Right activist and pro-democracy advocate, Comrade Razaq Olokoba has observed that weak and faulty security institutions is the cause of the lingering security challenges in Nigeria. Olokoba, at a media chat in Lagos weekend disagreed with the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, who was reported to have suggested engaging mercenary to assist the country to combat the menace.
According to the activist, who is the National President of the Campaign for Dignity in Governance (CDG), with correct composition of the security architecture in the country, the activities of criminals would soon become part of history in the country. Excerpts:
How do you think that the lingering security challenges in the country could be tackled permanently?
First and foremost, I want to make it clear that, weak security institutions are responsible not only for our Security challenges but also for our economic woes and political setback. All what we need do as a serious country is just to create a base for our security institutions and rework the security layers to accommodate a federal layer, State layer and Local layer.
This is the only panacea because there is no way a single layer of security architecture could secure about 250 million Nigerians no matter the training they might have received or the volume bullets and number of guns in their possession.
Do you agree with Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai who suggested hiring mercenaries to help the country out?
I am not in support of his suggestion because we have an home based solution to our problem only if we are prepared to utilise it. We don’t need foreign body to intervene in our domestic affairs that are not beyond our capacity to handle.
I have said it severally that, restructuring of our polity that would accommodate State and Local Police is imperative if we are serious about seeing the end to our security problem in this country
I insist that social crisis and political instability would not cease to be recurring decimals in Nigeria unless the agitation for restructuring of the nation’s polity is addressed.
Recall I sounded a note of warning sometimes ago where I described the encounter between the Executive Governor of Lagos State, His Excellency, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu and a junior police officer over the knotty legal issue concerning some plots of land situated at the Magodo Estate of Lagos State. I wondered aloud how the governor who is supposed to be the overall security boss of his state could not control the security apparatus like the Police under him in the state. I made it abundantly clear that such could not have happened in a situation where the polity was restructured to put the rein of the state firmly in the hands of the state governors.
I expressed the conviction that, with the situation of things presently in Nigeria vis a vis the composition of the security apparatus, there is no way disturbing and embarrassing clashes like what happened in Lagos could have occurred if the governors have been constitutionally placed properly in charge of the whole state. It is unthinkable that a police man in Lagos would have to call his boss in faraway Abuja before listening to the man given the mandate by his people to administer on their affairs!
In a nutshell and clearer term, what exactly do you want the authorities to do on the issue under discussion?
Thank you for that nice question. It is crystal clear from various developments that there is the need for the authorities to decentralise police structure. I would suggest to all the 36 state governors and other relevant stakeholders across the country to further analyse the gains in various levels of security to President Muhammadu Buhari, a listening leader and father of the nation that imposition of the military structure on the police would not work in a country like Nigeria with her peculiar terrains and ethnic diversities.
This discourse has been long overdue. But doing the right thing now would attest to the saying ‘better late than never’ because the state governors would always be held responsible for funny occurrences that are always their fault.
Against the forgoing, the Nigeria’s Governors’ Forum, as I had said somewhere else, should reach out to Mr President to examine the suggestion about another layer of the country’s security architecture and let him realise the one way police arrangement cannot effectively address the country’s security challenges.
Come to think of it, how can a Sokoto man posted to Ogun State would know the terrain and peculiarities of the culture, tradition and behavioural pattern of the Ogun State residents? If the security apparatus is localised, people within a community know themselves. So when a crime is committed, it would not be difficult for them to trace the perpetrators. If a strange face surfaces within that community, he would be marked out for monitoring. His host or landlord would be asked questions. It would not be a case of running from pillar to post to solve a criminal puzzle after the deed has been done.
A local policeman will understand the language and mannerism of his people and, through training be able to study body languages of every individual within his vicinity. But in a situation where the security officer does not understand the language and culture of a community where he is posted to operate, there will be hindrances here and there that will not allow him to operate effectively.
Finally, I believe that harkening to the voice of wisdom over restructuring of the polity as regards to decentralization of the security institutions in the country would go a long way in addressing the security challenges in the country. And the earlier we do that the better because a stich in time saves nine.
Also there is the fears that, engaging mercenaries could lead to another form of colonization because the mercenaries may refuse to leave after their assignment that may take long to complete. And they may have hatched a plan to take control of our security structure and start to dictate to us what to do and what not to do.