By O’star Eze
It is the beginning of 2019 and it is important that stakeholders in the crime fighting and security sector look at the score card of the previous year in order to gain an informed perspective on how effective their approach has been towards crime and security issues in the southeast in particular and Nigeria in general.
Crime, insecurity; a weekly recurrent decimal in 2018
Despite that Lai Mohammed and President Mohammed Buhari et al have insisted that the government is winning the war against Boko Haram terrorists and herdsmen attacks. Even though Ikenna Okeke, a Lokoja based procurement officer of a hotel claims that Kogi State is a crime immune zone and Anambra State government insists that the state is the safest state in Nigeria, there was no week that passed by without any report of one crime/ insecurity crisis or the other in virtually all the states of the federation, including the aforementioned states.
For instance, while on December 28, 2018, President Mohammed Buhari was telling his teeming supporters at Uyo, Akwaibom State during the All Progressive Alliance, APC national campaign that his government had defeated Boko Haram, over 700 men of the Nigerian army were reported missing with another 2000 trapped as Boko Haram took over Baga, another town in Kukawa Local Government Area of Borno State.
Earlier on July 28, 2018, the national dailies reported the Nigerian Army parading four robbery suspects it arrested in Felele area of Lokoja, Kogi State. Also, sometime in December, 2018, the anti-cult unit of the Anambra State Police Command arrested 135 cult suspects in 12 days. It would appear that the Nigerian police, army, vigilante and other sister security outfits are winning the war against crime in the country.
However, one would want to wonder whether it is morally right to jubilate over the fact that 135 young people were arrested in one state in less than two weeks for crime related offences. The question that begs for answers is whether the Nigerian society is doing enough to properly engage these young people. Recall the adage that says, “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”
Note that the federal government recognizes, according to the social statistics report of 2017 (which is the last report available on the National Bureau of Statistics website on the matter till date), that Nigeria has the highest population of youths in the world and also acknowledges that Nigerian youths are “ambitious, enthusiastic, energetic and promising.”
More than half of Nigerian youths not gainfully engaged
However, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, 55.4 per cent of Nigerian youths are presently either underemployed or unemployed. It goes further to state that while 23.1 percent of this demographic is unemployed, 20.21 per cent is underemployed. By implication, more than half of the population of young people in Nigeria do not contribute positively their 100 per cent to the economic activities in the country.
When it is said that these young people are mostly under employed, it implies that they either do not have enough work to do or that the work they do does not fully engage their skills and trainings.
Praise Awofeso and Idris Umar, both social commentators opine that there is high percentage of young people not gainfully employed because of the get-rich-quick syndrome among them and because they have refused to patiently build a career or vocation first before seeking the luxuries of life.
“Our youths would rather spent time on the internet seeking for naïve victims to defraud of hard currency or follow politicians about singing their praise or engaging in thuggery for them in exchange for hand outs,” Umar said.
On the other hand, Nkoli Mbaebie, Sunday Emmanuel and Ikem Okoli blame a youth-unfriendly socio-political system for the idleness among Nigerian youths.
Making a case in support of the youths, Mbaebie said that the politicising of hunger, poverty, inadequate infrastructure, abysmal budgetary allocation to education, health and insecurity in the country among political leaders have been factors frustrating the average Nigerian youth in his quest to give his life meaning.
Crime fighting or crime prevention?
It is the heat of another political transition and already sparks are flying off from all corners as the political heavy weights exchange accusations and counter accusations in their bid to woo supporters and ultimately votes to themselves or their opponents from the voting population.
With the tension in the air, there is a foreboding of physical clashes that go beyond those already happening on social media between supporters of various political parties. This tension is far from doused by the agitations of the proscribed Indigenuous People of Biafra led by Nnamdi Kanu, who is adamant on convincing all who care to listen that Nigeria is a failed state.
Encomiums have gone from various quarters to the Nigeria’s security apparatuses for their resilience in ensuring there is no total breakdown of law and order and that crime is fought non-stop. However, with the statistical evidence we have of more young people are either unemployed or under employed and with the increasing tension created by the densely propaganda polluted air waves in the country which has left more and more Nigerian youths disoriented and therefore even more susceptible to destructive behavioural suggestions, there might be need for the policy makers in the country to start giving more serious considerations to increasing the budgetary allocation to education and healthcare, youth empowerment and cutting down drastically the cost of governance.
These are steps which several socio-economic analysts have continued to harp on as the panacea to the bleak security situation our country finds itself in. Ikem Okoli recommends crime prevention through sincere governance that gives priority to providing enabling environment for the socio-economic development over crime fighting. “What our youths want is just to be given steady power supply, water and internet facilities and, ultimately ,mentorship, and they would be at their optimum best to contribute positively towards to growth and development of the country and crime will lose its appeal,” he opined.