•Say, you can’t shift your constitutional duties to governors

•Security personnel answerable to you, not governors

•You have the power to end banditry

•President, governors should play their respective roles to end banditry

•Residents see their governors as weak, unable to protect them

•Political leaders not concerned about the welfare of their people

By Peter Duru, Makurdi; Marie-Therese Nanlong, Jos; Umar Yusuf, Yola; Charly Agwam, Bauchi; Bashir Bello, Kano; Ibrahim Wuyo, Kaduna & Haruna Aliyu, Birnin kebbi

Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi state disclosed a couple of weeks ago that President Muhammadu Buhari has mandated the seven North-West governors,  including himself, to end banditry in the zone.

Bagudu, who was addressing the Fulani stakeholders’ peace, security and unity meeting, held in Birnin-Kebbi, noted that the president’s directive was to ensure the urgent restoration of normalcy in the region.

President Buhari’s directive to the northern governors to end banditry did not however resonate with some leaders in the region who argued that such mandate amounted to the president shifting his constitutional responsibilities to the governors who have no control over security agencies. They submitted that President Buhari should take responsibility for the security of the nation as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces who has the resources required to achieve the objective. Others nonetheless believed that crime and criminality are local, therefore governors are in a better position to tackle the menace in their region.

Only the president has such mandate to end banditry

In his reaction, an ex-serviceman, Brig. Gen. Idris Dambazau (rtd) said President Muhammadu Buhari and not the governors has the constitutional powers to end banditry. Dambazau said the governors do not have the constitutional powers to direct security agencies except if the President intends to relinquish powers to the governors to take over by giving instructions directly to the authorities of the security agencies.

“That the President gave a directive to the governors to end banditry is very ambiguous because constitutionally, it is the President who has such mandate and also the resources required for achieving such objective. The President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigeria Armed Forces whose duty it is to crush banditry and other security challenges. The governors do not have the constitutional powers to direct security agencies, except if the President intends to relinquish to the governors his authority over the security agencies. But another aspect of the issue is that the President may mean that the governors should mobilise the masses in their various states to confront the bandits and kidnappers,” Dambazau said.

Security personnel not answerable to the governors

Also reacting, President General of Mzough U Tiv, MUT, worldwide, Chief Iorbee Ihagh argued that as Commander-in-Chief, President Buhari cannot shift his constitutional responsibilities to state governors. Chief Ihagh said the President should take responsibility and not shift his constitutional duties to the governors to ensure security in the country as the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.

Chief Ihagh said, “I feel strongly that President Buhari is the one to end banditry in the North West zone and not the governors because all the security forces are under him. So, he is the one to give the Service Chiefs the marching orders to move in and end the banditry and not the governors who cannot issue orders to security personnel even though they are the Chief Security Officers of their respective states. A Chief Security Officer who lacks the powers of control over the armed forces stationed in his state is obviously a Chief Security Officer on paper and not in practical terms.

For instance, the security agencies here in Benue state are not hiding the fact that they are not answerable to the governor of the state. They are all under the President, he is the Commander-in-Chief. So, he is the one to give that order and not the governors. Whey can’t he give the order directly to the armed forces to do the needful if he is serious about what he said? He is probably not serious about what he said because if he is serious he should issue that order to the armed forces to end the insecurity in the entire country and not just in the North West because this problem is everywhere.

“There is the Boko Haram in the North East, the armed herdsmen in Igbo land, Yoruba land, Middle Belt, Tiv land and so on. So the order should also include the flushing out of armed Fulani herdsmen who have been rated as the fourth deadliest terrorist group in the world. They are presently causing a lot of problems and claiming that the entire country belongs to them and that they can stay anywhere they want. So, he should be the one to issue the order to security personnel and equally ensure that these threats to the security of the nation are dealt with and peace and order restored across the length and breadth of the country. Security personnel are not answerable to the governors but to him and he also does the posting of these security personnel, so the order should come from him.”

State governments have no full control of security agencies

In his remark on whether the state government has the wherewithal to take up the presidential challenge, Special Adviser on security matters to Governor Bagudu Atiku of Kebbi State, Alhaji Rabiu Kamba explained that, “security is expensive anywhere in the world but in as much as the state government under Senator Atiku Bagudu is poised to end banditry in the state, the major constraint for the state government is the lack of full control of the army, the police and NSCDC”.

A northern elder Alhaji Abubabar Udu Idris wondered what the state government was doing about banditry in the state noting that Governor Bagudu assembled local hunters when the FGC students were abducted in Birnin Yauri but he didn’t hear anything again. He said such presidential order was not new as similar directives had been made in the past but nothing happened. He however admitted that governors can only support the army and the police since they don’t have control over them. He explained that lack of control over the security agencies gave birth to calls for state police which he would not subscribe to.

Udu who attributed the failure to stamp out banditry in the affected states to lack of intelligence gathering urged the governors to include traditional and religious leaders in the fight since they have control over their communities. He also charged the residents to “stand up and defend their communities and not to always wait on government to give them security all the time because most times it doesn’t come and when it does, it’s always late”.

Communities need to be mobilized

On his part, the Special Adviser on Security to Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State, Ibrahim Katsina said,”Katsina State Government is taking the President’s directive very seriously and we are being proactive in our response mechanism. Having understood the fact that the challenges we are facing are local challenges, we are developing local content mechanism through community networking.

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Already, Katsina State Government has enacted a law on three tiers of security arrangement where traditional rulers are incorporated into the security structures of the state from the village head to the ward head and district head. This security management ensures that the security challenges or threat can be nipped in the bud before they manifest.

This is in addition to the support we are giving to the security agencies in all ramifications. The difficult aspect is to mobilize the communities to understand the imperatives of the threat and once they understand this, everybody would be on board and the security challenge will be tackled easily”.

President and governors should play their respective roles to end banditry

The National President of the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, Dr. Bitrus Pogu however said the President must have spoken from the point of knowledge of what was happening in the zone before giving the directive. According to him, “the President wouldn’t say something without depending on security information. He is the person who has the highest information when it comes to the security situation of the country because he is the Chief Security Officer of the country. For him to have made that statement it means he knows something which we do not know. And maybe he knows that some of the governors are complicit in these things. The President of course made a statement which is valid because he knows what the governors are doing based on the security information he has. Meanwhile, he is the Chief Security Officer, so let him cooperate with the governors and give them whatever is required at the national level so that they will cooperate with him and do the needful. Let the governors play their role while he plays his own role.

Residents see their governors as weak, unable to protect them

Rev John Joseph Hayab, Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in Kaduna state, said “Are our governors waiting for Buhari’s directive before ending banditry? If they are leaders who care about the peace and welfare of their people they would have since been doing something reasonable to end the killings, and loss of property in their states.

President Buhari mandating them to end banditry is just another crafty way to make more money disappear despite the huge amount they have been claiming to be spending for security without results. CAN is not happy with the current security situation in the country, especially in the North West region. We are pleading with our governors to act responsibly and show these bandits that they are truly in charge and have citizens’ legitimate right to discharge the function of governance. It is sad and shameful for citizens to be afraid of bandits who are enemies of the state and should be seen on the run because citizens see their government as weak and unable to protect them.”

There’s lack of enough properly trained, equipped, motivated personnel

Mr Anthony N Z Sani, the immediate past Secretary General of Arewa Consultative Forum ( ACF) believed the presidential directive to the governors should spur the governors to do more of the duty assigned to them constitutionally as the chief security officers of their states. According to him, “I believe the challenges in confronting the insecurity goes beyond the directive as we are short of enough personnel who are properly trained, equipped and adequately motivated to secure the nation.

There is also the problem of ECOWAS Protocol which allows free movements in member countries. As a result, foreigners enter Nigeria freely and pose security challenges for the nation. Poverty is another factor which comes with ignorance and unemployment. This means that military might alone can not end the insecurity across the country. There is the need to address the underlying causes which cannot be a day’s job. It requires the efforts of both the federal and state governments as well as the citizens to come together and tackle the challenges for the good of all.”

Political leaders not concerned about the welfare of their people

Alhaji Suleiman Abdulaziz of the Coalition of Northern Groups ( CNG), however declared that, “it is unfortunate that the governors of northern Nigeria have to be directed by the presidency before they get serious about tackling the twin crimes of banditry and kidnappings that have ravaged communities in their states. The southern governors did not have to wait for the president to urge them into taking steps to reverse the security situation in their states. They got together and fashioned a uniform approach to insecurity in the region and they have been meeting regularly to review the situation collectively while their counterparts in the north are waiting for the directive of the president. This pedestrian mindset has proved what we have all along pointed out that those who pose as northern leaders particularly the state governors are not really concerned about the welfare of the people they lead.”

We need peace to have a stable life

Tanko Yakasai, an Elder statesman, said “with the deterioration of the security situation in the country, I am in support of any measure the government will take to address the security problem in Nigeria. There is nothing like peace. Without peace people cannot attend to their day to day activities in any country. We need peace to have a stable life. I am in support of the measure the President is introducing not only in the seven states mentioned but in any part of the country.”

State governments should complement Federal Government efforts in fighting crimes

A traditional ruler in Jama’are local government area of Bauchi State, Alhaji Yusuf Ahmed said, “it is not everything that the federal government should be doing for us. It is because of our attitude of over dependence on the federal government that we are having all these security problems. For instance, how will the federal government know if we have bandits here in Jama’are? They can’t know. That is why we have the state government which should complement the efforts of the federal government in fighting crimes such as banditry.

Governor is a mere ceremonial Chief Security Officer of his state

A lecturer at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Bauchi, Mr. Datti Ibrahim, in his own submissions said, “going by our current constitution, the governor is a ceremonial chief security officer of his state. Even if he knows how to deal with a situation, all he can do is to report and hope that help will come. That is not how progressive countries fight crime. If we want to fight crime, let’s go ahead and fight it. And if you look at another side of it, how will the governors fight banditry when majority of the population are hungry and without any job to do? Wherever there is high rate of crime, there is also hunger and desperation in the land. If we are serious about fighting crime, let’s get the people working and you’ll see that most of these bandits will repent on their own.

Governors don’t have total control of security agencies

Respondents in Plateau state believe the State Governor, Simon Lalong had no reason for not confronting insecurity in the state because a legal foundation on how to do so was laid for him to build on. A stakeholder in the state, Dauda Gotring said, “the laws are not too favourable to governors, they don’t have total control of the security agencies. A governor needs approval from the centre before security measures are taken. However, the good thing in Plateau is that there is Operation Rainbow (a local security outfit) which is already in existence, we can improve on that by increasing their funding among other things.”

Another respondent, Isaac Wadak noted that, “purchasing vehicles is good but tackling insecurity is not just about buying vehicles. You must also consider other security gadgets and equipment that go with the vehicles as well as welfare scheme that would motivate security personnel. I remember that in 2018, the governor launched a security platform, called, ‘Early Warning System’ of the Operation Rainbow at its headquarters in Jos. During the launching, he said the development of an early warning system was one of the most important platforms in conflict management because it enables stakeholders to come up with various ways to identify potential conflict before it erupts. However, the big question is; what really happened to that platform three years after it was launched?

“It is curious that since the launch of the early warning system of Operation Rainbow, the killings and sacking of villages have continued unabated, could it be that the system is not working or that the warnings are not handled as appropriately as they should? “Lalong’s nomenclature as Chief Security Officer could be limited by the provision of the constitution, it doesn’t stop his creative mind from devising other ways to offer protection for the people, just as other state governors are doing. The Operation Rainbow has been in place for years. What stopped him from utilizing it adequately to secure his people?”

In his own contribution, Alex Ladan argued that, “Constitutionally, it is the President who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, not even the Police does a Governor has any influence over, and that limits the powers of the governor as it relates to giving orders to the security agencies. There is serious dependence on the federal government as the constitution permits. I think we have a very great opportunity here on the Plateau because during the administration of Governor Jang, the Operation Rainbow was set up. I have been to the Operation Rainbow, interacted with the leadership and know that the outfit was designed to help us nip in the bud some of the challenges that we have security wise that will eventually blow up in our faces because they have personnel and it was designed to gather intelligence which is one key component in the security architecture. The Operation Rainbow is greatly underutilized, all they need is to be empowered and equipped to do the needful. It is backed by law so it is not illegal, I believe there are patriotic officers in the Police and Armed Forces who are tired of the security situation in this nation.”

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