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CCTV: THE SHAME, THE SCANDAL

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Shame is perhaps the most appropriate word to describe the abandoned multimillion naira Close Circuit Television (CCTV) Project.

Under the project, 2000 solar powered cameras were expected to be installed in Abuja and Lagos in a $470 million contract awarded under the National public Service Communication System.

The CCTV project was conceived in 2010 as the best option available to government to contain the rising insecurity which has lately been made worse by kidnapping and the Boko Haram insurgency.

Worried by the high profile kidnapping and the gruesome devastation of some states in the North, Former President Jonathan harvested the opinions of his Advisers and security experts who, after weighing the level of insecurity came to the conclusion that the CCTV Camera was the panacea. The contract was awarded to a Chinese company, ZTE and under the negotiated sum, Nigeria was to contribute 15% which came up to $70.5 million while China would provide 85% which, in fact Nigeria was expected to pay back in 10 years.

The CCTV cameras have been installed in parts of Abuja with the central control unit at the police Headquarters. While the project was being executed, the Chinese firm laid off what was considered as the most competent Nigerian workers in its employment.

Their forced exit created a gulf which began the ineffectiveness of ZTE.

The project is also trailed by scandalous inflation of the contract sum. It has since been abandoned with no official explanation from the Ministry of Police Affairs.

Besides, some of the cameras have been felled by skidding vehicles just as a few others are vandalized. We are quite aware of the invaluable contributions a remote censor like the CCTV cameras can make in tackling cases as kidnapping, sect insurgency, armed robbery and other minor criminal incidents.

Unfortunately, the cameras have not taken a shot since installation neither has any information from the CCTV been processed.

We are not prepared to discount ‘shortcomings of the project which are noticeable in the dysfunctional system and broken units of the components caused by explosion from installed batteries of the CCTV.

This, to us, confirms the inefficiency of the Chinese firm and the sloppy handling of the project.

Also worrisome is the attitude of the Nigerian government to the state of the project, to which a huge amount has been committed.

Besides, the 15% initially contributed, Nigeria ‘is under obligation to pay back the contribution made by China because the fund was provided by a Chinese bank.

In our view, the entire project should be revisited. We do not think the Chinese firm can report completed project when the cameras cannot take even a shot.

Government will also need to use the opportunity to examine critically whether or not such bogus cameras are preferred to the smaller units which are hidden as available in other countries.

We do not think the whooping cost of $470million has been justified in the present abandoned project.

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