By Correspondent Chinyere Ogbonna – The Nigerian government has been enjoined to see the need for an efficient social security and reform of the Nigerian police force as a panacea to address the recent surge in the nation’s security challenges as against calls for breakup of the country.
This was the submission of ethnic groups in Nigeria at an emergency conference in Lagos.
The conference organized by the Coalition of Ethnical Nationalities in Nigeria (CENN), last week to deliberate on the nation’s recent security challenges in the country.
In attendance were representatives of sixteen ethnic groups, with each group airing its grievance in a no-holds-barred manner.
The high-point of the conference noted that the idea of secession, being mooted as the ‘only’ solution to the recent security crisis in Nigeria will continue to prosper if the country does not find a way to give all of its ethnic groups a voice that count at a roundtable.
There were heated arguments as each group strived to make a resounding case for its people but the need for co-existence with other ethnic groups was a major feature of the discussion.
Most of the participants at the conference were of the view that Nigeria can succeed as a nation as no group harbours a definite resolution for secession; although, deference was made to it at some point during the meeting, but only as a second alternative.
The Chairman and founder of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), Dr. Frederick Fasehun said ethnic groups can cohabit and resolve their differences if allowed to do so and if given the chance to put people that speak their minds as representatives.
According to him, this has always been the trend each time there is an opportunity for ethnic groups to meet and discuss their co-existence.
Representing northern part of Nigeria at the conference, the president of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Mr. Shetima Yerima raised the issue of marginalization of all the ethnic groups as he cautiously noted that “no northerner wants to secede.
Mr. Yerima said that explained their support for every initiative that will bring justice and fairness to the country.
Admitting that the northerners had ruled the country for the longest period in the country’s history, Mr Yerima hinged his marginalization on the extreme poverty that ravaged the north.
Though, the participants tried to avoid the issue of convening a Sovereign National Conference, as the conference preferred to proffer solutions to the national security problems in the Nigeria, the clamor for a political reform in the mould of a sovereign national conference as the only panacea to Nigeria’s problems kept roaring its head during the discussion.
The leader and founder of the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force, who claimed that “nobody will give Nigerians a Sovereign National Conference noted that the people would have to demand it.
He also expressed his disappointment in the failure on Nigerians to make demands off the government.
The former militant leader who noted that “kerosene was scarce for no explainable reason and the people were not doing anything in that regard, stressed that Nigerians ought to have been on the streets to protest the scarcity of kerosene.
Mr. Dokubo further blamed problems of the country to leadership rather than ethnicity nor religion.
The coalition then proffered that, if Nigeria is to continue to operate its present political system, the ‘implantation of a functional budget’ and ‘urgent restructuring of the Nigerian Police was necessary to bringing lasting peace and unity amongst other resolutions.
According to Mr. Dokubo, there is only one government in Nigeria and that is the Lagos State government. “All the seven hundred and seventy four local governments in the country, other thirty-five states governments, the FCT administration and the federal government are no government at all” he stated.
He argued that it was only in Lagos state that the budget is prepared to meet the need of the people.
On restructuring the Nigeria police, all the discussants called for the establishment of regional police alongside the Nigerian police.
They condemned the deployment of commissioners of police to states they may have never visited before noting that “one can only fight crime in a terrain that he or she knows very well and among a people whose way of life he or she understands.
Though the Nigerian police is largely seen as corrupt and inept by the public, the coalition said the government’s prevalent social structure made it so and therefore should be blamed.
It was also suggested that communities should be allowed to operate its own private security under a regulated authority.
The coalition blamed the rise of ethnic militia groups on the absence of social security, noting that each Nigerian youth wades through life practically without any aid from the government.
The coalition urged the Nigerian government to implement a nationwide social security system rather than wait until a region takes to arm.
They warned that if a region gets largesse from the government, as in the case of amnesty in the Niger Delta, then a clear message is being sent to other regions on how to get their own largesse also.