‘The more you seek security, the less of it you have. But the more you seek opportunity, the more likely it is that you will achieve the security that you desire.” –Brian Tracy
Governor Simon Bako Lalong is unhappy and visibly worried about the gradual descent of the Nigerian state into a state of disorder, chaos and normlessness. And he is obviously not alone in the rage of anger arising from the escalating security crisis currently starring the country in the face. Other governors also are. At different times in the recent past, they’ve all had a taste of violence and mindless killings of innocent citizens in their states. That is why his counterparts in the Southwest resolved to pool their resources together and launched Operation Amotekun to deal with the threat of rampaging bandits, who have been terrorizing the people in the region. What makes Lalong’s case particularly pathetic, however, is the frequency of attacks on the communities in the state.
Last month alone, no fewer than four attacks by gunmen were recorded in Plateau State, resulting in the loss of 30 lives. In the latest attacks which took place on Monday, January 20, about seven people were said to have been killed and more than 10 houses razed. The attack came less than 24 hours after an incident which claimed 15 lives. In all, more than 33 able-bodied men and women have been dispatched to their early graves. Cruel, vicious and brutish! As usual, outpouring of emotions, condolence greetings and un-assuring expression of commitment to apprehend the perpetrators by the authorities followed. What happens thereafter to hundreds of bereaved families, the widows, orphans and several others dependants of the victims is nobody’s business.
So livid was the governor with the renewed killings in Mangu and Bokkos local government areas of the state that he ordered the arrest of community leaders in the two local governments. He also expressed dissatisfaction with the security agencies over their inability to arrest any of the attackers. A statement issued by Director of Press, Simon Makut, quoted Lalong as saying: “How can they say that people are killed and there is no arrest? Are those killing others spirits? I don’t think you can kill 15 human beings and claim you are spirit and there is not arrest. Commissioner of Police, you should take the community leaders and the Ardos with you so that they can tell you those behind these killings. By the time you go to cell, you will bring out those people that are doing it. If you want to give evidence, give it to the commissioner of police. We are not afraid of criminals. They should not sleep in their houses. By the time they are arrested, we will solve this problem”.
And before another incident happens, Lalong has declared a caveat: Engage in kidnapping and die. To be sure, the state is not about to establish another security outfit in the guise of Amotekun or join any regional grouping for that purpose. His own antidote to the scourge is by legislation. According to him, henceforth any kidnapper caught in the state will face death penalty. He made this declaration on Thursday at Shendam Mini Stadium during the coronation and upgrade of three chiefdoms in Shendam Local Government Area. He noted that kidnappers were relocating from other places to Plateau because of the “heat” they were experiencing in their evil business in those places. “People are saying they should come to Plateau because there is no death penalty here, but it is no longer business as usual here. “I have sent a bill yesterday to the state assembly in this regard and when passed, we will effect it,” he said.
As custodian of culture and values, the governor said the upgraded rulers would be held responsible for any security challenge in their communities, adding that “we have toiled to ensure that peace returns to Plateau State and we will not allow anyone to make nonsense of our efforts. We are determined to deal decisively and firmly with anybody found culpable in attacking or inciting people to carry out attacks against one another.
“Traditional and community leaders will be held responsible for any breakdown of law and order in their communities. You have the duty of mobilising the people toward maintaining peace and order.”
Across the country, kidnapping and hostage taking have become a booming business that have defied all known solutions. And for some experts, the way to address the menace is not only by acquiring a huge arsenal but also creating economic opportunity that could divert the energies of young men and women away from criminality to productive ventures.
For now, this is one area governments at all levels must look seriously into to restore the lost values that have brought the country to its sorry plight.
Lalong’s decision to involve traditional rulers in security arrangement is also in line with the idea of community policing, which is gradually gathering momentum across the geo-political zones.
For a complex security situation as the one the nation is currently grappling with, effort to contain criminality in whatever form must be all-inclusive and encompassing.
Lalong, a lawyer, took a plunge into politics in 1998 at the advent of the present democratic dispensation when he contested for a seat in the Plateau State House of Assembly on the platform of the Peopes Democratic Party (PDP). In October 2000, he became the Speaker of the House of Assembly, occupying that position till the year 2006, following a political storm within the House. In 2015, he joined forces with All Progressive Congress (APC) where he contested for the governorship position and won. He is currently serving his second term of another four years.