From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Director General, All Progressives Congress (APC) Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF), Salihu Lukman, has said insecurity in the country is no longer acceptable to Nigerians.
Lukman, in a statement issued in Abuja, yesterday, entitled: ‘Poverty and existential problems of Nigeria’, cautioned that given the efficiency with which abduction of school children are successfully executed, the population of criminals working as bandits, kidnappers and abductors is growing more than the number of police and security personnel in the country.
He suggested establishment of police stations in schools to tackle abduction of students and added that tackling of poverty by APC government remain the surest panacea for peaceful co-existence in the country.
“While it may be tempting on account of our divisive politics to imagine we can resolve our problems based on strategies that merely reproduce old initiatives in different forms, we need to strongly appeal to our leaders, especially President Muhammadu Buhari to recognise the fact that our national situation is no longer acceptable.
“All the indices suggest the high possibility that most Nigerian children are potentially either criminals or abductees.
“Nigeria is fast losing its capacity to produce skilful, innovative, resourceful, entrepreneurial and industrious citizens. Given the efficiency with which abduction of school children are successfully being executed, it would appear that the population of criminals working as bandits, kidnappers and abductors is more than the number of police and security personnel in the country.
“With the alleged collaboration of security personnel, traditional and religious leaders in the business of kidnapping, banditry and abduction in the country, the only safe people are probably the kidnappers, bandits, abductors or their collaborators.
“This being the case, how can any military and security strategy alone successfully end the problem of banditry, kidnapping, abduction and insurgency? Military and security strategy would remain a mirage and resource drainpipe so long as it is not combined with effectively implemented ambitious strategy to lift Nigerians out of poverty.
“As Nigerians, and, especially, those of us who are APC members, we must work hard to push our leaders to combine military and security strategy with successful implementation of ambitious national initiative to lift Nigerians out of poverty. Our loyalty to our leaders must, as necessity, include getting our leaders to succeed in lifting Nigerians out of poverty.
“That is, perhaps, the only insurance cover that can support us to begin to move towards peaceful co-existence in the country. So long as we have Nigerians living in conditions of extreme poverty, crime rates, including banditry, kidnapping and abduction of innocent school children will remain high.”
On the disturbing cases of abduction of school children, he said: “We may delude ourselves into all the debate based on the reckless consideration of amnesty and divisive ethnic and religious propaganda. The reality is that criminal activity of banditry, kidnappings and abduction of innocent school children are emerging to be very lucrative economic activities in the country.
“It is now a sophisticated business network that may involve people and institutions that are least suspected. For instance, how is it possible that tens and hundreds of people would be abducted without any trace? Wouldn’t they pass through towns, villages and communities? Along the routes they passed, wouldn’t there be police and security posts/stations, traditional and religious leaders that could confirm suspicious movements?
“And with all these sad reality of our existential threats in the country, which is destroying our educational sector, we are debating whether we should have state police or not. Anybody debating whether or not to have state police is simply part of the problem. How many private securities are guarding our homes? With all that is happening to our schools, isn’t it a case that require the establishment of armed police station in each school to guarantee the safety of our children?
“Can this be provided by the Nigeria Police as it is constituted today? Isn’t this a challenge requiring emergency response? How can the lives of school children be so threatened, and we are busy debating politics?” he queried.
While urging the APC govternment to crave for peaceful co-existence through tackling poverty, the PGF DG said: “Being members of APC with all the commitment to contribute to the success of the party, we need to tell ourselves the hard truth, which is that an important determinant of return to peaceful co-existence and moving Nigeria forward under the leadership of our party is dependent on the capacity of our governments to lift Nigerians out of poverty.
“Therefore, we need to engage the disturbing issue of high levels of poverty in Nigeria beyond the narrow prism of politics. Outside the simplistic strategy of promoting our political choices, it is equally important we wake up to the reality that high levels of poverty have produced really unimaginable existential threats both for citizens and for the nation.
“Daily, lives are being lost, individual liberties and freedoms are under permanent threats, properties and livelihoods are being destroyed. Every Nigerian today live with the fear of one form of threat or the other. The North East has been ravaged by Boko Haram for more than 10 years. The problems of banditry and kidnappings are gradually taking over the North West and North Central,” he said.