The Deputy Minority leader, house of representatives Rt. Hon. Toby Okechukwu has urged the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd) to address every of the Resolutions, as raised by the Southern Governors’ communique from their meeting in Asaba.
Okechukwu while talking with Tijesu Adeoye Of TVC’s Hallowed Chambers, stated that the president ought to give a statement, which might have a calming effect on the uproar around the Nation. This he should do as a matter of duty, as he (Buhari) is a father figure to the nation.
Reiterating, in the interview, Okechukwu again urged the southern governors to engage their Northern counterparts, as well as the National assembly representatives, towards achieving a meaningful result.
How do you describe the current security situation of the country’
First and foremost we must not allow the country to fail, but we are in a very perilous situation. its a state of dysfunction regarding the security of lives and properties in Nigeria. What started primarily in the north east with terror attacks to the north west with banditry, herders farmers clash and crisis, including people who are taking advantage of the mineral resources of that area introduced some kind of anomy where a free is set aside for exploitation. In the south east, attacks on men and women in uniform, also the crisis of herders who kill people in Ondo and Ogun states, then the state of kidnapping which is self evident in the North central. I think we are gradually approaching a state of anomy which is not good for the country.
AS one of the law makers who have declared support to the southern governors, how well do you think of these postulations?
The southern governors came up with some solutions to our problems, and because they provide sufficient basis for these solutions, that is why we issued ` communique after consultations, regarding that, we are fully in support of it because it provides some solutions to our problems. starting from the fact that Mr. president has to talk to us, he simply has to. We hired Mr. president, We are his employers, so it’s not a battle we have to win for him to talk to us, he should do it as a matter of duty, it will calm nerves, he’s a father figure to the nation, he should be able to reassure us.
You take the issue of state police, this has been a matter running for a long time and they are the ones wearing the shoes, they know where it pinches. As a matter of fact, 2014 Conference report recommended state police, the desolution and decentralization.
The APC committee report headed by El-RUFAI recommended it. It is on the table for Constitution review, Due to bills proposed by members of Parliament. Presently, you can see how we are hurting.
The governors have spoken about ban on open grazing, true federalism and restructuring amongst other Resolutions, How well are you in sync with this?
Wellwith regards to open grazing, an issue that has been on the table, it has been a source of misunderstanding, clashes between citizens who have ordinarily lived together. In addition, it has also been exploited by criminals who follow all these cattles.
More importantly, in the north west where it started, you’ll find out that when young people take these cattle across the length a d breadth of this country, they are available for rustling, they are not secured, because it’s not possible to have Forest rangers or police that will follow cattle all around. That is the Genesis of this problem.
Cattles were rustled and those young ones who were Ten years then, are now twenty years now. There are no cattles to rustle, they are now rustling human beings.
They are in conflict with people who are farmers even in the North west. They tell you it’s local Vigilantes, Local vigilantees were trying to check banditry. Along the line, the bandits are now attacking the Villagers.
Farms have been sacked, Cattles have been rustled, an amadar of young people are ungainfully employed. So they are available for exploitation.
What we need to do is to create an enabling environment as conducive as possible, to practice their trade. I believe this was what the Governors were saying.
Our Governors are responsible for land, this is completely and squarely on their table. We have large expanse of land like in the northern part of the country. Niger state is too large. It is matter of setting your mind to it. They should provide land for ranching and now, the Governors of the south also proposed that CBN in their interventions should make fund available, if they can provide money for anchor borrowers or for farmers, why not for animal husbandry. There have to be a proper livestock policy and if you are interested in exploiting the opportunity of a ranch and cattle businesses, you can invest. People can choose to concentrate on growing grass and feeds. This can take us to the promise land.
The northern consultative forum has reasoned against restructuring, at what point do we see the North and South coming to a meeting point?
Well, the southern governors mentioned that there should be a discussion, a dialogue, there should be a meeting point. But the ACF response is a matter of looking at the messenger and not the message, because if you look at the northern governors, they all agreed to state police, they are in sync with it. That is the restructuring that you are talking about.
Restructuring means making a law that cures a mischief, that is hurting you. Each time you enact a constitution, by the time we moved from Parliamentary to presidential system, you restructured, creation of the 774 local governments and made them a tier of Government, you restructured.
So, if there are things we find that are not functional, restructure to make it better or you amend the Constitution.
THERE HAVE BEEN TALKS ABOUT NIGERIA SEEKING FOREIGN ASSISTANCE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST INSECURITY.
I am not adverse to that, you have friends, you must definitely get foreign assistance. The level of manufacturing in this country is poor, with regards to arms and ammunition. You must have foreign assistance for you to be able to get the armaments that is needed.
Then if you need special technical assistance, why not? Please do it. We went to Liberia. Our own has deteriorated to the point that our military, men and women in uniform are thinly spread. You can imagine w situation where they are telling you, that Boko haram is in Nasarawa state. The Governor said so, the border between Nasarawa and Benue State. The governor of Niger state is saying that Boko Haram has hoisted their flag in Shiroro.
El-RUFAI is telling you that bandits and Criminals are approaching towns in Kaduna. A senator, despite his security outfit was shot at, killing three of his policemen. Local Government Chairman was kidnapped and killed. These are people who are high profiled people who have the protection, intelligence and capacity to detect what is going on.
If they can simply be picked that way, you can imagine what is happening to other Citizens.
Both the Southern and Northern governors have spoken, going forward what should be our expectation?
I expect that they should engage themselves more constructively. As you can see, we live in the same environment, we suffer the same agency. We do not want to be dealing with the issue of security when your people should be in farm. We have to exploit all our resources maximally.
Southern Governors, having brought out possible solutions, should engage their northern counterparts as well as all their representatives. A timeline, the irreducible minimum should be established towards the regarding the restoration of our country.