South West governors, yesterday, unanimously demanded for state police; to tackle rising kidnapping, armed robbery, drug abuse, cultism, farmer/herders clashes, ritual killings, and other vices in the region.
The governors reached the conclusion during Western Nigeria Stakeholders Security Summit at Theophilus Ogunlesi Hall, opposite main gate of University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo State capital, yesterday.
The summit was organised by Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission.
The governors highlighted security challenges in the region and how people there have been living in fear, and that state police should be major panacea to the security menace.
The summit was attended by governors Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), and Seyi Makinde (Oyo).
Fayemi, who is also chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, urged security agencies to rid the land of crimes, and that security of people should not be politicised.
On the need for state police, Fayemi said: “Our advocacy for state policing or local policing is not tantamount to the removal of federal police. That is not what we are asking for. Federal police can exist side by side with state police and local police.”
Fayemi said it is the practice almost everywhere there is a federal system, and added that the insinuation that South West does not want federal police to exist is untrue.
He also said there would be definition of duties, such as cases the federal police should handle, and local cases the state police should handle.
The Ekiti governor also advocated effective coordination among commands within a security agency as well as effective coordination of inter-agency collaborations.
On his part, Makinde said it is the responsibility of governors in the region, “to ensure that everyone in our midst, indigene or alien resident, is assured of security of their lives and property.
“We also know that there are barriers preventing us from carrying out this constitutional responsibility to the fullest measure. One of those barriers is the fact that we do not control the security apparatuses in our states.
“We are grateful that the Federal Government is finally giving due consideration to the creation of state police. You will agree with me that the advantages of community policing far outweigh whatever fears people may be expressing against it. We have reached that point in our national consciousness where we can no longer tarry, the time to act is now!
“There can be no development without a secured environment. The minimum requirement for South West is to be able to work, live and play in a secure environment.”
Ondo governor, Akeredolu, who is chairman of South West Governors’ Forum, urged south western states to “ensure that their strategies are harmonised to achieve a common purpose. We cannot afford to work in isolation at this momentous. Our ultimate aim must be the socio-economic integration of the region, which reflects our collective aspirations for a peaceful and prosperous environment.
“As we seek to collaborate to combat a common challenge, it should also not be tasking for those of us in the saddle to begin to think of the socio-economic benefits accruable from working together to make our region less dependent, almost solely, on external sources for survival. Our collective goal should be the security of our space and safety of our people in all ramifications.”
Oyetola noted that for the South West to achieve its goal of security delivery, the states in the region “must collaborate and share information to collectively secure our people.
“Our security chiefs also need to share information among themselves while also doing same with their contemporaries across the states. Technology is at the heart of modern security delivery. We must invest heavily in technology to be ahead and to win the war.
“The nation is grossly under-policed and the Police Force is sorely underfunded. Contrary to the United Nations’ ratio requirement of one police man to 400 citizens, the Nigeria Police has less than 400,000 officers to cover 180 million people. The Force said it needs 155,000 more men to police the nation’s population. The implication of the above is that we need to recognise this situation as an emergency and treat it as such. The police should be adequately funded and provided with enough personnel and other logistics support to do their job.
“Perhaps on account of the security challenges that we face today, there might be no better time to revisit the call for state police as local officers are better suited to secure our communities.
“…We must sensitise our people, through our traditional and community leaders, to live in peace with herdsmen and other settlers.”
Lagos State governor called for engagement of teachers, parents, and community leaders to ensure that community policing becomes one of the very strong bedrocks that could be used to set issues around security.
“For us as South West governors, we believe that community policing is the way to go, neighbourhood policing is one of the critical points that we need to have, and it can work side by side with federal police,” he said.
Abiodun, who said each state in the region has peculiarities in the area of security, advocated a clear roadmap to the security of the region and the nation, as well as periodic reviews to evaluate achievements.
Inspector General of Police, Mr Muhammed Adamu, was represented by a Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Mr Taiwo Lakanu.