There are many ways of getting into history, especially as a public office holder in Nigeria. Hardly do they leave office with anything remarkable as a legacy.
The focus is on state governors. It is so frightening these days, as our state governors don’t seem to care what harm or good they can do themselves with their God-given privilege to serve their people.
Into this context, we must situate the humble gesture (more of a distinction) of Anambra State governor, Willie Obiano, who took a major step in the battle against criminals in the state. In the past few years, crime wave swept through the country at an alarming rate that, at whatever hour of the day, the average Nigerian is secure only as long as he/she is not yet a victim.
The type of crime, the spot and daredevilry are the contemptuous choice of the criminals. Even, law enforcement agents like policemen and security personnel like soldiers, even officers, are no longer safe.
Little wonder when President Muhammadu Buhari, last August, announced that, to combat the crime wave, Federal Government would install closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras on major roads in Nigeria. In advance of that, Anambra’s Willie Obiano came up with his humble gesture by inviting Police Inspector-General Adamu to launch CCTV cameras in three major cities in Anambra, the state capital, Awka, one of Nigeria’s leading commercial cities, Onitsha, and the biggest manufacturing city in South East zone, Nnewi.
Today, no state is free from kidnappers, senseless murderers, bank robbers, armed robbers, drug addicts or petty criminals.
There are, therefore, many ways to appreciate the effort of the Anambra State government on this project. The first is the impact of any project on the lives of the people.
With the seeming uncontrollable crime rate in the country, the mistaken impression is that both federal and state governments had been overwhelmed or even overawed by the criminals.
A major source of this impression is the very very low rate of crime detection, if any. It is as bad as that. With the CCTV project in the major Anambra cities, Governor Obiano must be reassuring Nigerians that despite the desperate situation on crime rate in the country, federal and state governments remain in charge.
Furthermore, the governor could only have helped in reducing President Buhari’s burden on the crime situation.
There is the wrong impression that only Federal Government can provide security. The reality is that most crimes are local and are better or easier detected by state governments.
There may accordingly be the case for security outfit for state governors, provided such will not be turned into armed thugs for victimisation or subduing of political opponents. In any case, with the CCTV project, Anambra government is assisting with, perhaps, residual role of state governments in detection of crimes.
What if other 35 state governments assume similar responsibility? The first step of calling the bluff of criminals is to dare them with more than a fair chance of being detected, a humiliation they most dread.
Except that we relaxed, armed robbery and drug peddling reduced on the introduction of death penalty and execution of convicted culprits.
The fear of being detected sent potential armed robbers scampering for safety.
We must also face the fact that state governors are being convenient in citing centralisation of police as their failure to detect time.
Governor Obiano, in installing CCTV cameras on major streets in the state, merely priotised crime detection. Why can’t other governors follow suit? Lack of funds?
Another credit for Obiano on financial prudence. Anambra is not in any way one of Nigeria’s wealthy states.
Yet within such limited financial resources, CCTV cameras were installed in three major cities. To attain his aim, Obiano scaled over possible obstacles like unreliable power supply.
Instead, the CCTV cameras will be operated with solar power. We must recall that, before Buhari took office in 2015, CCTV cameras were reportedly installed on Abuja streets.
Where are the cameras today and how many millions of naira went down the drain?
That is a major challenge Governor Obiano may face on the CCTV project. He has to secure the infrastructure he has installed to secure lives and property of the people.
Any vandalism of the CCTV project could only be aimed at recreating the necessary atmosphere for crimes, including armed robbery, a federal crime, which carries death penalty.
Accordingly, vandalism of the CCTV project in Anambra in such circumstances, under the law, is conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
Obiano should be ready to invoke the law on conspiracy to commit armed robbery. Otherwise, like other public utilities, it would be a question of time for the CCTV project to be destroyed.
Finally, at the next meeting of the National Council of State, President Buhari should recommend the CCTV example of Anambra Governor Obiano to other state governors.
Obiano did not collect any intervention fund and if he could install such a project, other state governors should have no difficulty. No law under the Constitution inhibits state governors from installing CCTV cameras.