S’West govs boost restructuring

•Refuel burning fire of agitation for state police, regional govt

 

By Lukman Olabiyi

In Nigeria, the clamour for state police has been a long-standing issue, rekindled by the escalating security challenges facing the nation.

From Boko Haram insurgency in the North East; to terrorism, banditry and kidnapping in the North West and North Central; and the rise of separatist movements in the South East, the security apparatus of Nigeria is under immense pressure.

The structure of the Nigeria Police has its roots in colonial administration. The centralised system was designed to exert control and maintain order across the diverse regions.

Post-independence, this system was retained. Over time, it has been criticised for its inability to address the specific security needs of different states and communities

To stakeholders agitating for state police, the centralisation of police powers has often been cited as a significant drawback in effectively tackling these localised threats. Others who didn’t believe in the course saw it as potent instrument for abuse of power, oppression  and victimisation of political enemies by politicians in power.

The move towards state police requires constitutional amendments. The 1999 Constitution of Nigeria centralises police powers. Any alteration to this framework necessitates significant legislative backing and political will. Recent attempts to amend the constitution to allow for state police have seen mixed reactions in the National Assembly.

In May, the Lagos State House of Assembly kicked against the position of the Inspector General of Police, Olukayode Egbetokun, that Nigeria was not ripe for the establishment of state police. Its Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, directed the Clerk of the House, Olalekan Onafeko, to write the IG and the National Assembly, stating that the state lawmakers rejected Egbetokun’s position and affirmed support for state police.

The Monday decision of the South West Governors’ Forum to reaffirm stand on call for state police has also refueled burning fire  for  the agitation among others. The governors echoed their voices on the call for the state police during meeting at the Lagos House, Alausa, Ikeja, where they also introduced a regional anthem.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State was elected as Chairman, succeeding the late Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu. Also in attendance were Governors Seyi Makinde, Oyo; Ademola Adeleke, Osun; Lucky Aiyedatiwa, Ondo; Dapo Abiodun, Ogun and Biodun Oyebanji, Ekiti.

On security, the forum commended “the relative peace in the South-West region” and emphasised collaboration between all security agencies and the Amotekun Corps.

The governors adopted “Ise Wa Fun Ile Wa” as the South-West Anthem.

They commended the House of Representatives and the South-West Caucus for their efforts at passing the South-West Development Commission Bill, saying it looked forward to its speedy passage by the Senate.

Addressing food security, the forum acknowledged federal initiatives and resolved to enhance inter-state collaboration: “Commissioners for agriculture from the South West states will now convene regularly to develop a coordinated approach, leveraging each state’s comparative advantage to boost food production and security.”

The forum expressed “support for significant infrastructure projects championed by President Bola Tinubu.” It cited “the groundbreaking of the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Road and the proposed Lagos to Sokoto Road.” The governors urged the Federal Government to prioritise the rehabilitation of other federal roads in the South West to boost connectivity and economic activities.

The forum condemned “in strong terms the group of people agitating for Yoruba nation.”

On minimum wage, the forum said it “supports the efforts of the Federal Government, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and the Organised Private Sector on their on going conversations with the Labour Union. We believe the outcome will reflect true fiscal federalism.”

Governors under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors Forum had last week rejected a proposed N60,000 minimum wage for Nigerian workers.

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