- Saraki calls for political will
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, for the establishment of state police to effectively tackle the various security challenges facing the country. Osinbajo, who spoke at the opening ceremony of the on-going National Security Summit in Abuja, organised by the Senate, assured that the Federal Government will not forcefully take land from the states for the purpose of establishing cattle ranches or grazing areas.
This is as the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, blamed the security challenges in the country on lack of political will on the part of leaders at various levels of governance. Admitted that there were instances where security agencies have failed to properly and urgently respond to security issues, Osinbajo said the Nigeria Police with the current centralised structure is too defective to be useful in combating worsening security challenges in the country.
He further stated that in the interim, the number of police personnel must be increased reasonably to be able to match the frightening unfolding insecurity in the country, and warned Nigerians not to allow the present security situation to assume a religious dimension.
His words: “The nature of our security challenges is complex and known. Securing Nigeria’s over 900,000 sq km and its 180 million people requires far more men and material than we have at the moment. It also requires a continuous reengineering of our security architecture and strategy. This has to be a dynamic process.
“For a country of our size to meet the one policeman to 400 persons prescribed by the United Nations (UN) would require triple our current police force; far more funding of the police force and far more funding of our military and other security agencies.
“We cannot realistically police a country of the size of Nigeria centrally from Abuja. State police and other community policing methods are clearly the way to go. “We must intensify existing collaboration with our neighbours in the Chad Basin by strengthening security especially at border communities to prevent the movement of small arms and disarming armed pastoralists and other armed bandits who go through our borders day after day. “We must avoid the danger of allowing this crisis to degenerate into religious or ethnic conflict.
This is the responsibility of political, religious and all other facets of our leadership in Nigeria.” On the efforts of government to resolve the frequent herdsmen/farmers clashes, the Vice President revealed that the presidential committee handling the matter, of which he is the chairman, has been consulting with the stakeholders to proffer lasting solutions.
He said the committee has also been working to see how to ensure that there is a plan for cattle breeding and rearing, which will take into account, contemporary methods of doing so in other parts of the world. Osinbajo further allayed the fears of Nigerians on insinuations that the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari is planning to forcefully take over lands from the states to establish cattle ranches or grazing areas, noting that the Constitution of Nigeria has vested land ownership on the states. He said: “The Federal government cannot dictate to states what to do with their land.
This is so because the Land Use Act of 1978 puts land under the control of governors on behalf of their states. “Also, the Supreme Court in the case of Attorney General of Lagos State versus the Attorney General of the Federation in 2004, held that use of land resources and permits for such use, lie firmly in the hands of state governments. “Even for use of federal lands in the states according to the Supreme Court, building or development control permit must be sought from the governors of the states.
“However in several states, especially in the North, there are duly gazetted grazing reserves. A majority of these grazing reserves are degraded and are without pasture or water especially in the dry season. “Grazing routes leading to these reserves must also be secured. The grazing reserves to be effective and operate effectively, should operate as ranches or livestock production centres on a commercial basis.
The ranches will have adequate water from boreholes, salt points and pasture. “The locations would serve both as forage points, but also centres for providing extension services to boost animal care, feeding and veterinary facilities, and even abattoirs. Because the ranches are commercial ventures, cattle owners will pay for its use.
“It is important to note that by and large, in consultation with stakeholders, all agree that where adequate provision is made on a commercial basis, there is no reason why there won’t be cooperation to use those ranches because there are both economic and social benefits for everyone, including herders.
“Aside from states that have gazetted grazing areas, so far about 13 states have agreed to allocate 5,000 hectares of land for the ranching or livestock production. We must emphasis that in arriving at any of these decisions in the states, the states, Federal Government and all of the stakeholders have to sit together and work out solutions that will benefit everyone.
This cannot be done by fear or force. People have to work together to ensure that there is adequate consultations. Saraki, on his part, urged Nigerians particularly those in positions of authority to shun those tendencies that threaten the corporate existence of Nigeria and focus on the need to work together in search of solutions to the insecurity in the country. He noted that the summit was not designed for blame game or to attack anybody, but to sincerely proffer solutions to the worrisome security challenges in the land as the security of lives and property of the citizenry is the primary responsibility of government. He said: “This is not a summit to trade blames neither was it convened so that any person or entity can take credit. We just want solutions, solutions only.
That is all Nigerians require of us. “We in government must therefore do everything in our power to ensure that Nigerians are safe from harm, and their livelihoods and belongings protected. It was envisaged that the summit would provide a platform for critically examining the problem of insecurity, to help collate views and ideas in aid of the search for solutions.
It is most reassuring to see us all here – people together – coming together to come up with a national response to a grave problem confronting our nation.” Saraki posited that the country is currently in urgent need for a leadership that could douse tension and reduce ethno-religious, political and economic barriers. “What our country needs at this time is leadership that will work to douse the flames and reduce tension in the land. It is essential that we lower the barriers in our actions and rhetoric, and refrain from playing politics with a crisis situation in which Nigerian lives are being lost, tragically and needlessly, on a regular basis.
“We have the capacity to bring about a change in this situation, to end the violence and bring succour. We have the capacity. But, do we have the political will? I dare say political will is what is required; and it is my hope that we shall marshal it as a legitimate instrument against this problem. Indeed, there is no reason why that should not be the case.
“There can be no denying the horrific reality in many parts of our country today. People who should be neighbours are turning on one another and taking up arms. These attacks and reprisal attacks are an intolerable cycle of hell that must be broken. Killings, kidnappings, mayhem and general lawlessness cannot be the new normal. We must take this country back and restore order,” he said. Meanwhile, President Buhari, the 36 state governors and ministers were conspicuously absent from the summit. However, all the service chiefs were present at the summit including the Insoector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris. The two-day summit will be concluded today.
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