‘Private security sector repositioning for optimal benefit to the economy’
Joseph Ameh Erico is the Chief Executive Officer of Real Striker Security Services Limited. For the past 10-years, the organisation has at the forefront of the mission to reform the private security sector in the country. He shares with KINGSLEY JEREMIAH germane issues in the sector, including how the country can win war against crime.
What are the challenges that must be addressed in the private security sector to create leeway for the potentials in the segment?
One of the major challenges of the sector is about poor remuneration. Private security operatives earn very poorly. Most clients pay inadequately for security operatives. It is therefore very difficult for us as operators to explain the need for proper remuneration. Effective service delivery is tied to proper payment. In fact, they are willing to pay more if they are employing security operatives directly but when it comes to third party, it is difficult for them to pay appropriately. Good remuneration goes a long way to make the guards stay on duty and this will resolve mobility turnover. If this is also done appropriately, it will reduce the employment figure in the country. It will also make the sector attractive to graduates, making them believe that the grass root security sector is important and a profession to pursue like the police, immigration, custom and other paramilitary bodies.
In America for instance, the private security companies are valued the same way with the government agencies. They have the same recognition and the people believe in themselves practising in the private outfit.
Recognition from government owned paramilitary settings is discouraging. The police never believe in private security companies. They consider private practitioners as common people on the street. Some of them don’t share this view though. Notwithstanding, government on its own have given recognition, which informed the civil defence corps to monitor other civil security bodies where private security body falls. The civil defence is doing everything possible to ensure that grassroots security operatives work hand-in-hand with the Civil Defence.
As an association we have expanded our interest across board and it is now mandatory that we report to the intelligent department of the Civil Defence. What is posting a challenge is the Nigeria police. They don’t believe in working together with us to achieve the aim of crime fighting? Security is basscally about crime. Government must prioritise collaborative technique to reduce Nigeria’s crime profile. We have vital information the police may not have and until they begin to work with us they may not appreciate the need for collaborative crime fighting techniques. Until ego, pride and other issues are put behind and security operatives work together, fighting crime in Nigeria may be difficult.
How do you think the industry can be positioned to achieve its economic potentials as the case is in the developed countries?
We have been doing everything to build a strong foundation that will position the sector for massive economic benefits. The sector has been reorganised. Experts have also come together under a body called Licensed Private Security Association of Nigeria with national and state secretariats. With these, we are able to draft policies that will guide and protect the image of the association. These are aimed at boosting the professionalism of the association. The association wants to ensure that a professional is a practitioner and practitioners must be professionals with necessary certifications. The initiative will improve our claims and image nationwide and beyond. At least for you to be trusted, you must be organised.
How would you assess the industry generally?
You will agree that the industry in Nigeria has advanced greatly over the years. Previously guards are more like ‘gatemen’. People are hired from neighbouring countries to open and close gates in organisations with sensitive information and properties. But now we have come of age to introduce technology, education and other aspects to improve the industry. So, I will categorically say that we are more than ready to combat crime in the society. We have started creating awareness that the private security is key to the fight against crime in the country. The number of policemen you see on the street and other security bodies cannot in anyway compare to the number of private security officers.
In the face of falling commodity prices, particularly oil, how do you think the sector can survive the economic turbulence being witnessed in the country?
Security remains the last man standing in everything. Whatever happens, there must be security. Security is needed to secure available businesses and investment. People may concentrate on the use of technology rather human. At this stage everybody must adjust to fit into the system. The security system will have to re-adjust, particularly because we depend on clients. As an organisation we have improved our services and we see the need to offer customers more, particularly helping them to brace up against the economic downturn.
We send regular information to them and prepare them to become proactive against losses that could result from security lapses.
As an organisation, how are you positioning yourself to stay in business knowing well that business landscape in the sector is changing rapidly?
For the past 10 years we have improved greatly as an organisation. We have transformed from an analogue security into a digital security outfit. We have also dwelt very well in training and retraining of our staff knowing that the scenery of the sector would be dependent on training and technology.
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