Road trips along the Kaduna-Abuja highway are becoming more than nightmares. The rate of banditry, kidnapping and sundry heinous crimes taking place in the environs worrisomely demands a state of emergency by government. Figures of casualties are abysmally, rapidly rising on a daily basis. From Abuja to Kaduna is approximately 188.7 kilometers, roughly three hours’ drive. By implication, Kaduna shares proximity with the seat of power and possibly habours some oblique characters that find it difficult to operate within the Federal Capital Territory owing to heavy presences of all the security agencies with their headquarters.
Recently, the acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammad Adamu, at a Northern Traditional Rulers Council meeting in Kaduna, pointedly attested that crime rate in the country has alarmingly recorded 1,071 persons killed, 685 abducted in the first quarter of 2019 with the Northern Region leading with 71.62 per cent. From the record, North West got 436; North-Central, 250, largely linked to banditry, kidnapping and communal clashes; while South-South had 130 casualties. By these figures, there is fire on the mountain. Thus, the nation’s space is under siege. But how come such criminalities are heatedly resurfacing after the general election, ahead of inauguration of a new government?
It is bizarre that, amid security challenges and despite the fact that all the security agencies, police, army, DSS, navy, air force and civil defence, have their headquarters in Abuja, security agencies are lenient in its environs. For example, tinted-glass vehicles are now in vogue in Abuja and adjacent states, and are rarely searched, as is obtainable in other states. Even pedestrians with weapons are hardly ever subjected to stop-and-search or questioning by security operatives.
There must be obvious justifications to authorise tinted glass on cars, except when status demands. Authorising cars with tinted-glasses in a society without digitalised security system is a blunder. So far, most of the crimes are perpetrated with tinted-glass cars, especially in Abuja, where private car owners engage in commercial transportation most times. Numerous commuters have been robbed or abducted in tinted glass vehicles on account that they are usually wound-up without see-through from outside.
Even commercial motorcyclists, popularly nicknamed ‘Okada,’ operate with no registration numbers in Abuja, hence, no means of identification when necessary. Apart from Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) that mounts checkpoints, it is rare to find the police on the road operating proficiently as they ought to, notwithstanding that the nation is not yet technologically advanced to rely on digital security system. Over time, these oversights unconsciously add to great security challenges. Presently, crime detection in the country is mostly analogue, which requires proactive and physical measures, particularly road searches, which is seldom done. Assuming the society is technologically advanced, then digital detection systems could check people’s baggage at strategic points, as in advanced countries. Security agencies should brainstorm to find a lasting solution to the problems. Period!
Imperatively, the quantum of idle or undeveloped land in the North, neither for agriculture nor business activities, is frighteningly, economically indicative that many from the region may resort to crime as a means of survival, except those that are employable through education or skilled in a field. From Niger to Kebbi State is excessive idle landscape that can comfortably feed the nation and expand for export, if judiciously put into use. Unfortunately, there are no activities. It is a desert.
Obviously, there’s need for burning industrial revolution. Industrial ideas are critically germane at this juncture. The NYSC could be reformed to make the one-year scheme industrially oriented, with skills acquisition and economic empowerment schemes. For instance, factories can be built in those deserts using NYSC as workforce. If there’s nothing to produce, numerous farm produce that children hawk, like oranges, carrots, pears, garden eggs, tomatoes, cucumber, etc, could be industrially processed for improved valuable products, as in other nations. With that, scores of youths would acquire diverse skills that would upgrade them and put some in employers’ status. An economy with majority of able-bodied youths doing betting is on redline.
Is it possible that agriculture and related disciplines in our education curriculums are parables? Despite the number of universities of agriculture in the country, such neglects have existed for centuries. By means of irrigation, farming activities can thrive in those areas, alongside processing factories, which can ultimately provide jobs to youths roaming the streets. This is one unique way a government can transform the destinies of its people. To provide boreholes within the areas as well as farming machinery and incentives is certainly a realistic remedial mechanism to the catastrophe.
By the federal government’s stringent fiscal policies, which have blocked leakages in the system through the Treasury Single Account and others, it is obvious that people who hitherto shortsightedly relied on free money or other sinister means may resort to crime out of frustration, as the system is tightened up for the common good. Hence, governments are equally under obligation to come up with pragmatic job creation schemes towards carrying such populations along with skills acquisition for their survival and, essentially, for the general society’s interests.
The number of unemployable able-bodied persons roaming the streets is as indicator that there is a time bomb waiting to explode, as education that empowers people for innovations and self-reliance is poorly treasured. Thus, government at all levels has critical work to do, particularly in skill acquisition and economic empowerment programmes. Any grown-up without education, trade or skills for survival will inevitably survive at the expense of society, either through banditry, kidnapping and other heinous means.
Laudably, UNICEF, pursuant to the UN Conventions on the Rights of the Child around the world, evidently, makes significant impacts in Nigeria through its Educate-A-Child programmes, and so justifies momentum, synergy and sustainability. Child education remains a sine qua non to a secure and thriving society. Most societal vices are traceable to poor upbringing of children, particularly negligence on education.
•Umegboro is a public affairs analyst.