Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Two weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari held a security summit with governors and security chiefs in the country, the leadership of Afenifere and Yoruba elders on Tuesday, have demanded that he recruits policemen and deploy them to all 774 local government areas to tackle the spate of insecurity in the country.
They also demanded for the reintroduction of free education in the country, noting that although expensive, it will revolutionise the country.
The leaders which included All Progressives Congress (APC) national leader, Bola Tinubu, former governors of Oyo and deputy governors of Oyo and Osun states, also included in their five-point demand, true federalism to address the challenges facing the country.
The group led by Pa Ayo Fasanmi, also made requests cutting across youth employment, power supply and agriculture.
The five demands of the Afenifere leaders were enumerated in a prepared speech read by Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye.
Reading the delegation’s demand on security, Durojaiye said: “The huge cost notwithstanding, it may be considered worthwhile to take a bold step in combating crime and improving on security by improving on the apparent shortage of manpower in the Nigeria Police Force and by extending control of the police from the state to local government level. By this, we humbly suggest that Mr. President should reflect deeply and consider recruitment, training, equipment and deployment of Nigerian Police on the basis of 774 local governments listed in the first schedule of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Added to this is training the public on the need to improve on their individual vigilance and awareness of movement of strangers passing through or moving into their neighbourhood. Imbibing such habit and practice will be a tremendous help or service to the police and other security agents as regards “intelligence” support especially now that must people have access to individual means of communication (telephone handsets).”
The group also urged Buhari that as governors of the South West meet to map out strategies to eradicate kidnapping and violent attacks, they will surely need more financial subvention and support.
On true federalism, the leaders said: “We seriously recommend clinging to the spirit and letters of our federal constitution. This is one sure way of achieving the desired goals of unity even in diversity, mutual respect, tolerance and giving true meaning to the opening phrase of our constitution that is, “we the people.”
“We will be a greater nation if we sincerely practice true federalism, think and act as Nigerians rather than as champions of the smaller units we were born into. Our big size is an asset worthy of preservation.
“Good examples of big size, hard work and prudent spending are the USA, China and India. It is not with violence or hate speeches but with mutual trust, self-respect and tolerance that we will speedily achieve the lofty destiny of the great country, Nigeria,” he said.
On free education, the group through Durojaiye said: “Education: Free Universal and Compulsory Education “had been practiced with remarkable success in some parts of Nigeria in the past. Mr. President may consider re-introducing the programme and making it compulsory at all levels and all over the country as a lasting gift to Nigeria in his final term in office. Such a bold step, though very expensive, will revolutionise and catapult the entire nation to the next higher level.”
President Buhari admitted that despite his administration’s effort at tackling insecurity, the problems were still there and the government was doing its best to address them both physically and materially.
Speaking on his administration’s fight against corruption, Buhari used the occasion to revisit the sack of former Chief Justice of the Federation, Walter Onnoghen.
He wondered why an officer of the law occupying the highest judicial office could not live above board.
Buhari who said contrary to his first coming where he sent all perceived persons to prison until they proved their innocence, now those who cannot justify their source of income nor fail to declare their assets will have them confiscated, sold and proceeds put in nation’s coffers.
He said: “Now what I do is when a person cannot justify what he has or fails to declare as the constitution specifies, some of them swear to almighty God that their property doesn’t belong to them until we show them their bank accounts and their companies then we have some peace.
“So, we are recovering as much as we can under the system and this time around I said the properties will be sold and the money put in the treasury. The last time they were given back their properties, but this time around, whoever comes after me no matter how generous he is, he cannot take money from the treasury and give it to individuals; it will be impossible. But anybody who cannot account for what he has and for refusing to declare, we will have to do something about it.
“I will tell you as Afenirere, that was why I had to deal though reluctantly with the former Chief Justice. Because, there were millions of Dollars, Euros not to talk of Naira which were not declared (by him). I wonder what sort of conscience some of us have; how can you sit and preside and lock people up for years and even sentence some to death and yet you are not doing what the constitution says you should do by occupying that vital institution?”