The Director of Publicity, Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, recently declared that Nigeria was falling apart under President Muhammadu Buhari. He maintained that the president had failed to fulfill his pledge in 2015 and in 2019 to protect citizens and the territorial integrity of the country. According to him, Nigerians had never felt so insecure. Noting that banditry and kidnapping had become major issues in the country, he lamented that it was taking the president too long to tackle the security situation. Baba-Ahmed noted further that the president had become too detached from the everyday living experiences of Nigerians and urged him to call about 200 to 500 hundred Nigerians to advise him on critical governance issues. He argued that there were sufficient Nigerians with the knowledge, experience and skills to help bring the country out of its security quagmire.
Indeed, we agree with Baba-Ahmed that the government can benefit from quality advice. The president is not reaching out to individuals and organisations that can help to address the issues. He needs to actively seek advice from the right quarters, especially outside the group he is used to doing business with, to effectively confront the challenges facing the country. Also, Baba-Ahmed called on the president to take the governors into confidence more than he had been doing. He emphasised that the president habitually had very poor interaction with the governors, who had very important roles and responsibilities under the constitution, especially on matters of security. He stated that the president working in concert with the governors would achieve a lot in addressing pressing national issues.
We aver that in all federations of the world, intergovernmental relations are a major means of policy implementation; of getting the job done. Intergovernmental relations provide robust platforms for leaders at various levels of government to engage each other in addressing issues. They enable the cross-fertilisation of ideas and the required collaboration across the levels of government to address collective issues and to ensure collective action to address them. They provide opportunity for synergy, and for experience sharing and diffusion of ideas and resources to deal with thorny issues.
Since the return to democratic rule, robust intergovernmental platforms have evolved. These include the various national councils, the various governors’ forums, the conference of speakers of state houses of assembly and the association of local governments. These platforms have not been activated to address the prevailing situation which has taken on emergency proportions. We call on actors on these forums to come together to deal with the security situation that has become unbearable for citizens.
Hakeem Baba-Ahmed also emphasised that the country could not afford the president’s slow pace in addressing the security situation. We think that it is time for the president to call for help. The cost of his slothfulness in managing the security situation is the huge number of deaths of victims of kidnapping and banditry and widespread fear and anxiety among citizens. Apart from drawing on resources beyond his circle of business and governance in the executive, the president should seek help from other countries with the required experience, skills and technology to prosecute the security assignment. Enough is enough.
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