Nigeria’s South-west Leaders Urge Overhaul of Nation’s Security, Seek Reopening of Borders

South-west governors, ministers and monarchs sunday called for a comprehensive review of the nation’s security system and advised that a review and implementation of reports of constitutional conferences, including the 2014 National Conference with respect to security, among other salient issues, would be the correct decision to make.

The leaders at a meeting in Lagos with a presidential delegation led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, also canvassed special protection for the region’s economic interests and assets.

In a communiqué issued after the meeting, the leaders said the review of reports of constitutional conferences held in the past would facilitate the implementation of some of the recommendations, especially with reference to security, economy and equal treatment for citizens.

The communiqué, signed by the Chairman of the South-west Governors’ Forum and Ondo State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, and the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, noted that the prolonged closure of the border has caused economic difficulties and should be re-examined to alleviate problems of the people in the border communities and the soaring prices of some essential commodities.

The South-west leaders also urged the federal government to use the existing laws, including the 2015 Cyber Act and those regulations benchmarked from other countries to provide safeguards against the spread of fake news.

They thanked President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration for their responsiveness to the initial demands of the #EndSARS demonstrators and for the firm handling of the aftermath of the protests.

They endorsed the call by traditional rulers for regular consultations with governors and federal authorities on challenges facing the states and for recognition of their role in the constitution.

“The security architecture of the country requires adjustment to adequately address the threats and realities of insecurity in the country,” they said, adding: “There should be more police presence in communities in the South-west states.”

They said while there were legitimate concerns contained in the initial #EndSARS movement, they regretted that the protests were later hijacked by criminals and other elements with ulterior and negative motives, degenerating into anarchy.

The South-west leaders stressed the need for government to be proactive in preventing a repeat of what happened in the country following the demonstrations, adding that security needs to be strengthened in all states.

They said: “We wish to encourage the Nigeria Police by responding to their needs and appeal to them to do more to protect lives and property and enhance security all over the country. We call for specific measures and proposals to repair the damage done to the physical infrastructure and economic assets of the South-west.

“[We call for]review of reports of constitutional conferences, including the 2014 National Conference, and implement some of the recommendations, especially with reference to security, economy, equal treatment for citizens all over the country.

“We believe that the prolonged closure of the border has caused economic difficulties and should be re-examined to alleviate problems of the people in the border communities and prices of some essential commodities.

“There is a need to review the closure and permit resumption of economic and trading activities.”

They called for a programme to address youth employment, urging that empowerment should be prioritised.

The leaders said there should be closer coordination and complementarity between the states and the federal government and asked for a review of the curricular of tertiary institutions with an emphasis on skills acquisition and entrepreneurship.

Saying they recognised the damaging and negative impact of fake/false news and worry about its destructive and dangerous potency of fake news, the leaders, however, called on the federal government to use the instrumentality of existing laws and those regulations benchmarked from other countries to provide safeguards against the spread of fake news.

“The 2015 Cyber Act will also be fully used. The federal government should ensure that technology is used effectively for the advancement of the Nigerian security and not its destruction by working with the technology cum social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram etc. The regime of checks and gate-keeping should be fully employed.

“We urge that every effort should be made to resolve the impasse between ASUU and the federal government so that students can return to school in earnest,” the leaders said.

Nseobong Okon-Ekong, Segun James

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