THE thirty- six state governors, under the aegis of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Tuesday disclosed that as governors, they have collectively spent about N2 trillion on the Nigeria Police Force in the last decade. According to the NGF, the money spent by the governors was to augment police operations nationwide, just as it revealed that Lagos state alone under Governor Akinwunmi Ambode spent the sum of N4.76 billion on the police in 2015.
In a statement Tuesday in Abuja by the Head, Media and Public Affairs of NGF, Abdulrazaque Barkindo, the forum stressed that the N2 trillion does not include the extra contributions of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Gombe states, hitherto referred to as the frontline states having virtually been the theatres of war and critical flash-points at the peak of the war against insurgency in the country.
Meanwhile, the forum is insisting on state police as the way forward to the nation’s security challenges, adding that the said amount is part of a research conducted by the media department of the NGF and published in its July edition of the Forum Secretariat’s monthly magazine “The Executive Summary.”
It pointed out that the magazine, which accompanied its story with an expenditure table of some of the purchases and donations made to the police by more than twenty of the states, also quoted the lamentations of some of the state governors who in spite of these donations have been unable to enjoy even the partial loyalty of the federal police at their most critical hour of need.
According to the statement, the purchases by the governors covered such items as Hilux trucks, Armoured Personnel carriers, Helicopters, River Gun Boats, Horses, Communication equipment, uniforms and handcuffs among others.
The statement said, “For example, the magazine which has as its cover story ‘State Police: The Time is Now,’ related that in 2015 alone Lagos State under Governor Akinwunmi Ambode spent over N4.765bn on helping to sustain the Federal Police.”
According to the report, in subsequent years going forward, the state also bought and donated to the police, 100 4-door Saloon cars, 55 Ford Ranger Pick-up trucks, 10 Toyota Landcruiser Pick-up trucks, 15 BMW power-bikes, 100 Isuzu trucks, three helicopters, two gunboats, 15 Armoured Personnel Carriers, revolving lights, sirens, communication gadgets, helmets, handcuffs among many other police requirements.
Looking at the donations in retrospect, Governor Ambode’s predecessor, Babatunde Raji Fashola also donated 50 patrol vehicles, 10 Armoured Personnel carriers, 100 walkie-talkies and 200 bullet-proof jackets apart from the establishment of an ICT Resource Centre for the police in Lagos State.
The statement stressed further that it is not Lagos alone that has donated generously to the police as Kano, Kaduna, Kwara, Cross Rivers, Ebonyi and Abia States have all, at various times, donated generously to the police force towards ensuring the safety and security of their peoples and their property. The statement added: “Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State, for example, was quoted as having said that ‘I am sitting here as governor, but I cannot control one police troop whenever crises break in my state.’
“His Zamfara State counterpart and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar had, at one time, even relinquished his position as the Chief Security Officer of his state, in frustration.”
The report further said even Benue State, which, very recently had its state assembly sealed and overtaken by the Nigeria Police Force had spent a substantial part of its security vote in ameliorating the problems of the same police force that was to later humiliate the state.
The governors however through the Nigeria Governors’ Forum have viewed this situation as absolutely unacceptable.
According to the statement, it is for these and several other reasons that the governors have been agitating for the creation of state police so that the safety of lives and property in the country would be firmly rested in the hands of those who spend their resources in sustaining the police force, adding, “Indeed, to give spice to the argument for the agitation of the states, the National Assembly only recently lent its voice to the agitation by state governors and also endorsed the formation of state police, saying it is about time.
“Most others who canvas the same position as the governors allude to the countries whose system Nigeria is emulating, saying community policing is a necessity if crime is to be prevented and insurgency is to be curtailed to the barest minimum.
“However, in response to those who argue that governors would abuse the privilege if given, Governor Mohammed Abdullahi of Bauchi State argued that those who hold that view are fearful because they have restricted their thinking to building individuals rather than building institutions.
“In July 2017 the Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris approached the Nigeria Governors’ Forum at their meeting in Aso Rock Villa seeking cap-in-hand, the sum of N3trillion as assistance from states.”
The magazine recalled that most states of the federation have already resorted to supporting vigilante groups and some have even gone further to establish various types of self-help security formations like the Bakasi Boys in Abia, KAI in Lagos, Civilian JTF in the northeast, Karota in Kano and several others that fill the vacuum created by the absence of the federal police in their respective states.