By Bode Akinbode , Ibadan
The chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, and the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has called on the need for a security system localised and knowledgeable about the culture and security situation in order to tackle insecurity in the country.
The governor gave the opinion on Tuesday while speaking at the 7th annual birthday lecture series in commemoration of the birthday of the former Minority Whip of the House of Representatives and a two-term member of the House, Babatunde Oduyoye, held at the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan.
The governor, while speaking on the theme: “Security and National Unity in Difficult Times,” stressed that the challenge of insecurity in Nigeria has become frightening and is getting all and sundry concerned.
Fayemi noted that if the federal government must tackle the security challenges confronting the country, it must be prepared to declare bandits, terrorists and kidnappers as criminals regardless of their geographical indication.
The guest lecturer stressed that it has become imperative to amend the constitution to empower the various security initiatives to be able to respond to the current challenges in the country.
His words: “The challenge of insecurity in Nigeria is frightening and is getting all of us concerned. At the dawn of the current democratic dispensation in 1999, the major concern of security experts was the staccato of ethnic and religions violence that was common then, that was before the dawn of the Niger-Delta militancy which took almost a decade.
“A new phenomenon in insecurity however waded in with the violent campaign of Boko Haram activities in many parts of the north.”
“Added to this is Nigeria’s extensive and porous borders covering over 4000 kilometres littered with illegal entry points and routes totalling 1500 points.”
“With the porous borders, criminal gangs and terrorist insurgents could easily stroll in with smuggled weapons into the country which in turn are sold to sea pirates, cultists, armed robbers, kidnappers, bandits and other purveyors of violence in the Nigerian state.”
“In fact the creation of Amotekun can only be a precursor to this. We need a security system that is localised, knowledgeable about the culture and security situation of a particular community.”
“But we need to amend the constitution to empower the various security initiatives to be able to respond to the current challenges.
“For example, despite not possessing Ak47 which the bandits possess, Amotekun operatives have been courageous to confront them in the forest and have successfully rescued victims of kidnapping and arrested the criminals in some instances.”
“Yet, these people are at best, volunteer corps with encouragement stipend paid to them. They don’t earn as much as the conventional police, yet they are better motivated to throw themselves to the protection of the community where they have their wives, children and families.”
As a panacea to Nigeria’s security challenges, Governor Fayemi advocated the need for unity in facing off the evil merchants who have no respect for children, old age, women, clergy or traditional authorities.
“They are unsparing and are callous. They have no sympathy for religion, ethnicity or authority and are undiscriminating in the pursuit of their satanic enterprise. We must not be ashamed to call for assistance from wherever we can get it in terms of technology, equipment and personnel.”
“In addition, there are two things that we need to address quickly to bring the current wave of insecurity to a halt. We need to have a conversation on how we can recruit a large number of people to join the police and the military even on a short service or otherwise.”
“By available statistics, we need minimum of two hundred thousand personnel to boost the fighting power of our men. This number is very large and a potential financial and logistic nightmare, yet we cannot delay any further. The ungoverned spaces need to be closed up quickly by motivated men with the singular objective to save the nation,” Fayemi posited.
In his address, the co- chairman of the event, former Senate President, Adolphus Wabara, opined that the Federal Government needed the decentralization of the over-centralized security apparatus in the hands of one ethnic nationality in Nigeria by deploying the constitutional approach of federal character to the national security system.
“Every morning when I have to open the pages of newspapers or read through posts on the social media, my heart cut at the extent of violence being unleashed on citizens of Nigeria. There are stories of killings, kidnapping, banditry, cattle rustling and herders’/farmers brouhaha from the North East, North West and North Central part of the country, the same way we are bombarded with stories of violence, armed robbery, kidnapping and herdsmen infractions from the South West, South East and South South. Its just like, everywhere you go, there is violence and killings.
“Besides, there have been growing agitations for self-determination from the South East and South West in recent years. In recent days, the news media was awashed with stories credited to the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), where he threatened that the Federal Government would declare a state of emergency in Anambra State, in view of the wanton killings taking place there.
“Well, my party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has promptly reacted and told the Federal Government to back off such thoughts. In the same vein, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the Afenifere, PANDEF and other nationality groups have spoken.
“Rather than adopting the knee-jerk approach in tackling the myriads of security problems facing the country currently, the government at the centre needs to look deep down and design solutions”
Wabara who also represented Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto congratulated Babatunde Oduyoye, for his commitment to the nation and for showing leadership by instituting the birthday lecture.
Speaking, Government Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, who was the chief host, described Oduyoye, who is currently serving as his Special Adviser on Strategy and Political Matters, as a unifier.
“Well, we have all listened to the lecture, which was given by a Ph.D. holder in war studies. But I only have one or two things to say about today’s celebrant, Hon Babatunde Oduyoye. Governor Fayemi said he is a good man. Yes, He is.”
“And one thing I can say about Hon Babatunde Oduyoye is, He is a unifier. In this gathering, I have seen members of the APC and PDP. I can also see members of the aggrieved PDP. Also, I can see some members of progressives (Afenifere). So, He is a unifier.”
On why he organised the birthday lecture, Oduyoye, said the love and patriotism for the country drove the passion to institute the Babatunde Oduyoye Birthday Lecture Series.
The former House of Representatives member said the journey started in the year 2003, a year after his election into the National Assembly as the member representing Ibadan North-West/Ibadan South-West Federal Constituency.
He said passion to contribute his quota to the development of the country made him take a small corner from which he felt he could change the world.
“This journey started in the year 2003, a year after my election into the National Assembly as the member representing Ibadan North-West/Ibadan South-West Federal Constituency.”
“The conceptualisation of this event, which has become a veritable platform for the discussion of critical national issues and an avenue for seeking solutions to the challenges that bedevil of our darling country.
“As a nation, we have had innumerable challenges and threats to our national unity, while on a daily basis, stories of terrorism, banditry, violence, killings and other insecurity challenges continue to weaken the hearts. Agitations for restructuring, national dialogue or whatever name anyone chooses to call it, continue to ring loud, while threats to peace and continued existence of the nation continue to rankle.”
“It was in the midst of this cacophony, this confusion that a still small voice whispered in the ears of the Babatunde Oduyoye Annual Birthday Lecture Committee that we should yield the platform for discussions on unity, peace and order in our dear nation,” he said.