Reps back proposed devolution of powers, state Police legislation

Members of the House of Representatives have expressed overwhelming support for the devolution of power and the establishment of State Police as part of measures geared toward tackling security challenges in Nigeria.

Hon. Awayi-Inombek Abiante, member representing Adoni/Opobo Nkoro Federal Constituency of River State and Hon. Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, member representing Owan West/East Federal Constituency of Edo State expressed these views during separate interviews.

Speaking exclusively with Tribune Online, Hon. Abiante, stressed the need for Nigeria to adopt alternative measures in tackling various security challenges facing the country, rather than the usual increase in the allocation of budgetary provisions to the Security agencies.

He said: “Some people will tell you that Nigeria is more secure as we speak. It simply means we are not on the same page and if we are not on the same page we are not in agreement that indeed there’s a problem with security in this country, we will go nowhere.

“You cannot solve this problem using the same solutions that have not provided answers. We have had an incremental budget for Defence, incremental budget for security services, if you do the correlation, are we getting the results expected for increasing resources for Defence and security agencies? The answer is No!

“It, therefore, requires an alternative approach. We sre having batallions, more divisions, more special forces established here and there, but are we getting answers from there? The answer is No.

“There is a relationship between the economy and security. I will suggest that rather than keep funding the defence, rather than increase money for security agencies let us retool and take the money into the productive areas that will guarantee jobs for our people.

“Time has come for us to also look at the issue of State Police. It was here in the chamber that we voted against State Police. Devolving powers so that we can have State Police to secure ourselves,” Hon. Abiante stressed.

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In a chat with Tribune Online, Hon. Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, who aligned with the call for devolution of powers, stressed the need for Federal Government to play the regulatory role in certain sectors of the economy such as education and agriculture and leave the operations to State Governments.

“We must have a proper understanding of the socio-economic and cultural potentials, opportunities and capabilities that we want to put together. It’s like regional integration, if you bring together a group of poor countries, you are only building a bigger market for a foreign country to dominate and exploit.

“If you are not creating a bigger pool of consumers, so we have to look at those issues critically. I think the Federal Government is taking way-way-way too much. For instance, why are we running federal universities, I still can’t understand it, yes. All federal institutions must be handed over to the states, the money you are using to run them, give them to the states and free yourself from ASUU strike and a lot of these and many other problems, mismanagement and incompetence.

“We have a huge bureaucracy in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, where is the federal farm, what do they produce there? What you need is a policy body, a regulatory body and Extension Research body, a monitoring body and then let the states that control the land by the Land Use Decree go into agriculture, aided by the market system,” Hon. Ihonvbere urged.

Hon. Ihonvbere, a former Secretary to Edo State Government (SSG) harped on the need to adopt a multi-faceted approach in tackling security challenges facing Nigeria.

“In Abuja here we know where the problems are, etc. its not addressed, there are issues of community policing and state police, we are not taking it seriously. You cannot police the entire country from Abuja, this is a federal system.

“Yes, it will be abused, but what have we done that has not been abused at the beginning? It is from the abuse that we know the weakness of the structure that are put in place, you know. So for me, I believe that what we call overhaul, you sack the top people, you bring in new people, it doesnt change anything. The new man is happy that he’s now the IG and he wants to enjoy what the previous man enjoyed; his villagers will come and point out those he regards as enemies.

“Those who corrupt the system will come and try to corrupt the person and before you know it, the person you think is part of your overhaul is beginning to be an underhaul! So for me, therefore, I think in reality, it’s not just a question of overhauling, we need to have a conversation.

“We need to understand the root of the problem, we need to have level A, level B, level C, the approaches to the problems, we need to put resources into it, we need to punish those who mismanage resources deployed for security issues,” he urged.