Africa will on Friday, October 11, have for the first time supersmart closed-circuit cameras (CCTVs) in three of its cities—thanks to Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State who has decided to fight crime with the latest technology anywhere in the world. On this day, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, will personally lead the inauguration of Anambra State’s state technology-driven security initiative, the Smart City Security Project, also known as the second phase of Operation Kpochapu (that is, Operation Wipe Out Crime). The CCTVs are being installed in Awka, Nnewi and Onitsha, and later in other parts of the state.
The Smart City Security Project was inspired by the governor’s visit to Massachusetts, United States, in October 2018, when he toured places like the Cambridge Innovation Centre, Boston University and Industrial Video and Control in Boston. He was struck by, among other things, the sophisticated surveillance cameras from Industrial Video and Control, developed in conjunction with researchers at the Cambridge Innovation Centre and other research centres in Massachusetts. These products proved effective in helping the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to identify the two brothers from originally Kyrgyzstan, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, that on April 15, 2013, bombed participants in the annual Boston Marathon, killed three persons and injured many others, including 16 who lost their legs.
Though the advanced surveillance cameras from Industrial Video and Control are not yet in some American cities and even states, Governor Obiano felt that they should be installed in Anambra State so that it would remain Nigeria’s safest state and as a result attract considerable investments. To operate effectively for 24 hours daily, these gadgets require electricity, which, unfortunately, is not always available in Nigeria. The governor, consequently, opted for the solar-powered type.
As part of the launch of the second round of Operation Kpochapu, 109 vehicles have been procured and equipped with state-of-the-art electronic devices to work in unison with the supersmart gadgets. All the pickups in the fleet, 49 of them, are from Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company, Nnewi, Anambra State. Select police officers have in the last two months been undergoing training on how to operate the sophisticated CCTVs and the equipment in the new 109 vehicles.
The fact that the Anambra State government has chosen to deploy advanced technology in its fight against crime shows a government, which does not rest on its laurels. After all, the state has in the last three years become Nigeria’s safest and most peaceful state. But the government is conscious that, to retain this status, it has to be at least one step ahead of criminals, many of whom are becoming more sophisticated and more daring. It recognizes that crime can no longer be fought effectively in the traditional way. In the more developed countries of the world, technology has proved immensely useful in crime detection and prevention. We have already cited the example of how FBI’s use of the latest surveillance cameras from the Cambridge Innovation Centre assisted to unmask the 2013 Boston Marathon bombers.
Indeed, by deploying advanced technology to safeguard the lives and assets of its people, Anambra State has thrown a challenge to other governments in the federation. The Federal Government, for instance, needs to provide security and paramilitary agencies like the Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Security, Customs Service and National Security and Civil Defence Corps with such equipment. The Customs Service, for one, cannot realistically be expected in this day and age to stop smuggling or reduce the socioeconomic menace drastically without technology. The military, which has engaged in a patriotic fight against insurgents, can be assisted to stop suicide bombings by providing the soldiers with modern technology.
State governments need to use advanced technology to provide security to their people and in return boost their economies tremendously. They should learn from the Anambra experience. Since Anambra became Nigeria’s safest state, its economy has been galloping. It has recorded in the last three years about $4 billion investments, mostly in agriculture. The latest of such investments is the automated Coscharis Rice Mill at Igbariam, Anambra East Local Government Area, which was on Wednesday, October 2, 2019, launched by Governor Obiano and assisted by his Kebbi State counterpart, Alhaji Abubakar Bagudu, and the Central Bank governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele.
With a gross domestic product of $13.77 billion out of Nigeria’s $375.8bn, and GDP per capita of $2,295, as against Nigeria’s GDP per capita of $1,968, Anambra now has the fourth healthiest economy among the 36 states in the federation plus the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja. All this is because of our excellent security.
One other lesson, which Nigerian governments need to learn from Anambra State, is the incentivization or motivation of security agents. There are in Anambra regular prizes for outstanding officers, whether in the police force or the DSS or the military or the National Security and Civil Defence Corps or the Anambra Vigilante Group. The prizes boost the morale of these officers. In addition, the state government provides a kind of insurance cover for security agents, which guarantees families of officers who die in active service a reasonable compensation. As is well recognized by social scientists, organizations and societies that excel are those where the people work with commitment or passion.
Another lesson, which other governments should learn from Anambra, is the value of lightening the environment at night. As a number of cities, towns and villages in the state are now provided with streetlights, which work efficiently even when there is no supply from the electricity distribution company, security of life and property is enhanced. The bright lights enable security agents to see clearly at night and perform better. Though it costs considerable resources to provide streets and big electric power generating sets as well as maintain them, the benefits are huge. If Anambra State, which receives one of the lowest allocations from the Federation Account every month could invest so much in the security of its people, most other governments should be able to do the same thing for the benefit of their own people. All it requires is, apart from the will to do the right thing, prudent financial management.
As Anambra State takes security of life and property to the digital level, the whole nation stands in solidarity. The government and people of the state are truly living up to their reputation as the Light of the Nation.
•Adinuba is Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment