Govs Meet Buhari, Fail to Agree on State Police

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President Buhari with some governors and security chiefs after their meeting at the State House Abuja Friday
  • Fayemi: Matter would be thoroughly explored by National Economic Council

Omololu Ogunmade and Chuks Okocha in Abuja

The 36 state governors yesterday in Abuja disagreed on the increasing agitations for the introduction of state police.

Making this disclosure while briefing newsmen in the State House after the governors met with President Muhammadu Buhari, Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, said the governors were yet to reach a consensus on the matter.

The governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) met earlier, before the general meeting with Buhari, and demanded for an immediate establishment of state police, as an effective response to the worsening insecurity in the country.

According to Fayemi, some states are opposed to the idea of state policing while others are advocating its advent, highlighting the major underlying factor behind the opposition as economic matter.

However, Fayemi said the matter would be thoroughly explored by the National Economic Council (NEC), presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, and comprising the governors and government officials who oversee economic matters.

“On whether state governors should be involved in state policing, the position of NGF on that is that we have not taken position because experiences vary. There are governors and states that do not necessarily lend themselves to evolve policing at the states.

“There are also states where there are agitations for it. There are governors who have the views that that will work better in such states. And of course, there are the economic issues relating to that.

“So, we have the issue of capacity at the state level to fund state policing. Those are all issues that will come into play when we get to the National Economic Council meeting that has been called, particularly, because there is a committee that is looking into it after the submission of the report on SARS. So, we will take all of these together,” Fayemi said.

Speaking on the meeting with Buhari, Fayemi said the meeting was fruitful, explaining that the president himself was not unaware of the security challenges confronting the country because he receives security reports every day.

According to him, the president was informed about the magnitude of insecurity crises bedeviling the nation, ranging from banditry, herders’ violence, kidnapping, militancy, insurgency and cultism.

He said the issue of the criminal justice system which gives room for impunity because criminals are not punished was looked into, adding that the connection between economic and security issues was also examined.

He said the meeting also looked into how the governors could assist the president in addressing the crises, pointing out that the president also indicated interest in working with the governors in the area of intelligence gathering, community policing and strengthening of the criminal justice system, among others.

“So, we discussed extensively all of these issues and looked at the various ways that we felt as governors we could assist Mr. President as the commander-in-chief to curb these issues. Of course, we were able to in the first instance, look at the nexus between our economic challenges and the security challenges as well and the importance of tackling the causes of crime, not just crime on its own.

“We also looked at the criminal justice system that appears to give some room for impunity. When people commit crimes and they are not punished effectively in accordance with the statutes, it then creates an opportunity for replicating such crimes, and of course, Mr. President was also equally concerned about that.

“He made it clear to us that we all knew that he campaigned on the basis of security, economy and accountability and these things are still the most germane issues on his agenda and that he will also work with us to address questions of intelligence; of broadening community policing; of ensuring inter-service coordination among the various security agencies; of strengthening the criminal justice system; of working with our states innovatively on mechanism for addressing these issues, be it security trust fund that brings the public and the private players together in order to fund security and increase the resources available to security institutions.

“Already, all of us are involved in funding. There is no governor that is not buying security vehicles, ammunition for police, giving allowances to our security agencies, be they (State Security Service) (SSS), or police, or in some cases, the military, where the military is involved. We are already involved. It is just to ensure that we have a better and much more coordinated mechanism for addressing this,” Fayemi said.

Answering questions on how the $1 billion that the federal government took from the excess crude account with the support of governors was spent, Fayemi said he did not have details of the expenditure.

“On the $1 billion, it may seem like a huge amount of money and it is a huge amount of money but when you are dealing with security issues, where a Tucano jet costs more than $50 million and you are getting say $20 million, you know how much that is already.

“I am not giving you specific details of how that money was expended. We will be happy to do that but we feel that that is really not a matter for us as governors. Yes, we were supportive of it because our position has always been whatever is required by the commander-in-chief to resolve security challenges in Nigeria, we will line up behind him and support him.

“Of course, yes, we demand accountability. We will like to assure you that the $1 billion taken was definitely expended among the various security services but the details I cannot give you on top of my head because I wasn’t expecting you to ask that question,” he stated.

PDP Governors Demand Immediate Creation of State Police

Meanwhile, the governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have demanded for an immediate establishment of state police, as an effective response to the worsening insecurity in the country.

The governors, in a communiqué read by the Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, after a late night meeting at the Bayelsa Governors Lodge, Maitama Abuja, expressed deep worry over the spate of killings across the country and called for effective measures to curtail the troubling development.

The PDP governors at the meeting in Abuja, expressed deep concerns over alleged politicisation of the security apparatus in every state by the federal government, its agencies and operatives of the other political parties in the various states.

They explained that the growing calls for the establishment of State Police, was in response to the security situation in the country.

“We believe that this is one of the reasons that we have these widespread insecurity and we will take some of these issues up when we interact with the President”, the governors said in the communiqué, made available to journalists by Dickson’s Special Adviser (Media Relation), Mr. Fidelis Soriwei.

The PDP governors, who also denied the allegation of diversion of local government funds, challenged the federal government to name the states involved in the reprehensible conducts and the time the alleged act was committed.

They condemned the alleged diversion of local government funds, insisting they had always ensured subsidising the funding of the councils in the state.

“We dealt with the alleged diversion of local government funds by state governments and we condemn it in very strong terms. We as governors of the PDP want to make it clear that no PDP Governor is involved in this allegation of local government funds diversion.

“In our case, the reverse is the case, it is the state government that are supporting and subsidising the funding of the local government.

“So we call on the federal government and the agencies that are making these allegations to name the state government and possibly tell us the people involved in this alleged diversion”, the PDP governors stressed.

The governors declared that they were eager to pay the new minimum wage to alleviate the suffering of the Nigerian workers; even as they called on the President to forward a bill to the National Assembly to ensure a review of the revenue allocation formula in the country.