Afenifere, Tinubu meet Buhari, seek true federalism, others
Piqued by the raging insecurity in the south-west, state governors of the region yesterday made a strong case for the establishment of state and council police to complement the efforts of the federal police. To the state helmsmen, this is a practical response to the insecurity.
They also agreed to rise above party partisanship to set up joint patrol teams to ward off the criminals that have been killing and kidnapping innocent persons as well as check the activities of killer herdsmen that have made the highways unsafe for travellers.
The governors, who spoke at the “Stakeholders’ Security Summit for Southwestern States” organised by the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission in Ibadan, include Dr. Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Babajide Sanw-Olu (Lagos), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (Ondo) and Gboyega Oyetola (Osun).
Fayemi, who is the Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), urged the people to hold the governors accountable for insecurity in the region. He gave assurances of a lasting solution to the crisis.
“Insecurity has created palpable fear in the minds of the people. We hold it a duty to reconfigure our security architecture. We are set to harness the potential of security agencies to rid the region of insecurity.
“This crisis should unite us, not divide us. We need to focus on the root cause of the challenge. We should focus on what we can do. We don’t have to demonise any ethnic group. Security situation should be a serious concern to everybody.
“We need to reform our criminal justice system and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of all criminal justice institutions. We need a regional response to insecurity given the contiguity of our states. We, as your governors, should be held accountable for the insecurity. We will not sleep until the problem is tackled head-on,” the Ekiti governor said.
Fayemi emphasised the importance of a state and community policing system to complement the federal police: “We cannot have a unitary police system in a federal state. We must democratise the intelligence gathering. Our demand for state and local policing is not tantamount to the removal of the federal police. They will exist side by side with the Nigeria Police Force (NPF)”.
In his welcome address, Governor Makinde of Oyo described the problem of insecurity in the southwest as a snake on the roof of a building that cannot be ignored. “The growing tension between farmers and herdsmen is worrisome, Ife-Ibadan expressway is fast becoming kidnappers’ den,” he said.
He said the summit should provide solutions that can be applied to the security challenge in the region.
‘’We should not allow the actions of miscreants to change who we are.”
Makinde, who expressed support for state police, noted that “the advantages of community policing far outweigh the fear we have against it. There cannot be development without peace.”
Akeredolu said that as leaders, the governors must be determined to protect the people.
While charging his colleagues to be more pro-active in tackling the challenges already affecting the socio-economic activities of the region, the Ondo governor urged total compliance with all the resolutions at the summit. He also called for the setting up of a joint regional border patrol and cooperation in intelligence gathering among the six states.
“We will work together as governors. We have started working together casting aside partisan coloration. The ultimate aim is socio-economic integration. We must totally depend on each other,” Akeredolu said.
In his contribution, Sanwo-Olu, who called for collaboration to provide common solutions to the security problem, also said “community, state and neighbourhood policing is the way to go.”
According to him, “state police can exist side by side with the federal police as being done in other parts of the world. Our primary role is to provide security for our people and we shall do that with all sense of responsibility.”
To Abiodun, security issues require the efforts of all stakeholders, who he said must collaborate to make life and property safe in the region.
Noting that peaceful atmosphere is fundamental to success in business, Abiodun declared support for the establishment of state police.
Oyetola of Osun State corroborated Abiodun. “To tackle insecurity, southwest states must collaborate and join forces to wade off the criminals.”
Welcoming the dignitaries, Mr. Seye Oyeleye of DAWN said: “This is the safest zone and it needs to remain so. We will do everything within the ambit of the law to secure the region.’’
Some of the royal fathers that attended the summit are the Olugbo of Ugbo, Oba Fredrick Obateru Akinrutan; Osemawe of Ondo, Oba Victor Kiladejo; Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi; and the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, Oba Rufus Adeyemo Adejugbe.
Also yesterday, the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, joined some leaders of the Yoruba socio-Cultural organisation, Afenifere, for a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja where they discussed the insecurity in the southwest.
The Yoruba leaders, who were led to the villa by Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, also presented some demands to the president, including the implementation of true federalism.
Durojaiye said the huge cost notwithstanding, it might be worthwhile to take a bold step in combating crime by improving on security through the provision of the manpower need of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).
He also urged the extension of the control of the police from the state to the local government level.
Durojaiye urged Buhari to consider recruitment, training and deployment of the police personnel on the basis of the 774 local governments listed in the First Schedule of the 1999 Constitution.
“We will be a greater nation if we sincerely practise true federalism and think and act as Nigerians rather than as champions of the smaller units we were born into. Our big size is an asset worthy of preservation,” he declared.
Afenifere also said the country was in dire need of development in the power and agricultural sectors especially in the field of afforestation, irrigation and revival of agricultural products like cocoa, groundnut, cotton, palm products and processing them for domestic consumption and export.
Tinubu told newsmen after the meeting that its essence was to thank the president and congratulate him on his re-election.
Corroborating Afenifere’s earlier remarks, Tinubu, who said there was a shortage of police personnel, urged Buhari to look at the recruitment from the 774 local governments.
On the APC ‘Next Level’ Tinubu said that the government was working to diversify the economy to address the infrastructural deficit, poverty and insecurity.
In his remarks, Buhari told the Afenifere leaders that what the Southwest was facing was similar to what had been happening in the Northeast and North central regions, but pledged that his government would surmount the challenge.
“It is true that we have made some progress but there are still some problems which we are trying to solve within our physical and material resources. We campaigned in 2015 and this year it is security, economy and fighting corruption. These things are basic, ” he said.