Streets Kids And The Security Of Calabar Metropolis – BY KENNEDY NSAN

In Columnists, National News, Opinion, Politics

by crossriverwatch admin

Kennedy Nsan
Kennedy Nsan

I’ve read comments from different people condemning in strong terms the killing of innocent children by boko haram as though condemning the incident will stop this cannibals from carrying out their idiotic killing of innocent lives. Like before, the act of ‘condemning in very strong terms’ would definitely continue until the military is able to device a means of putting this to an end.

I do think that if we were proactive in the past, and instituted people-centred policies; if we had tackled the almajiri phenomenon many years ago just like Mr. President is doing now by building over 300 modern well equipped schools in the north for these folks, all these lamentations wouldn’t be necessary. All the blame game and political mudslinging would’ve been uncalled for.

Accordingly, the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, African Union and United Nations Charter locates the primacy of the strategic (traditional) dimension of security. Recently too, various scholars of international repute have also made a case for national and regional government to not only concentrate their arsenals on the strategic dimension of security but to also focus on the human dimension of security.

Human security is an emerging paradigm for understanding global vulnerabilities whose proponents challenge the traditional notion of national security by arguing that the proper reference for security should be the individual rather than the state. Human security holds that a people-centered view of security is necessary for national, regional and global stability.

The concept emerged from a post-Cold War, multi-disciplinary understanding of security involving a number of research fields, including development studies, international relations, strategic studies, and human rights. This is according to the United Nations Development Programme on Human Development Report.

It is considered a milestone publication in the field of human security, with its argument that insuring “freedom from want” and “freedom from fear” for all persons is the best path to tackle the problem of global insecurity.

That said, I must also state that vision is very key for successful leadership. If we had seen this issue as a possible future challenge many years back and tackled it headlong, those who are now recruiting ignorant, illiterate, and ill-informed persons without life skills into the boko haram insurgency group will lack the manpower they now wield. Although some persons have made the point that terrorists aren’t exactly uneducated people, nevertheless, until I see a son of a respected politician in the north enlisted into the boko haram sect, I am not going to shift grounds on my views concerning this. If you dispute this thesis, you then may have to prove otherwise.

Yesterday, while driving with a friend in the Satellite Town area of Calabar metropolis, just before Uncle Effiong School, we were stopped by police officers who to the best of my knowledge were loafing around that area doing nothing other than begging for alms like the blind man at the gate called “beautiful”. On reaching them, we switched on our inner lights for them to have a proper view of the interior of our car. Lo and behold, they were truly ‘beggars’ and went thus; “good evening Sirs”, we responded, “how una dey nau?”, they echoed, “oga na only hungry”, I laughed in my mind because they had met the wrong people to ‘beg for alms’.

I calmly responded, ” oga, una lucky say una get work, we be graduates we no get job, we no get money to give una, abeg make e bi next time”. That settled the matter as they thanked us all the same and allowed us go our way. Then I whispered to my friend, “this must be a very good way of telling them off whenever there’s an encounter”.

With due respect and apologies to my sister Helen, my sister’s husband (Ochaji) Remi, my nephew Sampson, my cousin Ojong, my friend Nnamdi, Musa and Mike who are all police officers, I pray that the change and proper work ethics we’re clamoring for in the police force will come through you, even when we’ve been told by Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, Inspector General of Police (IGP) that the provisions in the 2014 budget is incapable of paying the salaries of the rank and file.

Consequently, just half way to my destination at my sister’s house in Satellite Town that night, I saw a group of children between the ages of 9 – 15years old milling around an adult whose age range I cannot guess right because it was night time already and my primary concern was with the kids and what they could possibly be doing at that hour of the night. I pointed them to my friend and asked, “what are these ones doing there?” He responded, “they’re street kids”.

I was instantly rattled by his casual response, especially because a few days ago, I had noticed and mentioned the alarming rate with which beautiful young girls (sex workers) were taking over strategic areas of town. By now, I reckoned all these scenes weren’t a surprise to him anymore.

I’ve been out of town for over a year now and as such seem to be very sensitive to these changes. My surprise is not because I’ve not seen these acts elsewhere (haven lived on Allen Avenue in the late 90s, I’m quite familiar with classy looking young girls hanging around Oshoppy Plaza, Allen Round-About, Peka Hotel, Toyin Street, and Opebi area of Lagos waiting to be picked up by men who patronize this business). However, this I must say is alien to those of us who live in Calabar.

Why am I scared then, you may ask? A few years ago as an undergraduate in the University of Calabar, I remember we were robbed by unknown gunmen in Ekorinim in the dead of the night, and also I was chased by hoodlums on a lonely road leading to the Unical Secondary School (around where you have a big gigantic overhead water board tank) in the evening while returning from school, perhaps just to snatch my phone and maybe loot the small ‘change’ in my pocket.

I was lucky because I was more or less a cheetah on the day and was able to run faster than their ‘okada’ (motor bike) and escaped narrowly. Recent investigations also reveal that several people are still being attacked and robbed daily in their homes in Calabar at an alarming proportion. As I write this, am being told by a family friend of a lady whose car was snatched at gunpoint along Winners Way, close to Axari Hotel on the highway.

Two other families were also robbed last week in Calabar South and Atimbo area with their female children raped. These testimonies and many more I cannot relate here are real and portend grave danger to everything Cross River State represents in general and Calabar in particular. The point being made is; these street kids’ strange phenomenon gradually springing up within the Calabar metropolis may someday become our own version of boko haram.

If you’re in government and have your house manned by security personnel, you may be insulated from attacks today but what about the many of us who can’t afford this luxury? What about the many of us who get robbed daily by hoodlums groomed by our collective neglect? It is a beautiful thing to be in government and to be able to afford security, however, what happens when you leave government and your security details are withdrawn or you’re unable to keep up with your former lifestyle and status?

Isn’t it the responsibility of government to secure our lives? Shouldn’t we then be making a case for state policing? What is the role of the ministry of social welfare and how is it living up to its responsibility to curb this menace?

Whose role is it to carter for and look into these seemingly new developments that portend grave danger to our collective existence and future? If your neighbour’s child cannot feed himself or get an education or training that can put food on his table, what gives you the impression that your child who attends Hillcrest High School, SureFoot Nursery School or other such elitist schools, will live in our society in peace?

The danger of allowing these neglected children live on the margins of our society is that we’ll be at the receiving end of the anger and violence caused by government’s neglect of its core responsibility.

Many people are being terrorized daily without official complaints to the police, their traumas are related mostly as gossips and hearsay because they consider their plights incapable of being addressed by the security agencies. The many incidents of ‘jungle justice’ meted out at criminals when caught at crime scenes is a reflection of people’s helplessness in the hands of security agencies and the courts, therefore, people tend to settle their scores through such barbaric and brutal means in order not to waste their precious time and energy with our locomotive justice system, which is a topic for another day.

The earlier we find meaningful ways to re-integrate these abandoned kids roaming our streets especially at nights, and adopt the human dimension to security which is insuring ‘freedom from wants’ and ‘freedom from fear’, especially the fear of a bleak future by giving them a sense of belonging and something to live for, the better for us all.

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6 commentsOn Streets Kids And The Security Of Calabar Metropolis – BY KENNEDY NSAN

  • Very insighful and thought provoking writeup. Concise and straight to the point. This is a must read for people entrusted with ensuring safety and security for the populace. As Mr. Nsan noted, this menace if not checked now will become our collective albatross down the road.

  • Your incisive write-up captured the problems of Nigeria and indeed Africa at large. Kudos and more grace to your elbow in your efforts to grow in investigative journalism. Tackling the problems you made mention of can not be effectively done by security agencies alone, the struggle for peaceful society has to down to individual parents, who owns the little girls on the streets? Parents must after their wards round the clock. The police for instance can not obstruct somebody who is enjoying him or herself on the street as the law of the federal republic of Nigeria provides freedom of movement for her citizens. The police needs information about criminal activities from the public, there is no magician in the police. The police was established with a proportion of one policeman to ten persons, what is the proportion today? More so, the salaries of rank and file ranges between #42000 to #50000 monthly, these rank n files have children who are students n relatives who depend on them, how can u get the best from a man that is not happy from his home? its take a policeman who is intellectually gifted in human rights n sufficient in resources management to be able to try to his best on Nigeria. This explains y some policemen cannot do without being corrupt.
    Conclusively, the federal government has take proper care of security agencies and there is need for recruitment of man power into the security agencies. Parents need to do more in the way n manner they bring up their wards. collective security involving all and sundry via reporting of all criminal movement can be a step further to securing peaceful society.

  • Two things of note; street kids ‘always’ evolve to street hoodlums(Ndito), secondly they could be checked and reformed as kids rather than allow them to grow emboldened. While in calabar I had a first hand experience with these so called street kids at the christmas village(cultural centre)- you could almost pass them for daytime armed robbers. Interestingly you may also discover that these kids are vulnerable kids lacking basic care and needs, struggling in a society that has no sympathy for their plight hence the resort to self help. Indeed this is the time to tackle this menace!

  • Street kids are gradually becoming a menace in calabar . But having made that observation let me salute the effort of her excellency Mrs Oboima Liyel Imoke in addressing this problem .It would have been much worse . But I think government should do more to help the less privileged especially in primary prevention . That is, to provide education and empowerment especially to the girls child . This would prevent unwanted pregnancies and stop the production of candidate street children. Thanx for this write up .

  • My Brother Ken. I must commend you for a job well done. Each time I see this street kids(Calabar Boys and Girls) especially alone calabar Road what usually comes into my mind is what I will use to summarize you article. A STITCH IN TIME SERVES LINE. Let me use the reality of Calabar street today to tell you “WELCOME HOME”

  • Most of these children as ℓ̊ learned from a relaible source, are driven out to the street by their parents, aunts, uncles etc because they are assumed to be wizards.

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