Insecurity is not new to Ogun State. It has had its own fair share of the wave of the security challenges afflicting the country. But beyond that, Ogun is a border state and is prone to all sorts of trans-border crimes.
It shares borders with Republic of Benin at more than one point, and the nation’s borders are porous in a way that compromises security. Criminals from outside the country come in and go out unhindered after carrying out heinous crimes.
Under successive administrations, securing the state has been a huge challenge. Banditry and kidnapping in different parts of Ogun, especially on the highways, nearly overwhelmed the immediate past administration.
The dust raised by the administration’s acquisition of weapons in its response to the wave of insecurity but which were kept at Government House, Abeokuta, rather than with security agencies, is yet to die down. That makes security high on the agenda of Governor Dapo Abiodun.
Even his most ardent critics agree that this is the way to go because of the peculiar nature of the state as investors’ destination and the second largest economy in Nigeria after Lagos.
Abiodun started his campaign to provide security the moment he assumed office and the efforts are paying off. The story is told of how he had gone for a retreat organised by the Nigerian Governors’ Forum in Abuja barely two weeks after he took office and, while there, news broke that some passengers in transit from the South-East to Lagos were kidnapped around Ijebu Ode.
One of the kidnapped persons was a pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) and the incident happened ahead of the national convention of the church. Abiodun was said to have left the retreat venue and headed to the Presidential Villa, where he met President Muhammadu Buhari to beg him to urgently do something about crime in Ogun, particularly kidnapping and banditry.
The President, after consulting with his security chiefs, decided that a helicopter specially designed for crime fighting be deployed to Ogun State.
It took the copter less than 24 hours to unmask the hideout of the kidnappers and what followed was the rescue of the victims. It was learnt that the reason banditry and kidnapping appear to have subsided in the state is partly because the copter is active in Ogun and will fish criminals out if they make the wrong move.
Abiodun has followed this up with his donation of 100 vehicles and 200 motorcycles to the police, to demonstrate his commitment to security in his state. While presenting the patrol vehicles and motorcycles to the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, and the Ogun State Commissioner of Police, Bashir Makama, the governor said the vehicles were provided to enhance policing in Ogun.
“The fact that Ogun State has assumed the status of investors’ destination of choice means that our dear state has attained a certain level of socio-economic development,z with noticeable growth in trade and commerce. What this means is that Ogun State is fast attaining a mega status,” he said at the occasion to mark his first 100 days in office. “We also appreciate the fact that this mega status comes with a wide range of opportunities for the continued development of our dear state and attendant challenges, especially in terms of security. This means that we must also ensure we have a mega security apparatus that will be efficient and effective.”
He added that a wave of criminal activities in the state had tested his administration’s resolve in providing security, but strongly warned, “hell will be a child’s play for criminals.”
Adamu applauded Abiodun for the gesture, urging other governors to follow suit: “All the governors have promised to buy vehicles for security agencies in their various states. We are in Ogun and we have seen the reality.
“We call on other state governors within the zone to emulate what the governor of Ogun has done. What he has done is to encourage security agencies in the state to do more than what they have been doing. The state has been peaceful, there are cases of kidnapping that happened and we have been able to solve them in order to remain as peaceful as it used to be.
“I have spoken with the officers and they have also told me that the support the governor has been giving them. I have seen it myself and they have also promised that they will redouble their efforts to make sure that Ogun is the safest state in this country.”
Security is dear to Abiodun not only because he has a duty to protect Ogun people as the chief security officer but also because he appreciates the benefits of a secure environment, being a security consultant himself.
The governor played a key role in the coming into being of “Operation Sweep,” a crime fighting outfit in Lagos State in the mid-1990s when he was the brain behind the project that saw crime in all parts of the state being reported to a central command in record time.
The project drastically reduced crime in Lagos because reports on robbery and other criminal activities meant that operatives had to be deployed quickly.
To secure Ogun, Abiodun, only three and a half months into his four-year tenure, has just started and things can only get better. As the tenure continues, residents can be rest assured that they can sleep with their two eyes closed.
•Bakare, a security consultant, contributes this piece from Mowe, Ogun State