•Demand overhaul of nation’s security apparatus, want community policing explored
•Buhari’s govt now a liability, says Northern Coalition
Emmanuel Addeh and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
Thirty prominent elite and professional bodies, yesterday, urged the federal government to immediately begin the overhaul of the country’s security apparatus, lamenting that the security situation has deeply deteriorated in recent months.
Coming under the aegis of Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN), the organisations, including the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), among others, urged the government to consider multi-level policing, otherwise called community policing, as an option.
This is as Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), a pro-north movement, described the President Muhammadu Buhari government as somewhat of a liability, and urged Nigerians, especially Northerners, to mobilise for regulated self-protection.
Briefing journalists in Abuja, President of APBN and Chairman of Board and Council, Mr. Akin Oyegbola, asked the government to urgently and decisively curb the worsening insecurity of lives and property in Nigeria.
The body called for transparency in the conduct of the #EndSARS panels across the country, saying the demands of the protesters must be looked into dispassionately to assuage their grievances.
APBN stated, “The state of insecurity in the country is worsening and community policing should be explored to bolster the internal security of the country. There’s an urgent need for the complete overhaul of the security apparatus.
“It’s the whole apparatus, not just the police or military, because intelligence is central to all of them. What happened a few days ago (killing of farmers in Borno) has even worsened it the more. We believe that this overhauling has to be wholesome.
“Whatever should be done should take care of all aspects, not just looking at an aspect. The worsening state of security is obvious and very apparent.”
The association acknowledged the sitting of judicial commissions of inquiry in various states of the country, but maintained that the Lekki Tollgate shooting must be specially investigated.
It said, “What will unfold next around #EndSARS largely depends on the willingness of the federal government to investigate the Lekki Tollgate shootings at the #EndSARS protesters in an open and transparent manner and in good faith.
“Concerted efforts by the federal government to address the concerns in the 7-point agenda submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari would also boost the trust in government of the #EndSARS protesters and the supportive Nigerian diaspora.”
APBN also addressed other national issues. It said the enforcement of stamp duty on house rent and Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) should not be on the priority list of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) at a time the country was experiencing a housing deficit and millions of Nigerians were losing their jobs.
The group declared, “Till date, there are countries that are still giving out palliatives to cushion the effect of the coronavirus pandemic. Some countries, apart from giving out palliatives, also take responsibility for utility bills like power, water, data, etc.
“APBN, therefore, calls on federal government to look into the policy and change it for the benefit of average Nigerians.”
It also called on all levels of government in the country to develop and improve the health sector, saying the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that various hospitals across the country need state-of-the-art equipment to manage health crises.
The body maintained that the disbursement of loans by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should be made transparent in accordance with global best practices.
“Much needed stimulus packages, grants, single digit interest loans and private investments should equally go to healthcare sector, food, technology, creative, tourism, logistics, education and manufacturing sectors, as these are critical to maintaining jobs, livelihoods and stability, in the midst of this crisis,” the professional bodies stressed, adding, “These are vulnerable industries that must also be supported by the CBN. In addition to financial support to professionals, service industry, banks should ensure that proper structure is put in place, where professionals can interface.”
Stressing the urgent need to revive the economy, APBN held that investment in real estate development by government and individual professionals would aid economic recovery.
The body also recommended the participation of professional groups in government’s economic decision-making, saying there is need for more input from professionals and their representatives before any policy decision by government.
Other members of the group include the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS), and Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM).
Listed also as members are Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), Certified Institute of Shipping of Nigeria (CIS), Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM), Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), Institute of Public Administration of Nigeria (IPAN), and Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Nigeria (ICSAN).
Members of APBN also include the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Institute of Chartered Chemists of Nigeria (ICCON), Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN), Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN), Certified Institute of Purchasing and Supply Administrators of Nigeria (CIPSAN), and Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN).
Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA), Institute of Management Consultants of Nigeria (IMCON), National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (NIMN), Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS), and Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA) are equally members of APBN.
On its part, CNG said its call for regulated self-protection had become imperative following pervasive insecurity across the North. It said the situation was made worse by the fact that the present crop of leaders in the region could neither be advised nor criticised.
Spokesperson of the group, Mr. Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, spoke at a press conference yesterday in Abuja. He said following the recent massacre of Zarbarmari rice farmers in Borno State, it was no longer in doubt that Buhari and his administration had failed in the basic constitutional duty of protecting the lives and property of citizens.
CNG said it found the callous and insensitive remarks by the president’s aides and cabinet members on the plight of a region in distress not only immoral, but also abhorrent to their sensibilities. It described the comments as unacceptable and condemnable. The group stressed that Buhari’s implied endorsement of the insensitive responses suggested that the federal government was not humbled by the enormity of the Borno killings. This attitude, the group maintained, also affirmed fears by many Nigerians about the administration’s willingness and capacity to improve the security infrastructure to make it more effective.
CNG said with no evidence of a willingness on the part of Buhari to honour his oath of office to provide security for Nigerians, it had resolved to convoke an all-Northern Nigeria Security Review in Kaduna on December 14 and 15.
The group stated, “We demand a thorough review and interrogation of the commercialisation of these conflicts by different actors, up and down the ranks and constituencies, defence corruption, as well as the persistent attitude of touting success in the face of failure.
“In the light of the current general and pervasive insecurity being felt across the North with regularity of attacks, killings, kidnapping, insurgency, highway robberies and the sacking of entire communities and the realisation that leaders, such as the ones we have, who cannot be advised or criticised, are a liability, have increased our conviction that the only remaining option is for the people to mobilise for a regulated self-protection.
“We conclude by pointing out that the attention of the world was drawn by the Zabarmari killings, because the number was huge, and it all happened at the same place and hour. The truth is, these killings and kidnaps by audacious criminal gangs that roam freely are constant across all communities and highways in northern Nigeria.
“This and the indisputable fact that the president and his government have abdicated their primary responsibility of securing every part of the land are clear justifications for the demand for concerted but regulated self-protection initiatives.
“Instructively, when ISIS began invading the Kurdistan region of Iraq, the Kurdish Peshmerga did not just surrender their hope and destiny to the Iraqi forces. Instead, they composed regimented and volunteer forces, fully funded and backed by their regional authorities, fought in defence of their homes and families and they prevailed.
“This can as well be successfully replicated in the North if all citizens cooperate to raise sufficient funds through individual donations, and mobilise the youth for coordinated action to achieve full cessation of hostilities, disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration.”