President Muhammadu Buhari, in his interview on ARISE TV recently, recounted how he turned back two South West governors who came to Aso Rock Villa requesting him to provide security for their people being killed by herdsmen. “I told them, you campaigned to be elected and you are elected… go back and sort out yourself,” the President said.
We consider that statement unwholesome and insensitive, given the fact that it had to do with the lives of innocent Nigerian citizens sent to their early graves by terrorists masquerading as herdsmen. If the number one citizen of our country can show this amount of thick skin towards the killings and destruction of property, it leaves the citizenry with little hope about the state’s willingness to protect them.
Even though the Governors are grandiloquently styled as the Chief Security Officers, CSOs, of their states, the real picture is that they are toothless bulldogs which can only bark but not bite. The entire security apparatus is vested in the hands of the President, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
All the military, police, security and paramilitary agencies which have branches in all states of the federation only receive their marching orders from their Service Chiefs who report to the President. In terms of security, there is virtually no division of powers between the Federal Government and the states. Even when a security situation gets beyond the scope of the Police to cope, the Governors still have to appeal to the President to consider sending in the military. This is why Governors have to run to Buhari.
In other federations around the world, the subnational units of government are empowered with a measure of autonomous security control at the grassroots. These include police, intelligence, judicial and correctional powers to nip security challenges in the bud before they become monsters.
Our security architecture has for decades been faulted because its centralised command floats in the air. It is incapable of responding to the complexity of our unfolding security challenges which now include terrorism, separatism, militancy and ethnic conquests and land grabbing.
If indeed the president, a core advocate of centralised security command, now believes that the state governments should take more initiatives to tackle these challenges, he should be in the forefront for the creation of well-armed state police outfits which will report to the Governors. The Governors cannot work without an enabling constitutional and legislative empowerment.
In this rage of herdsmen terrorists, we now see soldiers and policemen which are under the president’s command being drafted to protect and escort herdsmen against communities or states seeking to defend themselves.
The president should stop passing the buck. He swore to protect Nigerians. He should do his work.