INTERVIEW: State police will undermine democracy, worsen the ethnic divide in Nigeria – Yakasai
Elder statesman, Tanko Yakasai who is a vitriolic critic of President Muhammadu Buhari is unhappy over the worsening security situation in the country. spoke to PlatinumPost on why the quest for the establishment of State Police would be counterproductive.
On the escalating insecurity in the North and other parts of the country…
Well, the issue of security is primarily that of the police in the first place but today we all complaining that the police in Nigeria are not able to cope with an increase of illegal activities, such as banditry, kidnapping and the rest of them. My opinion is that we should go back to the drawing board.
Because according to statistics available, they said we have about four hundred thousand policemen in Nigeria, if that is true, then the question is, are four hundred thousand policemen enough to police Nigeria? And if they are not enough, how many do we need to effectively deal with the issue of insecurity in the country? For instance, if we know that the number we required is 600 or 900. We should begin to ask the question, how much do we need to get the number? Then there are so many areas that can be looked at, to deal with this problem. If we find that 900,000 policemen are required to maintain security in Nigeria. Then we should find out how much we need, in terms of funds. Then we look as to how we are going to raise the necessary funds to deal with the situation effectively.
Then there are other avenues you can go in allocating funds required to have an effective and efficient police force in the country.
The federal government should contribute, the state government should contribute, and the local government should contribute as well. In terms of money, you can agree that it should come directly from the source. Right from the time of sharing revenue, you should know what percentage you should take from all the aforementioned tiers of government to a designated account.
You then embark on utilizing the funds to get the required number of policemen you need with the cost of training, uniforms, logistics, communication system and the rest of them.
Unfortunately, our attitude in Nigeria is that if there is a problem, instead of people looking at that problem holistically and come up with a lasting solution. They will begin to tackle the problem from their own narrow interest. If our problem is the number of policemen in the country and it is inadequate, then if local government A will set up a security outfit, they are going to provide funds, local government B, C and the rest of them. why can’t we channel those funds towards funding the overall police system in the country?
So that we can decide on how many years can we raise the number of policemen we need to police our country? If we say, that we will allow each local government or each zone or each region to do their own, then there are consequences.
In my opinion, this is the better way of tackling the problem, so that in the end we will be able to have the number of police we require to adequately take care of our security problem in the country.
On regional differences of the security challenges….
Well, if you are going to have the state police, you must also look at the problem that would arise if you create state police. Straight away I can tell two or three problems. One is recruitment if you create state police, who is going to be in charge of recruitment? The governor? How are you going to deal with the problem of a governor who is recruiting local policemen from his political party? That is number one, in Nigeria also we have problems of tribal inclination. In Benue state for instance. What is the yardstick the governor of Benue will use to recruit policemen in Benue? Then there is a question of the governor being a member of a political party, PDP or APC. How do you stop that governor from recruiting members of his own party into the state police? If that happens, how are you sure, particularly with our experience with the state electoral commission? How are you sure that state police recruited by party stalwarts will allow the opposition party to thrive in that state. That will be a great challenge to our effort to establish a true democracy in Nigeria. We would never have it.
What is wrong with a holistic national effort? What is wrong with that? And particularly when the president himself has admitted that he knows that a problem exists? Therefore, he decided to appoint a committee headed by the inspector general of police to make a recommendation to him, that would be presented to the national council of state and after scrutiny, then the federal government will begin to implement whatever recommendation is made. To that extent, the issue of a party dominating the recruitment and all these other concomitant issues that would arise, are addressed. When you get it, you have national police. You strengthen the Nigerian police. Then you say, how many policemen do you require in Sokoto, and you deploy them. In deploying them, why can’t we deploy policemen from Benue to Sokoto, they are non-local, they are non- partisan and will be more effective, than allowing Sokoto state government to have its own police or security network.
In true federalism, states should be allowed to create their security architecture…..
If you look at the history of the emergence of America is different from our own history. In America, I think they started with six states, I can’t remember their exact number but few numbers of states coming together. The states created the infrastructure. The history was that they declared their independence. Their independence was not granted by Britain. They declared their independence, it was beyond the ability of Britain to control them, so Britain has no alternative but to surrender. So they surrendered, they agreed and accepted with fait accompli, they agreed that those who declared their independence should go. So they agree to decide which power should reside in the state, which power should reside at the center.
In Nigeria, every state is a creation of the federal government. We didn’t start as states, we started as a federal government. At the beginning of two units, north and southern protectorates, and later on, we became three units, North, East, and West. And then, later on, the west was divided into mid-west. That is four units. Then later on it became twelve, and later 19 until we ended up with 36. But all of them were the creation of the central government. They did not create the central government. So you cannot apply the solution of the United States of America in Nigeria.
It is a question of power, it is a question of operation, and how do you operate? All the federations in the world, you can’t see two federations that are identical throughout the world. Each federation deals with its own problems according to its peculiar circumstances.
On President Muhammadu Buhari’s inability to secure the country…
He has not justified the confidence of Nigerians, no doubt about it, nobody would say he has. When Buhari came it was just like magic. A professor and vulcanizer think alike. They reposed their support on Buhari, believing all of them, that Buhari can solve Nigeria’s problem. Has Buhari solved Nigeria’s problem? Has he justified the confidence of the professors and vulcanizers in Nigeria? I leave the answer to you.
On whether President Muhammadu Buhari should resign….
No, I am a democrat. Whatever it is Buhari was elected for a second term, he should be allowed to complete his term, no more, no less. But if you ask him to resign, what happens, what do you do. Are you going to hold a new election? On what basis will his resignation be justified according to Nigerian law? This is the reason why there are periodic elections. We are not satisfied but he came for the second term and we voted for him. Truly or not truly, but he is there. So we should make do with him on till the end of his tenure, otherwise, there will be a problem in the country. There will be a constitutional crisis. We don’t want that to happen. Let us learn from our mistake, it is our mistake. We don’t learn from our mistakes. Next time I believe we should learn.
But Nigerians believed he did well that is why they voted for him…
This is the reason why I said he should be allowed to finish his tenure.
On the call for the sack of Service Chiefs…
In the first place, it should be understood that the issue of security in the country is primarily that of the police. When the police are not able to cope then the military where invited. Now the military in our own case they have been invited and they have been participating for a number of years now and their participation has not changed the situation for the better. Now, what we need to do is to look at them.
Because the military headed by service chiefs at the pinnacle, now if you deploy them and your situation has not improved, the only opportunity you have to look into the matter is to go into the capabilities of the service chiefs, whether they have done well. If they have not, particularly now in Nigeria that the service chiefs have exhausted their legal tenure. So if Buhari thinks that they would do better, it has not turned out to be the case. So what Buhari needs to do is to allow them to go. Bid them farewell. Get some new people to head the military establishments. The possibility that new people will come with fresh ideas and the situation will change for the better. If they do not meet his expectations and the expectations of Nigerians, they should be changed. Until we are able to get people who have the necessary capacity to change the situation for the better.
Whether the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is tackling poverty….
No. you don’t think he has, I don’t think he has. I don’t know of any Nigerian who thinks Buhari has tackled this problem successfully.
On a high level of illiteracy and poverty in the north as the cause of insecurity in Nigeria…
It is not a problem of the north, it is a national problem. Anybody who thinks that the problem of lack of education, banditry is that of the north is living in denial. Look, it depends on how you manage your population. China is doing fine with its own population. Who is stopping Nigeria from getting everybody educated? It depends on the national program. Who says for any Nigerian to be educated, he or she must understand English. Why don’t you teach people in their local language? Teach hausa man in hausa, igbo man in igbo and yourubaman in Yoruba, idoma in idoma and the rest of them. They would be able to cope. Our problem is that we insist that before you are made to handle problem A, you must be able to speak good English. Kwame Nkrumah, of blessed memory, former President of Ghana, when he was alive, in Ghana, if you pass your mechanical engineering degree, you are not required to pass English. They say the medium of communication, the language used to teach you is English. If you do not understand English you will not be able to pass. English is not mandatory in school in his own time. He said all these innovations. We have an emergency at hand; we should deploy every possibility to deal with that emergency.
On the house leader of the House of Representatives, Rt hon Alhassan Doguwa, recently remarked that he had four wives, seven children and is still counting…
Are you saying, I am irresponsible? It depends. I have presently 22 children; I don’t know how many Doguwa has. Instead of two or three which people generally expect? I did not receive formal education but I made sure all my children received University education. They are all university graduates. If everybody that produces a child will be able to get all his children educated to that level, what is wrong with that?
In China, they don’t have that many children but their population, at one time they decided that one wife, one child. Now after some time, the limited it to a certain period, now you are entitled to increase your number of children depending on how you are going to take care of them. In China, education is free, healthcare is free. So this has taken care of some of your problems.
This problem is there a long time ago, I don’t see the inter-relationship. The relationship has to do with the culture in society. There are many Christians with more than one wife in Nigeria. So the issue is that people produce children without control and that they don’t care to take care of them. I took care of my own. If everybody borders to take care of his own children, this problem will not be there.
What I am saying is that if we would deploy our resources to address our problems we can deal with the problems effectively as Rwanda did in their own case. We have more or else the same standard of living. In the same economic situation, nobody will toy with the fact that they solved their problems. And the same with China.
On the secret that has kept him agile, healthy and alive till today …..
Well, I don’t know. I think is only God almighty that has the answer. But I can also tell you that we have a history of longevity in my family. My father died at the old ripe age of 96 and he was not hospitalized. My mother died at the age of 87, and she was not hospitalized. I am now 95 but I have only been admitted to the hospital three times. Each on an accidental treatment, two for food poisoning and the other for sore throat in Germany in December 1960. So I don’t know how that came about. My grandfather died at the age of 105 and at present I have 22 children alive, and all of them are healthy. I have about 60 grandchildren and they are all well, none of them has any permanent illness. So you see, that is the history. We have a history of good health. I eat normal foods, like tuwo, gari and the rest. I have no special died; I eat what the hausas eat. I also think my passionate nature would have also contributed. Whether it is education or business. I don’t do exercise.