The Federal Government has stressed the need for synergy in tackling current security challenges across the country.
It has also emphasised the need to provide basic amenities for citizens at sub-national levels, declaring that the gesture would play a key role in reducing insecurity.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, in a speech at the third Quarterly Meeting of Secretaries to State Governments (SSGs), in Abuja on Thursday, also underscored the need for synergy among security agencies.
The theme for the meeting was “The Role of Secretaries to the State Governments in Strengthening Sub-National Level Security Architecture”.
According to Mustapha, the theme underscored the need for the security agencies to share their thoughts with the forum and thereby highlight critical areas in which they can provide the necessary support and facilitation for the strategies.
He said: “Nigeria has been confronted with an inexplicable escalation of violence resulting in insecurity across the nation.
“I will not want to bother you with the details of these forms of criminality, but it is good to add that it not only serves as a drain to our national resources but creates a climate of uncertainty and challenges the ability of the nation to provide a convivial atmosphere for its citizens to go about their everyday normal businesses.
“Governments at all levels have been doing their utmost best to address these challenges. However, its persistence calls for approaches that are more than conventional and normal.
“We need to involve all arms of government, all apparatus of government and most importantly, those that have a relationship directly with the rural communities and the citizenry.
“It is, therefore, in line with the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari, with support from all the State Governors, that this forum should bring to bear its coordinating and monitoring role at all levels for a holistic approach to a resolution of these problems.
“To enable us to learn from a practical experience of dealing with the issue of banditry, we have requested one of our members to share with us so that others with similar experiences can also exchange notes and by the end of the day we leave with practical steps and strategies to curtail this menace.
“We all know that these criminal elements have turned our hitherto pristine Forest Reserves into an operational base and hide-out from which most of their activities are launched and sustained.
“Of course, we will still need our forests and other protected areas for the services they provide, especially as foreign exchange-earners, sources of job creation, guaranteeing the availability of soil nutrients and water for food security.
“They also serve as carbon sinks for addressing climate change and providing a clement environment for healthy living,” he explained.
The SGF noted that the challenge was for governments at the state level to put in place processes and mechanisms that were hitherto operational for maintaining sustainably managed forests, like all forests in the country belonged to state governments.
Mustapha said that the Federal Government would continue to strengthen the National parks Service to ensure that all the previous seven National parks and the 10 new ones created remain inviolate for use by criminal elements.
He called on the Forestry Association of Nigeria to also mobilise the forestry profession in proffering contemporary and timely recommendations for consideration by the government at various state levels consistent with the status of ownership of these forest reserves.
In his remarks, the National Security Adviser (NSA), retired Maj. Gen Babagana Monguno called on the SSGs to see security as everyone’s business and work toward mobilising everyone to participate in the efforts to tackle the challenge.
“The fight to end an insurgency is a fight for everyone, no one should be left out.
“We need to complement each other to put an end to security challenges in the country.
“The success rate in the fight against banditry will be higher if everyone takes it seriously. It shouldn’t be left for the government alone,” he explained.
Monguno urged them to develop a robust internal framework that would involve all critical stakeholders, most especially the traditional and religious leaders, to complement the work of the security agencies in their states.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, said that the Federal Government had developed strategies to deal with issues of insecurity, but regretted that the strategies were yet to get the maximum cooperation from the states governments.
Adamu said that the Federal government had realised that policing should come from the grassroots and there was a need for the SSGs to be coordinators.
In her address, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Umar Farouq, said that the ministry was working out strategies toward effective implementation of the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) in all States.
“The SSGs will be the heads of this new arrangement. Already, Mr President has approved the engagement of a National Coordinator of the NSIP who has already reported to duty. Further details will be made available to this Forum,” she said.