Phone-snatching: Another Memo to Abba Gida-gida
By Yakubu Musa
When I relocated to Lagos from Ondo State in 1999 for the mandatory national youth service, otherwise known as the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) I met a city struggling with a rise in criminal activities, especially armed robbery and the impunity of the militants of Oduwa People Congress (OPC). There was a pervasive fear among the residents of such activities of robbers, despite that the military governor of the state, Gen. Bubawa Marwa had to create a special outfit, Operation Sweep to curb the menace.
His successor, Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu renamed it to Rapid Response Squad, an all-police unit after donating operational vehicles and other necessary equipment for the task.
There was a feel-good factor about seeing a glaring effort by the government trying to solve a growing crisis.
Kano State is currently grappling with a growing crisis of mobile phone snatching, resulting in the loss of innocent lives and severe injuries. There’s frustration with the perceived inaction of the government and security agencies. You can cut it with a machete.
People are pushed to the wall and the call for self-help is becoming more and more cacophonous by the day. Many people are joining the camp of the anarchists” advocating for jungle justice. Urgent measures are therefore required to tackle this menace before it escalates into a major crisis.
However, the Kano people are expecting a brand new governor who will be sworn in on May 29, 2023. He is Abba Kabir Yusuf. And without trying to preempt him, I expect an action-packed first 100 days in office. And indeed if Abba wants to impress Kano people during the period and thus create the perception of a solid start, he needs to prioritize this issue and implement effective strategies within the first 100 days.
This article outlines some recommendations which can help in nipping the crisis in the bud.
War on Drug Abuse:
One underlying factor contributing to the rise in mobile phone snatching is drug abuse. The incoming governor must declare a war on drug abuse and take concrete steps to tackle it.
This can be achieved by implementing comprehensive drug prevention and rehabilitation programs, establishing new rehabilitation centers, and increasing the capacity of existing facilities.
Collaboration with healthcare professionals, civil society organizations, and relevant stakeholders is crucial in addressing the root causes of drug abuse.
And, we must take the war to the doorsteps of the drug barons and peddlers in the state. We can’t continue to allow the future of our youths to be destroyed by this self-centered bunch.
Strengthening Security Initiative
To effectively combat mobile phone snatching, the incoming governor should focus on enhancing security efforts in the state. This can be achieved by establishing a close partnership between the police, civil defense, and local vigilante groups.
Activation and coordination of vigilante groups will enable them to support the efforts of security agencies in identifying, apprehending, and bringing criminals to justice swiftly. Adequate training, equipment, and resources must be provided to ensure their effectiveness in curbing the rising menace.
A Case for Kano Security Trust Fund
While trying to recall how Lagos State evolved in trying to tackle her peculiar security challenges, we are reminded of the fact that one of the governors, Babatunde Raji Fashola took the effort to the next level with the creation of the Lagos State Security Trust Fund. I don’t know whether there’s any legislation like this in Kano. But whatever the case, the incoming administration should study the case and adopt it if it is suitable.
Rehabilitation of Political Thugs
Another contributing factor to the prevalence of mobile phone snatching is the involvement of political thugs in criminal activities.
The incoming governor should prioritize the rehabilitation and reintegration of these individuals into society. By offering alternative opportunities and skill development programs, the state can discourage thuggery and ensure a peaceful political environment. Any initiative on this must include the thugs from across both divides of our political spectrum.
Empowering Traditional Institutions:
The involvement of traditional institutions, especially ward heads, can play a vital role in addressing the mobile phone snatching crisis.
The incoming governor should create a special role for traditional institutions in collaborating with security agencies, community leaders, and relevant stakeholders. By harnessing the influence and knowledge of these institutions, valuable intelligence can be gathered, and proactive measures can be implemented to prevent crime.
Moral Suasion Campaigns:
Comprehensive moral suasion campaigns, conducted through mass media and community engagement, are essential to address the underlying societal issues that contribute to mobile phone snatching.
These campaigns should focus on promoting values such as empathy, respect, and responsible citizenship. Emphasizing the importance of community safety, collective responsibility, and the negative consequences of engaging in criminal activities will help shift societal norms and discourage participation in illegal acts. Clerics have a special role to play here.
All in all, the upsurge in mobile phone snatching in Kano State demands immediate attention and robust action from the incoming governor. By prioritizing this issue within the first 100 days of assuming office, the governor can demonstrate a commitment to the safety and well-being of the citizens.
Combating drug abuse, strengthening security forces, rehabilitating political thugs, empowering traditional institutions, and conducting moral suasion campaigns are crucial steps towards solving the crisis. The goal of ensuring a safer Kano must be in the front burner of all.