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On State Police And Nigeria’s Polity



There are esoteric reasons in the current prolonged agitations for state police, or otherwise.  That is, beyond the known reasons given by different individuals and groups. A critical scrutiny of all the views expressed so far reveals unanimity in several areas regarding the importance of state police.

For one, the agitations, no matter the stand, have revealed that more Nigerians have become interested in governance. What this means is that more people are becoming more knowledgeable in the affairs of government to the point of making their own contributions. Whether such contribution is inconsequential is talk for another day.

But the truth is Nigerians have become more familiar with the intricacies of democracy after years of military dictatorship. The question thus is how prepared are the privileged few in governance to making the same adjustments as the majority of Nigerians?

Another area of agreement among all contributors to the state police saga is that the Federal Police has failed irrevocably in its responsibility to protect the lives and properties of Nigerians. Hence, the most pressing need for a way forward.

It is based on this agreement that the Governor’s Forum, which has become a very important arm of government, deemed it necessary to come up with the idea of a state police that would be under the direct control of governors, who are the chief security officers of the 36 federating states.

This agreement, ironically, turned out to be the point of disagreement, first among the governors, and later the rest of the schooled Nigerian public.

While governors in the southern part of the country are for the establishment of state police, because they believe it is the solution to the worsening security situation in the country, their colleagues from the north think differently.

To them, Nigeria is not ripe for a state police. They thus align with the Presidency, which has minced no words in its stand that the country still has a long way to go before it can effectively contain regional policing. Both of them have allies in former Inspectors-General of Police (IGPs), who in a recent meeting with the Presidency said state police would amount to “an invitation for anarchy”.

In the words of a human rights activist, Shehu Sani, the reason behind the opposition of the northern state governors to state police are numerous. Among them are the fear of a repeat of the brutality it used against the opposition during the colonial era in the north, and the possibility of some governors using it to enhance their secessionist tendencies.

“During the colonial time, the local police were directly under the emirate system referred to as Native Authority. At that time, they were brutally used against members of the opposition”, Sani said.

He continued that “They arrested people like late Hijiya Gambo Sawaba, then woman leader of late Aminu Kano’s party, Northern Element Progressive Union (NEPU) for no other reason than being a member of the opposition…

“If you look at what the Sharia police (Hisbah) are doing today at Kano and Zamfara, it is similar to what the Native Police did in the First Republic. Even though the Hisbah set up by the state governments claim to be enforcing Sharia law, they are used against people who criticize governors and their policies. Governors also use Hisbah to rig local government elections.”

The second key reason, according to Sani is that the North’s opposition “has to do with the event that led to the build up to the civil war. There is very strong fear that if the state police are allowed, some states’ secessionist ambition could arm the state police through the back door with weapons, which could lead to the breakup of the country.”

One of the former IGPs, Mike Okiro, made the same anti-decentralisation argument during a recent meeting of the South-South Peoples’ Assembly held in Delta State. According to him, “State police cannot help the country. We have tried it before in this country under the regional governments and it did not work.

“It is clear that state governors will misuse it if we go back to state police. They will use it against their political opponents, and I think in a democracy, people should be given the freedom to exercise their rights.”  This stand has obviously been a common feature of the anti-state police perspective.

As elder Statesman and leader of Ijaw nation, Chief Edwin Clark puts it, “I don’t believe in state police, even though it is an essential ingredient of democracy. Nigeria as of today is not developed democratically to the extent of having a state police.

“The way the state governors behave has not made it necessary to have a state police. Some of the governors behave like dictators and there is this fear that they will use the state police for their political interests such as political thuggery,

“The governors are the chief security officers of their respective states and with state police, they will acquire the powers of life and death, where they will use it at their beck and call   to intimidate and cajole their political enemies.

“At the right time, when the democratic practice is matured, state police can be introduced, but certainly not now. I will rather advocate the reformation of the Nigeria Police,” he explained.

Clark further argued that it was curious that some states that are yet to pay the minimum wage of #18,000.00 are among the advocates of the creation of the state police. He reasoned that if they are unable to pay the minimum wage of #18, 000.00 in a situation where the least paid police man earns about #30,000.00, where would they get the money to fund the police?

The implication of this leitmotif stand of the anti-state police is that the Federal Government is more mature and hence more capable to use the police for the good of all than the state governors.

However, former Lagos State Police Commissioner, Mr. Young Arebamen (rtd), disagrees with this perspective. He says the security challenges have grown beyond the competence of a centralised police and advised the Fedral Government not to politicise the issue.

“I can’t understand why some people are afraid of state police, if we have done something for 50 years and we still have problem of insecurity in the system, it is high time we began to think differently… if you eat eba that contained poison in the 60s, will you because of that stop taking eba? The answer is no. all you need to do is to avoid poison”, he said.

How to do this in the present state police saga, he explained, is to institute a control mechanism: “control measure should be spelt out in the constitution to avoid abuse of state police by state governors. We should learn lessons from history and proffer solutions for today and tomorrow”

In buttressing his position further, Arebamen noted that even in the present status quo, the state governments “are mostly responsible for the material and financial needs of the Federal Police”.

He said the governors as chief security officers of the states provide the police with patrol vehicles, maintain and fuel the vehicles, in addition to providing bullet proof vests, arms and ammunition, telecommunication gadgets, and also pay special allowances to those serving in the anti-crime squads.

“We should take politics out of security problems and face the reality of the time”, he concluded.

Unfortunately, this is where Shehu Sani totally disagrees when he noted that “The (governors) have bastardised the local government system, pocketed the states legislature and consistently manipulated elections to their favour, and at the same time looting the state treasury.

“If they have proved incapable, dubious and dishonest in handling those institutions, is self destruction for anyone to think that they can perform magic with state police”.

Even he, however, agrees that state police is necessary, “but the advocates should (first) come out with measures that will make it impossible for state authorities to manipulate”.

One way to do this, he said, is not just “creating layers of security and multiplicity of state apparatus, but ensuring that social justice and economic opportunities are abound for all Nigerians”.

This, obviously, is an unequivocal challenge for government to not only come up with a dispassionate constitution at all levels of governance, but also ensure that such constitution is followed to the letter in terms of application.

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Okowa Sends Names Of 18 Commissioner- Nominees To Assembly



Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has forwarded the names of 18 nominees for appointment as commissioners to the state House of Assembly for screening and confirmation.
The names of the nominees were contained in a letter read by the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Chief Sheriff Oborevwori, during plenary of the Assembly in Asaba, yesterday.
The Tide reports that Okowa on May 18, dissolved the State Executive Council.
The 11 former commissioners that have been re-appointed and their portfolios, incelude: Mr Charles Aniagwu, Information, Dr Barry Gbe, Economic Planning, Mr Julius Egbedi, Agriculture and Mr Lawrence Ejiofor, Culture and Tourism.
Others are:  Mr Ifeanyi Egwuyenga, Youths Development, Chief Arthur Akpowowo, Urban Renewal and Chief Festus Ochonogor, Housing, Mrs Flora Alanta, Women Affairs, Mr Churchill Amagada, Lands, Chief Fidelis Tilije, Finance and Mr Chris Onogba, Environment.
The seven new nominees are:  Mr Jonathan Ukodhiko, Mrs  Evelyn Oboro, Mr Noel Omordon, Mrs Rose Esenwu, Princess Shola Ogbemi-Daibo, Mrs Kate Oniawan, and Mr Johnbull Edema.
The speaker directed the nominees to forward 35 copies each of their Curriculum Vitae to the office of the clerk of the assembly on or before June 21.
He called on the nominees to appear for screening and confirmation on June 22.
The Assembly, yesterday, also screened and confirmed the appointments of Justice Theresa Diai as the Chief Judge of Delta State as well as Justice Patience Elumeze as President of Customary Court, Delta State.
The confirmation of the nominees followed a motion moved by the Deputy Majority Leader of the Assembly, Mr Oboro Preyor.
The motion supported by Mr Emeke Nwaobi, member representing Aniocha North Constituency in the state Assembly was unanimously adopted by the Assembly, when it was put to a voice vote by the speaker.

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Anambra Guber: CLO Calls For Level Playing Ground



The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), an NGO, has urged political parties participating in the November 6 governorship election in Anambra to ensure free, fair, credible and generally acceptable primaries, devoid of acrimony and manipulations.
The Chairman of CLO, Anambra, Mr Vincent Ezekwueme, made the appeal while speaking with newsmen in Enugu, yesterday.
Ezekwueme urged political parties to adhere strictly to the principles of participatory and constitutional democracy; thus ensuring the tenets of internal democracy.
According to him, it is pertinent for party leaders to be honest, transparent and selfless in the conduct of their various primaries.
He urged political delegates to the various primaries to get it right by voting for the most credible, God-fearing, articulate and most qualified candidates that would render selfless service to the citizenry.
The CLO boss advised party delegates to vote with their conscience and conviction, devoid of monetary inducement or influence by political leaders and stakeholders.
“CLO decries with great disdain any attempt to impose candidates on the delegates or unjustifiably screen out or bar some candidates from contesting after collecting outrageous nomination and expression of interest fees, to pave way for emergence of anointed or favoured candidates.
“Significantly, it is only justice that will precipitate credible elections and guarantee peaceful atmosphere before, during and after the elections. This is the best and greatest yearnings and aspirations of all Anambrarians.
“Let all the stakeholders work harmonious with patriotism and selflessness for the conduct of free, fair and credible primaries and the November 6 governorship election,’’ he said.
Ezekwueme noted that any party that could not conduct free and fair primaries would be unable to guarantee and ensure a free election in the main gubernatorial contest.
The CLO boss, however, appealed to all the political parties to zone their governorship candidates to Anambra South Senatorial Zone.
“This appeal is in the spirit of justice, equity, morality and good conscience in tandem with the zoning formula propagated by former Gov. Peter Obi and which has helped douse political tension in the state.
“We commend the unique wisdom and political sagacity of Obi and we implore Anambra political gladiators and stakeholders to respect the zoning arrangement for the interest of peace and unity,’’ he said.

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Ayade And The APC Albatross



Like Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State before him, Prof. Ben Ayade, Governor of Cross River State, did not take many by surprise when he eventually broke camp with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and pitched tent with the All Progressives Congress (APC), Nigeria’s ruling party at the centre on Thursday, May 20, 2021.
A pointer to the fact that Governor Ayade had long signaled his romance with the APC was evident in the statement of welcome by a party chieftain and one-time leader of the 7th Senate of the Federal Republic, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, when he noted that Ayade had “consciously navigated the ship of governance in sync with the APC-led Federal Government”.
Of course, for a long time, close watchers of the Cross River State Governor had noted how he had openly expressed admiration for the president and leader of the APC while overtly distancing himself from every criticism by the PDP, his party then, against the Federal Government and the ruling party. In fact, it was even obvious to casual observers that all was not well between Ayade and the PDP when he became consistently absent in the meetings of his fellow governors on the platform of the party and other high profile party engagements.
However, there has been some interesting political developments in Cross River State following the defection of the state Chief Executive, and leader of the PDP until that select group of APC governors and other top ranking party leaders stormed the Government House in Calabar to receive him into their fold. Buoyed by the gathering of members of his cabinet, members of the Cross Rivers State House of Assembly led by the Speaker, some National Assembly members from the state, Chairmen of local government councils and their councilors, and other stakeholders in the state including Dame Princess Florence Ita-Giwa and High Chief Asuquo Ekpeyong, Prof. Ayade boldly declared that by virtue of the event of his detection, Cross River State had become an APC state.
As if to prove the point that there could not be another party, particularly the PDP, without the government that he leads, the governor ordered the annexation of the PDP state secretariat and convert all its property into the use of the APC just two days after. Responding to the turn of event at the party secretariat, Christian Ita, Chief Press Secretary to the governor said the PDP could not claim to be the ones to continue to occupy the property as the rent was paid by the governor. He said the rent for the said property was only renewed recently by the same PDP that has now totally collapsed into the APC.
“The same officials of PDP who occupied the property when it was secretariat of the PDP still occupy it, having switched allegiance and moved to the APC with the governor”|, he said.
In a swift reaction, the PDP Federal Lawmakers and Stakeholders Forum in Cross River State dissociated themselves from the governor’s move. Addressing a press conference on Friday, May 21, 2021 in Abuja, the forum pledged to remain in the PDP and declared Cross River State as a stronghold of the party.
“As far as I know, till date, the National Assembly caucus remains intact. I don’t see any of us leaving. We are legacy members of the party who have been in this party for the past 15 to 20 years. So, we are not going anywhere”, Senator Geshan Bassey who spoke on behalf of the lawmakers said, accusing Ayade of not consulting them but insisting that even if he had “we will not follow him”.
On the same occasion, Senator Liyel Imoke, former governor of the state, on behalf of the PDP Stakeholders Forum in Cross River described Ayade’s defection as regrettable, even though not unexpected.
According to Imoke, an overwhelming number of Cross Riverians remains resolute with the PDP, emphasizing that “our key stakeholders, members of the national and state assemblies, and strategic grassroots mobilisers are still members of our great party. We, as a party, therefore, remain virile and strong. Our shell remains uncracked”.
Imoke said “We understand that the people of Cross River, who have stood firmly with the PDP since 1999 and other lovers of the state are deeply disappointed by this move made by a governor, who has won all his elections under the platform of the party. Given the overwhelming support which he enjoyed under the PDP and the fact that PDP has undeniable strong grassroots in the state, we affirm that Cross River remains a PDP state”.
As developments have shown, Governor Ayade may not have had the support of all his close functionaries in his voyage as he has had to offload not less than four of his commissioners and a number of aides believed to still be loyal to the PDP.
In a press statement signed by his CPS/Special Adviser Media and Publicity, Christian Ita, the governor, relieved the appointment of Mr Mike Usibe, Commissioner for New Cities Development; Rita Ayim, Commissioner in charge of Women Affairs, Mr Asu Okang, Commissioner for Information and Ntufam Donatus Etim, Commissioner for Climate Change and Forestry.
On the part of the PDP, the regrouping of forces, especially the return of the likes of former governor Donald Duke, has not been without hitches.
Recently, the state caretaker committee chairman and secretary of the party were constrained to issue a warning to party stalwarts to restrain themselves from unguarded statements capable of causing division among their ranks. “The party will like to caution all stakeholders that this is a time for rebuilding, restoration and reconciliation. It is not a time for trading blames.
“The larger purpose of the development of Cross River State should remain our unwavering focus and should insulate party stakeholders from all other distractions”, the statement said in reaction to unauthenticated social media post by Ex-Governor Donald Duke accusing his successor in office, Senator Liyel Imoke of running a dictatorial administration.
The party, however, commended the courage of former governor Duke for returning to the party at such a time as this, hoping that his return would further strengthen the party to face the new threat posed by the APC and Governor Ben Ayade.
“We congratulate His Excellency Donald Duke for finding the courage to re-join the party on whose platform he twice contested and won elections as governor of Cross River State.
“It is our firm belief that his coming back to the party is not only indicative of the party’s strength in the state, but more importantly, will help in rebuilding a strong and virile party”, the statement said.
Prof Ben Ayade may have left the PDP but it is difficult to say if the PDP has left Cross River State. With the regrouping of battle-tested war horses in the state under the umbrella, the governor and his new party may have to work extra hard to dislodge the deep roots of the PDP in the state.
Asked how the governor’s move will affect the fortunes of the PDP in coming elections in the state, Senator Imoke said. “I think in the past, you would see that states that have that type of strength, irrespective of a defection, tend at all times to remain strong. There’s a reason for that. What you perceive as power will determine how you lead. If you perceive power to be a political party, then you will be moving from one political party to another, but if you understand that power ultimately is the people, and that it belongs to the people, you’ll appreciate that it’s not about the party.
“PDP in Cross River State has always been about the people and I think we still remain about the people; so the party has endeared itself to the people and as such a movement by the governor does not, of its own, translate to the people moving into another political party because they have already identified strongly with the party-the PDP. It is sort of like what you have in the United States and other countries where there are strongholds – a state like California, it is defined as a Democratic stronghold. Cross River State is a PDP stronghold”.
Even Ayade himself is without a doubt that Cross River State is a PDP stronghold but for how long this stronghold will hold is what is now being put to test as the governor has already made inroads into the traditional institution from whom he has extracted the same commitment and support they had always given to successive governors and their political agenda.
However, politics is about politicians and Victor Ndoma-Egba tells Ayade: “As you join us in the progressives fold, my expectation is that your coming will enrich our internal democracy and I enjoin you to be consultative, inclusive, democratic, transparent and accountable because these are the hallmarks of the All Progressives Congress family. I also expect that your presence in the APC will further strengthen the party and improve our electoral fortunes in Cross River State”.
Ndoma-Egba’s expectations are not just his expectation and those of the members of the APC in Cross River alone, they were the same expectations of the party faithful in Rivers State in 2015 and the ones in Edo State through the reign of Adams Aliu Oshiomohole. Whether the APC members in the Peoples Paradise will have a different experience remains to be seen.
What is certain is that the South-South region has not been a welcoming environment for the APC and it does not appear as it is ready to change that disposition just yet because of Prof. Ayade. He may just soon find out that what could flourish in the Southeast may require humongous effort to sprout on South-South soil.

By: Opaka Dokubo

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