Chairman of the South-West Governors Forum, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, yesterday, lamented that the present security architecture can neither guarantee effective policing nor address the challenges confronting the country.
The South-West governors’ position was given vent by their South-South counterparts who also argued that the present security architecture in the country was no longer tenable.
Efforts to get Northern and South-East governors to react at press time last night, proved abortive.
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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had said on Tuesday that the Federal Government was already tinkering with the nation’s security architecture.
However, Governor Akeredolu, who spoke during a virtual panel discussion on the #EndSARS protest that occurred last year, said having a single command in Abuja to oversee the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, will not effectively tackle the issues affecting policing in Nigeria.
The panel discussion, hosted by the University of Notre Dame, is part of the Kellogg Institute for International Studies lecture series.
Akeredolu spoke on the topic, titled: “Constitution and the Rule of Law prescribe the working mechanism of the State Security Outfit vis-a vis the rights of the individuals.”
He said: “There has been no consistent policy conceived to address this issue that has festered for a while. The #ENDSARS crisis was one of the numerous crises we are faced with in Nigeria.
“We can’t continue to have a single command in Abuja to oversee millions of people in the 36 states and Abuja, the FCT. In a multi- ethnic society like Nigeria, it won’t solve our problem. Yes, SARS went out totally of their place. The power they were exercising was not what they were set up to do. They were supposed to move against armed robbers and not harass innocent people on the road.
“The present architecture of the country’s security system cannot guarantee security. A situation where the policing of Nigeria is coordinated from a single centre in Abuja does not augur well for the country.
“This is the reason the policing of the country is not effective; the reason it cannot effectively tackle insecurity in Nigeria.”
On the #EndSARS protests, the governor said: “The #ENDSARS protest was hijacked by hoodlums. It was not organised to loot and destroy.
“What happened in Lagos cannot be said to be #ENDSARS. It was the handiwork of destructive elements.
“It is not something that anybody will encourage. When it started, it was commended.
“The way it ended must be condemned because we allowed hoodlums to hijack it.
“One thing is clear; the Nigerian Constitution as we have it today, in spite of the flaws, has guaranteed the rule of law and fundamental human rights. Everybody including the security agents must respect this.
“But the state has an obligation to maintain law and order. In the period of pervasive crisis, certain basic rights can be suspended for peace which is the collective interest of the people. It gives us clear understanding that no right is absolute.”
Akeredolu also faulted the recruitment and employment process of the officers of the Nigerian Police, saying reports of payments for recruitment into the Police Force are very worrisome.
Giving support to South West governors’ stance, the chairman of South-South Governors Forum, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, said: “It is obvious that Nigeria is in troubled times. Even the governor of Benue State, Dr Samuel Ortom, was here on Tuesday and he said we should not be ashamed of asking for foreign help; it is that bad now. “
Okowa who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Olisa Ifeajika, added: “Ortom even said Nigeria is failing and that is what it is everywhere. The way it is now, the security architecture in the country cannot solve anything.
“Even Boko Haram alone is overwhelming the military and other security agencies and added to this now is the problem posed by banditry, herdsmen, with IPOB and all of that. It is obvious that the security architecture, the way it is ,cannot just survive in tackling the issue of insecurity.
“We actually need a rejig of the security architecture like the calls are beginning to be ripe now. Just yesterday (Tuesday), the National Assembly asked the Presidency to declare a state of emergency in the country, that shows how bad it is.
“It means that the security architecture in the country is not just enough to handle what we have on our hands.
“It is either there is a total rejig of the security architecture which cannot be in the immediate or declare a state of emergency, which, of course, is to ask for foreign help and no nation will because of ego, because of pride, because of wealth not seek for help when it is dying. Then you will sink.
“The common thing now is that security is failing and the Federal Government has to sit up. The way it is now, it’s is no longer partisanship, all the political parties are saying the same thing, that the security apparatus has failed and there is need for the President and everybody around him to rise to the occasion, otherwise, it is going to be very fatal.
“As it is now, Nigerians should pray, they should support all the efforts of government. We need prayers, we need God to be on our side to overcome all of these. And anybody who has an idea of how we can overcome, should please speak out. All hands should be on deck in tackling this issue.”