Worried by the pervasive insecurity and infrastructure decay at the nation’s capital, the House of Representatives, last week, resolved to summon the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr Mohammed Bello. The resolution followed the unanimous adoption of a motion on matters of urgent public importance by Honourable Toby Okechukwu (PDP-Enugu) at the plenary. The house noted that Abuja had never been so unsafe due to, among others, the influx of bandits and criminals. It traced the situation to the lack of modern security infrastructure in the city centre and satellite towns, and non-maintenance of available ones, including CCTV installations and streetlights. It also expressed concern over the far-reaching consequences of the absence of a full complement of the FCT administrative structures in the last two years since the appointment of the FCT minister.
For some time, the FCT authorities have been rolling out measures to contain security threats in the territory. Last week, as part of new security measures, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) embarked on massive demolition of illegal motorparks and shanties in Zuba, Abuja’s main transit town, saying the exercise would continue until it had ridden the city of criminal elements and restored its green areas. Petty traders expressed outrage as the FCT Ministerial Task Team on City Sanitation dismantled the said illegal parks and shanties. In October, the FCTA said it had adopted a zero-tolerance policy for insecurity in the nation’s capital. Dr. Bello Abdullateef, the Director, Administration and Finance of the FCTA Department of Security Services, made this known in an interview with Journalists in Abuja. He informed residents of the territory that security agents and agencies were working hard to combat kidnapping and other social vices, adding that the administration was working tirelessly with appropriate security authorities to achieve zero tolerance for crime in the FCT.
To say the very least, the FCT has in recent times been a theatre of anguish occasioned by pervasive insecurity. For instance, on November 2, the staff quarters of the University of Abuja was invaded by bandits. According to media reports, the felons violated the serenity of the staff quarters and left a trail of tears and anguish. They abducted six persons, including two professors, a deputy registrar, and three family members. Before that incident, there had been a tragic experience at a private university in the territory. Most Nigerians would certainly agree that the security situation at the FCT, as in every other part of the country, is dire. However, the situation in the territory is only emblematic of the general situation in the entire country and, to that extent, any efforts made to stem the tide in the territory has to be complemented by an entire gamut of national interventions.
All over the country, non-state elements have continued to perpetrate crimes, making the country virtually ungovernable and unable to meet developmental goals. Herdsmen and terrorists of all hues have continued to make farming a risky vocation and curtail the country’s agricultural potentialities. They storm farmlands and maim, rape and kill anyone in sight. When they are not turning the highways into sites of wanton robberies and bloodshed, they are invading villages and committing arson and murder without let. Kidnapping is a regular feature of life, and primary, secondary and tertiary institutions regularly supply the outlaws with easy prey. Marriages have been destroyed, homes ruined, lives shattered, often irreparably, and hope of state recompense rendered a nullity. As a matter of fact, the frequency and scale of destruction have led many to wonder if there is any government in place. Vast swathes of Nigerian territory remain in the vice grip of the felons who continue to flaunt their assumed invincibility on a regular basis.
Sadly, while the security challenges that confront Nigerians on a daily basis have assumed pestilential proportions, the Federal Government has stuck to its diffident and uninspiring approach, pretending that it is in firm control of the situation. We appreciate the Green Chamber’s concern with the security situation at the FCT, and in the country as a whole, but it must strive to get to the root of the crisis, which is the centralisation of the country’s security apparatus. Working with the Red Chamber, it must utilise its powers under the country’s constitution and get the executive to perform its constitutional responsibilities and to decentralise the security apparatus. The auguries are portentous.