By Christiana Ekpa and Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum and Zamfara State Governor, Alhaji Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari yesterday disclosed that the Forum has reiterated the position of the Vice President at the security summit held in August last year that there is a need for state police.
This was even as Senators, who added their voices, said that there was need for Nigeria to begin a healing process in view of the need to address the security challenges confronting the country.
Abubakar Yari, who revealed this at the National Security Summit organized by the Senate, said the Federal Police can no long meet the security needs of 180 million of Nigerians population presently.
“Today, we have reiterated the position of the Vice President on the security summit we held in August that there is a need for state police. And we can say it is only the answer.
“The police of today are inadequate, so if we look at the ratio, it is far below international standard. Therefore, we in the Forum agreed that we can find a way that we can fine-tune the issue of State police.”
According to him, those States that cannot afford state police will benefit from the Federal Government police that will redeploy.
“That is why we are saying that it is not all the states that are supposed to have state police but those that can afford it. For instance, Lagos State, as rich as they are, can have state police. The Federal police in Lagos, they can reduce the number to Osun, Ogun and other states that cannot do it.
“If Rivers State can afford it, the number of Federal police can be redeployed to Cross River and other neighboring states like Enugu that cannot do it. If Kano State can do it, they can take to my state that is not all that richer. It is something that we can’t take up at the same time and land at the same time.”
He said the first primary responsibility of government anywhere in the world is to ensure that the lives and properties of citizens are protected.
He noted that, “There has been so many challenges in Nigeria for the past 10 years, ranging from Boko Haram, cattle rustling, armed banditry, militancy in the Niger Delta, dwindling the economy and even threatening the unity of the nation.
“The take home from this summit is that the Vice President raised some of the key discussions on the 17th of August, about the issue of state police. The state police is something we have agreed on during the constitutional amendment, but at a later time when the Forum divided into two, some governors played to the gallery, which is unfortunate,” he stressed.
While expressing optimism that the summit would give Nigerians the result they want in terms of security, the lawmakers said that practical and verifiable option were crucial in tackling insecurity.
According to Senator Victor Umeh, “Contributors continue to highlight the need for government to tackle the root causes of insecurity in the country.
“It is not enough when these things escalate we begin to adopt fire brigade approach and to ask questions why are these things happening. Things start gradually and snowball into a big problem; and if you don’t tackle it from the beginning, it will continue to pose serious challenges to the country.
“There is need for the country to start a healing process by going back to those things that agitate the minds of the people; things that make people to protest.
There are all kinds of demands being made, some restructuring, some people talking about how they were left behind in the affairs of the country go to the people dialogue with them and bring the confidence in government back,” Umeh said.
According to him, when people don’t have confidence in the country, all kinds of challenges will continue. So we need to adopt holistic approach by going back to the people and finding why they are angry; and when people are complaining of any serious issue we should stop ignoring them.
“It’s good to take them on, anytime they raise their head. There are so many genuine grievances in the country; and from the positions being presented today people are thinking about what next to do.
“Do we go back to parliamentary system of government so everything centres on power sharing, and there is disaffection among Nigerians? If Nigeria continues this way the future will be very bleak. There is need to make everybody have a sense of belonging, so that moving toward all of us will be acting as one nation, one people. It is true that we come from different ethnic nationalities, but the way we can do things can unite us,” he added.
On his part, a member, Senate Committee on Security and National Intelligence, Sen. Sam Egwu said that the issue of security required collaborative efforts by all.
According to him, everybody is in danger, and we don’t have to leave that to the executive alone.
“As an arm of government, we have to contribute our quota by trying to find out means to avert the serious dangers we find ourselves in as a country,” Egwu said.
He said that Committee was committed to practical solutions to the security challenges. “We don’t intend to end with the summit because it may turn out to be a talk show.
“After hearing from the security chiefs and the stakeholders we want to return to the various geo political areas, meet with some critical stakeholders like the civil society groups and religious bodies and after getting the vital information go back to security chiefs one on one and will be able to make our own submission Sen.Ali Wakili (Bauchi-APC) said that equity and justice were crucial in addressing security issues in the country.
“Tropical issues have been brought up to help those of us in the senate to think when issues of insecurity crop up,” Wakili said.