…Canvass fiscal federalism, unveil 13 resolutions at stakeholders’ parley
By Clifford Ndujihe & Olasunkanmi Akoni
GOVERNORS, traditional rulers, ministers from the South-West geo-political zone, some security chiefs, and a representative of President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, took a critical look at the destruction that trailed the #EndSARS protests in the region, especially Lagos, and vowed that it must never be allowed to recur.
Fingering poverty, hunger, gross unemployment, faulty political structure, abandonment of fiscal federalism, politicians’ use of thugs and monetisation of elections, among others, as some of the reasons for the unimaginable violence witnessed during the protests, they said genuine efforts must be made to address these issues urgently.
The leaders spoke after watching a four-minute video of the carnage in Lagos, presented by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, during a stakeholders’ meeting at the State House, Alausa, yesterday.
The four-hour meeting attended by Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Professor Ibrahin Gambari, had in attendance Oyo State Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde; Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu; Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun; and Osun State Governor, Gboyega Oyetola.
Some of the ministers present at the meeting include: Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Raji Fashola, SAN; Minister of Sports, Youths and Development, Sunday Dare; Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola; Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Minister of Health, state, Dr. Olorunmbe Mamora; Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo; Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite; and Minister of State, Niger-Delta, Tayo Alasoadura; the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.
The monarchs at the meeting were Ooni of Ife, Enitan Ogunwusi; Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi; Olubadan of Ibadan; Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu; Oba Saliu Adetunji; Olugbo of Ugbo, Oba Akinruntan Obateru; Ataoja of Osogbo; Ayangburen of Ikorodu, Oba Adewale Sotobi; Orangun of Ila, Oba Adedeji Oyedotun; Alake of Egbaland, Oba Gbadebo; Alawe of Ilawe, Oba Adebanji Alabi; and Olu of Ilaro, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, among others.
The security chiefs included Inspector General of Police, Muhammadu Adamu and Director-General, Department of State Service, DSS.
Monarchs call for true federalism
During the open session, before the stakeholders went into a closed session, the monarchs clamoured for true federalism to address fundamental issues confronting the country, as well as allow states to develop at their paces, as was witnessed in the First Republic, before the military struck and introduced unitary system of governance.
The Ooni of Ife, Alaafin of Oyo, and others blamed governments, and politicians for the #EndSARS protests, due to neglect of the traditional institutions in governance.
The monarchs expressed their disappointment at the manner politicians have turned politics into money-induced venture at the expense of the interest of the youths which has led to massive unemployment, and insecurity in the country.
They stated that high rate of unemployment among youths caused the #EndSARS protest.
“The governors have taken the right steps with this meeting. However, they have been far away from us, the monarchs. You should not wait till election period before you reach out to us. This type of meeting should come regularly. We know the good and the bad in our communities but we are under-utilised,” Ooni of Ife said.
The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Adeyemi, said the destruction has put the region in a complex and critical situation.
“It is a complex and complicated matter. Our children are jobless and many are hungry and angry. The problems are too much for the states. The states are not independent. The structure we run in Nigeria cannot allow state governors to do much for their states, there is the need for power devolution,” he said.
The Olugbo of Ugbo, Oba Obateru urged the Inspector General of Police to conduct detailed investigation into the incident and fish out those behind the destruction.
“What happened is beyond EndSARS protests. Find out the people behind them. This is the time to reach out to the monarchs. If you don’t treat this matter well, the youths will come out again.”
The Oba of Lagos, Oba Akiolu said: “The the truth is very bitter. Majority of the problems are caused by politicians. The power with the Federal Government is too much. The security architecture of the country needs to be restructured.
“The problem we have in Lagos is security and unemployment. The youths have to be looked after. What happened is a pure case of security breach. The entire system needs reformation.
“There is so much concentration of power at the centre. Mr President should assist in rebuilding process of the affected states. The culture of our forefathers has been neglected. The gods are angry. Lagos should be accorded special status.”
Also, speaking, the Alawe of Ilawe, Oba Alabi, saidL “Taking a look at the unfortunate destruction of lives and property, the #EndSARs protest was hijacked by hoodlums in which Lagos suffered most devastation.
“The moment the hoodlums realized the police had been overwhelmed they took over control of the state and unleashed havoc. This must stop, the IG must deploy his men to the streets. The party for hoodlums is over.
“It is high time the police took over and also the police should be adequately equipped. The wanton attack on Akiolu’s palace is embarrassing. It is worrisome to commit such a heinous and sacrilegious crime. The security in palaces should be boosted because any time an incident like this comes up, after government, monarchs are the next target.
“The attack on Lagos and other states was a calculated attempt to decimate the economy of the South-West region. Otherwise, why would they attack NPA and other public and private institutions? Now is the time to have South West agenda to revamp the structures that took place in the South-West. FG should assist the states to restore normalcy in the South-West.”
Also, Olu of Ilaro, Oba Olugbenle, said: “The issue of insecurity has been with us for years. In 2014 National Conference we spent weeks discussing Nigeria. The report has not been looked at. Nothing stops the current government from implementing the recommendations. The COS to the President was at the confab and he played crucial roles, and fortunately, he is now in government. Let us leave politics and look at the good sides of the 2014 confab and implement them.
“There is so much power in Abuja. It is time to have true federalism. Let FG reconsider its position on closure of borders, majority of our youths have been rendered jobless.’’
We’ll rebuild South West—Sanwo-Olu
Earlier, in his address, the Ondo State Governor and Chairman, South West Governors’ Forum, who coordinated the event, Rotimi Akeredolu, said the meeting was called, following the magnitude of destruction the region witnessed in the last three weeks.
“The meeting has been called for us to have very important relationship between us, within us and among us. Our brothers in the North, South-South, and South-East have had this same interaction. As you all know, we have gone through a lot with the recent experiences. Everybody is worried and concerned. We have some measure of peace now but we must be able to sustain the peace at all cost.
“We all witnessed what our youths did before our eyes. What started as peaceful demonstration by some of our youths as #EndSars was turned to different things. There was threat to all of us even governors. No one could dare walk outside. What we saw made us tremble, so we want to come up with solution.’’
The host governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu said the meeting was aimed at finding ways and means of taking “our region forward after the destruction just witnessed, we are on a journey of rebuilding South West and Lagos.”
Buhari sad over destruction—Gambari
The Chief Of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, who led the Federal Government delegation, said the President was saddened by the magnitude of destruction in the state, which necessitated the presence of a delegation from the Presidency at the meeting.
“The President is aware of the level of destruction and the people who sabotaged genuine course for justice but used the action to destroy businesses and infrastructure.
“It is true our youths have been ignored for a long time but we can not continue to do so. The purpose of this engagement is to find out what the federal and state governments have done and can do. The Buhari administration is set to address what brought us to this level.
“The government is committed to police reform and community policing that can resolve some of our issues,” he said.
Parley unveils 13-point resolution
However, at the end of the closed door session the stakeholders released a 13-item communiqué which endorsed the call by traditional rulers for regular consultations with state governors and federal authorities on challenges facing the states and for appropriate recognition of their role in the Constitution.
It further resolved that the security architecture of the country requires adjustment to adequately address the threats and realities of insecurity in the country, calling for more police presence in communities in South-West states.
Other resolutions include “the need to undertake preventive actions aimed at prevention of repeat of what happened in the country following the #EndSARS demonstrations. Security needs to be strengthened in all states.
“We wish to encourage the Nigeria Police by responding to their needs and appeal to them to do more to protect lives and properties and enhance security all over the country.
“We call for specific measures and proposals to repair damage done to the physical infrastructure and economic assets of the South-West.
They called for review of reports of constitutional conferences, including 2014 National Conference, and implement some of the recommendations, especially with reference to security, economy, equal treatment for citizens all over the country.
“We believe that the prolonged closure of the border has caused economic difficulties and should be re-examined to alleviate problems of the people in the border communities and prices of some essential commodities. There is need to review the closure and permit resumption of economic and trading activities.
“A comprehensive programme that addresses youth employment and empowerment should be prioritized. Closer coordination and complementarity between the states and the Federal Government. In this regard, the curricular of tertiary institutions should be reviewed, with emphasis placed on skills acquisition and entrepreneurship.
“We recognize the damaging and negative impact of fake/false news and worry about its destructive and dangerous potency of fake news. We call on federal government to use the instrumentality of existing laws and those regulations bench-marked from other countries to provide safeguards against the spread of fake news. 2015 Cyber Act will also be fully used.
“Federal Government should ensure that technology is used effectively for the advancement of the Nigerian Security and not its destruction by working with the technology cum social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. The regime of checks and gate keeping should be fully employed.
The resolution further urged that every effort be made to resolve the impasse between ASUU and the federal government so students can return to school in earnest.