Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim is disturbed over the security challenges afflicting his home state of Yobe and other states in the north. Giving an insight as to why there is trouble in the north, Ibrahim who served Yobe state as a two term governor says that it is unfortunate that states in the entire north east geo-political zone of the country are the most neglected part of the country.
On the agitation for creation of states
The need for the creation of states is desirable; I don’t know how easy it is going to be because the requests are so many. Almost every state of the federation has asked for more states to be
created out of their states. Some have even asked for two, some have even asked for three in their existing states. So it is going to be a very difficult exercise. I don’t know how this issue is going to end. And don’t forget,whatever we agree upon, we’ll have to get the support of two-thirds of states Houses of Assemblies who must pass them and that is where the difficulty will
come in. If any state fails to get an additional state for themselves, then they will not support the creation of states in other states. So it is really a very difficult exercise but all the same since we have started we have to go through the whole exercise. And at the end of the day, whatever issue Nigerians agree on that will be the outcome.
On the issue of state police
I personally feel there is need for state police. Our policing system will never be effective if we don’t have state
police, and local policing at the state level. So we hope at the end of the day, we are going to have the state police and also the federal police; the two will have to work hand in hand. I believe that will be the most effective way this issue will be tackled. Well, the issue of expenditure if we have a state police in place will have to be tackled separately. The federal government is funding
the Nigerian police now but in addition to what the federal government is doing, the states are also contributing huge sums of money on policing in their various states by way of buying vehicles, equipment, in some cases even arms and ammunition are being purchased by the states for the police. So whoever is
going to handle it, money will have to be spent and if the federal government allows for the state police to be created in all the states of the federation, they will just have the fund it. The federal government/states must fund them. We need policing, we need security. We have a very big security problem. As you
can see, even in the budget presented by Mr President, security took the highest vote among all the other sectors in the economy. So I don’t think there is a reason not to have state police. I feel there is a need for state police, a desire for state police. We have to just establish them. Funding will definitely
be taken care of one way or the other. They will have to employ more policemen on the ground then we have now. Nigeria is under-policed; we don’t have enough policemen to do the proper policing as we know in the developed countries in
On whether state police could be susceptible to abuse
If state governors would abuse state police,
wouldn’t the federal government abuse federal police? The leader there in the centre is the president of Nigeria, who was a former governor, a former deputy governor. What is the difference between him and the other governors who are in control of their states? So the issue of abuse is something we Nigerians must
ensure that we don’t allow anyone abuse it. That is our own responsibility as a country. We should not allow someone to abuse it whether at the state level or the federal level. Well, it is usually during elections that you find allegations of the federal government abusing its powers of control of the
police to the detriment of the states; the same thing would happen at the state
level. But I believe there has been improvement. I don’t think the federal
government in the last election really abused the issue of the police in favour of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the government in power. So we can do
the same thing, we just have to continuously monitor the developments and ensure that neither the state governors nor the president abuse the power of the control of the police. After all, the police are for the whole nation. They
are not for the federal, state or local governments; they all have to work together in the interest of the nation. This is something we as Nigerians must ensure it doesn’t happen.
On tackling the security challenges in the northern states
That is a very complicated matter. We have
been discussing, we’ve been giving our ideas on how best to go about improving it. But what is most important is that we as a nation must ensure that justice is done to all parts of the country. No part of this country should be neglected. It is the utter neglect of certain parts of this country that always
breeds insecurity. Where there is injustice, there is always going to be security problems. Where there is no justice, there will never be peace. This is a basic philosophy we have to live with and we have to continuously make
efforts to improve upon it. Security is a very expensive thing, as you can see, even in the budget that was presented, security took the highest amount of all
the other sectors in the country that shows how expensive it is and also how important it is. Just because it is expensive, we cannot turn our backs on security and continue to allow people to kill themselves, maim themselves, destroy lives
and properties left, right and centre as it is happening now. We just have to tighten our belts as a nation and try to solve the problems. The security outfits are doing their best but security is not something that the federal
government alone can solve, security is not something the state governments
alone can do everything from top to bottom. It’s something we all have to get involved; security is everybody’s business. So all Nigerians must get involved in bringing about the satisfactory end to the security problems in the country.
On the refusal by President Goodluck Jonathan to visit troubled Yobe and Borno states
He definitely could do more. It is high time
he visited Yobe and Borno. In all the killings, burnings and maiming, not a single highly placed government official has ever visited either Yobe or Borno. So I think it is high time that Mr President paid a visit to those two states.
They should be able to provide sufficient security for him to feel secure enough to visit those two states and they say seeing is believing; if he goes there and sees what’s been done for the past two years or so, I believe
something positive will be done to ameliorate the sufferings of the people who have been victims of this insecurity problem. So many schools have been burned
down, people’s houses have been burned down and the military now any time there is a military man killed or military men killed, when they get there, they burn
all the houses there, all the shops there. They kill people left, right and centre. We’ve seen all these things on Al-Jazeera and also we’ve read about
them in the local media of present. That must stop. The way and manner security people react to insecurity situations in those states is very deplorable. It is not what one would expect from security agents that are being paid by the tax
payers. To just go about killing people, burning their properties, burning their children, killing their children left, right and centre. That should stop. Mr President should pay a visit. If they find any window of opportunity, there should be dialogue.
As I’ve told you, the basis is the lack of
justice; injustice is the basic thing that brought about this insecure
situation in Nigeria. The earlier we do something as a nation, the better for all of us. You see the House of Representatives and the Senate have various sessions on security, various debates on security. Each time we debated, each time we dialogued and discussed these issues, a report was always presented to Mr President for onward transmission to the security agents under him to bring
about more acceptable control of the security apparatus. It is not something that has not been happening. It is happening over and over and we have had sessions with the service chiefs in the Senate, the service chiefs in the House of Reps. We have even discussed these things in the Villa with the President and all the members of the National Assembly present and all the cabinet ministers, the service chiefs and everybody. So it is something that has been
going on, it is not that we have been sitting back, doing nothing or giving no suggestions on how to go about this situation. I think this situation seemed to
overwhelm the federal government for quite some time but I believe there has been an improvement in the security situation in all parts of the country now.
On the budget 2013 proposals for developmental projects in the North-East geo-political zone
Well, this again is something we have been
talking about for quite some time. The north eastern part of the country has been neglected over a long period. There has been utter total neglect of that area in almost all subsequent budgets over the last two or three decades. It is not something that just happened overnight. If you look at the Architect
Ibrahim Bunu report on the projects all over the country, you would discover that the North-East had the least number of projects costing just 90 billion naira as opposed to the South-South which had 2 trillion naira worth of projects
on the ground. The North-Central with over N700 billion naira worth of
projects, North-West with over N600 billion worth of projects on the ground, South-West with 530 billion projects on the ground and North-East with only N90 billion for all the six states of the North-East which is one-third of Nigeria. It is the biggest geopolitical zone which is the zone that gets the least attention
from the federal government. This has been repeated in the 2013 budget. The director of the budget just sent to us six copies of the projects on the basis of the zones. You’ll discover that all the five zones in the country had projects worth 79 to 80 billion naira; the North-East has only 50 billion. This
is all there in the books. We are yet to debate them; we are yet to take action on them but these are the kind of things we have been complaining about. And
that is the area with the highest security problem today getting the least attention. If we continue with that kind of thing, we are not going to have it easy at all. The leaders from the North-East have spoken time without number of times
on this issue. It is all about being fair to every part of
the country; it’s about all zones of the country getting a fair share of the national cake irrespective of who baked it or how it has been baked in the
federation. Every part of the federation should be treated fairly, equally; that is the issue. And that is not going to stop in tomorrow’s meeting; it is going to be a continuous struggle. The struggle has started and we, as the representatives
of the people, must fight the government to get our fair share of the national cake. Today is all about oil. Nobody knows what will bring in revenue in the next five to 10 years; it could be something else. We have resources buried in the ground all over the country. It is a question of exploiting them; we have not
been exploited them properly in the interest of the country. But the way we are going about this thing, I believe the moment people start discussing problems in any particular country, half of the problem has already been solved, the other half is to go the extra mile and do something about it and that is what
we are doing now.
On the prospects of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), alliance/ merger talks with other opposition parties
I am very confident this time around it is
going to succeed. One, it started on time; we now have sufficient time to make it work. Two, it is legal. Three, it has been politically accepted. Nigerians have agreed today that the big problem of this country is PDP and unless we
develop political structures that will take them one to one, we are not going to solve our major problems in the country. So the whole effort now is to unite the opposition. Unite the so called progressives in the country to take on the
ultra conservative PDP. This is non-negotiable, this time we are going to succeed Insha Allah. We may not be able to form a government in 2015 but that is not the issue. Let us have two strong political groups, two strong political forces, either of which could campaign and win elections and form a central
government in Nigeria. That is even in the interest of democracy in Nigeria for this country to have at least two strong parties rather than one strong party
and epileptically tiny, small parties. So we are working very hard on this and that is what this committee is partially expected to do, that is not the only thing it is supposed to do, but that is a very important aspect of the assignment given to the Mallam Shekarau committee of which I am a member.
On whether two party system is desirable for the polity
It is the right thing to do and that is what we are trying to do now. There should be at least two strong political parties.
I said it over and over again now. There should be at least two strong
political groups, strong political parties, whether they are based on ideology or whatever and each of those two, two minimum, you can have more than two, you can have three or four strong parties but for now, we have only one strongparty, the PDP. There is a need for a second strong party to take them on. Wedon’t know what will happen in the future but a one party state is not good fora heterogeneous society like ours in Nigeria. We are not a homogenous society,so one party cannot work in this country.