Buhari, time to sign vigilance group’s bill
There are great achievements by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari. But when some party loyalists, politicians and journalists write to extol these achievements so far, any rational person can notice that some of the facts are generated out of partisan support. But I’m in favour of objectivity that can bring peace to Nigeria.
I supported Buhari in 2015 with all my heart and powers of intellectual influence. But since 2015, I’ve not earned a full salary. Yet, his anti corruption drive is an efficacious cure for Nigeria’s most debilitating problem of waste and looting of state resources. But the anti- corruption war must be fought with honesty and objectivity, not targeted at political opponents only. Then, we talk of another serious challenge to our peace and corporate existence – insecurity! I wish to dwell on this subject more pointedly.
President Buhari’s government has been mostly flawed by the spate of killings in Nigeria through various insurgent groups. The killings and kidnaps of people in Nigeria constitute a lot of blight on this administration. It is not as if this government created the problem. There has been the mother of all kidnaps of the Chibok girls under the Goodluck Jonathan-led government of the PDP. That government failed us on the grounds of insecurity and corruption accentuated by the unspeakable carnage of looting of government treasury. But that was why the PDP government was voted out while the expectedly messianic APC was voted into power to arrest the surge of insecurity and corruption in Nigeria.
In order to rise up to the numerous and complex challenges of the nation’s insecurity for example, the joint Houses of the National Assembly passed the Vigilante Bill into law. The Vigilance Group of Nigeria has been a formidable, nationwide spread, well organised and well structured system of gallant and intelligence security network in Nigeria. Even the police give kudos to the capability of the present vigilance men and officers. They have been well trained in various security operational devices by different formal security and intelligence agencies like the Police, the Civil Defence and the Army and they have attended various qualifying courses at home and abroad.
Yet, up till now, the presidency is not talking about the Vigilante Bill. Nigerians have been asking to know why the president has been silent or slow to speak about that bill. Just why has President Buhari not signed that bill into law despite the desperate security challenges in the country? The issue of state or community police has been widely discussed, debated and agreed to by a wide spectrum of Nigerians. But up till now, nothing concrete is being said about it by this administration.
Let Buhari assent to the bill. The vigilance officers have been acting as an informal police organisation since 15 years ago. They are part of the informal security operations against the Boko Haram at Sambisa forest. They perform excellently when in joint operations with any formal security agency in the country. So, Nigerians are really asking questions to know why the bill is kept in the cooler or being forgotten by our president. Nigerians are of the hope that the bill is not mistaken for the sectionalised, parochial and declined “peace corps” bill or the “neighborhood watch” which was politicised. The vigilance group is a superstructure of security completeness that has no political loyalty to surrogates of political enmity against the president, the state, and Nigeria as a sovereign fatherland.
The leadership and officers of the vigilance group are well spread across all the six geo-political zones of Nigeria. The current commandant general hails from Jigawa though he is based in Kano, and works at the vigilance national headquarters in Abuja. He has the highest form of security qualification that any head of formal security agency in Nigeria can boast of. Thus, in the face of the completely resourceful values of the vigilance group, why has the president not assented to that bill so that their efforts can help secure Nigerian communities and states rather than just relying on the military and the police? Even though the Nigeria Police has tried its best, even though the civil defence has also reinforced aspects of the security network in Nigeria, the fact of the rising surge of killings, kidnaps, rapes, human trafficking, and religious crisis today has shown that the country needs a third vigilance monitoring and intelligence agency like the vigilance group to enhance security in the country. With Nigeria’s vast population and sophistication of crime techniques, we need more security agencies to give us a secure civil life.
President Buhari should act promptly on the vigilance bill so as to silence his critics who say he is not bothered about the insecurity in the country. It is on record that the then President Olusegun Obasanjo of the PDP assented to the bill for the establishment or enabling act of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). Which security bill will President Buhari assent to in order to give the ruling APC more credibility on the scale of Nigeria’s history? As the year 2018 is folding up, and the new year 2019 is jogging on the beach of welcome celebrations, Nigerians expect to be assured of new plans to secure us in the upcoming years of his second tenure.
Prof. Fashina wrote from Ibadan.