One of the many talking points that emanated from the interview session that Arise TV had with President Buhari yesterday was the charge that the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria gave to governors of states in the federation to defend their territories against armed herders' invasions.
But given the way that country is structured, one is bound to ask whether the President's charge is feasible in reality.
To buttress the point above, let us consider the recent massacre perpetrated by gunmen suspected to be Fulani herders in Igangan, Ibarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo State, southwest Nigeria. The gunmen numbering over 100, according to eyewitness accounts, invaded the community and killed about 50 persons.
Three days after the incident, the Governor of the state, Seyi Makinde, visited the community to assess the damage that the herders had done to it first hand.
At the scene of the attack, Makinde lamented the level of havoc the herders wreaked on the community.
A few days later, in a keynote address that he delivered at a summit at the University of Ibadan, the governor made a passionate appeal to the Federal Government to license state governors in the Southwest region to purchase high-caliber weapons like AK-47 assault rifles for the Western Nigeria Security Network, also known as Amotekun Corps, to enable the outfit effectively tackle rising insecurity in the region.
Makinde expressed his frustration at the situation where governors, who are referred to as the chief security officers of their respective states, do not have constitutional powers to command the security forces in their domains.
He said: "Even though I continue to take responsibility for the security situation in Oyo State, we all know that, in reality, the Commissioner of Police has to wait for orders from 'above' before taking specific actions to benefit the local population."
He explained that the federal security agencies in the states have to take orders or get clearance from a central command structure at the federal level to take action at any point in time.
Makinde lamented that even though theSouthwest had set up a regional security outfit, the Amotekun, several limitations hamper the outfit's effective operation.
Here is how the governor put it:
"You have done guns and you are faced with people carrying AK-47. If it is in terms of investment, if we are given the authority, I will also buy AK-47s for Amotekun, if given the license."
The governor also advocated state policing and the devolution of power from the center as sure solutions to the insecurity challenges currently confronting the nation.
He concluded that when state governors become the actual chief security officers in charge of their respective states, they will be able to respond swiftly to security challenges within their domains.
Nigerians, who have been keenly following political developments in the country, would recall the stiff opposition that the Southwest region encountered in its attempt to establish a regional security network. Key elements in the Buhari administration like the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, and many others vehemently opposed the idea, citing a violation of the Constitution.
Makinde is not the first person to speak in this manner concerning the nation's security challenges. Patriotic Nigerians recognize that what the governor said about the matter is very true. The President also knows that the constitutional limitations that the governors have are true.
Now, in the light of these facts, how does the President expect the governors to defend their territories without infringing on the law? How realistic is the President's charge to the governors?
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