Prominent political and religious leaders on Tuesday spoke on the worsening insecurity, urging the government to act with speed and greater resolve.
Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa said there was no going back on the resolution of 17 Southern governors to ban open grazing of cattle.
Kebbi State Governor Abubakar Bagudu and the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar called for constitutional role for traditional rulers.
Worried by the worsening insecurity, particularly the kidnapping of pupils, the National Association of Students (NANs) called for the closure of secondary schools in the Northwest and Northcentral zones.
However, the United Kingdom Government has promised to support Nigeria’s efforts towards halting insecurity.
Okowa berated critics of Southern governors’ decision to ban open and demand for national dialogue to restructure Nigeria.
He said there was no going back on the decisions taken by the 17 governors on May 11, 2021 in Asaba, where they also called for state police and devolution of powers.
The governor said: “We owe no apologies, because we spoke the truth and we thought that the truth we spoke was in the best interest of this nation”.
Okowa expressed surprise that some elements in the Presidency are still advocating for the retention of open grazing.
He queried: “Can we truly at this moment be promoting open grazing? Thank God that the President was misrepresented, because I have seen news headlines that the President is not opposed to the ban on open grazing.
We need to begin to look into what is best for us. Where we were 50 years ago should not be where we should be today and tomorrow.”
Okowa, who spoke with reporters in Asaba, the capital of Delta State, added: “The process has to start and there must be a programme that must become evident, a programme in which we will begin to see actions being taken.”
He warned that Nigeria’s growing food insecurity may soon spiral to a tipping point on account of the threat posed by open grazing.
“Today, a lot of money is being spent by the Central Bank of Nigeria to encourage farmers to ensure that we are food sufficient, but a lot of these efforts are lost, because of insecurity. Farmers can’t go to farm, their crops are destroyed, they are maimed and raped and some are even killed. We cannot continue like this, because if you have a programme you are spending billions on, we must secure it and we must ensure the food security of this country.”
Okowa called for wholesale adoption of ranching, saying apart from safety issues, it is more beneficial for both cattle owners and herders.
He said: “Ranching obviously is the only way out as is happening in other climes and it’s not impossible in this place. In some parts of Taraba State, ranching has been on for so many years and we can actually create those ranches where the cattle will have more meat, more milk and then the children can actually afford to go to school”, he said.
On state police, Okowa said the way the federal police is structured “is such that they won’t be able to police this nation, its impossible. We are not saying that they are incompetent.
He added: “But, when the police hierarchy is already calling for vigilantes, they are calling for state police. So, the state police can be organized in such a manner that it assists the federal police, because the level of insecurity in this country now is too high and we need to do something about it.”
The Sultan and President General of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, and the Kebbi State governor said a constitutional role for traditional rulers will assist government in addressing the insecurity.
The Sultan also called for the removal of the immunity clause in the constitution, saying it will compel leaders to live up to their responsibilities.
The Sultan, who spoke at the ongoing Zonal public hearing for the amendment of the 1999 Constitution, said Nigerians should decide on how they want to be governed.Addressing stakeholders at the Kebbi zonal hearing, comprising Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara, the monarch said the crisis in the country can be attributed to the relegation of the traditional rulers to the background without a constitutional role.
He said “One of the controversial issues which I feel strongly about is the immunity clause. When you are immune, nobody can takes you to court as a leader and it means that you can do whatever you want to do. You can claim to be God.
“But, when that immunity is removed and you are made to live in a society where people are taken to court for abuse of office, I think our leaders here will wake up. Let us see how to tinker with that immunity clause.
Speaking on the 1999 Constitution, which many have described as a military document, the Sultan, a Brigadier-General, said “there has been so much noise and flogging of the military that brought this constitution. But, the military is part of the Nigerian society.
Insecurity: Senate to step up intervention
Senate President Ahmad Lawan said legislative interventions must be stepped-up by the National Assembly to protect Nigerians against insecurity.
Lawan spoke, following a one-minute silence in honour of Nigerians who lost their lives in recent times due to security challenges in various parts of the country.
Lawan said: “It is very important that we step up our legislative intervention in ensuring that we protect the lives and properties of Nigerians to reduce the incidence of one-minute silence.
“I believe that the Senate and, indeed, the National Assembly, working together with the executive and getting the support of Nigerians, we can bring the much needed succour to our people, and that is why we are here.”