Dr. Rasaq Balogun is the Executive Secretary / Chief Executive Officer of the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSST), a public private partnership initiative for improvement of policing in Lagos State. In this exclusive interview Happenings.com.ng TUNDE OGUNMOLA, Balogun spoke on how Lagos State Government and private donors have been able to improve security system in Lagos State. Enjoy the excerpts:
How did the Lagos State Security Trust Fund come into existence, and what have been the achievements of the Agency?
The Lagos State Security Trust Fund was established in 2007 as the first legislation that was passed by the Lagos State House of Assembly, during the first tenure of the former Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola. It was conceived as a result of the deficiency in the general security system of Lagos State, particularly the Nigerian Police, which, as we know, is the concern of the Federal Government.
But the founder of the Law felt that if we don’t intervene urgently in the security situation of Lagos State, things will get out of hands and if we do not have a secured environment, we will not have good investments coming in, and there won’t be productivity.
People won’t be able to go about their normal daily activities with peace of mind. Hence, that is the reason Lagos State Security Trust Fund was founded that time and since its establishment, it has been a fantastic initiative, owing to the fact that there is no State in Nigeria that has ever had a trust fund like this. The LSSTF is maintained by the funds accessed and donated by the private sector.
The Lagos State Government and Local Government administrations have also been helpful in this regard by donating assets and equipment worth billions of naira since inception, and these include the vehicles, uniforms etc.
People often argued that majority of the security equipment and vehicles purchased for security purposes are being mismanaged by Police. How do you maintain this equipment bearing in mind that we lack maintenance culture in this part of the world?
We have monotonous maintenance schedule, we have about three to four reputable garages in Lagos State where from time to time we carry out maintenance on the vehicles purchased for the police. We don’t wait until the vehicles are damaged. Whenever the vehicles are due for servicing, we do that. But a situation whereby there is damaged vehicles, we quickly intervene and repair them. Don’t also forget that the police vehicle is not for fancy, you can give a police officer a brand-new vehicle today and the next moment it may crash because of the nature of their job. We usually re-orientate them on how to maintain these vehicles properly and at the same time not to be too cautious by not performing their duties.
Going by your analysis, it seems more emphasis is being placed on provision of equipment for the police to work with, what happens to their welfare packages?
First of all, people must understand the fact that police force is a Federal apparatus and not a State. So, whatever the Lagos State Government is doing is borne out of being a responsible and responsive government so that they will not leave the police to their own plight due to the inefficiency of the previous Federal Government. This issue of welfare is very vital, what Lagos State Government has done is that the men of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) are fully insured in case they die in active service duty. They collect their wages according to their rank on a monthly basis from Lagos State Government. They are kitted, provided with armament, bullet proof jackets etc.