Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday joined the league of eminent Nigerians calling for the establishment of state police formations to enable the country overcome the plethora of security challenges currently bedeviling it.
The former president made this recommendation when he played host to the leadership of the National Association of Ex-Local Government Chairmen in Nigeria, led by its pioneer national chairman, Hon. Albert Asipa, at his Abeokuta home in the Ogun State capital, yesterday.
He expressly declared that the creation of state police would be a better option than the community policing strategy recently approved by the federal government.
Asipa had earlier told the former president why the former council bosses decided to come together in all the 774 local governments in the country.
"We can also contribute to the economy and political developments of the country," he said.
But Obasanjo, who was responding to one of the speakers, Chinwe Monu-Olarewaju's submission on creation of community police to curb the wave of insecurity, quipped that the idea needed to be changed.
"Our situation in Nigeria concerns everyone, particularly, the case of terrorism. The case has gotten over the issue of community police; it is now state police. It is from state police that we can now be talking about community police," he told his guests.
LEADERSHIP Friday reports that state police is not one of the constitution alteration provisions being considered by the National Assembly despite strident calls for its adoption as a measure to contain the spiraling insecurity in all parts of the country, with the political elite fearing that state governor would abuse their control of state policing apparatuses against their opponents.
However, earlier this month, the Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures of Nigeria directed its Committee on Constitution Amendment to liaise with the National Assembly to ensure a reconsideration of state policing.
Commending the initiative behind the formation of the body, Obasanjo said the development clearly showed that some local chairmen in the country were better managers than even the top elected leaders at the national level.
The former president also advocated the strengthening of the traditional system and the local government administration in Nigeria "which I prepared during the popular Murtala/Obasanjo administration," stressing that he was of the strong belief in "such a tier of government to work truly as a local government. They have their own Executive, Judiciary and Legislature.
"They were working and they were very visible, building and managing roads, looking into education, health, local administration, agriculture, but they are all gone," Obasanjo said.
He further stated that the experience the former chairmen had in local government administration was enough for them to aspire for higher posts, stressing that some of them have the competence, ability and integrity to get to these positions.
Obasanjo, who was conferred with the life patron of the association, assured that he would look into their request, assuring further that he would be available on request for their needs at all times.
Buhari Orders Security Chiefs To Rescue All Abducted Nigerians
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed security chiefs to rescue all persons abducted during the Kaduna train attack and other persons still in captivity.
The national security adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, disclosed this yesterday after a meeting of the security council presided over by President Buhari at the Presidential Villa.
Monguno said the president was saddened by the security situation and demanded immediate action from the security chiefs
Monguno who briefed the media alongside the inspector general of police, Usman Alkali Baba, and the minister of defence, Bashir Magashi, also called for the strengthening of the borders to curb insecurity.
The NSA lamented that without intelligence and support from the local communities, it will be difficult to tame the rising insecurity in the country.
Asked why the president reacts like this anytime cases of attacks and killings by bandits occur, he said it is because the President is usually saddened at the situation and expresses his displeasure in order for the security chiefs to sit up and do more.
According to him, President Buhari "spoke about his sadness in respect of the recent developments in the country, the recent security challenges we've had; in particular, the incident in which several Nigerians lost their lives and many more have been taken into captivity by criminals and bandits.
"Mr. President has directed all the operational and intelligence elements to rescue these innocent people immediately and unhurt."
The NSA lamented that a lot of lives are being lost, a fact the president clearly expressed displeasure at.
"The first assignment he's given to the security agencies, especially the armed forces and the police, is to rescue those that are in captivity, not just those that were captured during the last train incident, but those that have been in captivity in other parts of the country. That is the first thing that has to be done."
Monguno also noted that the United States government came to an agreement to sell some military equipment to Nigeria after he and the chief of staff to the president, Ibrahim Gambari, travelled to the US and made a presentation to members of the Congress.
He noted that the chief of defence staff and the service chiefs, as well as the inspector-general of police all briefed the President on the situation in their areas of command.
"I submitted a memo to Council and my recommendations are being looked into by the president. My recommendations are wide-ranging and they touch on all aspects of security, starting with the level of security of our land borders, as well as within the country itself.
"In terms of securing the nation, we've recorded a lot of successes in the maritime domain and, obviously, the problem now has shifted to our borders from outside. As a result of that, there's a need for us to configure how we're going to make our borders more secure because of the threats coming from outside the borders."
He said there's been a lot of improvement in the security situation in the North East - a fact attested to by the governor of Borno State during the last National Council of State meeting.
However, he said, the fact that the Northeast is becoming much more stable and more people among from the terrorists have started surrendering to government has not really brought to an end to the insecurity in the northern region because the threat is now shifted from the Northeast to the Northwest and the Northcentral.
Monguno went on: "This threat has to be contained. It has to be contained collectively by both the armed forces as well as the constabulary forces; the Nigerian Police Force, Civil Defence, but the intelligence agencies also have been directed to enhance the acquisition of intelligence.
"The present situation in the country calls for a collective effort by all, not just those that have been charged with the responsibility of physically securing the country. The most important thing, for now, is the acquisition of intelligence and the type of intelligence that is needed is human intelligence.
"And I need to make it very clear: I have to be very honest; unless the wider society, right down to the local governments, are willing to give the type of information that is needed to block the activities of these criminals, this situation will continue to linger beyond whatever timeframe we're looking at, towards ending this great problem.
On why is it difficult to deploy technology, especially in some areas where the military has been having problems, he said technology was expensive and took a long time to acquire "since inherently we do not produce this very, very delicate equipment."
"It's not as if the government is not making any effort to acquire but we need to know who to acquire this technology from, where, when and there are certain processes.
"For now, I know what we have, but the plight is that they are inadequate, so it's a continuous process. That's what I can say about the issue of deploying technology."
We Won't Shifts 2023 Elections Over Insecurity - INEC
Ahead of the 2023 general election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared that no amount of security challenges would stop the conduct of the exercise.
The chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made this comment yesterday during the public presentation of the 2022-2026 strategic plan and the 2023 Election Project Plan in Abuja.
The INEC boss said that to achieve the 2023 elections, the Commission will rely on three key elements.
First, according to him, is the knowledge and experience gathered from the conduct of previous elections.
"Second is the use of innovations to enhance electoral integrity and improve voter experience. Third is the institutionalisation of the culture of planning. These elements have guided the Commission through three successive general and several off-cycle and bye elections," he said.
Consequently, he said, elections are getting better in the country with electoral outcomes less contentious, and voter experience of the electoral system increasingly more participatory and inclusive.
He averred that the documents presented were the third in the series of strategic election plans since the era of deliberate planning of elections started in 2012.
He said, "As you may be aware, the election will be conducted for 1,491 constituencies nationwide made up of one presidential constituency, 109 senatorial districts, 360 federal constituencies, 28 governorship elections and 993 state constituencies.
"The election will involve an estimated one million electoral officials (both permanent and temporary or ad hoc staff) deployed to 176,846 polling units in 8,809 Wards and 774 local government areas across the country."
He further explained that the election will be governed by the new Electoral Act 2022, which contains many progressive provisions that will enhance the capacity of the commission to conduct elections and manage the electoral process better.
He said the Commission had carefully listened to the demand of Nigerians for seamless processes, particularly with regard to enhanced voter education, better distribution of voters to polling units, quality training of election personnel, functionality of electronic devices, improved logistics, prompt commencement of polls, availability of assistive devices for persons with disability at polling units and greater transparency in result management.
"We are also aware of the security challenges and their impact on the electoral process. We will continue to engage early and intensely with the security agencies to ensure the safety of our personnel and materials, accredited observers and the media and, above all, the voters.
"Clearly, these are challenging times but we are determined that elections must hold in 2023. However, this is a shared responsibility. INEC plays a critical role but the commission alone cannot deliver the elections we all desire. I, therefore, appeal to all Nigerians to join hands with us in ensuring that we make a success of the process," he said.
He reiterated that the dates for all activities in the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general election are firm and fixed and all stakeholders are advised to take this into consideration in planning their activities.