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Insecurity calls for governors’ greater initiative

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PHOTO: NAJEEM RAHEEM

Protracted insecurity across regions and states readily calls out the governors that oversee jurisdiction where crimes and criminals now freely interface. Amid the validity of blaming the centre for things that go wrong in local communities, the insecurity has dragged on for too long to render a formidable local and regional intervention an afterthought. Recent interventions by local security groups against kidnappers and bandits are reassuring. It is high time governors double-up and fully throw weights behind local and regional security outfits, as chief executives that understand the demands of the office.

Clearly, the Federal Government has no magic wand to keep Nigerians secured despite its central control of the Armed Forces and the Nigeria Police. Daily death toll from terrorism, banditry, kidnappings, farmers-herders’ clashes, armed robberies and uprisings attest to a country fast spinning out of control. State governors that as well share the constitutional duty of security of lives and properties in their domain had earlier seen the wisdom of self-protection and self-help through indigenous security outfits. Such exigencies typical of hands-on leadership have created organised local vigilante groups, and state-own outfits like Hisbah in Kano and Neighbourhood Watch in Lagos. In the Northeast is the civilian Joint Task Force (JTF) in the fight against Boko Haram. About a year ago, the Western Nigeria Security Network, also known as Operation Amotekun, was formed in the Southwest. Eastern Security Network (ESN), suspected to be created by the proscribed (IPOB), followed in the East and recently, Ebube Agu got the belated endorsement of Southeast governors.

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In real terms, the security outfits are yet to establish true regional presence and essence, to give an inkling of good protection against rampaging threats. In the Southwest region for example, Operation Amotekun’s presence has not been felt by key communities in Ekiti State where kidnappers still reign freely. The corps, as confirmed by its operational head, lacks adequate equipment, training and funding to live up to expectation. Obviously, where the Corps has a presence, they are up against criminals that are armed with more sophisticated weapons. In the circumstances, the governors cannot afford to lay back in the constitutional duty of keeping their domains secured.

The governors need be reminded that it was the same fate of ill-equipment; poor training and underfunding that shackled the efficiency of the Nigeria Police to warrant agitations for state police and local outfits like Amotekun, ESN and Ebube Agu.

And it is instructive that the ruling All Progressives Congress’ (APC) manifesto on national security clearly expressed backing for states and local governments to employ state and community police to address peculiar needs of each community, coupled with a constitutional amendment for that purpose. The ultimate goal was “to establish a well-trained, adequately equipped and goals-driven serious crime squad to combat terrorism, kidnapping, armed robbery, militants, ethno-religious and communal clashes nationwide.” Besides, the party’s committee led by Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, set up to look into restructuring agitations concluded that the country was overdue for state police if it must work again. Therefore, state and regional security interventions are necessary not only to enhance public security but also in fulfillment of political campaign promises.

Necessity demands the urgency of keeping the citizenry safer and protected from being killed by all manner of criminals.

That end justifies the means. It is appreciable that the Southern region and few Northern governors have set their hands on the plough in that regard. State Houses of Assembly in Southwest have all since last year passed the bill backing Operation Amotekun. Governors and other legislators should fall in line to fund and properly empower security operatives to be fully operational in local governments, statewide and regionally. No governor worthy of the seat should be content on blaming the reluctant presidency for security lapses in his domain.

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Governors from the South speaking with one voice on state police and restructuring in Asaba is a good starting point. The forum should by extension practically and consistently deepen regional interventions to stem the insecurity and to serve as a model of what state police should look like. Governors should lead this charge on a national scale as members of the National Council of State and members of the Nigeria Governors Forum. They should also rally their lawmakers in the National Assembly to immediately push the frontier of cooperation between the Nigerian Police and local outfits and in the medium term, the state police and attendant constitutional amendment. It makes no sense for the electorates to be getting killed in their communities while their representatives feed fat on national resources. Insecurity is a major factor fueling secessionist aggressions.

Above all, it is a matter of honour and integrity for the ruling party and its members to keep promises freely made on devolution of power, State police and security of lives and properties, upon which they were first elected into offices six years on. It is an exercise in bad faith to keep foot dragging on state and regional security structure, as well as it is suicidal to assemble corps without adequate capacity to counter criminals wielding sophisticated weapons. There should be more to seeking public office than mere selfish interest and personal comfort. The ruling APC especially and all the governors and lawmakers in the country should realise that Nigerians seeking protection of the state are not asking for too much but exercising their basic rights to responsible leadership that has for too long been lacking in the country.

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