• Thursday, May 30, 2024
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BusinessDay

Lessons from the Boston blasts

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  Last week, the United States of America was thrown into a mournful mood following the killing of four persons and injuring of over 170 others in the Boston Marathon bombing. The prompt response by the Barack Obama government, relevant security agents, the media and the natives is very instructive.

To the American people, life is sacred, and the US government places a high premium on the life of every single member of the society, whether living within the country or in the Diaspora.

In Nigeria, protection of lives and property, which ranks among the major roles of any government, has over the years been relegated by successive administrations. Agencies of government who have direct responsibility of securing the precious lives of Nigerians appear to be sleeping on guard.

In the Boston blasts, President Obama was definite that the perpetrators would not only be caught, but would be made to face the consequences of their dastardly act. It was not an empty promise. The security operatives deployed their skills to ensure the common enemies of the people were unmasked. They carried everybody along and won the confidence of the people.

It was in light of this that when Richard Destauriers, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent in charge of Boston, made a simple request, he got an instant result. “Somebody out there knows these individuals as friends, neighbours, co-workers or family members of the public,” Destauriers said, adding, “Though it may be difficult, the nation is counting on those with information to come forward and provide it to us.”

This appeal yielded huge results as natives responded by furnishing the FBI with vital information without fear of victimisation. This, sadly, is the same appeal the highest security apparatchiks in Nigeria have continued to make following the violent killings by some criminals in the North and the activities of kidnappers elsewhere in the country without useful responses.

The problem is that the Nigerian people have lost trust in the various security agencies in the country. The continued massacre of innocent people by the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) in the North in its efforts to track down members of Boko Haram would have been avoided had the security operatives won the confidence of the natives. People are simply not keen on collaborating with the JTF for the simple fact that there could be some Judases in their midst who may reveal the identities of informants to the criminals.

The prompt response by the police in the Boston blasts episode is also a food for thought for the Nigeria Police. This is why proponents of state police insist that the level of criminality in Nigeria would abate if such is established. According to them, it would reduce the bottlenecks usually being encountered in responding to ugly developments without necessarily waiting for an order from Abuja.

We, however, sympathise with the Nigerian police who are poorly funded and are expected to work magic with antiquated “working tools”. In the developed world, security agents have gone technological in their fight against criminals. But the Nigerian police still rely on dane guns to confront terrorists. Here, intelligence gathering is zero and proper surveillance is lacking as a result of dearth of relevant equipment.

We hope that the Nigerian government will review its approach to crisis management by taking practical and result-oriented actions that will shore up the confidence of the masses of this country. Government does not just exist by words of the mouth or by making lofty promises and assurances that are not fulfilled. The earlier the Jonathan government wins the confidence of the citizenry, the better for the country.