To take decision at NEC
Say $1bn for Excess Crude for security disbursed
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – THE Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, on Friday said that it had not taken a common position on the establishment of State Police in the country.
Chairman of the NGF, and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi stated this while briefing State House correspondents after the expanded security meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari and Security heads at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Fayemi flanked by six other governors from the six geo-political zones said that while some governors were advocating for State police because of the peculiar security challenges facing their states others didn’t deem it necessary because of the financial implications.
He said that the NGF will take a holistic view of the involvement and come out with a position on it.
He also stated that the $1 billion approved from the Excess Crude Account to fight insecurity had been disbursed among the security agencies, though he said it was not enough to tackle the security challenges.
The NGF boss who said the meeting was on the instance of the governors said it dwelt primarily on insecurity ranging from kidnapping, armed robbery, insurgency, militancy among others.
Fayemi said there will be a special meeting of National Economic Council, NEC, which is chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to take position on the myriads of security problems in order to give confidence to the citizenry.
Explaining on the essence of the meeting, he said, “The meeting was at our instance as governors of the 36 states collectively. It has to do with the security situation in the country, our concerns about what is going on all across the nation.
“We had a very fruitful meeting with Mr. President. Of course, he was not oblivious of the challenges, he gets security reports on daily basis, he understands what the issues are.
“But we felt as chief security officers in our respective states, it is also important for us to at least keep Mr. President abreast of the enormity or the challenges we are facing and also highlight the concerns of our citizens across the board about rural banditry, farmers/herders clashes, Kidnapping, militancy in the Delta, insurgency, cultism.
“So we discussed extensively all of these issues and looked at the various ways that we felt as governors we could assist Mr. President as the Commander-in-Chief to curb these issues. Of course, we were able to in the first instance look at the nexus between our economic challenges and the security challenges as well. And the importance of tackling the causes of crime not just crime on its own.
“We also looked at the criminal justice system that appears to give some room for impunity. When people commit crimes and they are not punished effectively in accordance with the statutes, it then creates an opportunity for replicating such crimes.
And of course, Mr. President was also equally concerned about that. He made it clear to us that we all knew that he campaigned on the basis of security, economy and accountability and these things are still the most germane issues on his agenda.
Intelligence on Community Policing
“And that he will also work with us to address questions of intelligence, of broadening community policing, of ensuring inter-service coordination among the various security agencies, of strengthening the criminal justice system, of working with our state’s innovative on mechanism for addressing these issues.
“Be it security trust fund that brings the public and the private players together in other to fund security and increase the resources available to security institutions.
“Already, all of us are involved in funding. There is no governor that is not buying security vehicles, ammunition for police, giving allowances to our security agencies be they SSS, or police, or in some cases the military, where the military is involved.
“We are already involved. It is just to ensure that we have a better and much more coordinated mechanism for addressing this.”
NEC to resolve State Police
He said that there will be NEC meeting to take a common position on State Police.
According to him, “In conclusion, we agreed that these issues will be much more comprehensively dealt with at a special meeting of the National Economic Council of which governors are members, presided over by the Vice President, in other to tease out specifically and quick wins and quick responses that can reassure and build the level of confidence of our citizens.
“Because, even in areas where significant progress has been made, for example in the north east, we were clearly informed by the governor of Borno, who spoke for the north east that even when you resolve issues militarily, the stabilization of the activities that must continue is critical to eventual resolutions of these challenges.
“Rehabilitation, resettlement and all those elements of stabilization activities must be brought to bear in order for us to have sustained peace over a long time.
“The president expressed his concerns, we thanked the president for what has been done so far. And in a range of our states we have received multiple support be it bailout funds to address salaries challenges, if that has not been dealt with the situation would probably have been worse.
“Support in terms of national food security committee, support on flooding, support in the north east for insurgency and related activities. But these problems are proliferating and we need to nip them in the bud as field commanders of Mr. President if you like in our various states.”
When asked specifically on whether the State Governors would support State Police and whether they have the resources to pay even as they find it difficult to pay the new N30, 000 minimum wage, he said the NEC will decide that.
He said,” On whether state governors should be involved in state policing, the position of NGF on that is that we have not taken position because experiences vary. There are governors and states where their experience do not necessarily lend itself to more evolved policing to the states.
“There are also states where there are agitations for it, there are governors who have the views that that will work better in such states. And of course there are the economic issues relating to that.
“So, we have the capacity at the state level to fund state policing, those are all issues that will come in play when we get to the national economic council meeting that has been called.
“Particularly because there is a committee that is looking into it after the submission of the report on SARS. So, we will take all of these together.
“Specifically, in terms of when the meeting will take place, I am going to to the Vice President office to finalize the timing for the meeting.”
$1bn Excess Crude Account money for security
When asked whether the $1 billion approved by the NGF in 2017 from the Ecess Crude Account to fund the fight against insurgency which generated controversy among governors, he said the fund had been expanded by the security services.
He said, “On the $1 billion, it may seem like a huge amount of money and it is a huge amount of money but when you are dealing with security issues, where a Tucano jet cost more than $50 million and you are getting say 20, you know how much that is already.
“I am not giving you specific details of how that money was expended, we will be happy to do that but we feel that that is really not a matter for us as governors. Yes, we were supportive of it because our position has always been whatever is required by the Commander-in-Chief to resolve security challenges in Nigeria, we will line up behind him and support him.
“Of course yes, we demand accountability, we will like to assure you that the $1 billion taken was definitely expanded among the various security services but the details I cannot give you on top of my head because I wasn’t expecting you to ask that question.”
Governors present at the briefing were David Umahi of Ebonyi, Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo, Simon Lalong, of Plateau and Babagana Zulum of Borno State.
The expanded meeting was attended by the Service Chiefs, heads of other security agencies including the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu.