Earlier yesterday, on my Facebook wall, I teased "Do Governors and other public officials and officers need large convoy"?
I hold the view that only the President and the Vice-president should have a large convoy because of National Security implications of their offices.
Governors and others should have skeletal convoy, on the other hand, other important VIPs should have armed escort who travel with them in the same vehicle or the spare vehicle.
Convoy, as we have it today, is a relic of the colonial government
The colonial masters were scared of the local people and needed to be protected from them.
They put in place a large convey to protect them from the people however when local people assumed power they continued with the practice.
Men and women who lived unharmed for years in the midst of their people now are scared of being harmed by them, why is that?
Is convoy for security or inherited esteem -- perk of office?
To answer this question, we need to ask: has a Governor been murdered on the streets of Nigeria to suggest that governors are in danger of assassination from the people?
List of United States presidential assassinations
In the United States where the 2nd Amendment makes it easy for citizens to buy and own guns and where four presidents have been assassinated (James A. Garfield in 1881, Abraham Lincoln in 1865, William McKinley in 1901 and John F. Kennedy in 1963)
Aside from these examples, governors do not have a long convoy.
They travel around with armed police officers but no large convoy.
In the United Kingdom where our colonial masters came from, Borough leaders don’t have a large convoy (they have no States). MPs also have no convoys to follow them around.
Only those with cases that are verifiable as a threat to life are assigned officers until the threat is diminished or eliminated.
Only the PM and cabinet ministers enjoy some level of graduated protection.
The PM convoy is not more than 3 vehicles.
When the people are secured, they are, too -- this is their belief system. They understand that security should be the same for all citizens.
Meanwhile, when our governors and other public officials travel outside the country, they don’t need their retinue of security because they enjoy general security like every other person.
Back home they switch to the mode of "most wanted" men.
The same people campaigned around the States and never came to harm.
So who is after them and why do they need a large convoy to move around at a huge cost to the country and States at a time of worsening economic conditions?
A modest count of vehicles in the convoy of the 36 States Governors, their deputies, leaders and principal officers of the National Assembly, Senators and House members, Ministers, and other officials will yield Thousands of vehicles at huge costs to the government.
In 1992 I was living with a former military Governor in Victoria Island, Lagos
We were both in Law School; I moved in with him on his request to enable us to study together.
We used to take a walk twice or three times weekly on the frontline of the beach.
One evening as we walked and chatted, a convoy came barreling past us.
I asked him: "sir you were once in this bubble, how do you feel about it now"?
He answered: "Embarrassed Kurtis. I can’t believe I was in this situation. This thing is a system problem. As a governor, I didn't know how it was arranged. You don’t really have a say. They just move you around as they want".
I asked, "Are you saying that the Oga cannot say I don’t want it"?
"They will tell you it is about your safety sir we don’t want to take chances but now I know it's just a power thing. How many Governors have been attacked on the streets by Nigerians? The same people that line up to see us? It is just a waste of public funds if you asked me".
Well, maybe things have changed a bit but how many Governors have come under real and verifiable attacks from Nigerians? Ortom? Zulum?
What about the negative impact from deployment of policemen and other security agents to these convoys on the general security situation in the country?
Really hard and bad.
Structure of the police force
We have a total of 371,800 policemen in a country of almost 200m people.
Out of this miserable and insufficient figure, close to 10,000 policemen are on convoy and guard duties in government houses and offices in the country.
Another thousands are assigned to VIP movements, VIP protection, domestic duties to shops, banks, clubs, and other business premises.
Subsequently, less than 200,000 policemen provide security to the general public.
In other words, 1 policeman to 1000 people against the global ratio of 3.5 to 1000.
The implication is, we have a country that is under-policed and unsecured while their excellencies and the "big guys" are over-policed and over secured.
No wonder we have so much criminality and insecurity in the country!
Above all. a generally secured environment is better for all of us because of our interconnectedness.
Won't it be nice if a State Governor or a Minister for instance can hoop into his car and drive around town without any fear of being waylaid or molested?
Don’t they know that our security is their security and that things are better for all of us if we are all secured!
Then, there will be no need for long convoys and unnecessary expenditures.
Britain (England) don’t have States and Governors
They have Boroughs -- Local Government Councils -- and Mayors of Cities who do not have a large convoy; they move around freely in the cities.
Governors and other public officials do not need long convoys to do their work.
The "Convoy" thing is more of a status symbol-inherited esteem.
And at public expense as a result, it should be discarded in favour of equal condition of living of the people.
Public officials are not special human beings that should have exceptional living conditions.
The people elected them to serve and their living conditions should reflect that of the people.
To sum it up, what do you think?
Do you believe our Governors and other public officials should go about in large convoys?