The Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, and his Kano State counterpart, Abdullahi Ganduje, on Wednesday made a case for the creation of state police, arguing that it is unrealistic for states to leave the security of their citizens in the hands of the Federal Government.
The two governors said already they had been partly responsible for equipping the police and paying allowances of policemen despite that the Nigeria Police Force is under the control of the Federal Government.
Akeredolu and Ganduje spoke alongside the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, in Lagos at the ongoing Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association holding on Victoria Island, Lagos.
The conference, which began on Friday, is with the theme, “African business: Penetrating through institution building,” and the three governors spoke at a plenary session on Wednesday, tagged, “Governors’ Forum.”
The plenary session, chaired by the Country Director of MacArthur Foundation, also had in attendance the Emir of Kano, High Royal Highness Muhammadu Sanusi II.
Akeredolu, while making a case for the creation of state police, argued that the country is too large for the Inspector-General of police to be giving order on security from Abuja.
He said, “This country is vast and I say it boldly, we cannot continue to be under one command of the police. It is most ineffective and it will remain ineffective. There’s no way you talk about this country, as large as we are, and you take order from the IG on security in Abuja or you have men deployed in your state who are not familiar with the terrain, it does not work.
“You need people who are part and parcel of that community to be able to police that community. There’s no way we will bring people who are not part of that community and they will be effective in policing the community. So, it’s not that people are just talking about this state police for the fun of it, I believe that this is very fundamental and the earlier we take it up the better.”
Ganduje, on his part, said the Federal Government should hand over both the police and the budget for the force to the states for efficiency.
He said, “The governors are looking for the control of the security; we are not only looking for the control of the police, we are also looking for the budget that is supposed to be given to the police. That budget should be given to the state government. You cannot give responsibility without (bearing) financial responsibility. So, what the governors are looking for is to have the budget that is supposed to be given to the police. This is because it does not go down. We are still equipping the police even to the extent of paying them allowances in some cases. So, if we have the money and we have the police, we will be able to operate in a better way.”
Akeredolu also disclosed that his state had been agitating to be included in the Federal Government’s amnesty programme for the Niger Delta militants.
He said, “The fundamental thing is that we belong to the Niger Delta and you have had the amnesty programme and those from Ondo State did not benefit from it. So, they are insisting on feeling the impact of this amnesty programme. And I don’t see any reason why we should not be. Luckily, the Vice-President understood our position and we are trying to carry out this amnesty programme and so, that will reduce insecurity in our riverine areas.”
The three governors stressed the need to have strong institutions as opposed to strong men.
Responding to a question by the first female Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Folake Solanke, on what the states in conjunction with the Federal Government were doing to shift the base of the Nigerian economy from oil in view of plans by Honda and other automobile manufacturers to phase out vehicles that run on petrol, Wike, who was represented by the Rivers State Attorney General, Mr. Emmanuel Aguma, said it was good news for the Niger Delta.
He said, “I don’t think we, in the Niger Delta, will really bother whether there is oil or not. We are going to have fresher fish, cleaner water, better air to breathe and peace. Nobody will want to win Rivers State at all costs, nobody will want to win Bayelsa State at all costs. That will allow us to conduct our elections freely and fairly. So, the earlier Honda and the rest stop producing cars using fuel, the better for us in the Niger Delta. It has only brought sorrow and tears to us in the Niger Delta.”
Wike also called for the building of strong institutions, saying this would not only protect the Nigeria’s integrity but democratic governance in the country.
Commenting, the Emir of Kano, Sanusi, said the debate on building strong institutions rather than strong men must continue.