The Bayelsa State Capital and surrounding towns as well as the creeks recorded a crime-free situation during the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Dr. Boma Spero-Jack, the Special Adviser on Security to Governor Seriake Dickson of the state, who stated this in a statement on Friday in Lagos, noted that Bayelsa had indeed changed for better.
According to him, the city now has a good nightlife, encouraging people to stay out late to unwind and have fun after the day’s hard work.
“The serene atmosphere was devoid of the usual intermittent disruptions by loud sounds of gunshots and violent clashes by rival cult groups.
“In a long while, Bayelsans have not celebrated the yuletide like they have done every yuletide since 2012. Parties were held until very late at night and in some places until dawn without any reported cases of crime.
“Not a single car was reported snatched through the period. People celebrated and moved about freely,” he said.
Spero-Jack, however, explained that a few years ago, this would have been unimaginable, saying that: “Security sources in the state agree that this is the result of a well-planned, well-marshalled and coordinated approach by all security agencies in the state backed by the Governor’s strong political will”.
The adviser on security said that the security agencies worked round the clock to nip all criminal activities in the bud as they have jointly done every year since the commencement of Dickson’s administration.
“Some people who relocated to Yenagoa after living somewhere else for decades were amazed at the peaceful atmosphere of the state. The people spent the yuletide with family and friends in Tombia, moving around even at 2 am.
“Even in Amarata and Kpansia, where nobody would have dared to move freely in the night some years ago, there was generally a peaceful atmosphere.
“Security personnel patrolled the areas regularly. Beside the fact that many people didn’t have enough money to celebrate, there was no threat to our peace or movement’’.
Spero-Jack said most of the youths who were involved in militant activities and crime are now off the streets, noting that some are enjoying the Amnesty Programme while many others have been engaged in the Government’s scholarship scheme and other training programme.
“Before His Excellency, Hon. Seriake Dickson came on board, there was a culture of violence during which people committed crime with impunity and the youths openly celebrated criminals.
“Proceeds of crime were a major attraction to the youths. This situation was compounded by acute shortage of schools, hospitals and there was virtually no nightlife in Yenagoa.
“The Government made it clear it would not tolerate crime and any form of criminality. To combat the rampant spate of criminal activities, the government undertook wide consultations and meeting with youths, civil servants, market men and women, communities and security agencies.
“And eventually it came up with an extensive security architecture which incorporates a philosophical dimension of the role of the youths, collaboration between all security agencies and citizens,’’ Spero-Jack said.
He added that the meetings with the citizens were to build confidence in them to repose trust in the Government by sharing information with the security agencies.
According to him, in Bayelsa today, once a citizen puts a call through to the call centre to report a crime or request assistance for accident victims, the sick or any form of emergency, the security agencies are usually able to respond to such calls within 5 minutes.
“The State Government’s philosophy is centred on a positive and proactive engagement of the youths as a strategy to making crime unattractive to them and keeping them educationally, socially and economically engaged.
“The government decided to take the youths out of the creek,’’ Spero-Jack continued. “His Excellency, Hon Dickson built the Ijaw National Academy and encouraged youths to attend with guarantee of full scholarship covering tuition, feeding, accommodation and free registration for WAEC and other public examinations.
“With this arrangement, the Government can isolate these youths from negative influences and keep them under positive re-orientation for close to 8 months every year. This is engineered to give them a new culture’
Spero-Jack said a second critical success factor for the Government’s success in the area of security was the provision of security assets including mobile platforms, a command and control centre, various technology driven tools and routine resources to operate and maintain all the assets.
“In 2012, the Government made huge investments in security vehicles and equipment needed to support the Police and other security agencies in the fight against crime.
“The management of Spear and Shield Security Consultancy, a security outfit working with the Bayelsa Government in designing and operating the back end systems, procedures and processes confirmed that the security vehicles procured in 2012 were replaced shortly before the Christmas celebrations,’’ he said.