*Backs cattle ranching
*Opposes seizure of land by govt
By Ignatius Okorocha
Nigerians pushing for the adoption of State Police got the ears of the Presidency as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday affirmed that it is the only means to address the worsening insecurity in the country.
He said that outside State Police, the wanton killings and kidnapping of innocent Nigerians by miscreants would persist.
Osibanjo spoke in Abuja at the opening session of a two-day National Security Summit organised by the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Security Infrastructure in Nigeria.
The Vice President, who was at the event held at the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Conference Centre in Abuja on self-recognition, endorsed cattle ranching and cautioned constituted authorities against forceful acquisition of land for cattle grazing without recourse to constitutional provisions as contained in the Land Use Act.
Governors of the 36 states of the federation stayed away from the summit, even though they were invited. Also, Ministers in the Buhari administration were absent.
Before the event, Buhari had advised the Senate against hosting it, saying the Federal Government had taken serious steps against the threats to national security in some states.
Initially, the Presidency opted to host the conference in the State House, but the Senate kicked against hosting the summit in the fortress of the Presidential Villa.
Osinbajo said that the size of the country was too large for the present strength of the Nigeria Police to adequately secure the citizenry.
He stated that, “the nature of our security challenges is complex and known. Securing Nigeria’s over 900,000 sq km and its 180million people requires far more men and material than we have at the moment. It also requires a continuous reengineering of our security architecture and strategy. This has to be a dynamic processa�?.
Osinbajo continued: “For a country as big as our size to meet the one policeman-to-400 persons prescribed by the United Nations (UN), would require tripling our current Police Force; far more funding of the police and far more funding of our military and other security agencies.
“We cannot realistically police a country such as the size of Nigeria centrally from Abuja. State Police and other community policing methods are clearly the way to go,” he stressed.
The Federal Government, he noted, is working with neighbouring West African countries to prevent the movement of small arms and armed bandits across the borders.
“We must intensify existing collaboration with our neighbours in the Chad Basin by strengthening security, especially at border communities, to prevent the movement of small arms and disarming armed pastorialists and other armed bandits who go through our borders day after day.
“We must avoid the danger of allowing this crisis to degenerate into religious or ethnic conflict. This is the responsibility of political, religious and all other facets of our leadership in Nigeria”.
On the seizure of land belonging to states for grazing colony/open grazing, Osinbajo cautioned people muting the idea to jettison it, stressing that doing so would be a clear breach of the constitution.
According the Vice President, rather than canvassing for cattle colonies or open grazing, herdsmen should negotiate with state governors and acquire land for cattle ranching/livestock production.
“Let me reiterate that no one should forcefully take land for any of the ranching or grazing areas. All insinuations about the Federal Government forcefully taking land from any state should be disregarded because there has not been any such action.
“Instead, it is our view that any state that wishes to set aside land and have it gazetted should cooperate with willing investors for ranching or livestock production.
“We cannot afford even from the economic perspective, to continue to have open grazing situation. There must be other ways. We believe that where cattle are ranched, it would improve economic activities,” he stressed.
On the Land Use Act he recalled that the Supreme Court in the case of Attorney-General of Lagos vs Attorney -General of the Federation in 2004, held that the use of land and the resources therein lies firmly in the states.
a�?Even the use of federal land in the states, according to the Supreme Court, must be under the purview of the state governments,a�? the Vice President asserted.
In his opening address, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, explained that the summit was designed to allow full and unfettered discussion, reiterating that it was not aimed at indicting anybody or organisation.
“What our country needs at this time is leadership that will work to douse the flames and reduce tension in the land. It is essential that we lower the barriers in our actions and rhetoric, and refrain from playing politics with a crisis situation in which Nigerians live, and are being lost, tragically and needlessly, on a regular basis,a�? he said.
To the Executive arm of government, Saraki said, a�?you cannot do it alone a�� and this is why we are all here to join efforts. No one person, organisation or arm of government can single-handedly tackle the hydra-headed monster of insecuritya�?.
Earlier, the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan, said that the 8th Senate is using the summit to contribute to the search for answers to the security challenges facing the country.
*Backs cattle ranching