By Ibrahim Sheriff (Gold)
Last week, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State led traditional rulers and security commanders to a joint security meeting with his Oyo State counterpart, Engr. Seyi Makinde. Both states announced their resolve to set up an interstate working team, to dispassionately address security challenges and come up with solutions to be worked on by both state Governors.
This is coming in the wake of security challenges posed by the influx of Fulani herdsmen, chased from Oyo communities into neighboring Kwara state communities. A development that has heightened tension and ignited fears on the minds of Kwarans over the implications for the safety of lives and properties of Kwarans, considering the havoc caused by criminal elements among the herdsmen in various states across Nigeria.
Although, before the recent development, Kwara State had its fair share of heinous incidence of kidnappings; in 2020 alone, no fewer than three major kidnap for ransom cases in Ilorin were reported in the media space. From a Medical Doctor journeying from the North to Lagos; to a Director in the Kwara state Civil Service around October; to the Serkin Fulani of Ilorin around September, to a farmer around September and later, a Cattle trader whose wife was murdered in cold blood and kid abducted from the comfort of his Madi home, in Ilorin west local government. This is aside other kidnaps recorded around same Madi this year.
The synergy between Kwara and Oyo States, which was said to be at the instance of Governor Abdulrazaq, as beautiful as it sounds in the face of extant and emerging security threats in both States, is everything but incomplete and leaves the possibility of its effectiveness or any derivative from it in doubt.
Kwara State is bordered by Oyo, Ekiti and Osun states to the South, Niger to the North and Kogi to the East. Governor AbdulRazaq however chose to only collaborate with Oyo State Governor, even when several of Kwara communities are more exposed to banditry from recently troubled Niger state.
Unfortunately, Kwara shares very porous land and water borders with Niger state. In fact, the first case of kidnap recorded under Gov. AbdulRazaq’s leadership was in Edu local government, involving four (4) Turkish nationals, barely 3months after his inauguration.
It is also important to state that, even with Oyo State, some communities in Moro and Asa local governments share boundaries with several Oyo communities but traditional leadership of these two local governments, who possess the native intelligence about security situations in those areas were left out of the meeting. Obviously, a joint team among both States that doesn’t factor in all concerned may just be incomprehensive and impotent.
I will not want to assume that the delegation of traditional institution that went with the Governor to Oyo State were nominated by the State Council of Traditional rulers. I want to believe, if that was the case, the institution’s groundedness would be reflected and a more inclusive representation of affected and volatile communities to the emerging security threat to the State would have made the list of such significant alliance.
Now that we resolved to team up with Oyo, are we setting up another collaborative team with Niger state, too?
That notwithstanding, the joint security meeting provoked my thoughts to comparatively analyze the preparedness of the two partnering States against insecurity. In a partnership of this nature, the commitments of parties must be proportionately at par. Can we confidently say Kwara is on same pedestal with Oyo State in its efforts to fight insecurity in recent times?
No fewer than 100 operational vehicles has been bought by the Oyo State government for security agencies across the state. The state government in November, 2020 also inaugurated the Oyo State Security Network Agency, codenamed Amotekun Corps to fight against insecurity in the state, with no fewer than 1,500 personnel.
Oyo State, aside a Swift Response Squad (SRS) – a unit of the Nigeria Police Force on standby for rapid responses and security distress, also have a scheme, Operation Burst – a state-backed unit comprising the Military, Police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
While Kwara State also have Operation Harmony, setup under former Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed’s administration and can be likened to Oyo state’s Operation Burst, we have no other State backed security scheme setout to address the dynamic trends of insecurity ravaging the country at the moment, in line with our own peculiarities.
While it is plausible that Gov. AbdulRazaq equally made some Hilux vans available for the security agencies, it is largely inadequate, as some of the places Operation Harmony is sighted, they are seen working with old, tattered vehicles that may not aid delivery of quality provision of security.
It is on record, that successive government in Kwara State have always partnered and empowered the Vigilante groups, who are organized local guards that understands the security terrains of the grassroots. Specifically, in year 2017, Gov. Abdulfatah Ahmed setup harmonised Vigilante group in the wake of various security challenges in the North West zone, and Nigeria at large at that time, with the intent of providing viable complement to the police and other security agencies in the area of local intelligence gathering and community policing.
The contributions of the local Vigilante to the rescue of the kidnapped Turkish nationals in Edu local government is acknowledged by the immediate past Commissioner of Police Kayode Egbetokun, and well publicized. Unfortunately, the present government is not looking inward to partner and work with them to strengthen our security architecture. Even as series of kidnappings and other security menace are being recorded in recent times. The Vigilante and local hunters in the state had on several accessions lamented lack of government support in recent times.
Obviously, Kwara and Oyo States are not on same pedestal when it comes to security architecture and manpower. Leveraging on the structures of organized local guards, to collaborate with other security agencies would enable Kwara match up in its alliance with Oyo State government, as ‘Amotekun’ cannot operate interstate (Kwara), even if Police and others could.
A journey from Ilorin to Kaiama, enroute Kisi will expose discerning minds to the inadequacies in Kwara’s security capacity at this turbulent period. Rarely would you find security checkpoints within the shore of Kwara and where you find them, they are with bad operation vehicles. In fact, those in Alapa as at last week, were on patrol with an old Mazda 626! This is in contrast to what is obtainable in Oyo communities, where ‘Amotekuns’ filled the gap left by police. Their presence, undoubtedly, will reduce the possibility of crime on the highways. Leaving Kwara at the mercy of inadequate human and operational resources.
Indeed, the time to double up efforts to secure lives and properties of Kwarans is now. We must look inward, consult widely and strengthen our security capacity to match up the challenge of collaboration, if the keg of gunpowder mustn’t be dropped at our backyard.