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Experts blame escalating security crisis on rising poverty

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Experts have warned that the escalating social vices ravaging the country may not abate unless and until urgent steps are taken to tackle rising unemployment.

Speaking at a roundtable organised by the Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Abuja, Prof. Solomon Ogbu and Peter Adejobi, said with 33.1 per cent unemployment rate and over 70 per cent of the population living below $1 a day, adequate security may continue to elude Nigeria, if poverty continues to rise.

Adejobi, a trade unionist, said: “With the current unemployment rate as at the third quarters of 2017 at 33.1 per cent with over 70% of the population living below $ 1 a day, and below the poverty line there can be no real security in such a country.“It is worse where money is voted for the purchase of arms for defence and security agents, without any meaningful job creation efforts, payment of workers’ salaries as and when due, payment of living wages, payment of pensioners and micro credit facilities.

“These make the role of police and other security agencies an herculean task in the light of increasing conflicts in Nigeria.”The roundtable, which was supported by Rosa Luxemburg Foundation West Africa, seeks to expand debate on socio-economic, political and cultural issues with select higher institutions, non-governmental organisations and trade unions.

Speaking on the theme: “Herdsmen and Farmers Conflict and the Call for State Police in Nigeria”, Adejobi argued that the approach in tackling poverty under the President Muhammau Buhari administration was not radically different from previous administrations since the introduction of austerity measure by the Shehu Shagari administration.

He also noted that introduction of Structural Adjustment Programme  (SAP) by the Ibrahim Babangida administration further compounded the hardship of Nigerians. Adejobi said the Nigeria Police is responsible for prevention and detection of crimes, protection of lives and property, but the Nigeria Police Force in the light of crises and conflicts right from the ‘maintain’ crises of 1980s to the present Herder-farmer conflicts, has always been reactionary rather than proactive in preventing crisis.

He submitted that all the security agencies in Nigeria essentially operate independently, saying there is no effective synergy between them, no effective inter-agency cooperation around them, thereby making the fight against insurgency and conflict like the farmer-herder difficult to put under control.

Speaking, Prof Ogbu, who lectures in the Department of Political Science, University of Abuja, noted that in spite of efforts by security agencies and well meaning Nigerians to end herdsmen and farmers conflict, violence has continued unabated as thousands of farmers and pastoralists are still being killed in the Middle Belt, especially in Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba, Plateau, Kaduna and Zamfara states. He observed that government’s response has so far been only ad- hoc, half-hearted and ineffective, thereby allowing the violent attacks to continue unabated.

“The agitation for the creation of states police would be long and excruciating since it will require an amendment of Section 214 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

“Since the Constitution is rigid and therefore difficult to amend, it means immense pressure will have to be put on the National Assembly to effect the needed Constitutional amendments that would pave way for the creation of State Police. “I would like to recommend an all-inclusive legal instrument grazing law to regulate pastoralism across the country. Also, government should make deliberate effort to promote herdsmen and farmers’ relations by bridging existing communication gap to foster cordial relations between them and create an atmosphere of mutual understanding and trust.

“Government should also strengthen the policing of borders to curtail arms trafficking from Libya and other neighbouring countries, as well as create ranches and digital tracking of cattle to reduce cattle rustling and clashes between herdsmen and farmers,” he added.

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Peter AdejobiSolomon Ogbu
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