The Minister of Information and Culture, Alh. Lai Mohammed, in a desire to achieve national unity and calm frayed nerves has listed some measures being contemplated by the federal government to address the deluge of crises confronting the country.
At a press conference in Lagos, the Minister assured Nigerians that while the
government acknowledges the security challenges facing the nation at this time which included terrorism to kidnaping, banditry and farmer-herder conflict, it is definitely not overwhelmed and indeed it has the wherewithal to confront them.
He urged Nigerians to wait and witness a new initiative being put together by the administration in the days ahead, to confront the challenges headlong and restore law and order, peace and security.
The Ministry argued that the most difficult things to do, for a democratically-elected government, is to use the instruments of coercion against its own people.
He noted that while the nation’s military have superior firepower over the rag tag band of Boko Haram and ISWA, the terrorists most often than not operate among the
populace, either in our villages or towns, hence the military, in
tackling them, is usually careful to avoid collateral damage.
The same he went further to explain applies to the kidnappers who abduct our school children, adding, “Usually, the location of the kidnappers is not unknown to the security forces, but they still have to exercise caution in order not to hurt the same
children they are trying to rescue. Despite these inhibitions, the security forces have the wherewithal to decisively tackle the challenges.”
He said that one of the steps recently taken to address these myriad of problems was the convening of a Town Hall Meeting on national security in Kaduna.
He said the meeting came out with an implementable, 10-point agenda, among which identifies an urgent need for political restructuring of the nation other than separation.
The meeting also noted that the governance of human society should be based on Law rather than the whims and caprices of human beings and must be obeyed
by all as all persons are equal before the law including the law givers.
In addition, the meeting suggested that the Judiciary be decentralized and reformed through Constitutional Amendment to remove the unitary control of the Superior
Courts, while governments at all levels should ensure free, qualitative
and compulsory Primary Education for all children of school age.
Other recommendations are that the Military, Police and other Security Agencies should be expanded in number, retrained, provided with modern equipment and
technology to cope with emerging security challenges and both religious and traditional leaders should encourage and promote inter-marriages for unity as contained in the 1999 Constitution as amended, Article 15, 3(c) which prescribes
inter-marriage among persons from different places of origin, or of
different religious, ethnic or linguistic association or ties.
Also, stakeholders at the meeting called for the establishment of State Police of which should be supported by the National and State Houses of Assembly to enable State Governments have firm control in addressing security issues while Traditional Rulers should be given their age-long role of maintaining peace and security within their domain.
It further recommended that the Local Government Autonomy be actualized to enable them have control of their areas including the ungoverned spaces in
tackling security challenges and that the Farmers/Herders clashes be addressed by
establishment of ranches, grazing reserves with modern amenities to
check the trans-humans of the herders.
The Minister stated that, “As far as a national stakeholders’ engagement is concerned, the town hall meeting fits that bill. In a complete departure from our
town hall meeting format, we invited panellists and discussants from
outside the government .
The Lead Presenter was Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim,
and the four discussants were Mrs Ibukun Awosika, the erstwhile
Chairperson of the First Bank; Prof. Saka Nuru, a renowned veterinary
surgeon; Prof Chudi Uwazuruike, an academic and a former member of the
House of Representatives, and Prof Kokunre Eghafona, also from
The stakeholders who attended included all the service
chiefs, members of the legislative and executive arms of government,
civil society organizations, traditional and religious leaders, women
and youth groups as well as labour. It is therefore baffling that some
commentators give the impression that the Administration is not
engaging with the various stakeholders to find a lasting solution to
the challenges facing the nation.”
He said government didn’t just engage in a talk shop, but has taken those
resolutions to the National Economic Council, Chaired by His
Excellency the Vice President, and which also includes all the state
As a prelude to adopting the recommendations, the NEC has
directed all state governors to organize state-wide consultation on
them, and then revert to the Council in its next meeting.
“Of course, you are all aware that the Honourable Attorney-General
of the Federation and Minister of Justice has announced that the
Federal Government is set to prosecute 400 suspects arrested for
allegedly funding terrorism. This is unprecedented and its a testament
to the government’s determination to decisively tackle terrorism and
other violent crimes.
“While the government continues with these efforts to restore
peace and security continues, I want to appeal to all of us to play
our part in lowering the palpable tension in the polity as a result of
the security challenges.
The first step is to tone down the rhetoric.While the media must continue to carry out its primary responsibility to inform, criticize and stimulate debate, it must also realize that it can only carry out this responsibility in an atmosphere of peace
and security. I am therefore appealing to the media to play its part in dousing the pervasive tension.
Lending your platforms to uncompromising separatists and die-hard pessimists about the survival of our nation can only overheat the polity and aggravate the security
challenges. This is not a call for censorship. It is a call for responsibility, in the national interest.” he appealed.
He said that government retains total confidence in the ability of our security forces to tackle the security challenges we are facing now, whether it is terrorism,
banditry, kidnapping or even the farmer-herder conflict.
He appealed to all Nigerians to continue to support the security agencies,
who today face the added task of having to watch their backs while
working to protect us.
The Minister however raised concern about the growing dangerous trend of launching deadly attacks against the nation’s security personnel.
He said, soldiers as well as police, customs and other security agents have been killed and maimed in some parts of the country in this growing trend of targeting security forces.
Sounding a note of warning Mohammed said, ” I want to
say, unequivocally, that any attack on our security men and women is
an attack on the state and a declaration of war against the nation.
It follows, therefore, that this will be countered with overwhelming
force. When those whose responsibility it is to protect us are
themselves being subjected to mindless attacks, it can only be for one
reason only: To instill fear and evoke a sense of pervasive insecurity
among the people. Whether known or unknown gunmen, those engaged in
this dastardly act will pay dearly for their actions.”