Barely one week after Vice President Yemi Osinbajo expressed the federal government’s support for the creation of state police as a way out of the nation’s security challenges, the 36 state governors, have also thrown their weight behind the proposal.
The governors’ position was declared by the Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari in Abuja, during an interview with journalists at the venue of the National Security Summit organised by the Senate.
Osinbajo, had, during the opening of the summit last week, declared that in view of the nation’s huge population, state police is the way to go.
Similarly, the All Progressives Congress Committee on Restructuring, headed by Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state, had among others, recommended the establishment of the state police.
And giving further vent to the agitation, the governors disclosed that the idea of state police as the surest way out of the nation’s security crisis, was long mooted by the governors as far back as 2014, but marred by the division that erupted within the forum at that time.
While saying there were no two ways to it, the governors said the idea had not only come to stay, but one that needed to be urgently put to practice, because of the seeming incapacitation of the current centralised police structure in the face of the security challenges on ground.
He, however, said the implementation of the idea after constitutional amendment to that effect, may not be at once by the 36 states, but gradually based on financial viability.
“The first primary responsibility of government anywhere in the world is to ensure that the lives and properties of citizens are protected.
“And there has been so many challenges in Nigeria for the past 10 years, ranging from Boko Haram, cattle rustling, armed banditry, militancy in the Niger Delta, dwindling the economy and even threatening the unity of the nation.
“The take-home from this summit is that the vice-president raised some of the key discussions on the 17th of August about the issue of state police. The state police are something we have agreed on during the constitutional amendment. But at a later time when the Forum divided into two, some governors played to the gallery, which is unfortunate.
“Today, we have reiterated the position of the vice-president on the security summit we held in August that there is a need for state police. And we can say it is only the answer. The police of today are inadequate.
“So, if we look at the ratio, it is far below international standard. Therefore, we in the Forum agreed that we can find a way that we can fine-tune the issue of state police.”
On envisaged possible inadequate funding of such outfit by the state governments, Governor Yari said, “since it won’t be made compulsory constitutionally, states with financial viability for that purpose can do it, while others can still solely rely on the federal police for security in their states.
“It is not all the states that are supposed to have state police. Those that can can have it. For instance, Lagos state, as rich as they are, can have state police. The federal police in Lagos, they can reduce the number to Osun, Ogun and other states that cannot do it.
“If Rivers state can afford it, the number of federal police can be redeployed to Cross River and other neighbouring states like Enugu that cannot do it. If Kano state can do it, they can take to my state that is not all that richer. It is something that we can’t take up at the same time and land at the same time.”