Taiwo-Obalonye and Fred Itua in Abuja
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has admitted that with the country’s population currently at 180 million and with Nigeria unable to match United Nations recommended one policeman to 400 persons ratio, the Federal Government cannot realistically provide security from the centre.
He has, therefore, called for the creation of state police amid increasing security challenges in the country.
Osinbajo spoke at the opening of the Two-Day Summit on National Security organised by the National Assembly’s Ad-HOC Committee to review the current infrastructure in Nigeria, in Abuja.
Those in attendance were lawmakers from both houses of the National Assembly, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, ministers, service chiefs and the Inspector General of Police, royal fathers, civil society, diplomats, amos other stakeholders.
The Vice President stressed that state policing system is the way to go because having a centralized system – as is currently practised, cannot effectively secure the nation.
He added that for the federal government to continue to provide security from the center it will need a lot resources to increase the number of personnel as well as properly fund all security agencies and their operations.
“But for a country our size to meet the one Police man to 400 persons the UN required ratio, we will need to nearly triple our current police force, far more funding of the Police, far more funding of the military and other security agencies is required.
“Thirdly, we cannot realistically Police a country like Nigeria centrally from Abuja, State Police and other community policing methods are clearly the way to go,” he said to the applause of participants.
Following the criticism that has tailed the killings in Benue and some other parts of the country which have been blamed on herdsmen, Osinbajo described as untrue and false, allegations that President Muhammadu Buhari was ignoring the killings by herdsmen because he is Fulani.
He said no other issue preoccupies the mind of the President as much as the killings in the country.
The Vice President, therefore, warned stakeholders not to allow the conflict between herdsmen and farmers assume ethnic and religious dimensions.
According to him, “To my knowledge, human beings have not developed other ways of resolving conflicts except from dialogue.
“There cannot be lasting peace without dialogue and there can never been too much dialogue.”
On government’s decision to provide ranching for the herdsmen, he reassured that the federal government “cannot dictate to the states what to do with their land according to the Land use Act.
“Apart from the states that presented grazing reserves, so far about 13 states have agreed to allocate 5,000 hectares of land for ranching or livestock production.
“We must emphasis that in arriving at any of those decisions in the states, the state, federal and local governments have to set together and work out solutions that will benefit everyone.
“This cannot be done clearly by fiat, people have to simply work together to ensure that that there is adequate consultations and that everybody is taken on board.
“Let me reiterate that on no account will any land be ceased or forcefully taken to create any of the ranches or grazing areas. All insinuation to that effect should be disregarded, no one is given land to anyone as it has been falsely alleged in some quarters. Instead, it is our view that states that are willing and have set aside land or those who have designated grazing areas should cooperate even with willing investors into commercially viable government supported ranches or livestock production centers.”
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, in his remarks said the coming together of the Executive and Legislative arms of government for this discussion about security, is a pointer to the seriousness of the situation, and the determination to tackle the problem.
He said that the Summit is also unique, because never before have they had such an inclusive platform for appraising security-related matters in this country.
Saraki said, “The sharp increase in murderous violence, over and above the relatively manageable level of insecurity that has plagued our country for some time, jolted us out any last vestiges of complacency or denial. There can be no denying the horrific reality in many parts of our country today.
“People who should be neighbours are turning on one another and taking up arms. These attacks and reprisal attacks are an intolerable cycle of hell that must be broken. Killings, kidnappings, mayhem and general lawlessness cannot be the new normal. We must take this country back and restore order.”
He said the executive cannot do it alone hence the need for the summit.
“To the Executive, I say this: you cannot do it alone – and this is why we are all here to join efforts. It is all hands on deck. No one person, organisation or arm of government can single-handedly tackle the hydra-headed monster of insecurity.
“The Constitution makes it clear that the safety of lives and property of citizens is the responsibility of government. We in government must therefore do everything in our power to ensure that Nigerians are safe from harm, and their livelihoods and belongings protected.”
The two-day summit which is taking place at the NAF Conference Center, Ahmadu Bello Way, Abuja, is aimed at providing an all-inclusive platform for finding long-term solutions to the security challenges in Nigeria.