Govt should empower us to boost security —Alaba
Seyi Alaba is the Managing Director of PG Security Limited and the chairman of the Association of Licensed Security Practitioners of Nigeria, Oyo State chapter. In this interview by Olawale Olaniyan and Faith Adeoye, he speaks on the private guard companies and security issues.
As the chairman of the Licensed Security Practitioners in Oyo State, what are you plans to move the association forward and also improve security in Oyo State?
Globally, security is really important and it is something every country, government and organisation doesn’t joke with. With the population in Nigeria, security challenges are inevitable because securing lives and properties is not a child’s play. The government and different security organisations are playing their roles, even individuals. I believe the licensed security practitioners are playing the most vital role when it comes to security but the governments have not fully recognised us. They believe some of us are in the business for profit making alone and not a problem solving organisation.
As of today, we have the highest number of private guards company personnel compared to the government, this is why the government agencies should work with us to achieve a good result in terms of security. As the newly elected chairman, the first thing I will do is to standardise the industry so the way the public sees us will be different. Secondly, I will also change the public perception of private guards companies, some of these people simply address us as gatemen and all sorts of names, and these will help improve the professionalism of the industry.
How do you intend to make the government recognise private guards companies?
Every individual, organisation and even the government makes use of private guards companies; we are the closest to the grass roots. The government needs to empower, partner with us to improve the security challenges we face in the country and also believe that we are playing a complementary role to make our environment safe and free from danger and anxiety. We have all our guards and personnel all over, the government agencies can use them to get informations. In developed countries, we have a lot of security companies working with the government, either directly or indirectly; they take up some challenges by assisting the police and the military because of their expertise.
In Nigeria, we have a lot of security professionals in the industry who are retired military personnel venturing into the security business, does the government think they don’t have what it takes to venture into the security business? Even some of us that are not retired military personnel have gone for training home and abroad to make us qualified. The government should understand that we are not in for the profit alone and we are risk takers, we make sure those individuals and private properties are safe. The government can start with a few security companies, test them, and take them for training to check how competent they are.
What does it take to hire private security guards, are they licensed to use firearms while carrying out their duties?
Manpower is one major problem private guards companies face no matter how big or small. To source for manpower is a big issue not because the industry is not taking it seriously but simply because the country has a lot to put in place. For instance, we don’t have the data of citizens in the country and we can’t just hire anybody to watch over lives and properties. We conduct a background check on the people we try to hire, where they live, where they have previously worked and we also conduct a character check and document. This is reviewed on timely basis, sometimes six months or a year.
The issue of firearms is another challenge we face in this industry. Security companies are not licensed to make use of firearms. If you go to other African countries, there are a lot of security companies allowed to carry firearms. We are hoping that the Nigerian government will allow the use of firearms because it will go a long way in the protection of lives and properties. Whenever there is a need for arms protection, we partner with the Civil Defense Corps and the Nigerian Police as back ups. For now, we make use of baton, pepper spray paralyzer etc.
Most people confuse security companies with bouncers, are you different from bouncers?
Well, majority of these bouncers are not registered with our association, most are just freelancers. Though, some private security companies have event security department and trained bouncers, but most of the ones you see at parties do not understand security. The association is looking for a way to bring them together for training so they can become part of us and deliver a professional service.
With the current security situation in the country, what advise do you have for the government that can help improve the challenges we face?
Security, as I have said earlier is not a child’s play and tackling it is really expensive. For instance, we can see what the Oyo State government is doing by getting lots of patrol vans which must have caused lots of money. My advice is that the government should take it more seriously because security is a very crucial thing.