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Governments Should Aim at Making Crimes Unprofitable - Nkanga  GUARDIAN
10 Feb 2011: Ayoyinka Olagoke

Former military administrator of Akwa Ibom State and member of the South-South Elders Forum, Chief Idongesit Nkanga, spoke with AYOYINKA OLAGOKE of The Guardian in Uyo on the spate of violence in an election year. The state chairman Goodluck/Sambo presidential campaign committee, Nkanga said that the risks to the April polls are high. Excerpts:

IN an election year it is quite easy to associate every violence and killing as politically motivated. Is that really the case considering that there are always such incidents?

Yes it is so essentially because this is a time for politics and elections. However, it is not every time that politician is killed that we trace it to politics. It could be some other things that people are doing, which other people are not aware of. But what we are saying is that whether it is politically or economically motivated, we must make it unprofitable for the people to commit crimes.
I will be a bit slow to classify them as political killings, politicians might be killed, non-politicians might be killed, unless you have investigated to find out that it was politically motivated, I would not call them political killings, of course kidnappings have been going on. Generally they are crimes. These are crimes that have gone higher than could be tolerated in any decent society.

Whatever it is, it is the failure of both the security systems in the country and failure of morality in our society.

What do you think should be done to halt such high profile killings and other forms of political violence?

What has happened is that I believe that government has failed to keep pace with the development of the society. The Nigerian society of today is not the one of 1960; the level of infrastructural development, even the human development is well beyond what we had in 1960. If you are putting in place a system of security as we had in 1960, it will be impossible to cope within. The normal human tendency will definitely go to crime except morality is brought into it. If the moral level of the society is better it will reduce.

What government needs to do is to invest massively in security and modern ways of combating crimes. Technology has to play a part. If we had updated our technological base today, some of the crimes that are committed cannot go undetected. If proper technology is deployed you will be able to detect them. What can reduce the crime rate is when a criminal finds it unprofitable to perpetrate crimes and knows that if he commits a crime that he would be detected. What has encouraged criminals is the number of crimes that have remained undetected or unresolved. Once the criminals know that there is a chance of detecting, it will serve as deterrent. A criminal will find crime unprofitable and might look for other things to do. Other societies are not better, but they have installed means of check.

Government must invest  massively on security and technology that has to do with security.  That is one way of curbing crimes in this country.

Another social factor is the rate of unemployment in the country; government must address this. When you have a developed society and there are graduates without jobs, because they are unemployed and don’t have anything that they are reasonably doing, they have too much time on their hand, their head is going to be involved in thinking about some other things that are unacceptable to the society. Creating avenue for employment is important. It is not everybody that will be taken up at the same time but at least there must be a way for people to know that if they are qualified and they work hard, they would have a source of employment. Anybody that has a good source of employment is not likely to take to criminal activities.

On the moral plane, I expect our religious leaders to do something about it because no matter what laws government put in place, people have to develop the right attitude. Government cannot change the faith of the people, but government can guide the people into developing healthy attitudes. It is only education and religion that can do that. We must look at those moral aspects that even if you have a job that is not as good as you would have wanted to, it is not enough for you to go into crime. You must consider the feeling of the other people and consider the society entirely. Education is very important and our religious leaders must stand up. A situation where somebody commits a crime and brings money to the religious group to pray for him is totally unacceptable.

Christians and Muslims donate money to their groups and sometimes their leaders don’t ask how the money came about. They use the money to build new mosques or new churches not knowing if man is upright in the society; this is wrong. If you carry these things simultaneously perhaps the level would come down. But let us admit that it is a normal tendency for certain people to move towards crime because it appears to be an easier way of life. We must get back our normal values in the society and government on its part must put things in place that will make crime unprofitable.

In Akwa Ibom there have been some killings and the political elite and some highly placed individuals have been mentioned as part of the syndicate. Does that surprise you?

For all I know, the state is very peaceful; I am not privileged to some of the conclusions of some investigations. I am not saying that there could not have been some political motivation or involvement. But politics in itself is a struggle for power, it happens everywhere or it will happen if people are not protected. The way the security of the nation is arranged everything is in the hands of the Federal Government, some states have actually asked for decentralisation of like the Police, because if you have a government or state government where the governor is the chief security officer but he does not have the men under him, then not much can be achieved. The Police report to the Police head quarters, so does the State Security Services (SSS). In that case, what can the state government do? I think government should now consider that very seriously, I know that in some time past, some people have argued that the governors might misuse the security apparatus but again I think we are seeing more of the need to have a state police if they do that perhaps they will be better controlled at that level. You cannot blame the states. If it occurs in some states more than others, it might be that there is something attracting them.

Let us look at Akwa Ibom, which has probably been the fastest developing state in the last couple of years. People are attracted to the state for various reasons. If you come here and then you kidnap somebody and ask for N500 million where nobody even has up to N1 million, then there is trouble. It will be useless if you have something you have to protect, but you cannot. Even as an individual, if you are wealthy today you must find a way to protect your wealth.  The unfortunate thing is that the means of protection is not in the hands of the state government. The Federal Government has to look at it critically and see how they can make sure that the source of protection is more in the hands of the people who are actually holding the wealth. In Akwa Ibom, it would appear as though it is more but I don’t think so. The problem in the state is that every time that a crime is committed it is put on the head of the governor for obvious political reasons and we all know that that is not possible. I just wish that our people, our elders, politicians and stakeholders would look at it as a national issue. When it happens in the state here they should know that everybody is threatened and we need to sit down collectively to look for the answers rather than first of all jumping to blame someone, and in this case the governor because he is the leader. It does not take us anywhere because it is not even correct.

In 2007 when we had about 57 aspirants contesting against him, he did not kill anybody. Why should anyone believe that he can kill people now that he has become the governor and he has more institutional powers and he has done some projects for the people, which they can see clearly. He has given the state free education, free health care, means of transportation, so many other things and people are collectively very happy. Is it this time that he will kill anybody so that what will happen?

Whatever is called opposition in this Akwa Ibom is nothing more than a bunch of critics. It is a few people. When people start saying things like that, it is worrisome because they are doing the people a great disservice by misinforming them. Akpabio does not need to kill anybody. I believe that anybody that lives in Akwa Ibom has been able to see what he has done. His performance is what is speaking for him. I just believe that there are certain areas even the critics don’t have to politicise. When we get to things like that, whatever opinion we have, we should be able to come together and resolve the problem rather than putting blames on somebody else.

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