President Muhammadu Buhari and the Chairman of Nigeria’s Governors’ Forum (NGF), Kayode Fayemi, met in Aso Villa, Abuja, on Monday to discuss the challenges rocking the nation from the states to the federal level.
The two leaders discussed the solutions to security challenges such as incessant killings and kidnappings in the country.
Mr Fayemi, who is also the Ekiti State governor, spoke with journalists after the meeting. He said Mr Buhari agreed that there is need for more equipment for security operatives to combat insurgents.
The governor said even though Mr Buhari rarely talked about general challenges in the country, “he has almost nitty gritty detail of what’s going on in every state and yes, even more information than we do of these issues, as I discovered in my conversation with him”.
“So, he’s clearly committed to doing more in terms of procurement of equipment, platforms for the military, particularly to support the new leadership that’s just come on stream and also working with the states to find the best way of stemming the tide of our current insecurity challenges.
“There are responsibilities that we have at our level in the states, there are also responsibilities that the federal government has to attend to. If we all do our parts, clearly, we believe that we will see the end of this challenge.”
He said “having changed the leadership of the security services, Nigerians should not expect 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.
“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 (service chiefs) 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.”
Speaking threats to food security, he said the government would ensure that there is “concrete action on the ground, dedicated to protecting them (farmers) 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 regular meetings 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.
The governor said to achieve excellent results, poverty, inequalities and unemployment must be addressed.
“There is a direct correlation, I’ve said this to you before, between insurgency in the North-east, and what we’re seeing manifesting itself as banditry in the North-west, or kidnapping in the South-west. 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 North-east. 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.
Nigeria has been battling with insecurity in most parts of the country for years despite efforts by security agencies to curb the challenges.
After months of agitation by Nigerians that Mr Buhari change service chiefs, he recently did that but the security situation has remained challenging.
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