BY VICTOR BUORO
These are not encouraging times for Nigeria, a country respected and honoured as giant of Africa. Taking a quote from the Bible in Ephesians 5: 16 which states; “But as wise: redeeming the time, because the days are evil”, it certainly did have Nigerians in mind at a time like this when insecurity is among the biggest challenges facing Africa’s largest economy.
No matter how one looks at it, the wisdom in the scriptural injunction clearly stirs us in the face today as global citizens. But regrettably, many are still refusing to draw their ears and learn lessons in terms of being security conscious and alert at all times.
Amid heightening insecurity in the country, it is worrisome that many citizens have disappointingly refused to heed public advisories by some agencies of government and come to terms with the reality that the ‘times are truly evil’, therefore, things can no longer remain ‘business as usual’ on all fronts.
Consequently, the saying that ‘security is everybody’s business and responsibility’ must certainly assume a serious dimension as a call to prayers by religious leaders and adherents or a hit song by popular musicians.
Interestingly, there have been quite an unending streams of write-ups on security being everybody’s business with some highlighting the fact that it has somewhat become “a cliché that reverberates in every forum, discussion, advertisement, conference, and organization.”
Sadly, the reality as acknowledged in most circles, is that very little has been done to “dispel the myths and obscurity surrounding information security – its use, applications, and its study.”
Further making matters worse as observed by security agencies is some individuals’ unrestrained lifestyles and lack of public decorum. Not being deliberate about developing security consciousness, many are inadvertently exposing and putting themselves as well as family members and friends in harm’s way as victims of criminal elements and hostile agents of the society.
Not hidden is the fact that security agencies, particularly the Department of State Services (DSS), have not relented in their mandate delivery concerning public safety and security. Here, public advisories have repeatedly been issued cautioning Nigerians on the dangers of outrageous open display of affluence in the midst of abject poverty in the land.
There are many instances that aside from such show of affluence attracting the attention of criminal elements directly to those personalities involved, their close relatives and friends have unfortunately been caught in the crossfire of abduction/kidnapping, robbery, arson, and senseless killings.
Added to the above are negative habitual routines that include late nights, constant driving on a particular route and visits to a special spot. Also, not minding their exposure to danger and the risk involved, it is commonplace observing people making prolonged phone calls along the roads at night or while walking on lonely and deserted areas; driving or crossing major roads with eyes fixed on their handsets; and having earphones romancing their eardrums oblivious of the environment and the persons around them.
At a recent symposium organized by the Kwara State chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), the DSS, in a presentation titled; “Security Tips For Health Practitioners In Kwara”, specifically cautioned Nigerians on the huge security risk and dangers of public display of affluence in the midst of biting poverty.
Speaking through its Deputy Director, Security Enforcement in Kwara Command, Mr Paul Oduh, the Service hinted that such open and obscene display of affluence counts as one of the major factors that usually attracts the attention of criminal elements, even as he urged people to embrace moderate lifestyles to avoid falling prey to society’s bad eggs.
Admittedly, Oduh captured the current reality saying; “There is need to accept that threats existing and people are targets of these threats. This is why people should put in place measures to safeguard and protect themselves from such threats.”
Again, one readily agrees with the submission by the nation’s secret Police that security can never be 100 percent everywhere in the world and people should therefore strive at being properly knowledgeable on areas and the possible things they can do to protect themselves and stay safe in a security-challenged environment like ours.
Therefore, it has to be clearly stated and driven home that no single individual or organization is responsible for information on security and safety of society. It is indeed the responsibility of the whole to ensure robust partnership that cut across religious, ethnic, cultural, socio-economic and security boundaries in the overall interest of society.
As aptly conveyed and put across in some of its public advisories, the DSS sees security as a way of thinking and not a problem to be solved. So, to be secured and safe, everyone or groups need to have a security mindset, even as security thinking and planning should always precede every action.
Despite acknowledging that the current debilitating economic situation and hardship have put a lot of pressure on many individuals and families, thereby making it almost difficult to manage day-to-day life challenges, we cannot pretend about insecurity being a matter of most urgent and serious concern given that only the living can enjoy the fruits of his or her labour.
Importantly, as patriotic citizens we must make up our minds and be ready to cooperate and assist the security agencies, particularly the DSS and the Nigeria Police to check and reduce crime while ultimately building a nation in which all citizens and residents are “free to pursue their legitimate aspirations/businesses” without let or hindrances.
The public advisory remains that “people should be alert on happenings around them, especially strange individuals loitering around an area” as these could easily be criminal elements or their agents surveying the environment for a planned attack when unexpected.
In the world of security today, a little humanity can go a long way to help and the truth remains that everyone within the neighborhood should take some responsibility in ensuring each others’ safety and security.
Similarly, synergy between the public and security agencies will directly impact the result in the spirit of unity and working together for the good and benefit of all citizens.
Though it is quite tough managing one’s daily affairs given the current economic situation in the country, keeping in mind that ‘security is everybody’s business’ certainly remains the safest and surest way to go.
There is therefore no gain saying the fact that security should be the concern of all.