By Henry Umoru
ABUJA- PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari, Thursday threw his weight behind state and community policing in the country if the present security challenge across the country must be addressed in all its ramifications.
Declaring open a two- day Summit on National Security Organised by the Senate in Abuja, President Buhari said that every Nigerian deserves the protection of his life and property.
Represented at the event by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, President Buhari who admitted that there were instances where security agencies failed to properly and urgently respond to security issues, however listed some basic challenges that are presently affecting a full secure Nigeria.
The Vice President who noted that the police as currently structured was too defective to address the growing insecurity in the country, said that there was the need for the number of Police personnel to be increased drastically, just as he cautioned stakeholders in the country not to allow the present insecurity challenge assume religious dimension.
Meanwhile, Senate President Bukola Saraki at he event said what was required at the moment to nip in the bud, cases of Killings, kidnappings, mayhem and general lawlessness by the Executive, was a leadership that would dounce the flames and reduce the tension in the land.
Saraki who noted that Nigeria needed a leadership with the political will, said that the Executive cannot solve the problems alone, adding that all hands must be on deck to address the problems, adding that Killings in the land are intolerable cycle of hell that must be broken and cannot be the new normal.
Saraki said, “What our country needs at this time is leadership that will work to douse the flames and reduce tension in the land. It is essential that we lower the barriers in our actions and rhetoric, and refrain from playing politics with a crisis situation in which Nigerian lives are being lost, tragically and needlessly, on a regular basis.
“To the Executive, I say this: you cannot do it alone – and this is why we are all here to join efforts. It is all hands on deck. No one person, organisation or arm of government can single-handedly tackle the hydra-headed monster of insecurity. The Constitution makes it clear that the safety of lives and property of citizens is the responsibility of government. We in government must therefore do everything in our power to ensure that Nigerians are safe from harm, and their livelihoods and belongings protected.
“Permit me to observe that those who are in this room have the capacity to bring about a change in this situation, to end the violence and bring succour. We have the capacity. But, do we have the political will? I daresay political will is what is required; and it is my hope that we shall marshal it as a legitimate instrument against this problem. Indeed, there is no reason why that should not be the case. This is not a Summit to trade blames – in no way is this a blame game. Neither is it convened so that any person or entity can take credit. We just want solutions. Solutions only. That is all Nigerians require of us.
“We are here because, in the face of escalating threats to the peace and security of our dear country, it becomes necessary to put heads together, share ideas and map out strategies to see us out of the current predicament.
“The coming together of the Executive and Legislative arms of government for this discussion about security, is a pointer to the seriousness of the situation, and our determination to tackle the problem. The Summit is also unique, because never before have we had such an inclusive platform for appraising security-related matters in this country.
“If I may provide some background: it will be recalled that the Senate had, on 30thof November 2017, inaugurated the Ad-Hoc Committee on Review of Security Infrastructure in the Country. This came about, because we were increasingly concerned at the spate of crises and insecurity in many parts of the country, and knew that we needed to do something about it. The Committee had a broad mandate; to look into the problem and prepare a report outlining a different approach for dealing with the issue.”
Speaking further Osinbajo said “The first is that the nature of our security challenges are complex and nuanced. Securing Nigeria’s over 923,768 square kilometers and its 180 million people, requires far more men and materials than we have at the moment. It also requires a continual re-engineering of our security architecture and strategies. This has to be a dynamic process. For a country our size to meet the 1 policeman to 400 persons UN prescribed ratio, would require nearly tripling our current police force, far more funding of the police, military and security agencies is required.
“Secondly, we cannot realistically police a country the size of Nigeria centrally from Abuja. State Police and other community policing methods are clearly the way to go.
“Thirdly, we must intensify existing collaboration with our neighbours in the Chad Basin, especially border communities to prevent the movement of small arms, and disarming armed pastoralists and bandits who go through our borders day after day.
“Lastly, we must avoid the dangers of allowing these conflicts to harden to religious or ethnic conflicts. This is the responsibility of political, religious and all other parts our leadership elite in Nigeria.”