Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson, has described the current spate of violence and killings in Nigeria, particularly in the northern part of the country, as the biggest threat to the nation’s cooperate existence, since the civil war.
He faulted the nation’s “lopsided federal structure, over-centralisation and politicisation of law and order” as threats to contemporary governance in Nigeria.
A statement issued by Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Francis Agbo, said Mr Dickson spoke on Friday in Abuja while delivering a lecture entitled: “Cultural Values, National Security and Challenges of Contemporary Governance: Perspective From Bayelsa State Experience”, organised by Institute of Security Studies (ISS).
Mr Dickson condemned the recent killings and warned that the country would cease to have a future if President Buhari fails to urgently mobilise the people of Nigeria to build a non-partisan consensus to avert the nationwide senseless killings.
He lamented that politicians were using the security structures of the country to torment innocent citizens for their selfish ends and by so doing, causing national insecurity and instability.
The governor maintained that the wind of insecurity blowing across the nation and particularly the killing of innocent Nigerians in the northern part of the country were fuelled by the imbalance in the country’s security structure and the politicisation of security by members of the ruling party.
Mr Dickson said, “It is very clear that Nigeria’s lopsided federal system and over centralisation of security powers and the politicisation of security by several agencies are a major clause of instability and poses a threat to National stability.
“I was talking the politics of insecurity and the insecurity of politics occasioned by the abuse of Nigeria’s federal system and the ease at which those who control powers at the federal level undermine law and order in parts of our country and make it difficult for our citizens to feel safe and to feel protected under the law.
“When you correct this abuse of federal system, the governor of Benue and Taraba will be in the position to mobilise the security resources of their States… I remember the governor of Zamfara said he didn’t want to be addressed as the Chief Security Officer of the state.”
The Bayelsa State governor added that although the military has made appreciable progress in its fight against Book Haram, recent events in the country shows that the war against terrorism was far from over.
He, therefore, called on stakeholders irrespective of their political parties to unite in order to proffer a solution to the lingering insecurity in the country.
Mr Dickson said when a nation comes under under attack, the leaders, military, civil, Christians, Muslims, must come together to address it.
The governor said what was going on in Nigeria was more than the historical herdsmen and farmers clashes, saying the country has lost too many innocent souls to the killings.
He said, “Who are the farmers having clashes with herdsmen in Sokoto, Zamfara and other places. We must call a spade a spade for the good of our country. We are dealing with a calculated attack on our country. We are dealing with machinery of violence against innocent Nigerians.
“Yes we have historical incidence of herdsmen and farmers clash but what is going on is far more than that. All Nigerians and people of good will should show patriotism and let us interrogate this issues properly.”
He said a situation where a security officer diligently doing his work is unceremoniously transfered because someone who has access to power wanted him transferred was not healthy for the nation.
Mr Dickson said, “Nigerians are right to demand for protection. They expect the security agencies to arise to the occasion and put an end to the killings that are moving from one state to the other.
“If the people are under attack by gunmen, that is the more reasons why the security forces and the President as the Commander-in-Chief-of-Armed-Forces should lead the security agencies to repel this attack. We have lost enough innocent lives. Instead of these killings abating, it continues to be spreading.
“That is why I said what is going on in the Middle Belt, North East, Niger Delta and other regions of the country is clearly the most potent National Security and essential threat our country has faced since the civil war.”
He said to address insecurity in Nigeria, there was also need for the government to invest more in education, stressing that the options are clear: “it is either you build more schools or you build more prisons and cemetaries.”
The governor added that addressing the situation and developing the country, there was need to recognise and respect ethics and cultural differences in the country
Mr Dickson, however, said that in spite of the contemporary security challenge facing Nigeria, the country has the potential of becoming country of great capability.
“In spite of these challenges, we believe that a new Nigeria of peace and stability, equal citizens and egalitarian Nigeria is still possible. From the north to the south, east to the west, God in His mercy and wisdom has given us everything to be great,” he stressed.