Meeting between the leaders and elders of the South-South and South-West took place penultimate Saturday in Ikenne-Remo, Ogun State. These leaders in short interviews with IDOWU ADELUSI and DARE ADEKANBI of Tribune aired their views on state of the nation. Excerpts:
Govt should bring criminals to book – Daukoru
DR Edmund Daukoru, former Petroleum Minister incumbent Amanyanabo of Nembe and chairman, South South monarch forum
What is your view on insecurity situation in the country?
I associate myself with the consensus that we have laws in the country against criminality, that government should do its best to apprehend the criminals and bring them to book through the due process.
What about the escape of Boko Haram suspect?
I don’t want to make comment on that because the government is already taken the step right on that. We should be patient to wait for the outcome. It’s just an onfolding story which is just two weeks old. We should wait for outcome of government’s investigation before making any comment.
As chairman of South/South Monarchs Forum, what is the stand of the monarchs in that zone on the situation?
We are absolutely for peace, unity and stability as royal fathers of this country. We would work with any institution that is ready for peace, unity and stability of this nation.
If America can find solution to terrorism, Nigeria can — Mukoro
Professor Saliba Mukoro, former Head, Department of Criminal Justice, Mississipi State University, USA and PDP governorship candidate, Delta State.
What do you have to say about state of insecurity in this nation, more so that some people are agitating for return of the military?
I don’t subscribe to return of the military. Military administration is outdated. Everything now is about civilian democracy. Any country that is still under military dictatorship is moving backward. There is no substitute for democracy, more heads are better than one. Democracy will work in any Nigeria, it will only take time. In advanced democracies of the word it took time before they could attain stability it, didn’t work immediately. All that we need to do in Nigeria is to put our heads together. I can guarantee you that if the US was able to find solution to terrorism, we can.The world will not work with military dictatorship. We don’t pray for the return of the military, and I believe it will not happen.
How do you expect the nation to overcome insecurity problem if suspects can escape from the police’s custody ?
It is one of those things you are to expect in a system that is just developing. As soon as we continue to improve on our security system, those lapses will become a thing of the past.
In the April 1990 Orkar-led military coup that attempted to overthrow Babangida Administration, you were one of the coupists. Why did your group attempt it?
We felt things were not going the way it should go. In this country, there should not first class or second class citizens. There should be nothing like promoting or putting one religion over the other. We thought things shouldn’t be like that. We played our part.
Are the reasons you have mentioned which prompted your group to strike at that still prevalent now?
No, because you can see that the South and the North are working together now better.The Northerns are voting in support of Southerners and vice-versa. When Goodluck Jonathan was Vice President, he would not have become acting president and later president if the Northerners have not voted for him. Now, we understand that we are our brothers’ keepers.
Situation whereby the Boko Haram sect is asking christians from the south to leave the North. How do you view that?
The way some of us see it is that it is not a Northern plan, it is the work of a few people who possibly have their personal political axe to grind. We should fish them out.
The President admitted that Boko Haram members or sympathisers have infiltrated the three arms of the government, we are yet to see the government naming them.
Well, you know that Mr President has information that we do not have. I will not suggest what he should do. He has made it clear that Boko Haram members have infiltrated his administration. In the past few days, we have seen where somebody was arrested and later escaped from the hands of the police. The president knows what to do.
Perhaps, Jonathan is a weak President and people who know this are taking advantage of that.
He is not a weak president, he is a wise man. If you look at the way he rose to power, was that done by a human being? It was by God. If God had brought him to power. he would give him all that he (Jonathan) needs to succeed. Let’s give him time because he is fighting so many interest groups. People are behind the problems and they are giving him tough time. The bottomline is that he will succeed, let’s give him time.
Somebody has said that Jonathan is facing the problems because he is from a minority ethnic group. Do you agree with that view?
That is not true, a minority person will work better with all the majority groups. Our father, Obafemi Awolowo had in the past predicted that somebody from the minority ethnic group will rule this country. It has come to pass now. Jonathan will get along well with all the majority groups in the country.
Jonathan should overhaul security to end Boko Haram insurgence — Porbeni
Admiral Festus Porbeni (rtd)
As a military general, how can the insecurity problem be tackled?
That can only be done through the cooperation of the people with the government. Fighting crime and terrorism is about information gathering and intelligent work and giving genuine informations to our security agents. You can fight crime successfully if you have reliable information.The head of any security operative that is wanting should be removed. For a Boko Harm suspect to have escaped is a terrible thing. Let the president overhaul the security as a way to put end to this Boko Haram insurgence and other
criminal activities. Though the heads of some of these security operatives are trying but as far as I can see, their bests are not good enough.
If Nigerians can be patient with President Jonathan will he deliver?
Of course, he will deliver. Governance of a nation like Nigeria, is not an easy thing. We should be patient with the president, cooperate with him in order for him to use his tenure to transform this nation.If he is denied of the required cooperation, Jonathan will not be the loser but this country particularly the youth who are looking forward for better tomorrow, not we that are already old. A single day is important in the life of any nation, not to talk of four years.
Recruit graduates only into police to have better force — Okiro
Mike Okiro, former Inspector General of Police
How can you compare the police under you and the police now as fighting crime is concerned?
Between that time and now is for the people to judge. You all know that societies changes, likewise criminality. Things are changing always. During my time, there was nothing like terrorism or Boko Haram. Though, in my own wisdom, I established the police anti-terrorism squad in September 2007. During that time terrorism was an international scourge. I decided not to wait til terrorism come to Nigeria before I take action. I sent some of my men to train in Israel, South Africa, Egypt and Spain. These are countries that have long history of terrorism.
Unfortunately, as I left office, the terrorists started striking. Wave of crime right now is higher than when I was in office. If they can burn police stations, police headquarters, UN Building, churches and kill people, people are very afraid now because nobody know who is the next target. Insecurity has permiated all nooks and crannies of the country.
Is the Nigeria police equipped to face these modern challenges?
No, the police cannot do anything without proper funding, it is ill-equipped. If the police is properly funded, it can buy equipment to face these challenges. To fight this scourge called terrorism, it cannot be done without money.
Is it under funding that is also responsible for crime suspects to escape from custody of the police?
That is very sad, unimaginable. The officers who are responsible for that should be punished. I suposed the suspect was handcuffed or chained, how he managed to escape is unimaginable and unacceptable.
How can we have a better police force in Nigeria?
Recruit good people, train and equip them well.
Some people have canvassed that only graduates should be recruited into the police as a way to reform the police. Do you also support that position?
It is ok and with good pay. The best people will come to the police.
What is your view about corruption in the police and some cops extorting money from motorists and commercial motorcycle operators?
Extorting money from motorists by the police is bad. Issue of corruption cuts across the society but the police is empowered constitutionally to prevent crime, not to commit the crime they are supposed to prevent.
Therefore, policemen who are found collecting money at the road block or anywhere should be arrested and punished. The police have what they called escort which is supposed to watch over activities of policemen. This squad should go round the police stations, road blocks to apprehend policemen collecting money from the people for punishment.
Why Jonathan is good for this country now — Ogundokun
Chief Abiola Ogundokun
Every Nigerian should have the inner thought that he is a Nigerian, contributing to the progress of Nigeria, not exhibiting the political ideology of If I don’t get it, I will destroy it. That is the grand basis of the crise in this country. We don’t want these people to win, we don’t want that man there and they are ready to kill millions in order to sustain that their thought but God will not allow them to get it. We must suffer, sacrifice before we can move forward. Any American think of America before thinking of himself but Nigerians thinking of themselves, before thinking of the country.
When they were talking about insecurity in Lagos, some people are clamouring for removal of military men there. When infact the Lagos State disagreed with the federal government because it could not ge there. They just have to wait for their time. God is merciful, He could bring anybody there. Nobody thought that somebody from a minority ethnic group could be there today. If you don’t give cooperation to the man there, in future, you might have some problems and people will pay you back in your own coin.
Are you saying that soldiers should remain in Lagos for now?
Yes they should remain.
Some people had said the Boko Haram sect is faceless?
Are they faceless? They cannot be faceless. the people sponsoring them cannot be from the sky. If there is no security leakage, or getting support from somewhere due to disloyalty of some security personnel, they will not continue to perpetrate evil. The president should overhaul the security and let loyal people take-over. The president is just a kind-hearted man and I think he is good for us, otherwise, the country would have broken into pieces if he was just wicked. Look at the way he handled the recent protest over fuel subsidy removal. See how people were abusing him, but he was calmed and unroughed. Let those who are angry wait for their own time to come, there can be only one president at a time.
Let’s tackle Nigeria’s insecurity problem collectively — Felix Ibru
Olorogun Felix Ibru, former Delta State Governor.
How do you see the meeting sir?
The meeting was successful and useful in the sense that very important national issues were discussed and the two zones are united and resolute in the decisions taken. Some parts of the South/ South were part of the Western Region and that relationship is thick as blood is thicker than water. We will continue to renew and maintain this relationship. The meeting is like renewing the covenant between the two zones. Many other things were discussed like security problem which we believed has to be tackled collectively. Anything that can jeopardise this democracy should be condemned by everybody.
Will Mr President not see your communique as a mere advice. That can be jettisoned?
If it is just going to be a mere advice, we know that he will take it in view of the people and the people expect him to take it seriously and act promptly.
Nigeria’s problems can’t be solved without national conference — Gbonigi
Bishop Bolanle Gbonigi, Leader, Yoruba Unity Forum Was the meeting successful?
The leaders from the South-South led by Chief Edwin Clark and we in the South-West, met and talked on the unity, peace, growth and anything that can help this country. We were able to sympathise with relations of those killed as a result of activities of the Boko Haram sect.
We said there can be no untiy in this nation unless we have a national conference where we will sit down all the federating units of the country to review our situation. The various ethnic groups in Nigeria never agreed one day to become one. We were forced together by the colonial masters. We have to review this oneness. One of the important decisions taken is that we are going to urge the president to organise national conference as soon as possible to think about all these happenings.
We believe that President Jonathan will listen to us and take our advice. There are other zones which have taken their advices to him liker the South-East, and some groups in the North.
So, you will send your communique to him?
We are not only going to send it to him, we are going to meet him in Abuja. We have appointed 10 delegates each from the two zones to go and see the president personally and report to him outcome of our meeting.
Insecurity: Jonathan can tackle it — Diya Gen Oladipo Diya
The meeting was very fruitful and decisions taken are in the best interest of this country which we believe the president will consider. The issue of insecurity is bothering everybody. There is going to be a follow up of this meeting. Boko Haram is actually threatening existence of this nation and I know that President Jonathan will tackle the problem properly.He has the capacity to do it.
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