Governors of the 36 states of the federation yesterday sought for bailouts from the federal government to enable them finance the fight against the growing spate of insecurity in their respective domains.
They cited unemployment, poverty and the lack of trust between the military and the civilian population as major causes of the surge in insecurity, including insurgency, banditry , kidnapping and other forms of criminality in the states.
The state governors ended their meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on the state of the nation's security with calls for a joint strategy to bring various conflicts to an end within time limits.
The virtual meeting which lasted for three hours and coordinated by President Buhari was attended by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, heads of defence, security and intelligence agencies and members of the security committee of the NGF represented by one governor from each of the six geo-political zones.
It was agreed at the meeting held at the presidential villa that field commanders would take measures to protect civilian communities as a confidence-building mechanism between the military and those communities.
In their submissions anchored by chairman of the Nigeria Governors' Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi and his Borno State counterpart, Babagana Zulum, the governors highlighted the problems of poverty, unemployment, trust deficit between the military and civilian populations and the inflow of small arms into the country.
Identifying the problem of coordination among military and security chiefs, the governors outlined their own security roles which they said include 1 billion they allowed the president to withdraw from the Excess Crude Account for weapons procurement two years ago.
Accordingly, they urged the President to consider a "bail out" for security for the States in view of the enormity of the resources they now expend in support of the military and the police.
A statement by presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, noted that the meeting observed that when the trust that has been lost between the military and civilians is re-established, there would be improved cooperation in intelligence-gathering and sharing.
He said the meeting also agreed that poverty and youth unemployment were at the root of the nationwide security challenges, and needed to be addressed with greater vigour by all tiers of government.
The meeting, he added, focused on the country's security policies and approaches in tackling the internal security challenges with a charge that intelligence-gathering and sharing must be optimised for the nation to secure itself.
Shehu said at the meeting, President Buhari dismissed some commonly held assumptions that the terrorists in the Northeast had far more weapons and money than the government.
The president said what was left of the insurgents are "mere scavengers desperate for food, raiding shops and markets, and killing innocent persons in the process."
The presidential spokesman quoted Buhari as expressing concern that in spite of the fact that borders with neighbouring countries had been shut, bandits and terrorists continued to have access to small weapons.
To the security and intelligence chiefs, the president said, "These terrorists are in the localities. How is it that they are not short of small arms? We have said enough on the need for them to rejig their operations. I am glad that there is better synergy and cooperation which are very important.
"I have directed the Service Chiefs to meet among themselves in-between the National Security Council meetings. The services have resources; yes, they need more, and mobility, and are doing their best, but there is a need for better gathering and interpretation of intelligence. Our intelligence-gathering must be improved."
Buhari informed the governors of the imminent shipment of military weapons and aircraft from Jordan, China and the United States of America, even as he sought for patience on the part of the public, saying the new weapons and aircraft must be manned by trained fighters and pilots who must first receive appropriate training.
President Buhari was also quote as expressing satisfaction with the level of support from neighbouring countries in the war against terrorism.
"They are cooperating with us. On Boko Haram, we are making progress with Benin, Niger, Chad and Cameroon," he said, while restating that intelligence-gathering must improve to be able to track small arms in the Northwest, North Central and Northeast States.
The president also expressed satisfaction with the level of Naval activity in the Gulf of Guinea, using newly-acquired equipment.
He however demanded that hard-to-reach areas of Lake Chad where Boko Haram terrorists have found new havens, as well as the forests now inhabited by bandits, must be accessed and rid of nefarious elements.
"The Chief of Defence Staff has spoken about their study of the forests and their potential danger to security. We must make sure we follow the bandits and terrorists, but there must not be deforestation in view of the climate situation," he added.
'FG Doesn't Need Appropriation To Fund Security'
Meanwhile, deputy chairman of the Nigeria Governors' Forum (NGF) and Sokoto State governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, yesterday said the federal government does not need appropriation to fund security.
He observed that a special provision should be made constitutionally to increase funding for the Nigerian Army and other security agencies in the country.
Tambuwal spoke in Faskari, Katsina State along with his Zamfara State counterpart, Bello Muhammad Mutawalle, as special guest at the Nigerian Army Special Army Super Camp 4.
The former Speaker of the House of Representatives, while appealing that Nigerian security be provided with sophisticated weapons, also applauded President Muhammadu Buhari's vision in the establishment of Army Super Camp.
Tambuwal said, "There is need for proper and structured funding of the army and other security agencies in the country to enable them procure superior weapons to that of their adversaries; you need funding. Funding is key to combating insecurity in any country.
"There should be a special security funding not only that derived from routine appropriations.Any constitutional means of getting funding for the army and other security agencies should be explored".
The governor further noted that if more equipment could be made available for the Nigerian security agencies more resounding successes will be achieved.
A statement by Tambuwal's spokesperson, Muhmmad Bello, also quoted the governor as giving kudos to the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai for doing a great deal in ensuring that the operations of the Camp is seamless and "Sokoto has recorded more peace, which according to him was an opposite of the weeks preceding the operation of Ex Sahel Safety".
According to Tambuwal, farmers and villagers who left their farms when banditry was at its peak in the Eastern part of Sokoto state are now back to their villages and farms.
"The South-Eastern part of the state, the governor submitted, "is witnessing a return to normalcy," he said.
On efforts made by the Northern governors to complement those of the security agencies, the governor said they agreed to pursue the carrot and stick approach.
"We in Sokoto state are still continuing with the non-kinetic measure. No matter how long it takes in a battle, you must come back to the round table. So, why wait until issues escalate? The kinetic and non-kinetic processes are simultaneously going on in Sokoto," he explained, adding that the Northern governors are trying to reform existing laws to punish kidnappers and other perpetrators of crimes associated with banditry.
Security Issues Should Not Be Politicised - Matawalle
On his part, Zamfara State governor, Bello Matawalle, urged Nigerians to desist from politicising issues of insecurity affecting many part of the country.
Matawalle made the call when he visited the Special Army Super Camp Faskari, Katsina State with Governor Tambuwal.
The two governors visited the super camp to ascertain the level of successes of the recently launched Operation Sahel Sanity to deal with banditry in the North Western region.
Matawalle also said the call in some quarters to change the security architecture of the country was not necessary, adding that change of security would not provide the needed solution.
According to him, safeguarding and ensuring security is not just the responsibility of the president, the governors, service chiefs and other security agencies alone but that of every patriotic citizen.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, conducted the governors round the camp and briefed them on the operations of the troops against banditry in the region.
The GOC 3 Division, Maj.-Gen. Nuhu Angbazo, thanked the governors for their confidence in the Nigerian army to stem the tide of banditry in their respective states.
Angbazo also commended the governors for their support for the troops and cooperation that had made Operation Sahel Sanity a success.
He said that the supports of the governors had boosted the efficiency of the operations to end the scourge of banditry in the region.
Catholic Bishops Sue For Peace
Meanwhile, Catholic Bishops under the auspices of Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) have called on the federal government and Governor Nasiru El-Rufai of Kaduna State to work for peace and justice.
According to the Bishops, the government should bring a complete stop to the killing of innocent people in Southern Kaduna.
In a statement jointly signed by its president, Most Rev Augustine Obiora Akubeze; secretary, Most Rev Camillus Umoh; assistant secretary, Most Rev Charlse Hammawa, and Most Rev. Lucius Ugorji, the Bishops said that loss of life of any Nigerian does not help to further the agenda of any religious ideology or the ambition of any politician.
According to the Bishops, any government, state or federal that wants peace must work for justice for everyone, adding that there will never be sustained development built upon the bloodshed of innocent people brutally murdered by religious fundamentalists without any recourse to justice for the victims.
The Catholic Bishops expressed dismay over increasing insecurity and unabated acts of terrorism in Northern Nigeria and the Southern Kaduna killings, stressing that they are all tired of the negative situation.
They noted: "We do not want any politician to politicize the killing of Nigerians. There should be one response from everyone, and that is, the killings must stop. Our hearts are bleeding, and we are more troubled when we hear of the massacre presently going on in Southern Kaduna.
"We want all the people suffering the incessant attacks in Southern Kaduna to know that all Catholics in Nigeria are praying for them. We call on the federal and the government of Kaduna to bring a complete stop to the killing of innocent people.
"The perpetrators of the killings must be brought to justice. Where there is no justice or justice is not seen to be done, there cannot be peace. Where there is no peace, there cannot be development.
"We need not remind Nigerians that the present federal government came to power, promising Nigerians, the eradication of corruption, a guarantee of security to life and property, and rapid growth in the economy".
The Catholic Bishops further listed creation of jobs and an enabling environment that engenders growth of the private sector; a significant increase in the supply of electricity to Nigerians, affordable and quality health care to Nigerians, and the revamping of the educational sector as promises the government has continued to make.
They said, "Many Nigerians, irrespective of political party affiliation, will affirm that these promises have remained a far cry. We strongly appeal to Nigerians to unite together in calling the federal government to give priority to these areas of our lives.
"To all Catholics, we request that you join in praying, one our Father, three Hail Marys, and one Glory Be to the Father every day after the Angelus for forty days, starting from 22 August 2020 and ending 30 September 2020, the eve of Nigeria's Independence Day.
"On Independence Day, let us join in praying the five decades of the sorrowful mysteries starting from 12.noon. We appeal to each Bishop to encourage the faithful in his Diocese to participate fully in this prayer for God to save Nigeria".
The Bishops also advised Nigerians to be instruments of forgiveness and reconciliation, noting that they must be on the part of justice for all and peace in Nigeria, even as they prayed God to grant eternal rest to all who have lost their lives to the violence in Northern Nigeria and other parts of the country.