By Lukman Olabiyi
Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and his counterpart, Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammed Maigari Dingyadi have affirmed the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration on security of lives and property .
Both ministers affirmed Federal Government’s commitment at a stakeholders’ engagement on internal security and conflict resolution in Nigeria, held in Lagos.
The meeting was attended by representatives of various security agencies, monarchs, non governmental organisations, trade unions, market leaders, religion leaders and political leaders in the state.
Aregbesola in his address, appreciated the state the state government and the good people of the state for accepting to host the meeting. He said the meeting was not an afterthought but had planned to hold it months ago as part of our nationwide engagement with Nigerians on the critical issue of security.
The minister disclosed that meeting had held in Maiduguri and Katsina with Lagos, Calabar and Owerri on the card last month.
“The Lagos and the other engagements had to be postponed in light of the #EndSARS protest that gripped Lagos and other cities then. It is reassuring that we are holding this meeting and hopefully we will all have many positives to take home”, he said .
The minister stated that conflict prevention and quick resolution were prerequisites to stability and security of lives and property and development.
In his his opening remarks, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, commended Federal Government through the Ministry of Interior and other collaborating agencies for deeming it necessary to engage the citizens in developing strategies that would promote peace across the nation.
He said the state of insecurity being experienced across the nation called for serious concern considering its implication not only on the socio-economic development and prosperity of our people but also the unity and territorial integrity of our nation.
According to the governor, “the incidents leading up to 20th October, 2020 and the aftermath have created a lot of tension in the land. We should not allow fifth columnists or conspiracy theorists capitalise on the after effect of the protests with collateral damage of police stations burnt and vandalised with arms and ammunition looted.
“That incident through which extensive damage was wreaked on public infrastructure and private businesses, is a wakeup call to all well meaning individuals and organisations that we cannot afford to allow external forces or factors threaten or undermine our wellbeing and security as a people. We have the opportunity today to share knowledge and ideas that could pre-empt crises situations through conflict resolution mechanism. It is our duty and responsibility as leaders to rise above the present challenges and provide the needed leadership that will restore and ensure the continued confidence and trust in the governance system and the beneficial effect on the lives of all categories of citizens in Nigeria”.
Speaking further, Sanwo-Olu said:”Lagos State is the strategic hub for socioeconomic, political or entertainment development in Nigeria and the ECOWAS sub region, therefore any negative development will have a ripple effect across the geopolitical zone. It is in our joint interests as a people to come together and restrategise on security initiatives that will prevent further occurrence of the wanton damage and destruction of lives and properties of innocent people and public infrastructure which replacement will come at a prohibitive cost”.
After the deliberation, based on the communique issued and signed by the Director, Joint Services, Ministry of Interior, Mr. Peter Egbodo, the participants resolved that Lagos deserved special status in Nigeria, held that security in state is a national issue because of its teeming population;
Implored government to move from the phase of advocacy on security improvement to the phase of action and to create jobs in order to reduce social security challenges;
called for restructuring of the Police Force as a reflection of true federalism and better welfare packages for security officers,
review of remunerations, training and well equipped security personnel to global acceptable standard.
They also insisted that charlatans among well-meaning youths must be identified to forestall their destructive activities, which if unchecked, could set the state back several years, hammered on adequate training and grooming of the wards by their parents;
charged security agencies on intelligence gatherings adding that
the process of conflict resolution must be peaceful in the interest of all.
They also agitated for need by government to acquire adequate crowd control equipment and none lethal weapons for management of civil protests and demonstration.
And designation of special areas for protest so as not to impede the rights of others among others.