THE first and overriding article of public interest in governance is the security of the citizens. Section 14(2b) of the 1999 Constitution states: “It is hereby accordingly declared that: the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”.
We have three tiers of government – Federal, State and Local Government. For the security architecture of the country to be arranged in such a way that only the Federal Government feels entitled to usurp the exclusive power to command the apparatuses of security in the country is asynchronous with our constitutional democracy.
It is an enduring offshoot of our military past which we have continued to practice to the detriment of the security of lives and property of our people. The same warped thinking is responsible for the situation whereby the Governors are described as the “Chief Security Officers” of their states, yet they do not have the power to deploy either the Nigeria Police or possess a State Police they can deploy when the security of the citizens in their state is threatened.
The danger is that whenever the Federal-controlled Police decide to play their roles in a partisan manner the security of a section of the citizenry is compromised.
Many state governments have struggled against the odds to create security outfits through the legislative instruments of the state assemblies to tackle security threats. In Abia and Anambra states, the Bakassi Boys (which grew out of communal efforts) were transformed into vigilante services and went far in curbing crimes.
In Kano, the Hisbah outfit was created to implement the Sharia Laws enacted by the State Assembly. Also in the North East (especially Borno State), the Civilian Task Force (Civilian JTF) was created to assist the military in the anti-Boko Haram war.
In the South-Western states, governments have quietly worked with non-formal organisations to provide security.
All these efforts were attempts by pro-active governors to take primary hold on the security of their states pending the intervention of the Nigeria Police (and sometimes the Army).
We would like to see more such efforts being made across the board.
The ultimate goal before us all, however, is to amend the Constitution to redefine and share security powers among the federal, state and communal entities, not forgetting specifying the individual’s power and right to self-preservation.
This is what security in a democratic society is all about. This is the only way that Nigeria can truly be secured.
The governors should continue to lead this agitation, and the Nigerian people are right behind them.