By ADENIYI ADESINA
The security sensitization meeting with stakeholders in Ife/Ijesa zone on May 21 was a follow-up to the state-wide parley held on April 18 in Osogbo, the state capital.
It was meant to rouse the communities from slumber to vigilance.
The objectives of the meeting were clear: to sensitise the people on the rising crime rate in the mining communities and to check criminals operating under the cloak of miners.
It was also to get traditional rulers, community leaders and others to sit together to share experiences and make suggestions on the way forward.
The government also recognizes the huge environmental challenge arising from increased mining activities. That is a matter planned for another day to be anchored by environmental experts.
The engagement on mining is ongoing and continuous to tackle the myriad of issues in that sector. It is not a one-off affair.
What transpired at the Ilesa meeting reflected the objectives set for it.
It is not for anybody or a group of persons to set objectives for a meeting they did not call and then begin to pontificate on what ought to be its outcome.
The government is discussing with well-meaning development partners to boost economic development and therefore has to streamline the activities of artisanal miners for the benefit of the people, the environment, the communities and the government, in a win-win situation.
The open meeting was not meant to discuss security strategies and how to combat kidnapping. Such a meeting takes place in camera. The government and top security chiefs are regularly taking crucial decisions.
The outcome of such meetings is not meant for public consumption and the many serious security threats daily nipped in the bud are never exposed to the public.
The recent upsurge in criminality is a national phenomenon. Osun is part of Nigeria and cannot be immune from it. That is why there is a rise in insecurity within its territory, yet the state retains its status as the safest in the country.
The security architecture which has kept the state as a safe haven remains in active mode. This is not to be debated in public.
At the meeting in Ilesa, a former Commissioner for Special Duties, Mr. Mudashiru Togun, who is a consultant to the government, spoke on the infiltration by criminal elements into the State of Osun from neighbouring states.
He should know this because he has been handling the delicate issue of herdsmen and farmers in the state, and recording appreciable success, to the extent that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture has recommended the Osun template to states reeling under the herdsmen/ farmers battle with its untoward outcome.
Mr. Togun explained that plans had been finalized to engage with governments and communities in all the states that border Osun – Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Ekiti, Kwara – to prevent the influx of criminals.
At the meeting, landlords were educated on the need to be careful in renting out their property without doing background check on tenants. They were warned of the likelihood of vicarious liability.
To prevent criminals from infiltrating into the state, inward-bound miners are now mandated to register and their biometrics obtained by agents of the government of the state.
Two of the frontline traditional rulers in Yorubaland –The Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, and the Owa Obokun of Ijesaland, Oba Adekunle Aromolaran, attended and participated fully in the open meeting.
The traditional rulers made the point that they should be empowered by the government to oversee security in their communities and work with the police.
They maintain this claim because they truly are the closest to the people and in the position to know, even before security agents, when strangers enter into their midst.
The Adegboyega Oyetola Government is definitely living up to its responsibilities. It remains focused, undeterred and aiming at the goal of caring for the people by serving them.
Adesina is Chief Press Secretary to Governor Adegboyega Oyetola
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