The federal government has turned down the offer of assistance from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), saying the party is merely playing politics with serious national issues.
Addressing a press conference yesterday in Abuja, the minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said if the PDP had done its homework properly, it would have known that most of its recommendations were already contained in the outcome of the federal government’s Town Hall Meeting on National Security, which was held in Kaduna on April 8, 2021.
On Monday, the opposition party had extended help to the All Progressives Congress-led federal government, saying it was ready to support the ruling party in finding solutions to the country’s mounting security challenges.
The PDP had asked the federal government to consider state police, set up a National Borders Protection Force and employ the use of technology as well as recruit more security personnel as part of measures to contain banditry and terrorism in the country.
It also said the ruling party’s failure to manage the country’s diversity was part of the country problems, adding that it was ready work with the administration to save the country.
But the APC-federal government, through the information minister, has responded to the PDP’s offer in strong terms, saying the opposition party played ‘cheap politics while playing the ostrich.’
Mohammed said: “Unfortunately, the recommendations by the PDP have exposed the opposition party’s gimmickry, and the fact that it was merely playing politics with serious national issues, especially security.”
Reacting to the PDP’s accusation that the federal government was running a government of exclusion, he flayed the party for forgetting, conveniently, that the current administration had consistently engaged Nigerians on topical national issues, including security, the fight against corruption, terrorism, infrastructure and farmer-herder conflict.
He said the Town Hall Meeting series, launched in 2016, had so far been held 18 times across Nigeria.
Mohammed said it’s always a no-holds-barred opportunity for the government to engage with critical stakeholders, briefing them on government policies and programmes and getting their feedback, thus ensuring inclusion and deepening of democracy.
He also read the 10-point recommendations from the Town Hall Meetings, saying Nigerians should judge for themselves which of the two parties is ahead of the other.
“With the theme: “Setting Benchmarks for enhanced Security and National Unity in Nigeria”, the Town Hall Meetings reached the following resolutions:
“That the governance of human society should be based on Law rather than the whims and caprices of human beings and must be obeyed by all as all persons are equal before the law including the lawgivers.
“That there is an urgent need for political restructuring and not separation.
“That the Judiciary be decentralized and reformed through Constitutional Amendment to remove the unitary control of the Superior Courts.
“That governments at all levels should ensure free, qualitative and compulsory Primary Education for all children of school age.
“That the military, police and other security agencies should be expanded in number, retrained, provided with modern equipment and technology to cope with emerging security challenges.
“That both religious and traditional leaders should encourage and promote inter-marriages for unity as contained in the 1999 Constitution as amended, Article 15, 3(c) which prescribes inter-marriages among persons from different places of origin, or of different religious, ethnic, or linguistic association or ties.
“That the establishment of state police should be supported by the National and State Houses of Assembly to enable State Governments to have firm control in addressing security issues.
“That traditional rulers should be given their age-long role of maintaining peace and security within their domain.
“The Local Government Autonomy be actualised to enable them to have control of their areas including the ungoverned spaces in tackling security challenges.
“And finally that the farmers/herders clashes be addressed by the establishment of ranches, grazing reserves with modern amenities to check the trans-humans of the herders.”