Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan
Governors of the six South-west states of Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun and Osun have said they are committed to protect the lives and property of their people and vowed to put their political affiliations aside and confront the security challenges facing the region.
The governors, who gave the commitment in their separate remarks while speaking at a security summit christened, “Stakeholders’ Security Summit: Focus on Western Nigeria,” held in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital Tuesday, also said now more than ever is the time to create state police as they can coexist with the federal police.
The summit, which was organised by the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission, had the six governors from the region, security chiefs, traditional rulers, leaders of thought and prominent groups within the region in attendance.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, who doubles as the Chairman of the Western Nigeria Governors Forum, in his speech while declaring the summit open, said no sacrifice is too much for the governors in the region to protect their people, noting that the governors in the region have decided to put their party affiliations aside but rather tackle the security challenges facing the region.
According to him, “This meeting has become exigent considering the spate of insecurity in the country. The anxiety of our people is palpable. The growing fear among the populace makes nonsense of any plans conceived for the development of our God-given space.
“It is my fervent hope that this engagement will not be limited to the current challenge which threatens to wreck our collective peace. I look forward to future interactions on matters as important and affective as this one which compels this assembly. There is no gainsaying the obvious; the issue of socio-economic integration in the region must be taken seriously for any aspiration towards development to be meaningful. No remarkable progress can be achieved amidst chaos. No state in the region can achieve greatness in isolation.
“We should extend the possibility of cooperation on other socio-economic fronts. Our people stand to benefit from our resolve to ensure that they remain at the centre of all permutations and considerations.
“Partisan coloration should not delimit the extent of collaboration aimed at maximum service for our people. With shared yearnings for the development of the region, there should be no difficulty in agreeing to provide the best services possible in the interest of our people.
“There should be no disagreement in aspiration for service, if altruism is the focus. Our seeming difference, considering political platforms, should not stand in the way of commitment to promote the collective well-being of our people. Convinced of our shared heritage, propelled by the desire to proceed on the enviable tradition of excellence for which our ancestors are reputed, we cannot harbour any extraneous preferences to this inherited and established course of development.
“We are particularly lucky; we have many examples to draw from history considering exemplary courage in the face of adversity, uncommon display of hospitality, even in privation, industry and distinctive virtues, all of which mark us as a unique people. The influx of peoples from other parts of the country and beyond attest to our urbanity and humane disposition which accommodate divergence. The evidence of great successes recorded by those who seek refuge in our geo-political space is sufficient reason for the sustenance of our hospitable disposition, provided that our people’s interests are not in jeopardy.
“Again, our history compels us to be cautious when confronted with strange occurrences. Our past experiences should teach us that understanding a phenomenon will assist us tremendously in proffering useful solutions. As leaders of our people, we cannot afford to be emotive in taking decisions for their benefit. Any step taken must reflect the collective will to protect them. No sacrifice is too much to preserve this heritage of peace and prosperity.
“The pervasive presence of persons not indigenous to our space bears eloquent testimony to the quality of our upbringing. The preponderance of thriving businesses owned and controlled by our brothers and sisters from other parts of the country is evidence of sophistication. Our land is indeed a lesson to other parts of the country. There is no limit to the aspiration of anyone who lives peacefully among us. Nobody is persecuted in our midst. We protect the weak, even against our own. Our borders are thrown open to all and sundry in the spirit of brotherhood and oneness.
“There is, however, the urgent need compelling a review of this liberal policy of openness. Our people are under siege, the harbingers of death, sorrow, tears and blood threaten the existing fraternity among the peoples of this country. Narrow-mindedness gloats over the horrendous crimes perpetrated by these criminal elements. Some fail to see beyond partisan parochialism. The situation on ground should compel a broader and open-minded analysis of this strange incursion with a view to ascertaining the real reasons responsible for this disquiet.
“We should be particularly worried by the current spate of an insidious phenomenon, hitherto unknown and uncommon in our immediate clime, creeping into our erstwhile peaceful and prosperous ambience. The incessant perpetration of anti social behaviours, occasioning pervasive despair, and the seeming helplessness of our security agencies to stem the tide of these aberrant attitudes, which threaten the very existence of our region as an autonomous socio-political entity, call for serious scrutiny. We must review these unfortunate incidents individually and collectively. Every State must be able to ascertain the extent of this current threat. We must locate the sources of compromise within our space with a view to curtailing same effectively in both the short and long run.
“Our collective goal should be the security of our space and safety of our people in all ramifications. On this, there should be no compromise. We must, consequently, be proactive in tackling the current security issues. The adoption of a scientific approach towards the resolution of the current crisis will bear far-reaching effects. Our State will be looking forward to working with other States in the South Western Region to eradicate the menace of armed robbery, drug abuse, cultism, kidnapping, among others.
“There can be no argument on the assertion that insecurity has becomea major issue in the polity today. There is virtually no part of the country which is spared at the moment. All the six geo-political zones experience one form of crisis or the other. From Zamfara to Katsina, the current trends are banditry and cattle rustling. Kano, Sokoto and Bauchi are not spared. Kaduna faces an uphill task in combating security challenges.
“The Middle Belt Region is also affected seriously. The crisis between the Jukun and Tiv in Taraba State appears intractable. Jos has witnessed a serious upheaval recently. Benue State was practically under siege at a moment. The North East has been waging a seemingly endless war against insurgents who have now introduced an international dimension to the mindless killings and destruction of properties. The South East and South South battle with communal clashes, banditry, armed robbery and kidnapping.
“There have been attempts by some to create disaffection among Nigerians. Others have tried to take advantage of the unfortunate crisis to further compound the problems. A traditional ruler and a pastor have been accused of feigning kidnap to extort money from sympathisers. Crime, of varying hue, is gradually becoming a very lucrative business in Nigeria.”
He then advocated a proper coordination of the activities of all formal and informal security groups, free flow of information regarding crime from members of the public, a toll-free line for crime reporting in the states across the region and joint border patrols with neighbouring states.
Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, in his welcome address, said as governors, their role is to ensure that everyone living in the region are safe, adding that there can be development without a secure environment.
He noted that as a group, the people of the South-west have always had more things that unite than those that divide them, insisting that they want things to continue like that and would not allow the actions of miscreants and enemies of unity to make the people change who they are.
According to him, “As governors, it is our responsibility to ensure that everyone in our midst, indigene or alien residents is assured of security of their life and property. We also know that there are barriers preventing us from carrying out this constitutional responsibility to the fullest measure.”
Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, in his own remarks, said drone system has been deployed to tackle some of the security challenges facing the region, while
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State and Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State, in their addresses, maintained that security issue has been the major discussion of the governors and had decided to cooperate with each other in tackling security challenges in the region.