Nigeria: Govt Tasks States On Growing Violence

5 March 2021

Abuja — The federal government yesterday called on state governors to live up to their constitutional roles and take responsibility for growing insecurity in their states.

It said state governments enjoyed autonomy in the constitution with the attendant resources to address security challenges in their domains.

This comes as the federal government has said that Nigeria's foreign policy is under review with new focus on trade and investment, African Free Trade and Investment (ACFTA) and climate change.

It said the elections of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the head of the World Trade Organisation (WTO); and Dr. Akinwumi Adesina as President of African Development Bank (AfDB), were made possible with its support and in furtherance of its foreign policy.

Speaking yesterday on ARISE NEWS Channels, the broadcasting arm of THISDAY Newspapers, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, said state governors had the financial resources, security votes and the presence of security chiefs in their domains to turn the tide against growing criminality in the country rather than waiting for federal intervention.

The minister decried the security situation in the country, which he said agitated the government.

"Well, it's a very sad situation that we still have an unacceptably high level of violence within the country. That is a real cause of serious concern. It's something that agitates the government.

"You know, a lot of the measures have been put in place to address those issues. You know, unfortunately, these fault lines we have as a country.

"We also need leaders in Nigeria to step up. You know, it's not just about the president; he can't do it on his own. We have a federal system. So, you have your governance in those states, and each state has tremendous autonomy.

"So, we need the governors of the states to step up because they have autonomy and things and they have to take their responsibilities and do what they also need to do," he said.

According to him, with the resources at their disposal, the governors have no excuse not to end insecurity.

He said: "The governors have security votes, huge resources, funding that are given to them regularly, so they have financial resources and it's just a question of also allocating appropriately.

"There are police commissioners in each state; we work very closely with the governors and it's really a question of you know, just taking responsibility, not just the governors, I might say but all of us legislators as well opinion leaders and traditional leaders will have to take responsibility."

On lack of cooperation between the arms of government, he said insecurity was not an issue for the president alone.

"No, I wouldn't say that there's no cooperation. What I'm saying is that they should take more responsibility. It shouldn't just be an issue for Mr. President to solve.

"I think that as I said, we are a federation. There are others who have an important role to play. A lot of these things are going on within the states and the first line of response is the state governors," he added.

On the review of Nigeria's foreign policy, he said the country was focused on new areas, including trade and investment, AFCFTA and climate change.

"When we look now at what we want, as a country, you know, the different things we want trade; we want to industrialise our country and trade our way out of poverty.

"We want jobs for Nigerians, a lot of Nigerians migrate; we have a large number of Nigerians in the diaspora and you know, climate change is also an issue for us. So, yes, Africa is still very much important to Nigeria, and very much part of our priorities, but also the rest of the world", he said.

Onyeama stated that "they may not necessarily be in that order sub-region, the continent and the rest of the world. "In that order, in respect of what for certain things would be in that order. I think if we're looking at security, for instance, clearly, it's going to be in that order. With the continental African free trade area, we are hoping to see greater level of trade in Africa, but at the moment, Africa is not our greatest trading partner, the countries of Africa.

"So, we need to increase our trade with Africa. But of course, those countries who have high volumes of trade are also very important to us and of course, we look for greater investment in Nigeria. And yes, we would like investments from African countries but you know, realistically at the moment, the biggest investors in Nigeria are from outside Africa".

On the election of Nigeria into the leadership of multilateral organisations in the last one year, the minister said

"In that period of time, we have also seen a lot of wins for Nigeria in getting Nigerians elected to open positions, the latest, of course, being Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. We have seen the election of Nigeria to possibly the most important portfolio on the African Union, which is headship of political affairs, peace and security.

"Of course, we are able to get Adesina elected as president of the African Development Bank and also the president of the Afrexim Bank. So, we have Nigerians in very strategic positions and multilateral organisations. "And of course, we had Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations and Nigeria, as the President of the UN General Assembly", he said.

He said the development was "a true reflection and the leadership position of Nigeria and the global recognition of our country on that.

"So, I think that from that point of view, we can say that we have been successful on a good trajectory over the last one year".

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