(By Jide Alara)
“Given the consequences of crime in Nigeria and Africa at large, it is clearly in the interest of the citizens and the private sector to help build safer communities and not leave it all to the government. Through corporate social responsibilities, community vigilance and sensitisation, swift reporting of crime, we can all help build safer communities.“
Continued from yesterday
THERE are ways worth considering in tackling insecurity. And most are interwoven. The governments must be committed to maintaining an enabling environment that catalyses the growth of just and equitable socio-economic conditions. Insecurity always has something to do with inequitable living conditions. The involvement of private sector businesses, non-governmental organisations, pressure groups, community leaders and think-tank associations in areas of public service delivery such as security, gives satisfactory results. If there is citizen participation in the administration of these duties, there ensues not only a feeling of self-worth on the part of the people but also, an indirect commitment from them to developmental obligations.
From these commitment and developmental obligations to stop crime come the creativity, knowledge and expertise to design products and services to prevent crime. There are examples of such to learn from in Ghana, Singapore and Australia. Australia has reduced car theft by its National Motor Theft Reduction Council; an organisation that is private sector driven.
The provision of independent processed and implemented standard policies that ensure strict compliance of the law is another method to tackling insecurity. Policies or laws should be created not to only penalise offenders but be a support system for law-abiding citizens and social development. This approach involves recognising the complex social and cultural processes that contribute to crime and focusing on proffering contextual solutions among which should be reducing its risk factors—poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, etc—by strengthening the range of personal, social and economic status which protects families, children and youths from being involved in crime. Consistent rewards in form of grants and adult literacy intervention programmes would eradicate illiteracy. Sport talent hunt initiatives and youth empowerment schemes would do well to address poverty. These platforms can help eradicate insecurity and improve living conditions.
A third and interwoven method is the continuous synergy of private sector partnership with government. This is fast being used in public service delivery in Nigeria. Lagos, Ogun and Ekiti states are examples. I believe this is an effective method of eradicating insecurity as it reciprocates dividends of a communist and just society. It’s also very contextual to the African setting as our primitive social systems thrived on communal living. We had rulers – Obas, chiefs, emirs – during pre-colonial era and their reign was successful because of sensitive engagements with those they ruled before making developmental decisions. We can see a re-emerging approach of this social system in the way new public administration is handled today and the results speak clearly.
Lastly, given the consequences of crime in Nigeria and Africa at large, it is clearly in the interest of the citizens and the private sector to help build safer communities and not leave it all to the government. Through corporate social responsibilities, community vigilance and sensitisation, swift reporting of crime, we can all help build safer communities. For over two days, gunmen in Kenya seized the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi killing at least 62 and leaving over 175 injured. Amongst those killed was Kofi Awoonor, a renowned Ghanaian poet and diplomat and President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta’s nephew. Estimating the calamity of this terror can be considered not just from an individual point of view but also from a business point of view. The location of the terror was deliberately chosen, loss of lives to business was incomparable. This means that the impact of a crime on businesses and communities in which they are located cannot but be substantial.
This as well as the cost of crime committed within and against businesses is not shared by that sector alone. Increased expenditures on the criminal justice system for the taxpayer, higher prices for the consumer, lost revenue for the government, increased fear in the community, job losses for employees, and a decrease in property value of locations are all examples of incalculable costs that extend beyond the direct impacts on the property of business owners.
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