The recent killing of 21 people across the country might have prompted some governors to urge President Muhammadu Buhari to, among other things, seek foreign help and frontally address the daunting security challenges. The governors, Babagana Zulum (Borno State), Sani Bello (Niger State) and Samuel Ortom (Benue State), separately warned about the consequences of the worsening insecurity in the country.
While Zulum stated that the president must be told the truth about the growing insecurity in the country, Ortom condemned the recent herdsmen’s attack on Abegana area of Benue State, which led to the death of seven people. Bello lamented the encroachment of Boko Haram in some communities in Niger State. Prior to the intervention by the governors, the Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, had earlier urged the president to seek foreign assistance to overcome the nation’s dire security challenges.
Similarly, some senators have enjoined the president to rise to the occasion and seek foreign support to curb the rising insecurity. Senator Ike Ekweremadu (Enugu West) stated that any government that could not protect its people has lost its “legitimacy.” The lawmaker also stressed that “we should not be ashamed to seek external support.” Other senators who spoke in the same vein included Senator Bima Enagi (Niger North) and Senator Matthew Urhoghide (Edo South).
Beyond urging the president to seek foreign help, we believe that spiraling insecurity can also be tackled through the creation of state police. We say this because having state police will indeed make the governors the chief security officers of their states. What we have presently is that the governors are chief security officers of their states only in name because state commissioners of police still take orders from Abuja before responding to any emergency in their state. Such a situation can only lead to late response to emergencies or no response at all.
The upsurge in insecurity in the country is largely due to the present centralised policing, which is not good in a federal system of government. Even in the United States (US) from where we modeled our presidential system of government, there are many layers of policing including federal, state and county, for example. Cities and institutions have their own police in the US.
The agitation for state police is not new in Nigeria since the advent of the current political dispensation in 1999. With worsening insecurity, the calls for state police have become more strident in recent times. The emergence of Hisbah, Amotekun, Ebube Agu and other similar regional security outfits has underscored the urgent need for state police.
The proponents of state police are of the view that it will largely address most of our present security challenges, while those opposed to it say that it will be subjected to abuses by the governors. Some other Nigerians have called for a critical evaluation of the cost implication and funding before creating it. Yet, some Nigerians believe that the nation is not yet ripe for it. Considering the mounting insecurity in the country, there is a general belief that something urgent should be done to rejig the security architecture of the country to surmount the challenge.
We strongly believe that creating state police will go a long way to resolve our current security challenges. State police will enable the governors take charge of security in their states. It will also enable them tackle the problem headlong without the usual recourse to Abuja for help all the time. In the face of serious security challenges, governors have been found to be helpless. They cannot direct security officers on what to do or sanction them when they err.
Since every crime is local, a centralised policing system that is controlled from Abuja lacks speed and intelligence to curb a crisis in a state. To curb the growing insecurity, there is need for state police, which will bring security closer to the people. However, we call for laws to check the abuse of state police by governors and other political actors.
Therefore, let our lawmakers at the state and federal levels come out with relevant laws for the creation of state police in the country. They should not wait on the executive before they do something to save the country from imminent collapse.