By Gabriel Edeoghon
There are 24 hours in a day but Benin-City/Edo State appears to defy this basic, universal principle of time.
The time cycle in the state appears to have shrunk. All social, economic and cultural activities are squeezed into a 12 to 15 hour time duration.
By 9pm, the City enveloped in darkness recoils into a self -imposed exile, the silence which accompanies the sudden cessation of all activity is punctuated by the buzz of noisy epileptic generators.
Less than 2 decades ago, Benin -City because of its diversity and relative safety enjoyed an active social scene and a vibrant nightlife. As young men, we would traverse the City at all times of the night, crawling from party to party enjoying nightclubs like Mr. A and other hotspots and even breaching the ubiquitous “obito”(night-time wake-keeping) when the social scene hit a dry spell.
No, we were not immortals or invincible, we simply just enjoyed what the City had to offer because it was safe.
Interestingly, if we harbored any anxiety from our nightlife adventures, it was from our occasional confrontation with the orange-shirted policemen who would often hustle us for “a few naira”.
Today the City is a security nightmare, kidnapping, armed robbery, cultism, the herdsmen menace and other unsavory criminal enterprise have become prevalent.
The rise of criminality has tempered the City’s once vivacious spirit, and forced the realignment of significant cultural activities and celebrations.
For example, night-time wake keeping is as extinct as the dinosaur and social activity beyond a certain time is a hazardous enterprise.
The disastrous and declining security situation has created a costly economic impact, earnings from nightlife commercial activities is virtually gone, and rich successful Edo citizens are in a constant state of anxiety because they are targets of opportunity for criminals.
The Security situation has further deteriorated under the incumbent Admin led by Obaseki.
His neglect of the security situation in Edo state is in itself criminal. Inexplicably, he seems completely overwhelmed by the degenerating security challenge and beyond his usual litany of empty promises, he has not addressed the escalating loss of lives and property which the security nightmare has unleashed.
He has no plans and has demonstrated cowardice where courage is solely needed. He has done nothing to stem the herdsmen menace prompting Edo citizens to develop their own security arrangements.
Rebuilding the State’s crumbling infrastructure, revamping a moribund educational system and uplifting the social welfare of the people are all laudable progressive goals.
But these significant economic and policy objectives milestones will never be realized unless the debilitating security situation is effectively addressed.
Unsurprisingly, the only candidate that has offered a plan to tackle this nightmare is Pastor Osagie Ize- Iyamu.
In his Simple Agenda, he dissects the enormity of the crisis, and acknowledges the inadequacy and unpreparedness of an underfunded, poorly equipped, unmotivated Nigerian Police force to handle the challenge.
Pastor Osagie calls for the adoption of a global best practice approach to security delivery, a revised security architecture, adequate crime fighting equipment and the establishment of a 911 emergency system.
He also calls for an Edo State Security Trust fund which will be the primary mechanism by which his bold security initiatives will be achieved.
EAB does not support POI blindly, his ideas and vision as boldly outlined in the Simple Agenda offers real solutions for moving our state forward.
*Chief Edeoghon is the Chairman of Edo Across Borders (EAB)