The chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti state, said Monday that masterminds of insurgency in the Northeast region have been identified as sponsors of the escalating banditry and kidnappings in Northwest and Southwest.
The governor said this while briefing State House correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
He said the President would soon approach the National Assembly for funds to procure more equipment for the armed forces to strengthen efforts to halt insecurity in the country.
The governor said his meeting with the President centred on a wide range of issues including economic and security concerns.
He said winning the war against insecurity would require more than just military operations.
He said besides making sincere effort to reach get to the roots of the various forms of security crises facing the country, there was the need for political will and political action by leaders to address the issues that led to insecurity in the first place.
He said some of the issues to be addressed include poverty, inequality snd social disconnection between leaders and the youth, which had rendered the youth available for derailing tendencies.
While commending the President for effective changes in the nation’s security architecture, the governor said that step alone would not automatically bring answers to the security questions until other required factors are combined with the military solution.
“Well, first of all, let me say that Mr. President has taken the right step in changing the leadership of the security services. I, as you would recall, was one of those speaking on behalf of my colleagues that argued for that to happen. So I think the President has done the right thing.
“We never suggested, even at the time we were arguing for a change of guard in the leadership, that that was going to be an automatic transformation of the security situation, simply on account of change of leadership. We were not that naive to think that would happen, however, precisely because there’s been a change, you can see that there is also a concerted effort.
“Two or three days ago, all the service chiefs came together to issue a statement that we are accountable to our Chief of Defence Staff, that’s a very significant position to take because we know what has been the source of inter service rivalry in our military, which then tends to affect performance on the field, where the air force does not communicate with the army and yet they’re supposed to be involved in the same war against insurgency.
“So the fact that there is unanimity and they are trying to speak with one voice, I believe that’s a significant step in boosting the morale of the men on the field and the efforts that they’er taking to go round, audit the equipment, audit the situation of their men is also going to help to improve the condition of the security services.
“I can tell you, and I don’t think I’ll be breaching any confidence, that one of the good news I came away with, from the President now on this issue is that he’s already informed the National Assembly that they will be receiving a special request from him on procurement of equipment on an accelerated basis for our security services, because that was one of the issues that we put before him and he was very categorical that yes, we have a point.
“Some of the equipment that had been procured are on the way, they haven’t arrived, but they will soon arrive. There is also a need to buy more equipment and he is going into government-to-government partnership with a number of countries and that would necessitate an accelerated clearance from the National Assembly.
“What I’m saying in essence is they’ve been able to assess their situation on coming to that office and they made a very honest assessment of what’s on ground, which is militating against their effective clearance of the insurgents and that’s something that will happen.
“Having said all of that, I also don’t think we’re naive enough to think that it’s simply a military action that will resolve all these security challenges. They have root causes and the root causes require political will, political action on our part against poverty, against inequality, against the disconnections between our youth and the government because these are some of the things that have pushed younger people into harm’s way and into becoming cannon fodder for those who don’t have the interest of our country at heart and I ready to destroy the country.
“There is a direct correlation, I’ve said this to you before, between insurgency in the Northeast, and what we’re seeing manifesting itself as banditry in the Northwest, or kidnapping in the Southwest. Some of the people involved in these are also the ones responsible for insurgency.
“They are using the resources that they make from kidnapping for the activities that they’re conducting in the Northeast. So we need to take a comprehensive look at all these things and not treat them in compartments. We must treat them as a comprehensive issue and then tackle them collectively”, he said.
On the threat to the nation’s food security programme by the security situation, Fayemi said much is being done to see to it that the solution to the farmers/herders crisis, which he said would address most of the threat to the fear being harboured by farmers.
“We’re very concerned about that and that’s one of the issues that came up in my conversation with Mr. President this afternoon. For us, it’s no use giving just verbal assurances, farmers need to see concrete action on the ground, dedicated to protecting them in doing their business.
“That’s why majority of our states are very focused on the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) that would at least confine those who want to graze their cattle to a dedicated space rather than roaming around and destroying crops, which then result in the kind of conflicts that we’ve had between farmers and herders.
“That’s the primary way that we intend to reassure farmers, but pending the time that comes to fruition, on a state by state basis, we are all working hard by, in Ekiti for example, we have a regular meeting between farmers and herders in the state to define the relationship and promote harmony between both sides, the representatives of the farmers, the ALFAN and the representatives of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, and that has been going reasonably well.
“That’s a state, individual state response, we need a wider strategy to enable us to achieve food security because you are right. If we don’t take concerted steps to address this, we are definitely going to end up with food shortage in the country”, he said.
On the ongoing discussions on the legislative/judicial autonomy, the Ekiti governor said, he and his colleagues on Nigeria Governors Forum have no case against the principle, but are particularly concerned about getting the framework for the process right.
According to him, in a matter of weeks, the agreement should be done with.
“I can’t recall when I was reticent at that engagement with the media. I did inform you that we were only discussing details and that the principle itself was not in contention, that governors agree, and indeed, very supportive of autonomy to the legislature and the judiciary, but what we were working out is the framework.
“What we objected to at the time and we made it clear to you too, which was what led to the intervention of Mr. President, that the Chief of Staff should coordinate an exit from that logjam, was that we felt that these were issues that were constitutional in nature and we really did not need an executive order for us to achieve the collective wish of the President, as well as the government.
“What the meeting that you saw us hold focused on was the mechanics for achieving legislative autonomy and judicial autonomy and very soon you will hear the full details of that. In a matter of one or two weeks, we’ll come out with the full entire gamut of the agreement that we had with the speakers and the representatives of the judiciary in states”, he said.