds against the police, one would have thought that the writer would join patriotic Nigerians in sympathizing with the poor Nigerian policemen. There is nowhere in the whole world where the police are so deprived and yet are as effective as in Nigeria.

These are the areas public affairs analysts are expected to use their pen to address. How well is our police force funded? How well are our policemen equipped?? How well are they motivated??? And what is the level of positive community participation???? These are the fundamental questions expected to be raised by objective-minded analysts. Unfortunately, these are the issues Bala has refused to address in his intervention. There is this saying that to whom so much is given, so much is expected. But here in Nigeria, as indicated by Bala’s mindset, a whole lot is expected from him to whom little is given. This smacks of injustice, and reels of disregard for the plight of common, hard-working Nigerian policemen.

It is simply an elitist mindset.  

On the whole, as a result of the pro-active approach of the IGP and the cooperation of the men and officers of the Nigeria Police Force, people from the Northwest and Norteast can go to Abuja at all time.


Ibrahim wrote this piece from Abuja.

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