By Wilfred Eya, Sunday Ani and Chukwudi Nweje, Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Nigerians have clashed over the call for a declaration of a state of emergency on security.
On Tuesday, the House of Representatives asked President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency on security following activities of insurgents in Niger State.
The recommendation followed the revelation by the Niger Governor, Abuabakar Bello, that Boko Haram terrorists had overrun 50 communities in Kaure and Shiroro local governments and hoisted their flag.
The eoples Democratic Party (PDP yesterday backed the House’s position ,urging President Buhari to immediately declare a state of emergency on security in the country.
The party also charged him to convoke a national conference on security to galvanise ideas and options on how to tackle the security challenges.
It expressed fear that the 2023 election may not hold if ongoing security challenges were not resolved.
Its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said these were part of resolutions reached at the party’s emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, yesterday.
“NEC lamented the heightened insecurity pervading all parts of our nation due primarily to the misrule of President Muhammed Buhari and All Progressives Congress (APC) as well as their failure to decisively tackle the menace of terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, bloodletting and acts of violence in our country,” Ologbondiyan said.
At the meeting was attended by governors Bala Mohammed of Bauchi; Ben Ayade of Cross River,members of the National Assembly and other leaders of the party, the National Chairman, Uche Secondus, blamed the Federal Government for being unable to offer any resistance to terrorists, bandits and other criminals unleashing mayhem nationwide on Nigerians. He said the 2023 general elections may not be feasible, unless the security challenges in the country are addressed.
“Our country today is grounded by insecurity and there has been no marching response from government despite the demands of the 1999 operating constitution in section 14 sub section (2b) that ‘the welfare and security of the citizens shall be the primary purpose of government’. Terrorists in the North before were confided to the North East region, but today 50 villages have been reportedly taken by them in North Central state of Niger. Where they are now, we hear is about two hours drive away from Abuja.
“Herdsmen are also menacing in the West, gunmen causing havoc in the East and the militants in the South all killing, looting, raping, maiming and burning down homes. The situation is bad. Nigerians all over are living in fear. All the ‘noise’ for 2023 will amount to naught if the security challenges are not drastically addressed. Leaders of our party, I invite NEC to note on this very critical matter with a view to offering the necessary advice to the government at all levels for prompt solution. This has become necessary as nothing, not even 2023 is realistic if security issues are not adequately addressed,” Secondus said.
Reacting, Ohanaeze, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, said there was no better time to declare emergency on security.
Its National Publicity Secretary, Alex Chidozie Ogbonna, cautioned that any delay would cause more havoc and Nigeria would be history. He urged the Presidency to sit up and hasten to tackle the problem of insecurity in the country.
President of the Arewa Youths Consultative Forum, Yerima Shettima also maintained that a state of emergency should be declared as a matter of urgency because “everything is getting out of hand.”
Former Theater Commander, Operation Safe Haven in Jos, Plateau State, Maj-Gen Henry Ayoola (Retd), said it was overdue because the country has never been as tensed as it is since the end of the civil war.
He said: “Anybody telling you otherwise is not being honest. Look at the tension all over the country; it has never been as bad as it is today. We fought a civil war even when things were not as bad as they are today.”
Ayoola’s position was also maintained by the President of Ndigbo Lagos Foundation, Maj-Gen Obi Umahi (retd), who argued that the need for a state of emergency on security was the right thing to do.
“I have said it before that the need for a state of emergency on security in Nigeria is not only imminent but also the right thing to do,” he said.
But President of the Middle belt Forum, Dr. Pogu Bitrus, said declaring a state of emergency would have far reaching implications as the state governors will lose their offices and administrators would be put in place, thereby suspending democratic structures in such places.
He argued that what was needed was a functional army that can take the war to the bandits’ camps and not the one that would wait for bandits to attack before they react.
“The first thing is for the Commander-in-Chief to give them a marching order to go and destroy the bandits’ camps. Let him give the right directive and you will see the army performing and routing these criminal elements. I believe the army is capable of handling the situation but there are some forces that are stopping the army from functioning the way it should. So, let the C-in-C give the right directive and the soldiers will comply. They will go after the criminals by whatever name they are called and destroy them because their locations are known,” he stated
For elder statesman, Tanko Yakassai, a state of emergency on security is just playing to the gallery by the National Assembly. He said such a move is like helping the enemy to spread their propaganda as it would not solve any problem but rather help the insurgents to intimidate Nigerians.
“The senate president and the speaker have access to the president and they can advise him rather than passing a resolution, asking him to declare a state of emergency on security,” he said.