I well remember the Ikorodu of my youth – of plantains fried in red oil and wrapped with leaves, of akaraoka and mashed beans, of goats playing on crumbling alapa (mud) walls, of roasted orofo birds, of riding bicycles from Itun-layeode through Obun-ale to Isele, generally of peace and tranquility.
Alas, the Ikorodu of my youth is gone, replaced by a sprawling behemoth ridden with crimes and neglected by the powers that be. It all started with little black spots like Ojurowo and Ladega where drugs were freely sold and innocent people daily assaulted in broad daylight and other times.
It graduated to cult activities. The cult members constituted themselves into armed gangs terrorising neighbourhoods and warring over turfs. At a point, gang related killings became a daily affair with shootings occurring in broad daylight.
The cult boys later equally became handy tools in the hands of politicians as hired muscles and enforcers. Some politicians equally became their patrons. They were used to deal with political opponents. And then the land grabbers emerged and offered full opportunities for these criminals to intensify their nefarious activities. They sometimes sacked a whole neighbourhood and displaced traditional authorities.
The state of insecurity was further worsened by oil pipeline vandals and thieves who siphoned petrol from government pipes – selling same to unscrupulous filling station operators. The kidnappers and yahoo boys also entered the scene. Ikorodu thus became the crime capital of Lagos State.
It is obvious that there has been considerable failure on the part of the government and the state security apparatus to effectively respond to all these atrocities. Crime is like a decease – left unchecked and unattended, it festers and brings the body down. Crime, left unchecked and unpunished equally attracts more crimes.
The failure of the government to stem prevailing criminal activities has led to Badoo. Governor Ambode’s call that Obas and chiefs should flush badoo elements from their communities is akin to the dog telling its tail wag the dog. Mr. Ambode is the CSO and his party equally controls the centre in all its ramifications. Badoo atrocities and kidnappings are offshoots of insecurity and inadequate policing.
Although we all have to participate in providing and enhancing security in our neighbourhoods, the major responsibilities still lie with the government. And God truly knows that the good people of Ikorodu are doing all within their capacity to contribute to the security of their neighbourhoods.
If Lagos State were to set up a ‘well trained” paramilitary body today in all the LCDAs, the authorities in Abuja would look the other way because everyone knows the prevailing dangerous and parlous security situation necessitates this. Let nobody argue that this would be unconstitutional. This government has already taken many unconstitutional, but politically expedient steps.
It’s about time Lagos State starts spending more of the humongous tax accruals on security. The security of lives and properties is the major reason for having a government. Criminals do not just appear in people’s houses. They ride through the roads. The new neighbourhood defence corps should not just be about new vehicles and starchy uniforms. They should equally be deployed on night vigilance at strategic points.
The prevailing security situation definitely shows that whatever Lagos State is doing on security is not enough, a lot more is needed.
In addition, we must start waging a new cultural war to change our mindset. Witches were once thought to be flying on brooms all over Europe, but that changed with civilisation and enlightenment. We must stop Nollywood from making movies depicting that money rituals are effective. The theme should be that money rituals are fake and only embarked upon by a sick and ignorant people.
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