By Michael Ofulue
There is no doubt that the country is facing security challenges which have created fear, anxiety and panic in the minds of many Nigerians who now sleep with one eye open.
These challenges arose from banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery, assassination, rape, wanton destruction of property among others.
The recent unprovoked attack at St Francis Catholic church Owo where many innocent worshippers were killed in what many described as a targeted war-like incident is still very fresh in our minds.
Since the unfortunate incident, many have been calling on the President, Muhammadu Buhari, to totally overhaul the security architecture of the country, as it appears security agencies have failed in their responsibilities.
Nigeria recently celebrated 23 years of unbroken democracy, but many are of the opinion that the country has not fared well in terms of security and safety of citizens.
Comrade Waheed Lawal, a human rights activist while speaking on the 23 years of Nigeria’s unbroken democracy hinted that restructuring of the country and an overhaul of the security architecture of the country is the solution to the problem of insecurity, while maintaining that everything about Security is Local and State Police and Local Policing is the best way to go.
Lawal made these assertions during an exclusive interview with The Hope in which he spoke on how Nigeria has fared; its party system; economy; insecurity; whether the country is doing well and what areas leaders need to improve on.
He explained that Security (protection of life and property) is a fundamental duty and responsibility of every government over its citizen. So if insecurity dominates in a region, state or country, that shows how ineffective or defective the security system put in place in that region is.
His words: “A recent initiative of the southwestern governments that is laudable is the conception and implementation of regional policing which saw the birth of Amotekun. While the initiative is a good one, it will be better if the implementation strategy and the mode of operation of the security outfit remain innovative and seamless enough to see an end to the issue of insecurity in the region.
“Another good way to combat the problem of insecurity in the South West will be to restructure the existing security services and equip them to ensure transparency, maintain discipline and inspire the passion to protect our territory.”
He stated that Nigeria hasn’t fared well in her 23 years of unbroken democracy. He however believe that while an uninterrupted democratic process might be a thing of celebration, recent happenings across the country will make anyone doubt if the nation’s democracy is truly democratic.
Lawal continues: “Democracy is said to be a representative form of government where the majority have the way and the minority has the will. It’s an inclusive system of leadership where leaders are elected or selected to represent the general interest of their people.
“Party systems are meant to give a sense of belonging and association based on ideology in a democratic setting. It is a beautiful thing to see Nigeria run a multi-party system. What is sad to see is how certain parties dominate and collapse the structures of many other parties at will and for personal interests.”
According to Lawal, Nigeria’s party systems are now being run by money bags and without the slightest ideals of truth and a sense of nationalism or patriotism. “It is sad”, he said.
He pointed out that an incremental growth in all spheres and sectors of a nation is what anyone will seek. And a measure of different indicators perfectly describes how well each of these sectors fare.
He further stated that a perfect indicator of growth for the economy is the GDP (Gross Domestic Product), inflation rate, poverty level, cost and standard of living while he recalled that 1999 that Nigeria resumed the chain of this run of uninterrupted democracy, it is sad to see that the country’s GDP has been fluctuating, with the inflation rate growing higher each year and poverty eating deep into the once upon the middle-class citizens.
Lawal said: “The cost of living richly 10 years ago will barely cater for the average sustenance of living now. While it is important to state that we’ve come in and out of several crises that have caused this, (pandemics, global recession, declination of resources amongst others), the evil of the precedented cause perpetuated by our democratically elected leaders is disastrous. Corruption is a major bane of democracy in this country.
“If a representative system of government that is associated with a constitution that spells out the basic right of humans still experience insecurity at the current rate that Nigeria experiences it, democracy as a system is better renamed. The current rate of insecurity in the country is sickening and frustrating at the same time. We can’t even move freely anywhere without the fear of our fellow countrymen, even worse, the fear of the constituted body charged with protecting us is part of what we are scared of now.
“Democracy is a promising system of governance anywhere in the world but only if practiced rightly, for the national interest of a country. There is an attestation of that in numerous countries of the world that have been uplifted with their practice of democracy. If I’m to rate democracy in Nigeria as of now, I will rate it 2/10.”
Lawal, however, said Nigeria as a country needs a total and complete overhaul of its systems to see it practice true democracy and not some roadside cheap system of governance.
On his part, Ayo Ologun, a Journalist and public affairs analyst said Nigerian democracy in the 4th republic should be applauded as we daily make improvements in self governance but to say that we have fared well will be an overrating of a sort.
He said: “as a country, we have weathered the storm and passed any known basis for a failed state and we still keep pushing on without the interference of the military though they have justification to have taken over. Our economy had been fluctuating. We are neither here or there by indices but in terms of security, we are daily becoming an unsafe people. A few are daily terrorizing the rest of us and we seem to be losing it to them.”
He stated that eternal vigilance is the rule. As much as the government owes us the debt of security of life and property, we need to as a people galvanize ourselves to protect ourselves. It is now very important that the local security system of the Yoruba people be activated to push back the infiltrators
“If we must get rid of insecurity in the nation and be a free people who can live in peace and harmony, be a people whose life are genuinely secure and whose properties are properly protected, there is a need for a complete overhaul of the architecture of Nigeria’s security to ensure that security challenges are overcome.
“This overhaul must begin with the system of recruitment into the security agencies devoid of tribalism, favouritism, mental health check and capacity enablement. We must also further ensure a reorientation of the officers of the military to dissuade their minds from loyalty to their ethnic groups but loyalty to the nation as a whole. We must ensure that only very patriotic officers proven over time are allowed to lead our security outfits and ensure that there is proper remuneration for the officers and men of the armed forces.”
Also speaking Mr Ismaeei Uthman, Editor of Osun Defender Newspaper was unequivocal in his submission that Nigeria’s Security system has collapsed.
According to him, the evidence is clearly seen on the daily attacks on innocent Nigerians by either bandits, kidnappers, terrorists or “unknown gunmen”. The brazen way in which these criminals operate indicate that the intelligence section of our security system has failed, totally. And the field officers, who are supposed to be proactive and confront the evil men are either compromised, discouraged, incapacitated or lacking the zeal to carry out their duties.
“This point to a fact that the security system and architecture are weak, uninspiring and lack the needed capacity to end the insecurity challenge we are facing in Nigeria.
He stated that the centralisation of Nigerian policing system is not also helping the matter. The way forward! I agree with the call for total overhauling of the secure architecture; beyond that we need a quality leadership with strong political will that will inject discipline, courage, boost the moral of the security agents through capacity building, provision of quality arms and ammunition and sufficient emoluments.
However , Chairman of the Southern Governors’ Forum and Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu and the Attorney General of the federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) on Thursday openly disagreed on the need for Nigeria to be restructured and her police decentralized.
Akeredolu who has been an advocate of State Police called for a comprehensive restructuring of the federation, particularly devolution of powers and the creation of state police in the wake of growing insecurity in the country.
Malami on his part said governors lack the moral authority to demand restructuring, while usurping the powers of local government chairmen.
Akeredolu, who re-emphasized the need for restructuring insisted that the police have failed in their constitutional role of protecting Nigerians and that if the situation does not improve citizens would be left with no other option but to arm themselves in self-defence.
While making his earlier position known to the public during 36 States Attorney General meeting in Lagos, Governor Akeredolu hinted that very soon citizens will carry arms to defend themselves going by the spate of insecurity bedeviling the nation
He maintained that the police as presently constituted are overwhelmed and that they should “close shop” if the federal government could not meet its equipment needs.
He noted that the mass killings, kidnappings and other serious security failures around the country had shown that a central police command was ineffective in keeping Nigerians safe, adding that the current spate of insecurity in the country leaves us with no room for equivocation on the right of the states to maintain law and order through the establishment of State Police.
“The growing distrust in the polity is a direct result of the disconnect between the federal government and the constituent units of the country. The economic adversity, currently experienced in the country, points directly at the defective political structure.
“A unitary system cannot work, successfully, in a country like Nigeria.The 1999 Constitution has been amended twice. There is another promise of further amendments arising from the manifest irregularity in many provisions. and has compelled many lawyers and educated citizens to insist on having a new Constitution which will reflect the agitations of the various groups which make up the country. The law is becoming increasingly less certain under these circumstances.
“The crises created by the 1999 Constitution, as amended, have been unending. There have been agitations that the Exclusive Legislative List in this Constitution is limited to Nigeria’s external trade, customs duties, export duties, tax on incomes, profits and capital gains, interstate commerce, external borrowing, mining rents and royalties from mineral resources, among others.
“The Federal Government has, consistently, rejected this suggestion, presumably, because of the humongous 52% revenue allocation to it while the 36 States and the 774 Local Governments share the remaining 48%,” the governor stated.