Ambode’s Red Card To Criminals In Lagos State
IF there had been doubts about Governor Akinwumi Ambode’s policy to rid Lagos State of Criminals, such was laid to rest on Friday, November 27, 2015. It is also instructive to note that for Ambode’s critics who have unfairly concluded he has no answer to the security challenges in the state, they have been proved wrong by the presentation of various security vehicles and equipment to the police to combat crime.
Here is a checklist of the N4.8billion worth of vehicles and equipment handed over to the police by Governor Ambode; 100 4-door salon cars, 55 Ford Ranger pick-ups, 10 Toyota Land Cruiser pick-ups, 15 BMW power bikes, 100 power bikes, Isuzu trucks, three (3) helicopters, two (2) gunboats, 15 Armoured Personnel Carriers, revolving lights, siren and Public Address System, Vehicular Radio Communicators, security gadgets including bullet proof vests, helmets, handcuffs, etc, uniforms, kits and improved insurance and death benefit schemes for officers.
The above is a comprehensive package geared towards fighting crime in Lagos. While we cannot deny the fact that there was an upsurge of crime in Lagos in recent times after Ambode had hardly settled down as governor, it is unfair to conclude that he is not doing anything about it. We should take cognisance of the fact that policing a city-state like Lagos can’t be a tea party. It indeed, involves huge investment in security equipment in assisting the police to effectively police the city. While we all know that previous governments also committed huge resources to assisting the police in the area of equipment, logistic and training, we should not forget that this gesture must be continuous for the police to remain focused and active in combating crime.
There is no doubt that most of the vehicles that were bought for the police in the past had become unserviceable. Many of the equipment have either become outdated or faulty. Gadgets have become faulty or obsolete. This means that these must be replenished and modern equipment must be provided for the police.
What Ambode has done is to restore confidence in Lagosians that their safety as well as that of their property is assured. It is also a red card to criminals who have devised new ways of making life hellish for Lagos residents. These criminals suddenly found it easier to rob unchallenged in traffic gridlock while they have also discovered that waterways have provided a shield for their nefarious activities. But the criminals who I am sure watched the presentation ceremony televised live would have had a rethink by now.
The power bikes would come handy in apprehending traffic robbers while the helicopters would be used for surveillance and transmission of information to the security agents on ground. The gunboats will no doubt put the fear of God into the creek robbers who rely on speedboats to get away after robbing their victims. Helicopters and gunboats will put these creek robbers in check. Bank robbers will also have a rethink, as the Armoured Personnel Carriers will be deployed at short notice.
I cannot agree less with the Minister of the Interior, Lt Gen. Abdulrahaman Dambazzau, who represented President Buhari at the occasion, when he called on men of the Lagos State Police Command to ensure that the equipment is preserved through diligent maintenance culture in order to justify the huge resources expended.
The Inspector -General of Police, Solomon Arase who was also at the occasion was so impressed that he made a promise on behalf of his men that they will be more alive to their responsibilities with the new vehicles, equipment and gadgets presented by the state government because to whom much is given, much is expected.
Ambode did not stop at providing vehicles and gadgets, he also provided for the welfare and insurance of men and officers of the police.
The involvement of the police high command and the Minister of Interior in the effort to combat crime in Lagos State underscores Ambode’s capability to confront the security challenges of Lagos head-on, as a team player who believes that the issue of security involves all critical stakeholders. The Minister of the Interior was so fascinated with Ambode’s gesture that he enjoined other governors to emulate him.
The first thing that comes to the mind of an average Lagosian with the display of the sophisticated equipment and weapons is psychological relief that alas, we can sleep with our eyes closed. There will be no more excuses on the part of the police that there is no patrol vehicle, no bullet proof vest, no gunboat to combat waterways robbers etc.
The new items presented to the police have started yielding results as the State Commissioner of police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, has increased police presence at dark spots in the state from about 165 locations to over 200 by adding an additional 85 or thereabout. This is possible because of the new vehicles and gadgets.
Apart from the vehicles and equipment presented to the police, Ambode still has a lot of job to do in terms of easing the traffic gridlock in the state, which gave the robbers the chance to operate in the first place. While Lagosians have noticed a tremendous improvement in the gridlock in recent times due to the collaborative effort of the various drivers’ unions who are now Special Traffic Marshals and the enforcement of traffic rules, the situation could still be better if this tempo is maintained. Little wonder he told the police authorities that Lagosians would no longer accept any excuses after the huge investment his government has committed on the vehicles, equipment, gadgets, training and their insurance.
What Ambode has done is to take the security agents to the public court and tell them that he has played his own part leaving the rest to the police. This is the best way to go as the whole world now shifts attention on how the security agents utilise the items presented to them to the benefit of the general public. As the Chief security officer of the state on whose table the buck stops, Ambode has demonstrated that he is in charge and on top of the security situation in the state. Be that as it may, the federal government whose responsibility it is to kit and supply equipment and gadget to the police should not abandon this role to state governments. If Lagos state government is buoyant to invest such a colossal sum on the police, what of other states that are not so buoyant but have security challenges?
As Lagosians basked in the euphoria of the new equipment and gadgets presented to the police to secure them and their property, we hope the police will reciprocate the gesture as promised by the IGP by chasing criminals out thereby making the state safe and secure.