By Eddy Odivwri
Finally, it appears we are nearer the port of state police. Former Lagos State governor, and now chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was one of the earliest proponents of state police. But neither then President Olusegun Obasanjo, nor many state governors or even National Assembly members would hear of it. Hard as he pushed, the idea of state police kept hitting the brick wall.
Many had argued that we are not matured enough as a people for state police. Others had argued that it would, if approved, become a battle axe in the hands of state governors, with which they will hack down their political opponents. I had almost fallen for this argument myself.
But last week, the highest endorsement for state police came from the number two citizen of the country, Professor Yemi Osinbajo. This is hardly surprising. He had prepared the framework of the advocacy for Tinubu in his governorship days. So endorsing and mounting a campaign for state police now looks like a relaunch of what began since Year 2000.
The penultimate Thursday, Professor Osinbajo reinforced the argument for state police during Bishop Matthew Kukahâ€™s inaugural lecture in Abuja where he made a case for stronger institutions to aid security and justice.
His arguments are quite quaint, I must admit.
How can a state governor, supposedly referred to as the Chief Security Officer of a state, not be in control of any lever of security apparatchik? With what and how can he effectively serve as the Chief Security Officer in practical terms?
What probably accentuated the call for the state police is the helplessness of Gov Samuel Ortom of Benue State who could only whine and weep over the killing of his people in his state by Fulani Herdsmen. He had nothing to counter the attack of the Fulani herdsmen, given that the federal police and federal security bodies practically abandoned him to his fate.
It is also instructive that the Nigeria Governorsâ€™ Forum (NGF) has also endorsed the call for state police. Many of the state governors have been at the mercy of the ineffective federal police to sufficiently protect their people and their properties.
The next hurdle to cross in the pursuit of State police will be the national assembly, many of whose members are also inclined to the idea of state police.
I believe that many of the security challenges faced across the country will be contained with the coming of state police.
Yes, some queer governors could abuse the privilege of the state police to muscle out their opponents. Those who believe the policy is prone to abuse easily point to what happens during Local Government elections usually organized by the state electoral commission, wherein the party of the sitting governor usually clears all the seats.
A foretaste of what the state police could be used to do is demonstrated early this week when Gov Nasir El Rufai of Kaduna State rolled out the bulldozers to pull down the house of a sitting senator, an opponent (within the same party), claiming that the owner of the house has failed to pay ground rent since 2010, as if pulling down a defaulting house is the punishment recommended by law.
That makes it imperative that the legislations that should back state police must contain enough checks to forestall its abuse. But that will not be the only worry. The issue of finance is key. Yes, the state police structure will suck off quite a number from the labour market, but the corollary of that breather, will be how to sustain it. How will the states access arms?
How will they be able to fund the security architecture in their states? These are the same governments who are gasping over the payment of regular civil servants. So, to be further cumbered by paying state police will be like stretching the expectations too far.
Will the paucity of funds not worsen the corruption associated with the police institution? Surely the choke will be strangulating. What about the issues of managing the plethora of arms that will flood the country?
With the avalanche of small arms literally floating on the Nigerian space, threatening lives and properties, what arms Armageddon will come with all 36 states running their own police structures? This is an issue!
Worse still, will be the operational synergy between the federal and state police. No doubt, there will be major constitutional rework to accommodate the idea of state police. But its effectiveness and essence will largely depend on the discipline and ethos that will be attached to it.
All things considered, it will be a step towards strengthening our claim to being a federation.
N36million: Snake Tales from JAMB Office
Not until Professor Ishaq Oloyede, the Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of Joint Admission and Matriculations Board (JAMB) appeared on NTA news hour the penultimate Tuesday, did I take the story of snake swallowing N36 million seriously. Until then, I had dismissed the story as bizarre and a silly creation of the notorious social media jingoists. But the professor confirmed that the story is true, although added that it was an event that took place sometime in 2015 or so, before he resumed as the registrar.
He was rather angry that Nigerians were making a joke of the mystery, seeming to say that the issue is much more serious than the one that elicits all the jokes he has seen on the social media. I suspect that the Professorâ€™s anger is misdirected. He should be a lot angrier with a staff of the Board, one Ms Philomena Chieshe, a sales clerk, who claimed that a certain spiritual(?) snake swallowed
N36 million from the JAMB office, being money realized from the sales of scratch cards at the Makurdi centre of the Board. Pray, what kind of cock-and-bull story is that? Such a lousy lie!
Gosh! What wonâ€™t we hear in this country!
To know that all these happened under the philistinic years of former President Goodluck Jonathan! How can nake swallow money? Is cash one of the likely preys of snakes? Where did that snake come from? How big is the snake that can swallow bundles and bundles of bound cash? How and where was the cash kept? Little wonder the TSA became imperative under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration!
It is even more bizarre that all these happened more than two years ago, and Nigerians did not hear of it. How can such a person yet be in office? Hey, what does the lady mean by â€œspiritual snakeâ€? What Bunkum it that? Spiritual snake from where? Why was the spiritual or physical snake not caught and disbowelled so as to retrieve our commonwealth?
Itâ€™s such a silly crap!
The female clerk is, for all intents and purposes, using snake as a metaphor for fraud. How many people are rotting away in jail for
stealing goats and chickens or telephone handsets worth N5,000? But here we are seemingly pampering a fellow who did not know the boundary between her private purse and government vault, and decides to bamboozle the entire nation with laughable tales that only make us a laughing stock in the eyes of the civilized world. Snake my foot!
But if we thought it was a malaise of the past, the developments early this week in the Senate showed that it is an affliction that seems to have come to stay. Or how can we explain Senator Shehu Sanniâ€™s allegation that a certain monkey carted away N70 million from a senatorâ€™s farmhouse, leading to the removal of Senator Abdullahi Adamu as the chairman of northern Senatorsâ€™ caucus. The money was said to have belonged to the caucus. How and why a farmhouse became the secured vault to keep such an amount is as befuddling as the attraction N70 million would have for a monkey, especially as the bag containing the money was not laced with banana. With these and many more bizarre tales, I think Transparency International (TI) is yet so kind in its rating of our corruption credentials.
Gov Yahaya Bello and the Missed Lessons
Ihave watched and listened to the acts and utterances of Mr Yahaya Bello, the executive governor of Kogi State since he was sworn in about two years ago as the fourth governor of the state. No doubt, at 42, he is among the youngest of the sitting governors. But at 42 plus,
Yahaya Bello cannot be taken as a high-school delinquent anymore, especially as the responsibility of his office reposes greater sense of self-worth on him.
Unfortunately, that is not what we have seen with this 4th governor of the Confluence State. He obviously missed some lessons on public propriety. It appears that he has a special skill in speaking before thinking and not the other way round.
He has been misfiring. And one is tempted to think that he does not have the requisite maturity to manage the office which fate has thrust on his laps. Yahaya Bello must not forget what late Chinua Achebe wrote in his book, Things Fall Apart that, â€œthose whose palm kernels were cracked for them by a benevolent spirit should not forget to be humbleâ€. Bello need not be reminded that he became a fortuitous governor by reason of allocation of votes earlier garnered by the late
Abubakar Audu. He cannot and should not forget this But beside that, a younger governor (Saminu Turaki of Jigawa at 38) had carried himself with greater dignity and executive reticence. Yahaya Belloâ€™s candour and carriage can therefore not weaken the campaign for a younger generation taking charge of our governance across the various strata of governance.
Perhaps, Gov Bello is too enthusiastic in wanting to please President Muhammadu Buhari. So he says and does any and everything that will make Aso Rock to smile at him, even if it irks his people sore.
It is not surprising that Gov Bello was among the seven governors who openly endorsed Buhari for second term a day after 73 persons were buried in his neighbouring state of Benue.
He had earlier boasted that the votes for Buhari in Kogi State will be far more than the votes for Buhari in his native Katsina State. While Kogi State has 61,075 registered voters, Katsina has 118,525 registered voters, according to INEC records. So, how will Bello garner more votes from Kogi for Buhari than Buhariâ€™s own native state of Katsina?
In pursuit of being the good boy of the oligarchy, Gov Bello was among the first state governors to accept the controversial cattle colonies being proposed by the federal government. And this is without consultation with his people. It was simply an act of impulse, with one intent: please the ruling class.
And it doesnâ€™t matter how bitter his people are with him.
This is a governor with nearly the most notorious record of owing civilservantsâ€™ salaries, (with some committing suicide out of frustration); yet this same governor goes ahead to build and celebrate (with fanfare) the opening of an exotic personal mansion built for himself, without the slightest regard for expediency or even caution.
And still bent on impressing his masters, he had again misfired recently when he claimed that the Catholic Bishops who visited President Buhari recently and told him the truth about their perception of the Buhari government, were angry because looters were no longer paying tithes. Gosh! Such buffoonery! It was the most awful thing a governor will say against the Body of Christ. Does Gov Bello know that the Catholic Church is one of the richest organisations in the world? What tithe is he talking about? Neither God, nor the church requires the tithes of thieves to sustain the work of evangelism. It was a clear case of Hate Speech. It was as reckless as it was unguarded, especially for a politician who governs a state with almost as many Christians as Muslims. It is an utterance that can trigger religious disquiet in the country, if this frontal and baleful attack was against another religion.
If his calculation is that by such skewed comments he would gain the acceptance and support of the presidency, he would soon realize that such wild comments actually vitiate his leadership potential.
How can he, in all sincerity, fault any of the points the Bishops raised?
What, for instance, has the anger over the pogrom being visited on innocent Nigerians by Fulani herdsmen, which was one of the issues the Catholic Bishops raised, got to do with payment of tithe?
It is instructive that neither the president, nor his media handlers reacted the way Gov Bello did. It was a case of crying more than the bereaved. How can such a garrulous politician earn the confidence of the Christian voters in future elections?
Well, it is good and redeeming that Gov Bello has realized the oddity of his utterances and has asked for forgiveness from Christian folks.
Yes, he will be forgiven, for he knows not what he is doing or saying, but I will recommend that he listens to an audio tape by Pastor W.F Kumuyi titled, â€œDanger in a Little Memberâ€.