By Sunday Isuwa, Tarkaa David, Ejike Ejike, Emameh Gabriel and OMONU YAX-NELSON, Abuja
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo assured yesterday that the federal government is determined to tackle farmers/ herders clashes in the country head on.
This, he said, has become necessary because, apart from being at the front burner in the country, the security challenge forms the cardinal objectives of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Osinbajo who stated this at the opening ceremony of the 2017 national security summit on farmers-pastoralist clashes, kidnapping and other forms of violent crimes and bank security in Nigeria also noted that the administration will soon address all the challenges confronting the Nigeria Police Force.
The ongoing national security summit with a theme, “Forging Partnerships For Effective Strategies To Curb The Menace Of Kidnapping, Recurring Farmers- Herders Clashes & Criminality in Nigeria held at the international Conference Centre, Abuja, was organised by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) in conjunction with LEADERSHIP Newspapers Group and the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria.
The acting president who was represented by the Minister of Interior, Gen Abdulrahman Dambazau, observed that every great nation must pay attention to security.
He said, “There is improved security, especially in the North East. We are now faced with rural banditry, which has posed a security threat.
“Security management is for the entire populace. We are partnering multinational organisations to improve the security of our country. It is our duty to improve the safety of our citizens.
Stating that the current administration will soon address all the challenges confronting the Police, Osinbajo further assured that the recently launched national security plan will help the security agencies.
He said, “I want to assure the Nigeria Police Force of our administration’s support in line with global practices. The man-power shortages is being tackled with the recruitment of 10,000 policemen.
“Let me call on all to intensify their efforts in making Nigeria a safe place. We can confidently deliver a secured country”.
We Need 155,000 More Personnel For Effective Policing – IGP
Also, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, said the Nigeria Police Force needed additional 155, 000 personnel to bridge the gap and attain the United Nations ratio requirement of one police officer to 400 citizens.
He explained that if the requirement was to be taken into consideration, the Force needs to recruit at least 31,000 Police officers yearly for a period of at least five years from now.
IGP Idris who also identified funding as a major challenge of the Force called on the National Assembly to pass the Nigeria Police Reform Trust Fund (Establishment) bill.
The IGP who is the chief host of the summit said, “The Nigeria Police Reform Trust Fund (Establishment) bill is to further provide a legal framework that will outline the counterpart funding arrangement between the federal government, the states, local governments and organised private sector. This is yet to see the light of the day.
“When the bill is passed, the funding will be through a first line charge on the Federation Account quarterly from the sources indicated above”.
He noted that as part of the activities of the Police and efforts to enhance security all over the country, the Force is increasing its capacity to respond swiftly to challenges in all states of the federation through the establishment of more Police Mobile Force Squadrons.
He said, “So far, seven additional Police Mobile Force Squadrons have been established in the following states: Osun state (Ilesha), Enugu state (Nsukka), Taraba state (Takum), Niger state (Kontagora), Plateau state (Shendam), Kaduna state (Kanfanchan) and Ogun state (Awa Ijebu).
“We have also established a school to train close protection units personnel in order to enhance their capacity and also the plan to establish more close protection basis in all states of the federation has been concluded.
“So far, 14 special protection bases have been established in the following states of the federation: Anambra, Imo, Enugu, Plateau, Nasarawa, Ogun, Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa, Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, Ondo and Zamfara”.
Govt Should Handle This Crisis As It Did Boko Haram – Nda-Isaiah
In his address, the chairman, LEADERSHIP Newspapers Group, Mr Sam Nda-Isaiah, said government should handle the crisis involving herdsmen and farmers the same way it did to the Boko Haram sect.
Nda-Isaiah who is also the co-host of the national security summit regretted that the farmers/ herdsmen clashes which have led to the killing of many Nigerians have also affected food security and the unity of Nigeria.
He said, “The crisis between farmers and herdsmen has affected food security and the unity of our nation. It is as bad as the Boko Haram crisis. It is the same government that degraded Boko Haram when people were afraid to go to Churches and Mosques.
“We expect the same to be done as it was done to the Boko Haram crisis. The herdsmen/ farmers attacks will be tackled if there is a strong intelligence. The crisis between herders and farmers should be taken very serious just the same way it was done to the Boko Haram. That is why we need a new approach. We must setup ranches”.
The Kakaki Nupe commended the minister of Interior and his Agriculture and Natural Resources counterpart for bringing in measures to be deployed in tackling the menace.
“This is an important submit. The traditional rulers, the security agents and the generals in the Nigerian Army are here and we must find a solution to this herdsmen/ farmers clashes”, Nda-Isaiah declared.
A Bill On Police Trust Fund Underway – Sen Abu Ibrahim
Also speaking at the function, the chairman Senate Committee On Police, Senator Abu Ibrahim, assured that a bill on Nigeria Police Reform Trust Fund (Establishment) was underway.
He said that the senate will look into the bill and conclude work on the necessary aspects of legislation to the give it a legislative backing.
We Are Committed To Supporting Nigeria On Security Matters- Chinese Ambassador
Meanwhile, the government of the Peoples Republic of China has pledged to assist in boosting the capacity of the Nigeria Police Force, saying it was committed to supporting Nigeria on matters pertaining to security.
Speaking at the national security summit, the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian, said his home country has also extended invitation to the Inspector General Police of Police to pay his first official visit to China.
Pingjian who donated the sum of N10 million at the summit emphasised that it was only through such interface that the two countries could benefit from each other.
He said, “As the IGP said in his opening remarks, security is everybody’s business. The summit will not only translate to better life for all Nigerians, it will also benefit the members of the Diplomatic Corps, expatriates and members of the international community at large.
“As a strategic partner of Nigeria, China stands to deepen its cooperation with Nigeria in all areas, including peace and security. We will continue to enhance exchange programmes in crime fighting in both countries.”
Security Anywhere Is In Everybody’s Interest Everywhere
– US Ambassador
On his part, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington observed that security anywhere in the world is in everybody’s interest everywhere.
“There is no force that can keep a country safe than the force of its people working with their leaders”, he noted, even as he thanked those he said contributed to making Nigeria what it is today.
The US Envoy called for a standing ovation for the gallant men and women who risk their lives everyday for Nigerians to find sleep.
He said, Nigeria must join hands in unwavered determination to reduce insecurity.
Whoever Picks Up Arms To Kill Anybody Is A Criminal No Matter Where He Comes From – Sultan
In goodwill messages, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, noted that whoever picks up arms to kill his fellow human being is a criminal and must be treated as such, no matter where he hails from.
He attributed the incessant security challenges in the country to poor leadership, moral decadence, hunger and frustration on the part of the people.
The Sultan, however, said he was glad that the Summit was coming at a time like this in the history of the country.
He recalled that he had in the last security summit organized two years ago recommended the need for continuous security meetings of this form among security agencies across the country but nothing was done about it.
He likened the situation to the usual lack of implementation of recommendations offered on national issues on the part of the government, even as he called on all Nigerians to come together and fight the common enemies of the society and unmask them from their hideouts.
The Sultan said, “We keep on meeting so many times and come back discussing the same issues over and over again. We have never been short of recommendations to solve our problems but we have not been committed and sincere. Our problem is implementation of the decisions we talk”.
“If we can put our hands together to fish out criminals who live amongst us, the security matters would be easier to resolve”.
He called on Nigerians to synargise with security agencies in the country to fight crime, saying there must be the need to engage those involved in criminality to know where their grievances lie.
He listed corruption, poor governance, hunger and unemployment as part of the causes of insecurity in the country today.
He suggested that the message of the summit must be taken home while warning that “security must be placed above personal liberty”, and for no reason should anyone hide under the guise of religion to undermine national security.
He, however, pointed out that security challenges should be seen beyond what has already been overemphasized overtime.
He said the social media has also been seen as security threat to some level, with fake news being easily propagated, such that it could most often instigate unwarranted violence.
Also speaking at the national security summit, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, said a lot have been invested in combating security related challenges in the country but unfortunately, no one is paying attention to morals, values and social justice which are key to building a crime free society.
He said in a society where majority feel shortchanged by those in control, it is difficult to secure peace and security.
“We should invest more in morals and equity, invest in our diversity as our diversity is our greatest strength. We should ask why are people who are frustrated engaged in criminality. Are we fair in our dealings with the people?” The Oba queried
Ranching Panacea To Prolem
On his part, the governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, called on the federal government and Nigerians to adopt ranching system of cattle rearing, saying it is a Panacea to herdsmen/farmers clashes.
Ortom who spoke on behalf of State governors at the national security summit pointed out that population growth has reduced the available green regions that supported open grazing in the past.
The governor explained that the passage of the bill to prohibit open grazing by the Benue State House of Assembly was not an attempt to chase out herdsmen out of the state.
Rather, he said, it is meant to restrain them from destroying crops and provide solution to the incessant clashes between farmers and herdsmen in the state.
He added that Benue State is most affected by the clashes because it is an agrarian state with no industries or other means of livelihood, except farming.
He noted that when cattle routes where designed in the 50s, the population of the country was less than 40 million but has risen to over 170million, according to 2012 projections.
The governor observed that if Nigeria could borrow other systems such as governance from the western world, it could as well borrow ranching system which is the best practice globally.
“There is no land in Benue State for open grazing. We are an agrarian state with no industries and no other source of livelihood except farming. We all must support ranching as it is practised even in South Africa and Kenya. Ranching is the only solution to farmers/herdsmen clashes”, he said
Ortom said, with the personalities involved, he has confidence in the capacity of the summit to proffer lasting solution to farmers/herdsmen clashes.
On behalf of state governors, he promised that the recommendations made after the summit will be implemented to the letter.
In the same vein, his Gombe counter part, Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo, thanked the Nigeria Police Force and LEADERSHIP Newspapers Group for the initiative and topic.
He added that as a result of his state’s readiness to participate, the state has developed its own template to the summit.
He further threw his weight of support for increased funding of the Police to combat crime.
One of the key note speaker, Professor Oshita Oshita, who spoke on the topic, ‘Forging partnerships for effective strategies to curb the menace of kidnapping, recurring farmers-pastoralists clashes and criminality in Nigeria’, identified funding, training and shortage of staff as the main challenges of policing in Nigeria.
He also urged the media to be more constructive in their report, avoid biased and unnecessary reportage that could cause more harm than good for the country.
Also, Professor Sani Luga, while speaking on the role of traditional institutions in curbing criminality, kidnapping, armed robbery and communal conflicts, urged the police to expand and reorganise Police traditional committee to provide adequate information since they know the community more than any other person.