Nigeria Federal, State and local governments have agreed to do everything possible within their power to ensure that the current security challenges confronting the country become a thing of the past. This was one of the outcomes of the expanded security meeting convened by President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja last Thursday.
The meeting was attended by states governors, Nigeria military chiefs and heads of paramilitary agencies.
“The conclusion of the meeting is that the federal government will do everything in its power in cooperation with state governments, local governments and everybody in Nigeria to see that we brought this unfortunate security situation under control,” Minister of Defence, General Aliyu Gusau(retd) who briefed journalists in company of Governors Babangida Aliyu ( Niger) Kayode Fayemi, (Ekiti) Theodore Orji(Abia) and Kahim Shetimma (Borno) said.
He added that it was also agreed at the meeting that the role of the average citizen in the security of the country must be emphasized.
“It was also decided that we must emphasize that security is the business of everybody. It is not only the responsibility of government. It is the responsibility of everybody in Nigeria. Every individual should be security conscious and if you noticed anything suspicious, you should report it immediately,” he added.
While speaking in the same vein, Governor Babangida said State governments will now embark on massive public awareness with the aim of making Nigerians to be security conscious wherever they are. Here are the other highlights of resolutions agreed to at the end of the meeting.
Nyako memo to Northern Governors condemned
Governor Babangida said there was discussion on the recent of memo written by Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State to other Northern Governors at the meeting.
The Adamawa State Governor had accused the government of President Goodluck Jonathan of carrying out genocide against the North in the guise of fighting terrorists group, Boko Haram.
But the Niger State Governor said Nyako who was also present at the meeting was asked to read the letter to others.
At the end of the day, Aliyu said it was agreed that the claims in the memo cannot be authenticated.
The Governor added that the meeting subsequently warned on the need for government officials to be careful about statements they made: “We concluded that we need to be very careful the kinds of statements that we made and we need to be very careful to ensure that whatever we say is something that can be authenticated. Otherwise, there is no need to be giving our terrorists that opportunity to think that they are succeeding. Because terrorists, all they want is what they do is carried out in such a way that people will think they are having some impact,” said the Niger State Governor.
“And like my colleague said, the memo that was written by one of our colleagues, the Governor of Adamawa was discussed and there was very unanimous condemnation of that memo and all people in position of authority were advised to be cautious of what they say and that what they say should be what will level everybody, make us to know that the country belonged to all of us, not something that will incite people to go negative way,” Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State said to support the assertion.
Tackling the problem of Fulani herdsmen
Also, Governor Babangida said the meeting discussed the security challenges posed to the country from the increasing crises between farmers and Fulani herdsmen.
The Governor said it we agreed at the meeting that the long term solution is to see how the herdsmen can be settled in ranches. The short term measure, according to him, is to ensure that all the grazing routes and the grazing areas that have not been gazetted before should be gazetted.
“But like I said, the long term is to really domesticate Fulani herdsmen so that we also really begin to take part in what has been known as Halal meat. A lot of country that are not even Muslims are now selling meat to Islamic countries under Halal meat. But you can imagine somebody taking his cow for example from Borno to Yenogoa, before they get it there, the kind of problems it must have emaciated and the meat must have been too strong from movement day in day out. A committee is already working out the details,” said the Governor.
The Niger State Governor also said it was agreed that Governors should control preaching by religious clerics in their states through implementation of preaching laws.
He added that it was agreed that Clerics must put into consideration the larger context and the issue of unity of the country and emphasise issues that will not generate into a fight or fracas nt in time.
Sustain cooperation with Nigeria Neighbours
The meeting also agreed that the Federal Government should sustain its cooperation with neighboring countries, especially given the fact that some of the insurgents are coming in through the border. He added that the meeting also noted that it is the prerogative of the President to deploy the military to tackle any challenge it deemed fit.
Military doing everything to recue kidnapped girls
Governor Kayode Fayemi said the meeting agreed that the issue of the moment is the abduction of over 200 girls in Chibok, Borno State.
He said the meeting agreed that “we must do everything to ensure that these abducted children are retrieved and protected and the military assured us that they are doing everything in order to achieve this objective. ”
Interparty coalition against insecurity
The Ekiti State Governor also said the meeting emphasized the importance of rising above partisanship when Nigerian leaders are dealing with security issues.
“The meeting agreed that it is absolutely important for us to tackle security issue in an objective manner and with restraint, avoiding hate speech and avoiding anything that could heat up the polity,” said Fayemi.
“But he also stressed the importance agencies being scrupulously professional and not partisan in the ways they deliver their duties as well,” the Governor who said the meeting also commended the agencies in the security sector for their partnership and collaboration.
He added that the meeting also stressed the importance of data sharing among the security agencies.
“These people that we are talking about are not ghosts. If it is FRSC that has data of drivers license of someone who might have been involved in this atrocity, it should be possible for this information to be shared across the board towards apprehending this particular person and providing cast iron evidence in the law court when that arises,” Fayemi.
The Ekiti State Governor also said the agreed on the need a comprehensive holistic comprehensive response to terrorism that will include the hard and soft approach.
According to him, while it was agreed that it is important that various agencies involved at the level of the military and the security are empowered to do their job, the meeting also reckoned that we need to widen this to include anti poverty strategies.
He said the meeting noted that the National Security Adviser has already expounded on the need for soft approach. Fayemi added that the meeting also stressed the importance of media capacity building of media organizations so that the sensitivity of these issues are addressed in the course of the work that they do.
Massive mobilization campaign against terrorism
While also emphasizing that the issue of security is a joint responsibility between federal, states and local governments, Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State said the meeting agreed that the State government have a lot to do to enhance security in their areas. The Governor said it was agreed at the meeting that State governors should embark on massive mobilization of their people to sensitise them to the current security situation in the country. “When people are aware, they will know what to do when they have crisis,” said the Abia State Governor. He added that the meeting also agreed that Boko Haram is not a religious war because both Christians and Muslims are being killed by the terrorists which does not discriminate
Advanced security technology to tackle terrorism
Govenor Kashim Shetima of Borno State said the meeting also emphasized greater investment in the deployment of advanced security technology and prevention of proliferation of small arms and light weapons.
He added that the meeting also emphasized the need for cooperation in the fight against insecurity in the country without regards to party, religious or tribal affiliation.
State of Emergency not discussed
Contrary to expectation, the expanded security meeting convened by President Goodluck Jonathan did not address the issue of State of emergency imposed by the federal government on Yobe, Borno, Adamawa, three states where insurgent group Boko Haram has been active in North east Nigeria.
It was expected that decision on whether to lift or retain the state of emergency on the three states which will soon expire will be taken at the Conference. But Governor Fayemi told journalists that the issue was not discussed.
The meeting was also attended by the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Ayo Oritsejafor; and the head of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar.
Also present at the meeting were the governors of Anambra, Abia, Benue, Zamfara, Ebonyi, Delta, Kwara, Kaduna, Sokoto, Adamawa, Taraba, Ekiti, Kebbi, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Borno, Cross River, Ondo, and Edo states. The deputy governors of Plateau, Jigawa, Oyo, Yobe, Imo, Rivers, Kano, Ogun, Yobe, and Nasarawa were also in attendance.
Others include the Inspector General of Police, Marshal General of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Comptroller General of the Nigerian Immigration service, Minister of Police Affairs, Service Chiefs, National Security Adviser, Ministers of Defence, Interior, FCT, Foreign Affairs, Justice, and the Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps.