- Saraki calls for political will
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, for the establishment of state police to effectively tackle the various security challenges facing the country. Osinbajo, who spoke at the opening ceremony of the on-going National Security Summit in Abuja, organised by the Senate, assured that the Federal Government will not forcefully take land from the states for the purpose of establishing cattle ranches or grazing areas.
This is as the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, blamed the security challenges in the country on lack of political will on the part of leaders at various levels of governance. Admitted that there were instances where security agencies have failed to properly and urgently respond to security issues, Osinbajo said the Nigeria Police with the current centralised structure is too defective to be useful in combating worsening security challenges in the country.
He further stated that in the interim, the number of police personnel must be increased reasonably to be able to match the frightening unfolding insecurity in the country, and warned Nigerians not to allow the present security situation to assume a religious dimension.
His words: “The nature of our security challenges is complex and known. Securing Nigeria’s over 900,000 sq km and its 180 million people requires far more men and material than we have at the moment. It also requires a continuous reengineering of our security architecture and strategy. This has to be a dynamic process.
“For a country of our size to meet the one policeman to 400 persons prescribed by the United Nations (UN) would require triple our current police force; far more funding of the police force and far more funding of our military and other security agencies.
“We cannot realistically police a country of the size of Nigeria centrally from Abuja. State police and other community policing methods are clearly the way to go. “We must intensify existing collaboration with our neighbours in the Chad Basin by strengthening security especially at border communities to prevent the movement of small arms and disarming armed pastoralists and other armed bandits who go through our borders day after day. “We must avoid the danger of allowing this crisis to degenerate into religious or ethnic conflict.
This is the responsibility of political, religious and all other facets of our leadership in Nigeria.” On the efforts of government to resolve the frequent herdsmen/farmers clashes, the Vice President revealed that the presidential committee handling the matter, of which he is the chairman, has been consulting with the stakeholders to proffer lasting solutions.
He said the committee has also been working to see how to ensure that there is a plan for cattle breeding and rearing, which will take into account, contemporary methods of doing so in other parts of the world. Osinbajo further allayed the fears of Nigerians on insinuations that the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari is planning to forcefully take over lands from the states to establish cattle ranches or grazing areas, noting that the Constitution of Nigeria has vested land ownership on the states. He said: “The Federal government cannot dictate to states what to do with their land.
This is so because the Land Use Act of 1978 puts land under the control of governors on behalf of their states. “Also, the Supreme Court in the case of Attorney General of Lagos State versus the Attorney General of the Federation in 2004, held that use of land resources and permits for such use, lie firmly in the hands of state governments. “Even for use of federal lands in the states according to the Supreme Court, building or development control permit must be sought from the governors of the states.
“However in several states, especially in the North, there are duly gazetted grazing reserves. A majority of these grazing reserves are degraded and are without pasture or water especially in the dry season. “Grazing routes leading to these reserves must also be secured. The grazing reserves to be effective and operate effectively, should operate as ranches or livestock production centres on a commercial basis.
The ranches will have adequate water from boreholes, salt points and pasture. “The locations would serve both as forage points, but also centres for providing extension services to boost animal care, feeding and veterinary facilities, and even abattoirs. Because the ranches are commercial ventures, cattle owners will pay for its use.
“It is important to note that by and large, in consultation with stakeholders, all agree that where adequate provision is made on a commercial basis, there is no reason why there won’t be cooperation to use those ranches because there are both economic and social benefits for everyone, including herders.
“Aside from states that have gazetted grazing areas, so far about 13 states have agreed to allocate 5,000 hectares of land for the ranching or livestock production. We must emphasis that in arriving at any of these decisions in the states, the states, Federal Government and all of the stakeholders have to sit together and work out solutions that will benefit everyone.
This cannot be done by fear or force. People have to work together to ensure that there is adequate consultations. Saraki, on his part, urged Nigerians particularly those in positions of authority to shun those tendencies that threaten the corporate existence of Nigeria and focus on the need to work together in search of solutions to the insecurity in the country. He noted that the summit was not designed for blame game or to attack anybody, but to sincerely proffer solutions to the worrisome security challenges in the land as the security of lives and property of the citizenry is the primary responsibility of government. He said: “This is not a summit to trade blames neither was it convened so that any person or entity can take credit. We just want solutions, solutions only.
That is all Nigerians require of us. “We in government must therefore do everything in our power to ensure that Nigerians are safe from harm, and their livelihoods and belongings protected. It was envisaged that the summit would provide a platform for critically examining the problem of insecurity, to help collate views and ideas in aid of the search for solutions.
It is most reassuring to see us all here – people together – coming together to come up with a national response to a grave problem confronting our nation.” Saraki posited that the country is currently in urgent need for a leadership that could douse tension and reduce ethno-religious, political and economic barriers. “What our country needs at this time is leadership that will work to douse the flames and reduce tension in the land. It is essential that we lower the barriers in our actions and rhetoric, and refrain from playing politics with a crisis situation in which Nigerian lives are being lost, tragically and needlessly, on a regular basis.
“We have the capacity to bring about a change in this situation, to end the violence and bring succour. We have the capacity. But, do we have the political will? I dare say political will is what is required; and it is my hope that we shall marshal it as a legitimate instrument against this problem. Indeed, there is no reason why that should not be the case.
“There can be no denying the horrific reality in many parts of our country today. People who should be neighbours are turning on one another and taking up arms. These attacks and reprisal attacks are an intolerable cycle of hell that must be broken. Killings, kidnappings, mayhem and general lawlessness cannot be the new normal. We must take this country back and restore order,” he said. Meanwhile, President Buhari, the 36 state governors and ministers were conspicuously absent from the summit. However, all the service chiefs were present at the summit including the Insoector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris. The two-day summit will be concluded today.
Rivers: Obuah rallies PDP for council polls
EMMANUEL MASHA reports on the forthcoming local government election in Rivers State and efforts by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to seize the opportunity to consolidate its grip of the oil-rich state
Voters in Rivers State will on June 16, go to the polls to elect candidates of their choice, who will be in charge of governance at the local government level. It is one election that some don’t want to hold, especially those in the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC). But 62 other opposition parties in the state under the aegis of Inter- Party Advisory Council (IPAC) have made it clear that they will participate.
The state’s electoral body, Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RISIEC) has given the green light for the conduct of the election. RSIEC chairman, Justice Chukwuneye Uriri, who recently addressed representatives of political parties during a stakeholders meeting at the commission’s secretariat had noted that for long there has not been council elections despite the fact that the law abhors vacuum. He, therefore, declared that there was need for a democratically elected council administration in the state even as he reaffirmed the commitment of the commission to perform its obligations to reflect the aspirations of the electorate.
His words: “Given the 90-day mandatory notice as stipulated by the electoral laws, the next election ordinarily comes up in June this year. It is therefore imperative that we fix a date for the election in accordance with the said rules.
“By the powers conferred on me, as enshrined in the Rivers State Independent Electoral Law No 2 of 2018, I therefore declare Saturday, the 16th day of June 2018 as local government election day in Rivers State. It is accordingly so fixed.
I reaffirm the commitment of the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission to perform its obligations, to reflect the aspirations of the electorate.” There is no doubt that it is exactly three years since Governor Nyesom Wike took charge of the state after the triumph of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the 2015 general elections and in a normal political setting, that is a long time to conduct council election.
But, for the past three years, attempts to achieve this have continuously been resisted by the APC, which appears to be comfortable with the caretaker committee arrangement adopted by the Wike administration.
The caretaker arrangement itself is however a child of necessity as few weeks before the immediate past Chibuike Amaechi administration left office, it conducted council election after which chairmen and councillors were hurriedly sworn in.
The main flaw about that election is that the PDP and many other parties refused to participate in it on the ground that its outcome had been predetermined by the then APC-led government in the state. Observers claimed that the election was nothing other than a political landmine laid by the Amaechi administration for the then incoming Wike government.
But, the law took its course in September 2015, when a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt presided by Justice Lambo Akanbi, invalidated the May 23, 2015 council election won by the APC chairmanship and councillorship candidates.
In his judgement on Suit No. FHC/PH/CS/84/2015 filed in April 2015 by the PDP claiming that RSIEC did not comply with the 90-day mandatory notice stipulated by the electoral laws, Justice Akanbi declared that the May 23 polls were null and void. He further ruled that the conduct of the election by the Amaechi administration was lawless, provocative and disregard for the rule of law.
The judgement paved the, way for Governor Wike to dissolve the boards of RSIEC and the Rivers State Judicial Service Commission following the recommendation of the State House of Assembly. But, like the PDP did in 2015, the APC has declared that it will boycott the June 16 council polls.
The chairman of Rivers APC, Davies Ikanya, who announced the party’s decision to boycott the elections, described as shocking RSIEC’s decision to hold the polls in June, arguing that the issue is a subject of litigation before the Federal High Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
Ikeanya, who would be handing over to Ojukaye Flag-Amachree, a former chairman of Asari-Toru Local Government Area, by the time his tenure elapses at the end of June, maintained that it was subjudice for the commission to fix a date for the election, even at a time when the courts had not decided on the cases filed by the main opposition party in the state.
He said: “We have been in a protracted legal battle over previous election that the RSIEC conducted, which Wike sacked elected officials and the case has not been vacated. It is wrong for a respected citizen to announce that their tenure has elapsed,” he said.
“Would RSIEC turn itself to Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court? Why can’t they wait for the court to determine the matter before fixing a date for council election? We are also saying that RSIEC, as presently constituted, cannot conduct election.”
IPAC chairman in the state, Sam Ihunwo, who condemned APC’s position, lauded RSIEC for its plan to conduct the election. He described the decision as a bold move to entrench democracy at the grassroots. He added that it was rather unfortunate and an illconsidered decision for the APC to withdraw from the exercise.
Ihunwo insisted that there was no truth in the claim by the state APC that local government election held in the state on May 23, 2015. “As you can see, 62 political parties are present to express their happiness with the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission for putting the machinery in place to conduct free, fair and genuine local government election on June 16, 2018,” he said. He argued that the judgement of the High Court of Rivers State on the matter put paid to whatever hope the APC had on the validity of the said May 23, 2015 local government election.
The APC’s planned boycott, notwithstanding, the state chairman of the PDP, Bro. Felix Obuah, during the re-registration of old and new members of the party, promised a level-playing field in the council election. He has been urging party members to be peaceful and play by the rules of the game throughout the process that would lead to the election.
While addressing party leaders recently, he advised that “even the persons who will be defecting today and wish to join our party must be registered. Do not restrict anyone from becoming a member. We need everybody and we do not want anyone to stop them from registering, due to personal interests.” Already, Obuah, a grassroots politician, who is also the chairman of Rivers State Waste Management Agency (RIWAMA) has been rallying party faithful for the election and remains optimistic that the exercise will be free and fair.
Wike, who made a similar pledge, said imposition of candidates would not be allowed in the PDP. The governor, while addressing an expanded state stakeholders meeting of the party, said: “We will use the local government elections to test the waters. Let people come out and vote, so that we know that we are doing well.”
The Rivers governor also charged party members to ensure that those who would emerge as chairmen and councillors would defend their constituencies during elections. No doubt, while Governor Wike continues to deliver sound governance, and projects, Obuah has stepped up his game in instilling discipline within the party, while preparing the grounds for a triumphant council poll and a successful outing in the 2019 general elections.
…Stop blackmailing Fayose, PDP warns
Reacting to the claim by All Progressives Congress (APC) that Governor Ayodele Fayose ordered the demolition of its governorship candidates campaign billboard, Ekiti State Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Jackson Adebayo, accused the APC chairman in the state, Chief Jide Awe and members of his party of attempting to blackmail Fayose.
Adebayo said: “We don’t habour hoodlums in our party, it is APC that harbours hoodlums and you can see it from their recent congresses. “PDP is a party of peace, our rally in Oye that day was peaceful and the governor and our members were not responsible for the destruction of the billboard.
“APC should search its ranks for those who destroyed the billboard if ever it was destroyed because I am hearing it for the first time. Governor Fayose knows nothing about it and our members know nothing about it.”
Fasanmi canvasses support for Fayemi
Former Deputy Leader of pan Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, Senator Ayo Fasanmi, has called on members of Afforenifere and electorate in Ekiti State to support the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, during the July 14 election in Ekiti State.
Speaking to journalists in Osogbo, Fasanmi, an indigene of Iye Ekiti, implored the people of Ekiti State to give their support to Fayemi for APC to seize power from PDP and return the state to the progressives’ fold, which he said it rightly belonged.
The former Afenifere deputy leader also commended all APC governorship aspirants in the state, especially the party’s Deputy National Chairman (South), Engr. Segun Oni, for their maturity, selflessness and the belief in the doctrine of party supremacy which he said was not common among popular politicians.
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