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Mulling over NGF’s summit on existential challenges [2]

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WITH respect to the first part of the write-up on the governors summit, their hysterical and patently genuine concerns, as the chief security officers of the states, even as it is on ‘mouth’ and never concretised as clearly stated in the constitution, the Nigeria Governors Forum [NGF] led to proffer far-reaching measures aimed at reducing, if not completely wiping out the proximate cause of insecurity ravaging the country and reducing it at the brink of a failed state. There is no doubt that one of the triggers for the summit was the #EndSARS demonstration by the youths of the country.

The unflattering performance of the entire gamut of the country’s security apparatchik drew exasperation from the youths who appeared to be at receiving end of security operative’s brazen brutality. The governors’ summit is of great significance and the resolutions factored by the executive arm of government in view of the apparent contradictions on how to go about the complete annihilation of criminalities, banditry; and in the extreme, the terrorists masquerading as herdsmen and the apex insurgency, Boko Haram and its mutations.

Expressing reservations on how the government has been dithering on its promises to assuage the concerns of the #EndSARS protestations, a notable columnist, Ralph Egbu observed as follows: “The reasons the protests took on a life of its own are endemic and systemic, they are not issues that anyone can wish away or deal with by way of superficial inducement, inductions, or surface appeals”. He concluded by saying that #EndSARS protest served as a metaphor for bad governance.

Echoing their apparent helplessness in defending their people in the face of unrelenting terrorism and rampaging banditry and kidnapping, the governors collectively asked the federal government to amend the constitution to decentralise security architecture to enable them rein insecurity to provide the ambience for good governance and socio-economic growth and development on sustainable basis.

They took stock of the nation’s security response strategy in the wake of renewed banditry and sundry criminal gambits and demanded for immediate creation of state police, devolution of power, and resource control even as they lamented that Nigeria is currently in a season of anomie.

The governors, who buttressed their quest cited situations where the law enforcers work at cross purposes, making it difficult to solve the country’s complex security equation. The Kaduna State Governor, speaking on the sideline of the summit contended that “since the insurgency in the North-East pushed things to a new low, this country does not have enough soldiers, uniformed police or secret police to protect state power across its vast swathes particularly the forests”.

He opined that the limited number of security operatives on the ground are not well equipped and are significantly lacking in the technology that can make their limited numbers matter a lot.

In related developments, the national legislators aligned themselves with the positions of the governors on pragmatic measures to curb insecurity in the country.

The Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, who spoke at a forum on “Strategies for pulling Nigeria from the brink”, organised by RadioNow 95.3, in partnership with NexTier, described the country’s security response strategy as “ad-hoc and reactive”, even as he urged security agencies, especially in the southern part of the country “to stop treating victims of criminal attacks as criminals”.     

Former deputy president of the Senate and Chairman of the PDP Committee on Electoral Act and Constitutional Amendment, Senator Ike Ekweremmadu said that “decentralised policing remains the only way out of the mounting security challenges in the country, noting that with the requisite political will, Nigeria could successfully amend the1999 Constitution in 10 days to the needed legal framework for state police.

“Unfortunately, we do not appear ready yet or show a sense of urgency to stem the tide of insecurity or rebuild our economy through the decentralisation of or devolution of powers. With the right political will, the amendments to the constitution to achieve a decentralised police and secure lives and property can be achieved in 10 days.

“So long as we run a dysfunctional centralised policing, for that long will our insecurity-induced pains and losses continue to rise. The community policing initiative is illusory, cosmetic, ephemeral, inorganic, and will certainly not change anything”.

The chairman of NGF, Dr. Kayode Fayemi apparently making a summation of the summit contended that “our security management strategy lacks a holistic, responsive peace and security architecture, which in turn leads states to put in place self-help security architecture such as Amotekun, Hisbah and a whole range of them that have sprung up in states. The lack of a comprehensive peace and security framework and structure and inadequate inter-agency synergy is showing among security agencies as they work at cross purposes and undermine themselves”. 

  The issue of tackling insecurity has been approached from even the members of the Federal Executive Council. The Minister of Defense, Major General Saim Magashi, speaking at a National Defense and Security Summit, organised by the Defense Headquarters with the theme ‘Promoting Kinetic Operation as a Major Plank For Counter-Insurgency in Nigeria,’ said that the security challenges should be of utmost concern to the civilian populace and critical stakeholders in the national task of securing the country.  “We are in a critical situation that requires the understanding of, buy-in, support and collaboration of important stakeholders and key players in this strategic and national task.

This is important to minimise distraction and maximise civil support in order to facilitate operational success and mission outcomes”, he concluded.

In his contribution, the Chief of Defense Staff, Major General Lucky Irabor noted that “the military has concluded arrangements to neutralise non-state actors and other agents of violence in the country. Illegal occupants of communities, forests and country-side would be targeted to stabilise the country.

The military would ensure that peace, which eluded the country returns as soon as possible. It is no longer news that the nation experiences a wide range of national security threats including terrorism, insurgency, farmer-herders conflicts, ethno-religious conflicts kidnapping and banditry”.  

The fiery Bishop of Sokoto State, Rev. Mathew Kuka, in his Easter message, reminded the federal government of the numbing insecurity and mindless slaughtering of human beings as if they are delectable wild animals. He said: “The nation has become a massive killing field, as both government and the governed look on helplessly.

A thick and suffocating cloud of desperation, despondency, desolation, gloom, and misery hands in the hot air…The security quandary is the greatest indictment of this government. Day by day, Nigeria drifts irretrievably into a dark tunnel. Things are falling apart with unnerving rapidity because those who govern have only a pact to protect their interest”.

A cerebral columnist, Amanze Obi exerted his exasperation on the intractable and pervasive insecurity when he contended as follows: “Our disposition to criminal activities has come to assume a pattern. We are no longer shocked whenever crime takes place. We have come to internalise it. And, so, when we hear that terrorists have killed tens or hundreds, we shrug it off within minutes.

“We carry on as if it is normal. Perhaps it has become normal on our shores. It has become an accepted way of life. If Nigeria was still a proper country inhabited with human beings, the bloodbath would have remained an issue, it would have remained on the front burner.

“Our humanity has been degraded to the point where we no longer get shocked. The country and its people have become at one with violent death. The government, from all indications, has done its level best. The situation has overwhelmed it;

 it has given up on securing the country. The country is just ambling along in search of rescue. Many have located the inability of the government to secure the country on the omnibus political structure of the entity called Nigeria.

Those who feel this way want the country restructured; they want a situation where states will be allowed to have their own police. They argue that security is largely local; but the federal government of President Buhari is not interested in any of that; it wants the old order to remain; it is hardly interested in what will solve the problem. It is for this reason that states and regions have chosen to help their own situations”.          

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