Why Nigerians must renegotiate the future of their country…
A cross section of leading figures cutting across ethnic and socio-political groups in the country, including Afenifere chieftain, Chief Supo Shonibare; the General Secretary of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and a former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, in separate interviews with KUNLE ODEREMI, bare their minds on the insecurity situation in the country, the debate on state policing and the need to renegotiate the future of the country.
Nigeria has to learn from history —Shonibare
THE quagmire the country finds itself encompasses security, economic and social cohesion challenges. It’s impossible for any multi-ethnic nation anywhere in the world to achieve cohesion in governance while operating a centrist or unitarist system of government. It tends to fan ethnic distrust and blame game in accountability in failure of governance. State Police is a necessary solution to the state of insecurity. I don’t think anyone can logically suggest that a policeman, who was born and bred in Ondo State, will be an effective law enforcer, conversant with the local practices and terrain, as well as intelligence gathering in Zamfara State.
What most people proffer as the mischief we need to cure in having State Police is the control for operational functions. They are apprehensive of it being under the auspices of a governor. I accept that we need to devise a template that will ensure the this function is exercised by a State Police Service Commission comprising nominees of the Executive, Legislature, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), civil society and two leading political parties in the state from the previous election prior to its composition.
We will also need to replicate this model at the federal level. At the moment, the president also, under our present Police Act, is vested with the powers of exercising operational control; this is also undesirable. It encourages the Inspector General to imagine his being the enforcement outfit of a sitting President; it is not a useful model in entrenching democracy. A neutral Police dedicated to the people as an institution is an essential ingredient in deepening the democratic culture.
Furthermore, federalism entails social and economic independence for the federating states. Our Independence and Republican Constitutions devolved the functions of infrastructural deficit requirements needs and economic development and the Judicial and Enforcement agencies to enforce the laws within the competence of the federating units to make, to them. This was what enable those units to be self-reliant.
In order to enable the states in Nigeria unleash their great potential for production and growth, we need to revert to a truly Federal system. If we don’t, the entire system will not endure and will eventually disintegrate. Nations unable to smell the coffee to quickly devolve powers tend to gravitate towards being failed States. It gets to a precipice where even devolving powers becomes unable to stem the tide. History is replete with several instances all over the world. We need to learn from history. It’s in everyone’s best interest.”
What those clamouring for restructuring forget —Sani
When people talk glibly about state police as the panacea for security challenges, I begin to wonder the wisdom in the sense that we have not addressed the underlying causes behind the feckless performance by the Nigerian Police. Somehow, I believe the number of police is very inadequate, their training is not enough, their equipment is not sufficient and even their funding is inadequate. Unless we address the challenges posed by inadequate number, training and their equipment, we cannot reasonably submit that the Nigerian police is feckless.
What is more, we seem to forget the problems the state police will pose in those states that are diverse and susceptible to conflicts and the possibility of personnel of state police becoming part of the conflicts rather than solution. So, before we rethink the structure of the security architecture in favour of multiplicity of the security agencies, I suggest we do the needful for the Nigeria Police first.
Those who clamour for restructuring seem to forget that Nigeria has been restructured several times, be it geography, political or economy.
We started with three regions which became four and now we have 36 states and 774 local governments reformed in 1976 by Dasuki. We also started with confederate arrangement with weak centre, passed through unitary system with stronger centre and now we are in federalism which is balanced by appropriate state level power. Nigeria experimented with parliamentary system, passed through military dictatorship and now we practise presidential system.
On the economic front, we started with mixed economy, passed through Structural Adjustment Programme under IBB and to outright privatisation under the watch of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar. That is why we believe any further thought of restructuring the country may not be helpful. What seems to be lacking has been in the area of prudent management of national resources that come with purposeful leadership which the current regime struggles to entrench in our polity. For example, Lagos State is being governed for performance under the same structure which some people say is not workable.
Three fundamentals that can resolve insecurity challenge —Esele, former president, PENGASSAN
Neither state nor true federalism can stop this insecurity nightmare we found ourselves in.
The police officers have even forgotten what it takes to police a society. Three fundamentals are vital to effective policing: Rule of Law, understanding the rule of law, and proper knowledge of the Rule of Law. All these are predicated on the societal values and the training of the police officers. The last elections also showed the overbearing attitude of state and federal governments who are ready to use the police as a tool for personal interest.
So, we are in a catch 22 position that can only be helped by the three fundamentals I earlier stated.
Nigeria needs comprehensive restructuring —Fani-Kayode, former Minister of Aviation
State police alone cannot solve the problem. The whole system needs to be changed and there needs to be a fundamental and comprehensive restructuring of the entire country. Power must be devolved from the centre to the six geopolitical zones and regions. As far as I am concerned the solution to our problems is not just restructuring and the establishment of a true federation but the establishment of an Aburi-like confederation, where each zone conducts and controls its own affairs.
Please note that I said zones and not states. Anything short of this will not solve our problems. If we wish to preserve the unity of Nigeria into the distant future and if we insist on remaining one, then let us establish a confederation where each of the six zones and regions controls its own resources, conducts its own affairs, provides security for its own people and conducts its own domestic policies. To leave things as they are and close our eyes to the problems that we face would be suicidal and will eventually lead to a major conflict which could result in the total disintegration and break up of our country. We must be courageous enough to take the steps that we need to take to avoid such a conflict.”