S’West: Taking Their Collective Destiny in Their Hands

South West governors in a group photograph after their security summit.

Nigeria’s South-west governors have made a choice on the security challenge in the zone and it’s arguably an informed one, writes Olawale Olaleye

From the vast forests of the North, the monster of kidnapping, banditry and vicious herdsmen excesses had begun to find comfort in the serene and developing Southern parts of the country and fast too.

Ugly tales of increasing security breakdown had also become the news headliners day in, day out.

First was a meeting of the entire governors of the federation with President Muhammadu Buhari on how to tame the menacing scourge, both with the cooperative understanding between the states and federal government and also the requisite assistance that could help confront and decimate the monster.

But governors from the South-west geo-political zone did not close the talks at that. They had taken it upon themselves to review the plight of their people in terms of the growing insecurity and fathom the way forward especially, in the face of seeming helplessness.
It was thus encouraging, when last week, the governors of Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, and Oyo met in Ibadan and reiterated their commitment to protecting the lives and property of their people, vowing to put their political affiliations aside and confront the killer-herdsmen, banditry and other security challenges facing the region.

The governors also acknowledged that to successfully protect their people in the South West, it had become necessary for the federation to permit the states to raise their own police force, technically reintroducing the imperative of a multi-level policing system.

Although this coincided with President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent resolve that his administration is determined to find a lasting solution to the protracted farmers and herders’ violence in different parts of the country, it was, however, a move informed by the daily anguish the people of the zone experience.

But in their separate remarks, while speaking at a security summit christened, “Stakeholders’ Security Summit: Focus on Western Nigeria,” organised by the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission, the governors said the time had come to create state police that would co-exist with the federal police.

Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, who doubles as the Chairman of the Western Nigeria Governors’ Forum, while declaring the summit open, said no sacrifice was too much for the governors in the region to make to protect their people, noting that the governors in the region had decided to put their party affiliations aside and tackle the security challenges facing the region.

The host governor, Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, in his welcome address, said as governors, their role was to ensure that everyone living in the region was safe, stating that there could be no development without a secure environment.

On his part, the Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said to appreciate the extent of effort so far put into protecting the people, the drone system has been deployed to tackle some of the security challenges facing the region. He spoke as a security expert that he is.

In the same breath, Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State and Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State, in their addresses, maintained that the security issue has been the major discussion of the governors and had decided to cooperate with each other in tackling the challenges in the region.

The truth about the current security challenges is that the regions might have to take their destinies in their hands by applying a peculiar solution to the peculiar challenges that confront them even though a synergy with the federal authority is equally inevitable.

Indeed, beyond the regional collaborative efforts, each state of the regions must also think out of the box for solutions that apply specifically to their states to complement the regional and by extension, the federal efforts in what would be seen as a holistic approach to the menace of insecurity in the country.

But whether or not anyone likes it, the multi-level policing system is the way to go. It’s ultimately the long-term solution to future security challenges in the country. What this means, therefore, is that this long-term solution would be contingent on how early the process is set in motion.

Notwithstanding, the South-west governors deserve some applause albeit for doing their job. The task of keeping any city safe is not a joke and requires more than the traditional approach to crime-chase.

Criminals advance every time and so to tame them, the security agencies too must be far ahead of them in terms of thinking. It is therefore expected that beyond the South West, the governors would further pick up this gauntlet as colleagues from the south as part of the holistic approach to the crime before crossing over to their northern counterparts for a close-knit security watch.

The task of keeping South West safe is huge. Her security deteriorates every day, thereby exposing the inadequacies of the nation’s security architecture and at the same time, emboldening the men of the underworld as seemingly untouchable. This current resolve must be seen through to its logical but endless close with the unflinching determination to take back the states from criminals.