By Henry Umoru

South-South Leader, Chief Edwin Clark, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to listen to the popular opinion of Nigerias by establishing state police that forms one of the cardinal ingredients in a federal system of government.

In a statement, yesterday, in Abuja, Clark, also leader of the Southern, Mddle Belt Leaders Forum, SMBLF, noted that truth and not lies is very essential in running a democratic government, adding that there is the need for proper guidance, survival and unity of the country.

The Pan Niger Delta Delta Forum, PANDEF, header, said: “First, I wish to congratulate President Muhammadu Buhari for granting interview to Channels Television. Speaking to citizens is an essential duty of a president of a country because it is one of the most important ways to reach out to the people and also of interacting with them. Not too long ago, he granted a similar interview to the Arise Television.

“My congratulation, however, has little or nothing to do with the quality and content of the interview, but because it provided Nigerians the opportunity to know more about the working of his government. It is a more reliable way of talking to citizens, disseminating and getting information, than when the aides of the president, particularly Alhaji Lai Mohammad, the Minister of Information, makes available to the Nigerian public, a list of purported 100 achievements of the Buhari’s administration since he came into office in 2015.

“Mr. President dismissed the call for state police in the country. He said state police was not an option, that governors will misuse it. He gave an unrelated instance of the relationship between state governors and local governments, that there is no functional local government in the country.

“While the president is right that no local government in this country truly functions as provided by the constitution, not even the joint account under which state governments receive monies on behalf of the local governments, because the accounts are fully controlled by the state governors, it is not enough to dismiss the demand for a state police.

“It may be necessary to refer to some Sections of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution. Section 214 (1) says: ‘There shall be a police force for Nigeria, which shall be known as the Nigerian Police Force, and subject to the provisions of this section no other police shall be established for the federation or any part thereof.’

“And Section 215 (4) says: ‘Subject to the provisions of this section, the governor of a state or such commissioner of the government of the state as he may authorise in that behalf, may give to the Commissioner of Police of that state such lawful directions with respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order within the state as he may consider necessary, and the Commissioner of Police shall comply with those directions or cause them to be complied with provided that before carrying out any such directions under the foregoing provisions of this subsection the Commissioner of Police may request that the matter be referred to the President or such Minister of the Government of the Federation as may be authorized in that behalf by the President for his directions.’

“I humbly submit that the above Section 214 (1) does not portray tenets of a federal system of government, but a unitary form of government. Hence the 1999 Constitution is rejected by democratic Nigerians who believe in a federal system of government. In a similar manner, Section 215 (4), does not really contain the ingredients of a federal system of government.

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“Like I stated in my recent interview, state police is a popular agitation by Nigerians and was robustly discussed and agreed upon during the 2014 national conference.

“I totally agree with Mr. president that most state governors have undermined the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, where LG is provided for under Section 8. They do not only abuse the joint account system, but also engage in establishing caretaker committees, rather than conducting free, fair and democratic election as provided in section 7(1) of the Constitution.”

“I also agree with Mr. President that State Police could be used by state governors in persecuting perceived political opponents, but it is also true that the Federal Government is also using the Nigeria Police Force to persecute perceived political opponents, undermining the National Assembly and obstructing free speeches. But that does not mean that the whole idea of State Police should be discarded? That will mean throwing away the baby with bath water.

“Also, restructuring of Nigeria is a must if Nigeria is to survive as a country. It is very cruel and disappointing to hear Mr. President say that “he does not know what type of restructuring Nigerians want.” This is very insincere and dishonest because President Buhari has been preaching restructuring since his 2011 campaign, when he contested with our respected Pastor Tunde Bakare, as his running mate, and when our late golden boy, Yinka Odumakin was his spokesman, and who preached restructuring until his death, and for which he became one of the greatest critics of President Buhari due to his (Buhari’s) failure to accept the restructuring of Nigeria.

“Is Mr President saying that the APC manifesto did not sell to the public the issue of restructuring of Nigeria? I repeat again that when the drums of restructuring were booming in every part of this country and wise men were dancing to the tune, APC was forced to set up the Mallam Nasir El-Rufai Committee, to produce a report on restructuring. The committee was made up of 27 members including serving and former Governors, Senators, serving and former ministers, etc.”

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