BY CHIBUZO UKAIBE and TARKAA DAVID, Abuja
In an unprecedented move yesterday, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) volunteered to assist the ruling All Progressive Congress-led federal government find solutions to Nigeria’s nagging problems.
The national chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, who stated this during a world press conference in Abuja, said “the situation in our country is not normal and exceptional steps should be taken to restore it to normalcy.
The PDP, as a body, is willing to give a helping hand in this direction.”
He asked the federal government to immediately scale up its efforts in the fight against insurgency to save the country from disintegration, and to urgently seek partnerships with foreign governments and miscellaneous entities in its war efforts.
However, when contacted, the secretary of the Caretaker Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the APC, John James Akpanudoede he, said the party was studying the position of the opposition party and would reply in due course.
Secondus, who stressed that the PDP was open to a bi-partisan approach to the security crisis in the country, however, called for the establishment of state police and the adequate equipping of the armed forces, with their welfare as top priority.
The national chairman also told the federal government to deploy technology in the fight against terror, banditry and other crimes, even as he demanded that all culprits be brought to book.
The opposition party, however, pointed out that the escalating security tension in the country was a result of the mismanagement of Nigeria’s ethnic diversity by the APC administration.
He further challenged the president to convince Nigerians that his government was not shielding terrorists.
Secondus said the PDP was demanding “the immediate upscaling of the personnel strength of our men and women in uniform and make adequate provisions of kinetic instruments of war and law enforcement. Our armed forces should be adequately equipped and their welfare a top priority.
Calling for the establishment of state police, he said, “We call on all citizens to support the quest for state police as is the tradition in other federations.
“Mindful of the current plethora of vigilante in various parts of the country, which have not been enabled to carry out all the elements of effective policing, we call on the governors of the 36 states, the leadership and members of the National Assembly, the Speakers of the State Assemblies and relevant agencies of government to occasion a summit for a one-stop shop regarding the creation, structure, and ma- nagement of state police.”
He argued that in spite of the concerns over sta- te police, it is doubtful that 36 state police services can be easily overwhelmed as is the case now with the unitary police.
Secondus added that any challenges with the operati- ons of state police could be addressed through legislati- ve framework to make abuses extremely difficult, if not impossible.
“We also call for the de- ployment of technology in the fight against terror, banditry, and other crimes. The apparent failure of intelligence to track attacks by bandits and follow up on them is a clear failure of the intelligence community.
“The Nigerian Communications Satellite Ltd (NIGCOMSAT) established many years ago by a PDP administration is designed for this purpose and others,” Secondus said.
He added that states where matters of national security challenges origi- nate or exist should be invi- ted to the National Security Council meeting for delibe- ration and problem-solving interactions.
“We call for the creation of National Boarders Protection Force to secure our borders. This will include an integrated border protection system that will draw personnel and equipment from existing armed services and Immigration.
“We cannot continue to watch while terrorists and
bandits continue to levy war on our nation, through our porous borders. This border force should be equipped with reconnaissance, intelli- gence gathering and preven- tion enforcement. It should, therefore, have air, sea, and land capability.”
The opposition party demanded that all the perpetrators of violence be punished according to the law.
“All culprits who have levied war on Nigeria should be brought to book. It is unfathomable that several mass kidnappings have been successfully staged with the culprits not being held to account.
It is a shameful irony that a few bandit leaders that have been taken out were killed by rival gangs and not our security agencies,” he said.
According to him, security agencies should have been able to track, arrest and prosecute bandits if Sheik Gumi could detect and engage with them.
“The administration of President Buhari should completely shed weight on arrogance, lack of respect for Nigerians and its pretenses of being an island of integrity.
“He should begin to engage the citizens directly. He should address the nation on the various issues escalating tension in the land and pushing the nation farther to the tips of precipice,” he said.
On the economy, the PDP chairman told the go- vernment to stop borro- wing, adding that future generations are being mort- gaged and railroaded into an avoidable debt trap.
He called on the APC to do away with nepotism and hire experts that will “help to creatively navigate the nation through the dire eco- nomic challenges they have led the nation into.”
“The country is bleeding economically and the opera- tions of the NNPC must be investigated and over-sighted by the parliament,” he said.
On politics, Secondus said it was worrisome that the National Assembly Joint Committee on INEC, which finished its work since February 2021, is yet to lay the report in the two chambers of the National Assembly.
“We are, therefore, alarmed at the decision of the APC-led leadership of the National Assembly to sit on such an important report, contrary to their promise to pass the Electoral Act by March, which has now been shifted to June.
“It is imperative to state that INEC and the government of the United Kingdom have equally raised concerns over these undue delays, as it appears this current amendment is going the way of the Electoral Act amendment in the 8th National Assembly that was ultimately not signed by Mr. President,” the party chairman stated.
Corroborating the PDP chairman’s statement, Taraba State governor Darius Ishaku said the party had decided to put opposition aside and work with government to find lasting solutions to the security crises.
”We at the states are having it worse. We find it difficult to explain to our people why we cannot protect them – because security is not under our control,” he said.
Ishaku decried the use of the military as the first resort in internal security crisis, noting that the police should be properly equipped to place its role as the lead security outfit in internal matters.
Former Senate President Bukola Saraki also urged the federal government to listen to the demands of Nigerians on ensuring the protection of lives and property.
He noted that while the opposition will continue to play its role in the society, they are ready to help government overcome the security crises.
On his part, the Senate minority leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, blamed nepotism and what he called ‘ethnic triumphalism’ for the current tension in the polity.
He said, “No one in Nigeria wants Nigeria to break up. Those who want it to break are those who refused to manage our diversity.”
Address Causes Of Agitations, Anyim Writes Buhari
Meanwhile former Se- nate President Anyim Pius Anyim has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to establish a commission to interrogate the causes of all agitations in the country. Anyim, a former secretary to government of the federation, in an open letter to Buhari, said the commission should be modelled after the Willink’s Commission of 1957, named after its chairman, Mr. Harry Willink.
He said the commission’s commission produced a far-reaching report after extensive hea- rings of the complaints and suggestions from the peop- le, adding that no other do- cument in the history of Ni- geria has had far-reaching impact on our political structure than the Willink’s report.
Anyim, in the letter dated May 3, 2021, and en- titled “The State of Insecurity in the Nation,” urged the president to heed the concerns of Nigerians.
The former Senate president said it had become apparent that the founda- tion of the various agitati- ons in Nigeria today is that the comfort provided at in- dependence by the Willink’s Commissions Report is no longer working.
He wrote, “I recommend that Mr. President should
make history by empane- ling another commission of inquiry to inquire into the violent and non-violent agi- tations in Nigeria and make recommendations on the immediate, short and long- term solutions as a way of first de-escalating the ri- sing tension in the land and a process for the renewal of our march to nationhood.
“It is important to note that, in a democracy, no ac- tion is deemed successful or completed until the buy- in of the people is secured through a democratic pro- cess. This buy-in is an impe- rative that is yet to be pur- sued in the fight against violent agitations in Nige- ria. I must say that as long as the people are not part of the process of finding solutions to the conflicts, a permanent solution will be a mirage.”
Anyim said he was forced to write an open let- ter to Buhari because the president may not have got an earlier private letter he sent to him.
“Mr. President, you may recall that on the 5th of Oc- tober, 2018, I had audience with you in your office. In that meeting, with your then Chief of Staff, the late Mallam Abba Kyari, in attendance, we touched on a number of issues inclu- ding the insecurity in the country and about which you directed that I should do a short brief on my sug- gestion and forward to your Chief of Staff.
“Mr. President may wish to know that I did as you directed and submitted my suggestion to your then Chief of Staff on the 20th of October, 2018.
FG Establishes Cen- tre To Combat Small Arms, Light Weapons
In an effort to contain the influx of illegal arms into Nigeria, the federal government has approved the establishment of Natio- nal Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (NCCSALW). Pre- sident Muhammadu Buha ri appointed Major General A.M. Dikko (retd.) as the pioneer coordinator of the centre.
The centre, which is domiciled in the office of the National Security Adviser, replaces the defunct Pre- sidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons.
A statement by the head, strategic communications, Office of the Na- tional Security Adviser, ZM Usman, said the centre would serve as the institu- tional mechanism for poli- cy guidance, research and monitoring of all aspects of Small Arms and Light Wea- pons (SALW) in Nigeria.
He said the move is part of ongoing restructuring of Nigeria’s security architec- ture to address emerging threats and strengthen re- gional mechanism for the control, prevention and re- gulation of SALW.
“The impact of the pro- liferation of SALW across
national borders in Africa and the Sahel region has resulted in terrorism, hu- man trafficking, organised crime, and insurrections in West Africa and Nigeria.
“Therefore, as one of the measures in tackling this threat, the new Centre will be fulfilling the requirements of the ECOWAS Moratorium on Import, Export, and Manufacture of Light Weapons as well as the UN Plan of Action to prevent, combat, and era- dicate the illicit trade in SALW.”
Usman explained that the centre would serve as the national focal point on SALW in Nigeria and lead a multi-stakeholder process involving government ministries, departments and agencies and the civil society in implementing all na- tional, UN and ECOWAS plans of action on the control of SALW.
The centre is further tasked with maintaining international cooperation and operating zonal offices in the six geopolitical zones to ensure quick response and effective mobi- lisation of resources.
According to the statement, the national coordi- nator of the centre, Major General A.M. Dikko (retd) had served in various capa- cities in and outside Nige- ria. He has vast experience working with the ECOWAS and the UN system and is expected to operationalise the objectives of the NCC- SALW.