NIGERIANS have been called upon to imbibe a new culture of caring, protecting and preserving public assets, infrastructure and facilities in their areas.
Mr Vitus Ekeocha, the Imo State Coordinator of National Orientation Agency (NOA), made the call at a one-day sensitisation campaign on “Change Begins with Me: Protection and Preservation of Public Assets and Critical Infrastructure in Nigeria” organised by NOA in Owerri on Thursday.
Ekeocha, who was represented by Mr Innocent Iwuchukwu, a Deputy Director in NOA, said assets and critical infrastructure could be protected by watching and reporting any suspicious movement around them to the appropriate agency or government structure in the area.
He said it had been the erroneous belief that critical public infrastructure such as telecommunication equipment, roads, railways, power lines, public buildings, dams and others were government property and so should be preserved, looked after and maintained by government only.
He said this belief had led to erosion of peoples’ care to such infrastructure.
“The average Nigerian believes that critical assets and infrastructure, which are in his domain, belong to the government and cares less about what happens to them.
“In most cases, people watch when such infrastructure is being destroyed. Some residents or locals engage actively in the destruction of such infrastructure and facilities in their domain.
“The question we have failed to ask ourselves is who do these facilities and infrastructures serve?
“There is no feeling of community ownership amongst our people and this has led to the ‘I don’t care attitude’ amongst them towards government’s critical assets and infrastructure.
“This attitude has to change. It has to because when infrastructure is located in an area, they serve a lot of people within that geographical zone.
“Any destruction of such will lead to breakdown of such service to the zone and the people will turn to blame government,” he said.
Ekeocha said the essence of the programme was for stakeholders to contribute effectively and meaningfully to knowing why people had this carefree attitude towards government and public infrastructures and to find a lasting solution to changing the attitude.
He said there was need for Nigerians to cooperate with security agencies to protect the infrastructure by providing useful information to them and help to fish out the culprits in their midst.
“The socio-economic impacts of the destruction and vandalism of these critical assets and infrastructure are enormous.
“The money used to maintain and repair such infrastructure would have been used to build other critical ones. The cost of maintenance and repairs of these infrastructure eat deep into our national budget.
“The impact of these destructions on the cost of services provided is equally high as these services can no longer be provided and entrepreneurs go to areas where they will get these services,” he said.
Mr Ben Dikuro, Assistant Commandant General, Zone E, Headquarters of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Owerri, described assets and infrastructure as elements of prosperity and economic advancement.
Dikuro, who was represented by Mr Regius Amaechi, Assistant Commandant, Zone E of NSCDC and Head of Operations in Owerri, said the absence, damage, neglect and abuse of these critical assets depicted economic stagnation and backwardness and as such should not be toyed with.
”For a very long time, Nigeria’s substantial investment and critical infrastructure have been under threats of the actions of terrorists, vandals and saboteurs.
“These enemies of the nation deliberately and mindlessly target these infrastructure for their own selfish, economic and political gains,” he said.
Dikuro said that sabotage of oil and gas pipelines, vandalism of rail lines, stealing of electrical and communication transformers and cables, maritime robbery in coastal waters, arson on public buildings and other criminal activities had become major threats to the environment and economy.
He said the vandals had introduced sophistication in both weapons and mode of their operation such that it had become compulsory that security agencies must continue to review their strategies to decrease response time, increase deterrence and combative capacity.
The NSCDC official called for properly coordinated synergy, not only among the conventional security agencies, but by all stakeholders.
“The persistent vandalism of public assets and critical infrastructure in Nigeria should elicit an urgent “wake up” call on all and sundry to proffer consensus solutions in terms of policies, legislation, strategies and local support to ensure adequate and reliable protection for these highly valued assets,” he said.
Imo Commissioner of Police Dansuki Galadanchi called for attitudinal change among Nigerians with the understanding that assets and critical infrastructure belonged not only to the government, but individuals.
The commissioner, who was represented by an Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mr Joe Ibekwe, said that Nigerians had developed an unrivaled penchant for ignoring public assets and infrastructure.
He described this attitude as a moral failure on the part of Nigerians.
“We can get it right as long as we begin to see these assets and infrastructure as our own and begin to protect them,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that representatives of traditional institutions, government agencies, the media, security organizations, oil and electricity companies attended the sensitisation programme. (NAN)
– May 17, 2018 @ 19:35 GMT |