The past few weeks have seen the reportage of insecurity in Oyo State rising. Right after the Twitter suspension by the Federal Government of Nigeria and Governor Seyi Makinde’sclear stand against it and his once again showing up at the June 12 protests ground, tales of insecurity have trailed his administration. From the crisis at Igangan to the mayhem at Iwo Road and the assassination of an Ibadan On Air Personality, it would appear that there is a sudden upsurge in crime.
These coincidences have led some persons to conclude that Oyo State is being targeted. They argue that Governor SeyiMakinde is being targeted because of his democratic stand. Although this might sound like a great argument, how then do we explain the incessant and often underreported criminal activities around the country. Who is targeting Ondo, Ogun, Kaduna and other states suffering in the hands of bandits, unknown gunmen and other hoodlums?
A second line of argument is that Governor Seyi Makinde is a target of information warfare. Political parties eyeing the Governor’s seat in 2023 are capitalising on and blowing up the security situation in Oyo State. News of any violence in Oyo State acquires national headline status because of Governor Makinde’s rising fame and is kept in the news cycle for as long as possible in order to score political points.
A sample content analysis would reveal that the press often amplifies news from Oyo State because it gets more clicks. For example, Punch Newspaper headline of June 22, 2021 says “Makinde Blames Oyo Security Challenges on Population Increase”. However, when you read the story, Governor Makinde was talking about the general challenges and opportunities that come with population growth.
Also, on June 21, 2021, People’s Gazette had the headline, Five Killed as OPC Herald Clash in Ibadan. By their own admission the incident had occurred almost a week earlier, had been reported by a national paper and they were reproducing days after it had been carried and presenting it on their headline as if it was recent.
It is safe to say that Governor Seyi Makinde’s rising political profile will have both positive and negative unintended consequences. News about Seyi Makinde and Oyo State sells and so using Governor Makinde’s own analogy, when the demand exists, the supply will be made. But we must not forget that a perception of insecurity may be very different from reality on the ground.
As some persons have acknowledged, when you read news of insecurity in Oyo State, you get the feeling that everyone is hiding in their houses and hoodlums have taken over the streets. You would be surprised when you visit the state and commercial and social activities are in top gear.
The fact remains that you cannot totally eliminate crime from any society. What you can do is to manage the situation and ensure that criminals are brought to book when they perpetrate criminal acts. The Federal Government is accused of failing in security because of their body language towards insecurity. They have created a dichotomy of Northern and Southern bandits/Unknown Gun Men and have different rules of engagement for them. Also, people believe that the Federal Government can do more in equipping and incentivising our security agencies.
This is why a third line of argument arises. If governors are not Chief Security Officers in their states, why do they get security votes? The answer is that Nigeria is an aberration. Our Constitution often does not follow logic. Getting security votes does not translate to controlling the security apparatus. All security agencies are controlled by the Federal Government. This is why even the newly operationalised Western Nigeria Security Network can only carry Dane guns.
So, what is Governor Seyi Makinde doing with the security votes in Oyo State?
May 29, 2021, marked Governor Seyi Makinde’s 2 years in office. During this time, he presented his scorecard, just as he did during his first year in office and asked individuals to go and track his campaign promises. Interestingly, security is one of the four pillars of his Roadmap to Accelerated Development in Oyo State, 2019-2023. The following security projects are in the records:
One year in Office
1. Procured and distributed 100 Rio Kia motor vehicles fully equipped with modern security communication gadgets.
2. Procured and installed first of its kind communication gadgets (walkie-talkies with corresponding servers and monitors), with capacity for state-wide coverage and live video streaming of scene of the crime as well as geo-location of operatives for oversight purposes.
3. Operationalised the Citizens’ Emergency toll-free line (615).
4. Installed streetlights under the Light-up Oyo Phase 1.
5. Procured 49 JAC Pickup Vans for the new Police Mobile Force (PMF) Squadron (No. 72 PMF), which commenced operation at Ago-Are in Atisbo South West LCDA in Oke-Ogun axis of the state.
6. Refurbished 8 Toyota Hilux Pickup Vans and 1 Utility Lorry for the security outfits.
7. Enacted the Oyo State Security Network Agency (‘AMOTEKUN’) Bill 2019 which was signed into law March 10, 2020.
8. Enacted the Open Rearing and Grazing Regulation Bill, 2019 which was signed into law October 31, 2019.
Two Years in Office
1. Operationalised the Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed Amotekun in Oyo State in November 2020. Recruited and trained 1,500 Amotekun Corps members.
2. Expanded and upgraded the Security Control Room and City Watch facilities at the Oyo State Security Trust Fund Headquarters, Onireke, Jericho, Ibadan.
3. Provided CCTV cameras in strategic locations in the state which are linked to the Security Control Room.
4. Provided more communication equipment for the security agencies.
5. Provided brand new operational vehicles (Hilux Pick-Up Vans, Kia Rio cars, JAC Pick-Up Vans, Mikano Pick up Vans and Dial Auto Pick-Up Vans) to the Nigeria Police, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, ‘Operation Burst’ and Amotekun.
6. Provided steel helmets, bullet proof jackets, combat boots and other security equipment to the security agencies in Oyo State.
7. Established of a Joint Security Force Base at Mamu Village – the border between Oyo and Ogun States along Ijebu-Ibadan Road. The base has beds for security personnel at the security post, CCTV cameras, water tank, detachable toilet, solar energy power, and VSAT
8. Safe School initiative security cameras in secondary schools.
9. Installation of streetlights on 223.48km of roads as part of Light-up Oyo Phase 2
10. Financial support (welfare/running cost) including provision of PMS to operational vehicles, monthly servicing of patrol vehicles, allowances to officers on patrol/pin down duties, increment of ration allowance and extension of the same to all security agencies.
From this list, it is clear that Governor Seyi Makinde has used his “Security Vote” to secure the state to the extent that any people-first state governor would. He purchased about 200 operational vehicles, influenced the setting up of a new squadron unit in Ago Are, procured state of the art communication equipment for security personnel, upgraded the state’s City Watch facilities, operationalised Amotekun, enacted laws against open grazing, and continually provides financial support for security operatives. He also set up a State Security Task Force which sits weekly and liaises with people at the grassroots to make everyone security conscious. So, the security situation in Oyo State is in spite of all he has done and not because he has done nothing.
In fact, the only things that Governor Seyi Makinde has not done are things he has no powers to do. For example, he cannot stop the police from releasing herdsmen after they have been handed over to the police. Nor can he force the police to use the equipment he has provided to fish out criminals. Or do we suggest that he mandates members of Amotekun to further risk their lives by facing bandits armed with AK 47s when all they have are Dane guns?
The line of argument that seems to hold against Governor Makinde is that he gave a known criminal a chance to be assimilated back into society by appointing him Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee of Park Management System. Alhaji Lamidi Mukaila aka Auxiliary has been fingered in the mayhem that occurred at Iwo Road recently leading to the death of at least one person. Governor Makinde has ordered a full investigation and promised that everyone involved will be brought to book.
However, some appear to want Seyi Makinde to remove Auxiliary and put him back in jail. A rather precarious suggestion given that the only evidence against him is that he was seen leading his boys at the scene of the violence. Also, it is against Governor Makinde’s leadership style to judge people before they have a chance to defend themselves.
Add to this that Auxiliary is loyal to Governor Makinde. He switched sides last minute to support Governor Makinde’sgovernorship bid. You may recall that he was released from prison before completing his 6-year jail term so that he can help the then incumbent APC in their bid to retain power in 2019.
While everyone awaits the outcome of these investigations, supporters are of the opinion that Governor Makinde should be given the opportunity to complete his investigations and make them public. They also believe that he will review the Park Management System architecture as he said he would and make changes that will benefit the good people of Oyo State.
At the inauguration of the Amotekun Governing Board which held a few days ago, Governor Makinde again reiterated that announcements will be made in the nearest future regarding adjustments in the security architecture. The people of Oyo State wait and hope that these adjustments will create an even more peaceful atmosphere for trade and commerce to thrive.