Listen to Nigerians, Establish State Police, Clark Urges Buhari

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Edwin Clark

Deji Elumoye and Udora Orizu in Abuja

Elder Statesman and South-South Leader, Chief Edwin Clark, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to listen to the popular opinion of Nigerians by establishing State Police that forms one of the cardinal ingredients in a Federal system of government, to aid tackle the worsening insecurity in the country.

Clark, who was reacting to President Buhari’s recent Television Interview, in a statement yesterday said the excuse by President Buhari for kicking against the creation of state police that state governors will misuse it was not tenable because the federal government is also using the Nigeria Police Force to persecute perceived political opponents, thereby undermining the National Assembly and obstructing free speeches.

The former Federal Commissioner for Information who is also the leader of Pan Niger Delta Delta Forum (PANDEF) reiterated that there is an urgent need for restructuring, warning that restructuring is a must if Nigeria must survive as a country.

The statement entitled, “Majority of Nigerians believe in State Police because it is one Cardinal points or one of the ingredients in a Federal system of Government, read in part: “Firstly, I wish to congratulate President Muhammadu Buhari for granting an interview to Channels Television. Speaking to citizens is an essential duty of a President of a country because it is one of the most important ways to reach out to the people and, also of interacting with them. Not too long ago, he granted a similar interview to the Arise Television. My congratulation, however, has little or nothing to do with the quality and content of the interview, but because it provided Nigerians with the opportunity to know more about the working of his government. It is a more reliable way of talking to citizens, disseminating and getting information, than when the Aides of the President, particularly Alhaji Lai Mohammad, the Minister of Information, made available to the Nigerian public, a list of purported one hundred achievements of the President Muhammed Buhari’s Administration since he came into office in 2015.

“Mr President dismissed the call for State Police in the Country. He said that state police was not an option, that Governors will misuse it. He gave an unrelated instance of the relationship between State Governors, and Local Governments, that there is no functional Local Government in the country. While the President is right that no local government in this country truly functions as provided by the Constitution, not even the joint account under which State Governments receive monies on behalf of the Local Governments, because the accounts are fully controlled by the State Governors, it is not enough to dismiss the demand for state police. As I stated in my recent interview, State Police is a popular agitation by Nigerians and was robustly discussed and agreed upon during the 2014 National Conference. It is very unfortunate that the State Governors who are elected under the party are the ones running the party today. But it is unconstitutional and authoritative for Mr. president to say that State Police, which was even recommended by the El-Rufai Committee as one of its items under Devolution of Power to be transferred from the Executive List in Schedule 1 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, to Schedule II of the Concurrent List, should be discarded.

“I totally agree with Mr President that most State Governors have undermined the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, where Local Government is provided for under Section 8. I also agree with Mr President that State Police could be used by State Governors in persecuting perceived political opponents, but it is also true that the Federal Government is also using the Nigeria Police Force to persecute perceived political opponents, undermining the NASS and obstructing free speeches. But that does not mean that the whole idea of State Police should be discarded? That will mean throwing away the baby with the bathwater. Also, restructuring of Nigeria is a must if Nigeria is to survive as a country. It is very cruel and disappointing to hear Mr President say that “he does not know what type of restructuring Nigerians want”. This is very insincere and dishonest because President Muhammadu Buhari has been preaching restructuring since his 2011 campaign, when he contested with our respected Pastor Tunde Bakare, as his running mate, and when our late golden boy, Comrade Yinka Odumakin was his spokesman, and who preached restructuring until his death, and for which he became one of the greatest critics of President Muhammadu Buhari due to his (Buhari’s) failure to accept the restructuring of Nigeria.”