• We’re Yet To Take A Common Stand, Says Fayemi, As Govs Split Over Matter
• Says $1bn For Excess Crude For Security Already Disbursed
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday met behind closed doors with state governors and heads of security agencies at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The meeting, it was learnt, was in connection with the prevailing security situation, among other issues besetting the country.
The parley, which began around 11.01am when the President arrived the Council Chamber venue, was also attended by some of the immediate past state governors of all the political parties.
Thirty-five state governors were at the meeting, with Benue represented by the Deputy Governor, as well as the immediate past governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari.
The governors, under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), also yesterday, said they had not taken a common position on the setting up of State Police in the country.
Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, made the clarification while fielding questions from State House Correspondents after an expanded meeting with the President and heads of the security agencies at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Fayemi, who was joined by six of his colleagues from the six geo-political zones, stated that while some governors were for State Police because of the peculiar security challenges facing their states, others felt it was not necessary.
He said the NGF would soon take a common position on the matter during the forthcoming National Economic Council (NEC) meeting, adding: “The position of NGF on that is that we have not taken position because experiences vary.
“There are governors and states where their experience does not necessarily require a more evolved policing of the states. There are also states where there are agitations for it. There are governors who have the view that that will work better in such states.
“And of course, there are economic issues relating to that. So, we lack the capacity at the state level to fund state policing, those are all issues that will come in to play when we get to the National Economic Council meeting that has been called, particularly because there is a committee that is looking into it after the submission of the report on SARS. So, we will take all of these together.”
He disclosed that the $1billion approved from the Excess Crude Account to fight insecurity had been disbursed among the security heads, noting, however, that the amount was not enough to frontally address the myriad of security challenges besetting the country.
Shedding more light on the issue, Fayemi said: “$1 billion may seem like a huge amount of money, and it is a huge amount of money, but when you are dealing with security issues, where a Tucano jet costs over $50million and you are getting about 20, you know how much that is already.
“I am not giving you specific details of how that money was expended, we will be happy to do that, but we feel that that is really not a matter for us as governors. Yes, we were supportive of it, because our position has always been that whatever is required by the Commander-in-Chief to resolve security challenges in Nigeria, we will line up behind him and support him. Of course, yes, we demand accountability.
“We will like to assure you that the $1billion taken was definitely expanded among the various security services, but the details, I cannot give you on top of my head, because I wasn’t expecting you to ask that question.”
The NGF chairman, who said the meeting was at the instance of the governors, said it afforded them the opportunity to brainstorm on wide-ranging issues of insecurity, including kidnapping, armed robbery, insurgency and militancy, among others.
He disclosed: “We discussed extensively all of these issues and looked at the various ways we felt as governors we could assist Mr. President as the Commander-in-Chief to curb these issues.
“We were able to look at the nexus between our economic challenges, the security challenges and the importance of tackling the causes of crime, not just crime on its own.”
Fayemi said the meeting also looked at the criminal justice system that appears to give some room for impunity, adding that when people commit crimes and they are not punished effectively in accordance with the statutes, it then creates an opportunity for replicating such crimes.
“Mr. President was also equally concerned about that and made it clear to us that we all knew that he campaigned on the basis of security, economy and accountability and these things are still the most germane issues on his agenda.
“And that he will also work with us to address questions of intelligence, broadening community policing, ensuring inter-service coordination, among the various security agencies, strengthening the criminal justice system and working with our state’s innovatively on mechanism for addressing these issues, be it Security Trust Fund that brings the public and private players together to fund security and increase the resources available to security institutions.
“Already, all of us are involved in funding. There is no governor that is not buying security vehicles, ammunition for Police, giving allowances to our security agencies, be they SSS or Police or in some cases, the military, where the military is involved. We are already involved. It is just to ensure that we have a better and much more coordinated mechanism for addressing this.
“We agreed that these issues will be much more comprehensively dealt with at a special meeting of the National Economic Council, of which governors are members, presided over by the Vice President,” Fayemi added.