Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says state police remains the surest way of tackling the current security challenges like herdsmen and farmers’ clashes in parts of the country.
He said it was no longer practicable to police a country as big as Nigeria from Abuja.
Also, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State said state governors must be empowered to exercise control on security agencies in their domains and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to look for more competent hands as security chiefs.
Osinbajo stated this in a keynote address he delivered at the third anniversary of the 8th Assembly of the Lagos State House of Assembly on Friday in Lagos.
His Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, made the transcript of the speech available to journalists on Saturday.
Osinbajo argued that policing was a local function and policemen must be able to speak and understand the local language.
The Vice President stated, “We have argued repeatedly, and we believe it is the position of our party, that you cannot police a country of this size with a police command that functions out of Abuja. It is just impossible. We must have state police and community police.
“Policing is always a local function. Anyone who is a policeman must be able to speak and understand the local language.
“If a policeman does not understand the local language, he stands at a major disadvantage. This is why state or local policing is important as part of our security architecture.
“Some of what we have seen in many parts of the country, where we have had herdsmen killings and clashes with farmers, and the slow responses of the security agencies, have been on account of the fact that local policing is weak.”
Osinbajo added, “If you look at the Logo Local Government Area in Benue State, it is on the border and far away. The number of policemen stationed there, and several other local governments, is far too small to contain the sort of challenges that they have there.
“We must have special forces and joint task forces in order to maintain peace. But how is that possible in several local governments across the country?
“The only solution we can proffer, therefore, is some form of local policing so that the state can decide how many policemen, how many security agencies are required. That is the way by which we can have enduring solutions.”
Osinbajo also made a case for the devolution of powers to states, saying the second tier of government needed more powers and more rights.
He said the most important structural change that could be made in Nigeria was to speedily eradicate poverty.
This, the vice president believed, was best achieved by creating stronger states.
He argued that since the people, land, businesses, schools and healthcare facilities were all in the states, it was impossible for the nation to be wealthy when its component parts were poor.
Osinbajo said, “So, for emphasis, there are two streams of thought that I intend to advance in the next few minutes.
“The first is that poverty can be eradicated, that a better standard of living and improved development indices are possible by actions of states.
“The second is that to achieve these objectives, we need stronger states. What does concept of a strong state mean? It means two things.
“The first is what states must do for themselves. By that, I mean the three arms of government, especially the executive and the legislature, working proactively and creatively as independent administrative and wealth producing economic entities.
“The second is the devolution of more power to the states, enabling the states to control more of their resources and make more of their own administrative decisions such as creation of local governments; the state and community police, including the state prisons; creation of special courts and tribunals of equivalent jurisdiction to high courts.
“The point I am making is that states must have more powers and more rights.”
Osinbajo said the phenomenal achievements of the Western Regional Government of Chief Obafemi Awolowo in six years illustrated how the convergence of the two imperatives he mentioned could be used to transform the socio-economic destinies of millions of people.
He stated, “The truth is that a combination of visionary leadership and strong autonomous states is a winning formula for economic development, and that is really as simple as it is.
“Awolowo was also a visionary leader but he also had an autonomous region behind him.
“But the process of creating stronger sub-nationals is possible even without making any major constitutional changes. Even within our current legal and constitutional framework, much is possible.”
President must look for service chiefs with fresh ideas –Tambuwal
Also, Tambuwal explained that the incessant killings in the country had justified the calls for state police, adding that governors must have a measure of control of the security apparatus in their respective states.
The governor said this while declaring open the National Executive Council meeting of the Nigerian Union of Journalists in Sokoto on Saturday.
He added, “Whether we like it or not, there is seeming justification for state police and there is seeming justification for state governments to have some measure of control on security personnel.
“Everything is wrong with our nation and we must, as a matter of urgency, rise to the challenges.”
Tambuwal called on the President to look for more competent service chiefs who could bring fresh ideas to end the prevailing security situation in the country.
“Providing security relies squarely on government, particularly the Federal Government. We must call a spade by its name. The President has to do the needful. We have qualified people who can bring fresh ideas (to the nation’s security situation),” he said.
In his remarks, the National President of NUJ, Abdulwaheed Odusile, said traditional and past leaders should desist from fanning the ember of hatred in the country.