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Southwest leaders: tighten security, reopen borders
By Emmanuel Oladesu and Oziegbe Okoeki
Southwest leaders on Sunday called for the strengthening of security in the geo-political zone and in the country.
“The security architecture of the country requires adjustment to adequately address the threat and realities of insecurity in the country. There should be more police presence in communities in Southwest states”, they said in a communiqué.
Yesterday’s meeting of Southwest governors and traditional rulers with a presidential delegation led by Chief of Staff to the President Prof. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, was the third leg of the consultation initiated by President Muhammadu Buhari following the #EndSARS protests and its aftermath which resulted in massive looting and reckless destruction of public and private properties – especially in Lagos.
The Presidential delegation which included Inspector-General of Police Mohammed Adamu and Minister of Information Lai Mohammed met with North’s leaders last week in Kaduna and with Southeast leaders in Enugu on Saturday.
At yesterday’s meeting were Governors Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Adegboyega Oyetola (Osun), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) and host Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos).
Ministers from the zone at the meeting were Babatunde Fashola (Works and Housing), Sunday Dare (Youth and Sports), Adeniyi Adebayo (Trade and Investment), Rauf Aregbesola (Interior), Tayo Alasoadura (Niger Delta, State), Olalekan Adegbite (Mines and Steel), and Olorunimbe Mamora (Health, State).
Traditional rulers at the session included Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, Alafin of Oyo Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, Oba of Lagos Rilwan Akiolu, Alawe of Ilawe Oba Adebanji Alabi, Olowo of Owo, Oba Ajibade Ogunye, Orangun of Oke-Ila Oba Adedokun Abolarin, Ayangbunre of Ikorodu Oba Kabiru Shotobi, Olu of Ilaro Oba Kehinde Olugbenle and Owa-Ooye of Okemesi Ekiti Oba Adedeji Gbadebo.
Southeast governors pledge a united Nigeria
The meeting said the police should get more attention for their needs so that they can do more to protect lives, properties and enhance security all over the country – the police are currently grossly underfunded.
It called for more intelligence-driven policing to prevent “the repeat of what happened in the country, following the #EndSARS demonstrations.”
The communiqué also called for the review of the report of the 2014 national conference with a view to implementing “some of the recommendations especially with reference to security, economy and equal treatment for citizens.”
The leaders called for the reopening of the country’s international borders.
“We believe that the prolonged closure of the borders has caused economic difficulties and should be re-examined to alleviate problems of the people in the border communities and prices of some essential commodities. There is need to review the closure and permit resumption of economic and trading activities”
They also called for specific measures and proposal to repair the damage done to the physical infrastructure and economic assets of the Southwest and praised the Federal Government for responding quickly to the initial demands of the #EndSARS protesters.
The regional leaders called for a comprehensive programme to address youth employment and empowerment and the reopening of universities by concluding negotiations with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
They gave their backing to the plan by the Federal Government to regulate social media.
“We recognize the damaging and negative impact of fake/false news and worry about its destructive and dangerous potency of fake news. We call on federal government to use he instrumentality of existing laws and those regulations bench-marked from other countries to provide safeguards against the spread of fake news. 2015 Cyber Act will also be fully used.
“Federal Government should ensure that technology is used effectively for the advancement of the Nigerian Security and not its destruction by working with the technology cum social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. The regime of checks and gate keeping should be fully employed,” the meeting said.
Before the meeting went into a closed session, some of the monarchs called for a Southwest Development Commission that will undertake socio-economic intervention programme in the region.
The royal fathers, who also called for the true federalism and power devolution, said the development commission should perform similar functions like the Northeast Development Commission and the Niger Delta Region.
To the traditional rulers, true federalism will foster development and enable the component units to develop according to their pace and to cater for their people.
Akeredolu said the objective of the meeting was to find a lasting solution to the twin problems of youth restiveness and unemployment”.
Gambari said President Buhari was aware of the level of destruction, following the hijack of the protest by criminals who destroyed businesses, public and private institutions, which were set ablaze and vandalised.
“The purpose of this engagement is to find out what the federal and state governments have done and can do. The Buhari administration is set to address what brought us to this level,” he said.
He acknowledged that the youths have been ignored for so long, adding that “we can no longer afford to do so”. The government would make effort to ensure inclusion of youths in governance and maximize their participation.
“The government is committed to police reform and community policing that can resolve some of our issues,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu said the meeting was organised to find ways and means of taking “our region forward after the destruction just witnessed, we are on a journey of rebuilding South West and Lagos”
Oba Adeyemi Lamidi said each region should be allowed to develop at its pace, adding: “until we practice true federalism, youth restiveness, unemployment and hunger will persist.”
Oba Akiolu blamed the politicians for the problems plaguing the nation. He said: “Devolve more powers to the states. Federal Government power is too much.”
The monarchs also blamed politicians for the protests and destruction in the region, saying the high rate of unemployment among youths led to the agitations.
They lamented the level of destruction in Lagos, adding that the state was worst-hit.
Oba Ogunwusi said: ”The governors have taken the right step with this meeting. However, they have been far away from we monarchs. You should not wait till election days before you reach out to us. This type of meeting should come regularly. We know the good and the bad in our communities but we are under-utilised.”
The Oluigbo of Ugboland, Oba Fredrick Akinruntan urged the Inspector-General of Police to conduct detailed investigation into the destruction of properties and fish out those behind the protests.
“What happened is beyond EndSars protest. They have some people behind them. Find out who are the people behind them. This is the time to reach out to the monarchs. If you don’t treat this matter well, the youths will come out again.”
Southwest leaders: tighten security, reopen borders