Insecurity: Governors need more powers to safeguard states — Obi, others

Some former governors have called for more powers for state governors to effectively tackle the security challenges in their respective  states. The governors  spoke during the panel discussion at the Annual Lecture and International Leadership Symposium of the Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL)on Tuesday in Lagos. The New Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that a new book by Prof. Pat Utomi’, founder of CVL, titled “Power, Politics, Public Policy Process and Performance,” was launched during the programme . The programme, organised to mark Utomi’s 68th birthday, had the theme “Democracy, Governance and National Performance: The Mutual Relationship”. Mr Peter Obi ,a former governor of Anambra and 2023 Presidential candidate of the Labour Party; a former governor of Sokoto State, Sen. Aminu Tambuwal and a former governor of Akwa Ibom ,  Obong Victor  Attah, spoke during the panel discussion. Answering questions on powers of  governors in the current political dispensation, Obi recalled that when he governed  Anambra, he enjoyed substantial measure of power to take some security decisions, to secure the people. He said that during the time he served as governor , the President then,authorised   governors to act on some matters of security. “There is always between one president and another .We cannot compare President Olusegun Obasanjo presidency, Umaru Yar’Adua presidency to what we have after.
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“Under Obasanjo, the governors were in charge of security. I requested that every DPOs (Divisional Police Officers) be removed and I had it. “I took decisions on security with the authority of the President during late President Umaru Yar’adua and every month, there was a conversation between the President and the Governors. “The governor have to be in charge of the state and be responsible. “So, we need a President who is determined to give the governor authority to do something,” Obi said. The former LP presidential candidate called on the President to strengthen  the war against insurgency and corruption,in order to move the nation forward. On economy and inflation, Obi, who decried  the ‘dollarisation ‘of business  transactions in some quarters  , said that people guilty of this act of sabotage should  be  punished. “Nigeriana should be proud of our currency. We must have a system that works. These are issues that we need to deal with,” he said. Speaking ,Tambuwal, also a former Speaker, House of Representatives, said that governors  were not always consulted lately when  decisions concerning their states were being made by the President. Citing the closure of three borders linking Sokoto with three states in Niger, during President Muhammadu Buhari, Tambuwal said that as the governor of the state, he was not consulted or carried along.
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“On matters of security, governors are supposed to be hand on because they are the one dealing with  issues of ensuring that people are secured. “There is the need for us to restructure and devolve more powers to the governors so that they can work on issues of security. Speaking on western democracy and whether the presidential system of government is  working in Nigeria, Tambuwal  said that the system appeared  not to be working for the country. “I believe that as someone who was  in the House of Representatives from 2023 to 2015, and who was  Speaker of that House, we have a lot of work to do to bring the realities of our situation to bear with the presidential system of government. “We need to tinker and work the system and bring it closer home. I believe there is a lot more to do be done in terms of working the system to conform  to our own reality,” he said. The former governor noted that  the the country’s challenges were not all about the system alone, saying to they also had to do with leadership and the drivers of democracy. “We need to change our ways, we as a people, practising this democracy, we need to imbibe the values  of those practising democracy in the United States of America,” he said.
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Contributing to the question on powers of the governor in tackling security challenges, Attah, who was also the Chairman of the occasion, said that in a federation, the governors were supposed to be partners  not subordinates  to the President. The former governor said that he was frustrated ,at a point ,while executing his power plant project when he was Akwa Ibom governor because of the nature of the federal system in place, calling for  constitutional review. While supporting advocates of creation of state police, Attah added that the electoral body must also be put on trial on some of its activities, to move the nation forward. “We also need to develop the courage and ability to change our constitution and make it one written by Nigerians and for Nigerians ,to make progress,” he said Contributing ,Utomi said that Presidents  were supposed to be good listeners, consulting with governors and taking counsel from them  on matters of security “We need people to  go into leadership positions to learn to listen and consult. If you cannot  listen, you cannot lead,” he said. Applauding late  Yar’adua for being a good listener, Utomi said Nigeria was unfortunate to have lost  Yar’ adua while in Aso Rock. Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, the Keynote Speaker, who highlighted the link between democracy, governance and national performance, said that the world was beckoning on Nigeria to take its rightful  place in democracy, governance and national performance . Fomunyoh, Senior Associate and Regional Director for the Central and West Africa Programme ,said that the continent was waiting for  Nigeria to  take the lead in human capital development , economic development ,  good governance , among other indices of development.

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