Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, has stressed the need for the country to adopt multi-level approach in tackling security challenges, urging government to develop enduring national security policies.
Fayemi, who spoke weekend at a public lecture titled “Perspectives on Security Challenges in Nigeria from 1999 to 2019: The Way Forward”, organised by the Yoruba Tennis Club in Lagos to mark its 93rd anniversary, said it has become imperative for government to look at other mechanisms in addressing insecurity in the country, in addition to military intervention.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Yinka Oyebode, on Sunday, Fayemi said Nigeria must consider decentralising security and law enforcement from the federal to state down to the community.
He added that partnership in the security sector and inter-agency collaboration must be encouraged to bring about effective policing of both land and coastal regions of the country.
The governor called for a reform of the Nigeria Police Force in line with what is obtainable from the criminal justice system by strengthening its capacity to carry out investigations without political interference.
“From a strategic point of view, it is necessary that the military’s role as an elite specialist weapon of last resort be fastidiously preserved while we leverage other resources and tools that are part of the security sector’s arsenal. This means re-tooling, re-training and re-arming the police force – much neglected in the scheme of security planning and recognising their premier role in the field of law enforcement and the first line in national security management.
“Effective policing in a democratic environment requires the civilianization of the service. The portrait of the Nigeria police officer wielding an assault rifle is an unflattering portrayers that conveys the impression that it is a military unit and entrenches a misconception of identity in the minds of the police operatives themselves.
“No reform of the police force will be complete without a corresponding wide-ranging reform of our weak criminal justice system. The prosecutors, the judiciary and the correctional institutions are strategic partners with the police service in the law enforcement and security architecture. Thus, for example, strengthening the capacity of the police to carry out investigations will count for very little if the accused can the released from jail for political reasons,” the governor said.
He pointed out that over 10 million small arms and light weapons are traceable to West Africa with Nigeria having the largest number. This, he explained, accounted largely for the security challenges being experienced in many parts of the country.
According to him, “The proliferation of small arms is partly the concomitant effect of the weakening of states in the post-cold war era. The world has become awash with small arms and light weapons since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Indeed it is estimated that over 10 million of such weapons are traced to West Africa according to the Small Arms Survey.
“The region’s most recent crisis has been caused by a convergence of draught, food insecurity, ecological degradation, political instability, conflict and the large number of internally displaced people and refugees. The problem of weak states has permitted a number of non-state actors including gangs, arms dealers, rebel groups, drug dealers and terrorists to flourish in the area.
“Added to this is Nigeria’s extensive and porous borders covering over 4,000 kilometres littered with illegal entry points and routes totalling 1,500 points. With the porous borders, criminal gangs and terrorist insurgents easily smuggle weapons into the country which in turn are sold to Niger Delta oil bunkerers, South-east kidnappers and other purveyors of violence in the Nigerian state.
“Related to the security of our borders is maritime security. This is not only important in terms of protecting the exploitation of maritime resources, particularly, off-shore oil, but also in terms of securing livelihoods and development. Piracy is a growing phenomenon in our coastal waters and poses a serious threat to security in the sub-region.”
Fayemi posited that security should be taken as everyone’s concern, adding that: “Securing our communities means that infrastructure and urban planning must be guided not only by environmental impact assessment reports but also by security considerations.”
The chairman of the club, Taofeek Agbaje, said the 93-year-old club was majorly formed to encourage all types of sports and promoting education and international relations.
Agbaje said the club laid much emphasis on honesty, integrity and industry in its members as opinion leaders in the polity and humanitarian wealth, adding that the elders regularly seek to discuss state and national issues of concern and provide possible solution which are transmitted to states and national leaders.