South-east, South-south Professionals Insist on Restructuring, Return to Regionalism

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South-East, South-South Professionals Of Nigeria (SESSPN), has raised the alarm over the state of the nation, urging President Muhammadu Buhari to tackle the unending security challenges which the country has been facing, especially under the current administration.

President of the forum, Mr. Hannibal Uwaifo while addressing a press conference on Zoom last Thursday, maintained that the nation’s security challenges would never be resolved unless the federal government identify and address the root causes with boldness and sincerity.

Uwaifo, who described the organisation as a non-political, non-partisan advocate group for the rapid economic and social development of South East and South South geo-political zones, said the fundamental flaws in the country were so critical in the foundation of the country and so numerous they could never be resolved unless they were tackled.

He spoke during his maiden press conference after the election and inauguration of the SESSPN new executive council members,

He said some of the flaws included faulty structure leading to injustice, tribalism and nepotism, religious fundamentalism in governance, massive corruption, opaque governance, inexplicable and deceitful quota arrangements among others.

Uwaifo stressed: “To us in SESSPN, these retrogressive factors are mainly responsible for the intractable security situation we find ourselves in today. Due to faulty structure of the nation, our borders are very porous and manned by corrupt and uncommitted security personnel.

“Postings are done on ethnic, religious and deceitful quota considerations. Personnel are posted to what are often referred to as ‘juicy’ areas and positions to raise money for their benefactors by extorting the helpless public and oftentimes, outright stealing government revenue.

“The system is unable to respond due to the faulty structure oiled by nepotism, religion, tribal considerations, leading ultimately to opaque governance, the bane of our society.

“How can insecurity be tackled when the appointment of Service Chiefs and other critical security officials are harped on religious beliefs, personnel affinity and closeness to persons in the corridors of power?”

According to him, insecurity could not be tackled when huge funds budgeted to buy critical equipment, motivate personnel, pay for intelligence services are stolen and then more money voted for probes and investigations which results would take decades to prosecute in law courts operating under adverse conditions, if not duress.

He maintained that security challenges persisted because the security agencies had continued to be un-coordinated, ill-trained personnel are deployed to areas they did not fit or could not function maximally due to ethnic, religious and corrupt considerations.

The SESSPN president stated that critical intelligence work must be done for effective operations or counter operations, which he said, had been lacking due to non-commitment and criminal negligence, adding that security officers and men needed to effectively fight insecurity and terrorism were not given their due wages as and when due and had been living in want and squalor.

He said such operatives who should be fighting insecurity and their families live in misery while the system hardly care, even as those responsible for keeping tabs on the issues, especially from the Executive and Legislature were often involved in stealing budgeted funds and so keep a blind eye to the condition of those who actually fight insurgency.

“Years of porous border checks and effective security control, particularly in our Northern flanks due to religious affinity and considerations with neighbouring countries with serious religious fundamentalists led to massive influx of these dangerous fighters who gradually established bases and footholds across our country.

“As these happen, our leaders battle each other for political supremacy and access to the public treasury to loot and reward themselves for jobs not done and appoint their cronies who answer big names in the Military, Police and other security agencies, most of who have no visible verifiable credentials except for number of donkey years spent in these agencies where they enjoyed rapid and unmerited positions from their political godfathers and sponsors.

“Police Personnel are posted to handle security jobs they know nothing about and in zones they are unfamiliar with to deal with citizens who do not trust them for obvious reasons starting from unprofessional attitude, bias, corruption to inefficiency and brutality.

“Generally, Nigerian citizens do not trust the police and other security personnel who are known to kill and maim at the slightest provocation, some of them under the influence of alcohol and other drugs,” he added.

According to him, it was the belief of SESSPN that the faulty foundational and constitutional structure had brought these miseries on the nation, stressing that while the average politician and government player did not care, it was apparent that the ship of any nation had been running rudderless and would in no distant time sink with the attendant implosion.

Uwaifo stated: “The truth is that Nigeria is generally referred to as a failed country in international circles. A country that is unable to protect her citizens and her borders is nothing less than that.

“An urgent plan must be put in place to restructure the country in such a way that real power to develop and secure confidence of the citizenry would reside in the federating units.

“In other words, the federal government needs to return regional powers corruptly seized by the successive military governments which ruined Nigeria and turned her into a laughing stock to the regional governments who should develop at their pace using whatever natural and artificial resources available in their zones.

The SESSPN boss also lamented that the depth of corruption in the country had been frightening, stressing it had reached an absurd level.

He said: “Corruption never before seen is today being perpetrated as in all facets of government throughout our land. Nigeria has reached the ignoble of no longer stealing and looting in billions of naira and dollars, but now in trillions.

“This large scale and hellish fraud are being perpetuated daily in a country supposedly fighting corruption. Funds budgeted for critical infrastructure like healthcare, electricity, roads, water, public schools, social schemes, welfare packages for the poor and needy are either swallowed by snakes, eaten by vultures, or simply develop wings and disappear like ghosts without trace.