Alhaji Sheu Babalola, a retired Assistant Inspector General of Police, has added his voice to the strident call for restructuring of Nigeria noting there is too much power at the centre.
AIG Babalola also pointed out that the Nigerian military has become overstretched from quelling internal strifes at different flashpoints in the country urging the President Mohammadu Buhari-led administration to rather embrace dialogue with agitators and the aggrieved.
Babalola made these submissions Tuesday while delivering the keynote address at the annual week of the National Association of Women Academics (NAWACS), Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH, Ogbomoso chapter in which he identified causes of insecurity in Nigeria, its effects and way forward.
Speaking on the topic, “The effect of insecurity on women’s contribution to national development,” Sheu Babalola said, ”Restructuring of Nigeria and devolution of powers (is very paramount). There are too much power at the center to the detriment of the component states. These and many others are the cause of ethnic tension and agitation for self-determination by some groups.”
He also stressed, “The government should reduce its overdependence on the military. The military is overstretched. Government should explore other avenues of conflict resolution such as embracing dialogue and enhance intelligence gathering and surveillance.”
Some other measures advocated by the former top police officer included embracement of culture of good governance and transparency, citizens cooperation with security operatives, greater reliance on internal security agencies such as the police, DSS, vigilantes, traditional rulers and youth organizations in matters of internal security, international collaborations, cautious granting of amnesty to “kidnappers, bandits and insurgents as discriminate pardon to criminals tend to demoralize serving security personnel apart from hurting the family of victims” and “speedy trials of criminals in our courts while our judicial system should be enhanced, made more effective and properly monitored as justice delayed is justice denied.”
He emphasized that poor government processes, corruption, poverty, unemployment, poor medical facilities, poor leadership, weak judicial system poor policing system, porous border and over use of the military in internal security to the neglect of other services constitute some of the factors promoting insecurity in Nigeria.
While noting several notable women academics have contributed to Nigeria’s development among whom are Professors Grace Alele Williams, Bolanle Awe, Sophie Bosede Oluwole, Dora Akunyili and Jadesola Akande (whom he said contributed several papers on police reforms), he lamented, “The menace, problems and hardship of insecurity and kidnappings have directly or indirectly affected contributions of more women in national development because they are afraid to join politics and to work outside their immediate environment as a result of the unforseen killings, maiming, threats, intimidations and brutality within the polity.”
He went ahead to highlight other effects of insecurity in the country some of which are increased tension and agitation for self-determination by ethnic groups cum breeding of ethnic militias like MASSOB, OPC etc, food insecurity, shutting down of schools, industrial actions, loss of confidence in government and increasing rate of crimes.
Some others according to him are attacks on security operatives with concomitant arsons, extra-judicial killings, riots, poverty, unemployment as well as bribery and corruption.
Warning Nigeria is treading the way to Afghanistan where the Taliban forcefully took over power last month he reiterated that the only solution to Nigeria’s plethora of problems is restructuring.
Babalola added that scheming by politicians for what to become in 2023 is misplaced priority amid the crises the country is faced with at the present.
“Let us set aside greed, selfishness and worthless 2023 political ambitions. The way forward is restructuring and devolution of power. There is too much concentration of power at the centre.
”We need to demonstrate genuine political will, transparent leadership, tenacity of purpose, courage and vision to save Nigeria and the generations to come. Let us initiate genuine dialogue now.”
The event was attended by many dignitaries including the Acting Vice Chancellor, LAUTECH, Professor Mojeed Liasu (represented); the institution’s Registrar, Dr Kayode Ogunleye; and Alaaje of Aaje High Chief Reuben Adesina Amao Osunbiyi l.
In a chat with ogbomosoinsightonline.com after the programme Babalola further charged government to wake up to its responsibility though admitting they are doing their best “but they need to do more.”
Asked to react to the government’s pussyfooting in tagging the bandits and insurgents as terrorists he posited, “It is a matter of changing names, a criminal is a criminal, whether he is a bandit or kidnapper.”
He however enjoined the people to be security conscious, “The truth is that security is everybody’s business, we on our own have to be vigilant, we have to report security issues to the police.”
He also disagreed with the Nigeria’s minister of defence Bashir Magashi’s advocacy that people should learn to defend themselves saying, “Everybody cannot have guns, there has to be a database before that can come into effect so that the gun can be accounted for.
“In advanced countries, they know where you bought the gun, who sold it to you, we don’t have that here. But that does not mean you cannot defend yourself, you just have to be vigilant.”