The “Ember Months” which start from September to December is regarded as the festive period. This period is usually filled with various social activities such as weddings, birthday parties, freedom parties, even burials, remembrances, Eid and Christmas celebrations as well as general merrymaking causing a high market rush for traders and businessmen and women.
However, this period has also been ascribed with all manner of evil occurrences and characterized with different social vices like armed robbery, kidnap, carjacking, ritual killings, molestations, oppression and suppression, drunkenness, allegations, accidents (home, road, water, air, and fire), reckless driving, etc.
For instance, Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi, the Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), in a report to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, revealed that 550 persons died and 3,184 others were injured in 903 road traffic accidents across the country in December 2016. The report revealed a 16 percent increase in the number of road traffic crashes and 45 percent and 36 percent increases in the number of people killed and persons injured respectively when compared to November 2016. In terms of crime, a study by Bulwark Intelligence covering August 2016 to March 2017 revealed an increase in crime such as armed robbery, kidnapping, armed attacks and bank robberies in Nigeria. The data showed a correlation between crime and festive seasons in which crime increases a month prior to holidays, hence a spike in August prior to the Eid holiday in September 2016 and a spike in November prior to the Christmas holiday in December 2016.
Although the police and other security agencies continue to deploy measures to combat crime and protect the lives and properties of Nigerians, tackling security challenges within this period requires deliberate efforts from all stakeholders. An “all hands on deck” approach is necessary for fighting crime which means citizens in all communities must be careful and report any suspicious or unusual activities, as everyone is primarily responsible for their personal security. The security of a country to some extent is determined by precautionary steps taken by citizens. For instance, in a past security poll conducted by NOIPolls, respondents confirmed the need for citizens to be security conscious in order to tackle security challenges in Nigeria (shown in the chart below). Some simple security tips may include reporting suspicious persons, keeping valuables out of sight, avoiding the use of ATM in isolated locations, limiting the offering or acceptance of rides from strangers, ensuring all doors and windows are locked, and illuminating the environment at night etc. Religious leaders are also advised to preach good morals to their faith as well as spread security tips to citizens.
Nonetheless, the role of the security agencies and personnel in maintaining security within this period cannot be overemphasized. Nigerians have shown a high level of confidence in the security agencies to tackle security matters within this period as evidenced by a past security poll shown in the chart below.
However, the question is; are citizens aware of the necessary security steps to adopt towards securing themselves, as well as the procedures involved in reporting security issues to ensure a collaborative effort between security agencies and citizens?
In conclusion, as the end of year festivities draw near, it is pertinent that security matters are considered top priority by all stakeholders in order to minimize crimes as well as road accidents across the country to the barest minimum. It is important for the Nigerian Police and other security agencies to develop operational strategies that will enhance security provision during this period and beyond.
Particularly, these agencies should increase security awareness and provide toll-free numbers for citizens to call in case of an emergency. It is also advised that all security agencies synergize their efforts and put in place extended security patrols taking into consideration some already known security hotspots (especially highways) in order to protect citizens.
Finally, NOIPolls urges all Nigerians to be security conscious at all times as security is a collective responsibility of all stakeholders. Citizens can take part in the security watch by volunteering useful information that would aid the operations of security agencies and more importantly, citizens should strive to be law-abiding throughout this season and beyond.