Ekiti State governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, has disclosed that the Nigerian security structure, as presently constituted, cannot deliver peace and unity for the country.
This was as he declared that the advent and growth of democracy since 1999 is a contributive factor to the growing rate of insurgency, banditry, kidnaping and killing across the country.
He made the declarations while speaking as the Guest Lecturer at the 7th Babatunde Oduyoye Annual Birthday Lecture Series, held at the University of Ibadan.
Fayemi further said the national security arrangement and its operatives are only breeding local resentment against the Federal Government, in spite of its effort to end the challenges of insecurity.
The governor admitted that the challenge of insecurity in country is frightening and alarming, adding that it is getting all stakeholders concerned.
He, however, said the time is ripe for state and other layers of multi-level policing system as a way out of the threatening challenges of insecurity.
Fayemi said: “Our security structure, as presently constituted cannot deliver peace and unity. It only breeds local resentment to the Federal Government which in spite of its endless and determined effort to end insecurity remains unappreciated because of the inability of the security structure to promptly respond to threats before they go out of hands.
“The time for state and other layers of a multi-level policing police system is now. In fact, the creation of Amotekun can only be a precursor to this.
“We need a security system that is localised, knowledgeable about the culture and security situation of a particular community.”
The Ekiti State governor also emphasised the need to amend the constitution to empower the various security initiatives to be able to respond to the current insecurity challenges.
“For example, despite not possessing Ak47 which the bandits possess, Amotekun operatives have been courageous to confront them in the forest and have successfully rescued victims of kidnapping and arrested the criminals in some instances.
“Yet, these people are, at best, volunteer corps with encouragement stipend paid to them. They don’t earn as much as the conventional police, yet they are better motivated to throw themselves to the protection of the community where they have their wives, children and families.
“As part of our effort to ensure that Amotekun is able to function better, Ekiti State has ordered for sophisticated drones that are capable of tracking these criminals wherever they are hiding.
“We are also paying attention to protective wears and other safety gadgets that will enhance the performance of the corps. The mutating security situation in our country, requires a concerted effort. This is no time for politics of blame and opportunistic opposition.
“We need to unite in the face of these evil merchants who have no respect for children, old age, women, clergy or traditional authorities.
“They are unsparing and are callous. They have no sympathy for religion, ethnicity or authority and undiscriminating in the pursuit of their satanic enterprise.
“We must not be ashamed to call for assistance from wherever we can get it in terms of technology, equipment and personnel.
“In addition, there are two things that we need to address quickly to bring the current wave of insecurity to a halt. We need to have a conversation on how we can recruit a large number of people to join the police and the military, even on a short service or otherwise.
“By available statistics, we need minimum of 200,000 personnel to boost the fighting power of our men. This number is very large and a potential financial and logistic nightmare, yet we cannot delay any further,” he said.
Governor Fayemi also attributed the growing rate of insecurity, the increasing insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and killing, among others, to the country’s growing democracy.
According to him, the major security concerns before the advent of democracy in 1999 “was the staccato of ethnic and religions violence that was common then, that was before the dawn of the Niger-Delta militancy which took almost a decade.”
Fayemi said since the inception of the Fourth Republic in 1999, sectarian clashes have claimed an estimated 70,000 lives across Nigeria.
He said: “These clashes have not only been inter-ethnic or inter-religious; they have also been intra-ethnic and intra-religious. The increase in the incidence of conflict suggests that there is a correlation between democratization and violence.
“A major reason for this is the nature of democracy itself. After decades of military rule, democracy was expected to usher in peace and stability.
“But democracy has liberalised the political space unleashing tensions that were previously bottled up by the coercive might of the military.
“Repressed identities and resentments have emerged as powerful currents in the polity with renascent communities making claims and counter-claims on power under the banner of micro-nationalism.
“The current secessionist posture of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), and self-determination activism from across most southern region of Nigeria, are reflective of the liberalised political environment.
“The intensity of political contest for power which often leverages the passions and sentiments of micro-nationalism and other forms of sectarian populism raise the potential for violence in our polity.
“In this way, politics itself, in an under-institutionalised country still struggling to entrench rule of law, generates significant security risks that must be accommodated in our threat assessment matrix.”
Fayemi however said all hope is not lost as he noted that, “though the situation might look helpless, there will always be a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.”
He expressed confidence that the security situation of the country will see a significant improvement and that Nigeria will come out stronger from this moment of national distress.
Fayemi said the optimism is not misplaced, adding that his role as the chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum gave him some insights into the security system of the country and the many underground efforts to tackle the myriads of insecurity issues confronting the country.
He said this moment also calls for sober reflection and system overhaul, going forward, adding: “But the positive opportunity that these agitations provide will be for us to further renegotiate our constitution to produce a more localised federal power structure.
“The ungoverned spaces need to be closed up quickly by motivated men with the singular objective to save the nation. That takes us to the number two issue of financing and arming large recruitment.
“I believe one of the cheapest and fastest ways to handle this is to amend the law setting up the Nation Youths Service Corps (NYSC) such that we can use the existing orientation camps to train willing and able graduates to reflate the security personnel under a special arrangement that will be worked out.
“That way, the fund that is currently deployed to the NYSC can be used with just some additional funding which could be sourced through a national emergency fund for the next five to 10 years.
“Those who cannot join the military services can serve in their community without pay if we must still retain the NYSC for everyone.
“To incentivise those who may volunteer to serve, they will have a separate certificate and medal of honour in addition to having priority for military, paramilitary and civil or public service recruitment after service.
“We also need to encourage investment in the real sectors that can engage people and reduce unemployment which is a major source of insecurity.
“I urge Nigerians who have the means, to set up businesses and industries that support their primary goals. Let us consider joint ventureship in agro-allied industry in addition to building halls, malls and universities.
“Today, the greatest challenges facing the country is the youth explosion and the corresponding unemployment challenge.
“Investment in agriculture is smart for us as this will guarantee employment and food security. We must also understand that agriculture was the major industry that got us out of the two recessions we had to fall into by default.
“We also need to start confronting issues relating to our burgeoning population with boldness. There is simply no way we can continue to grow our population at this geometric rate.
“The girl-child now needs to receive priority and they all must benefit from free, compulsory and qualitative education till SSS 3. Education remains the greatest antidote to poverty.”