In an unprecedented move yesterday, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) volunteered to assist the ruling All Progressive Congress-led federal government find solutions to Nigeria’s nagging problems.
The national chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, who stated this during a world press conference in Abuja, said “the situation in our country is not normal and exceptional steps should be taken to restore it to normalcy.
The PDP, as a body, is willing to give a helping hand in this direction.”
He asked the federal government to immediately scale up its efforts in the fight against insurgency to save the country from disintegration, and to urgently seek partnerships with foreign governments and miscellaneous entities in its war efforts.
However, when contacted, the secretary of the Caretaker Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the APC, John James Akpanudoede he, said the party was studying the position of the opposition party and would reply in due course.
Secondus, who stressed that the PDP was open to a bi-partisan approach to the security crisis in the country, however, called for the establishment of state police and the adequate equipping of the armed forces, with their welfare as top priority.
The national chairman also told the federal government to deploy technology in the fight against terror, banditry and other crimes, even as he demanded that all culprits be brought to book.
The opposition party, however, pointed out that the escalating security tension in the country was a result of the mismanagement of Nigeria’s ethnic diversity by the APC administration.
He further challenged the president to convince Nigerians that his government was not shielding terrorists.
Secondus said the PDP was demanding “the immediate upscaling of the personnel strength of our men and women in uniform and make adequate provisions of kinetic instruments of war and law enforcement. Our armed forces should be adequately equipped and their welfare a top priority.
Calling for the establishment of state police, he said, “We call on all citizens to support the quest for state police as is the tradition in other federations.
“Mindful of the current plethora of vigilante in various parts of the country, which have not been enabled to carry out all the elements of effective policing, we call on the governors of the 36 states, the leadership and members of the National Assembly, the Speakers of the State Assemblies and relevant agencies of government to occasion a summit for a one-stop shop regarding the creation, structure, and ma- nagement of state police.”
He argued that in spite of the concerns over sta- te police, it is doubtful that 36 state police services can be easily overwhelmed as is the case now with the unitary police.
Secondus added that any challenges with the operati- ons of state police could be addressed through legislati- ve framework to make abuses extremely difficult, if not impossible.
“We also call for the de- ployment of technology in the fight against terror, banditry, and other crimes. The apparent failure of intelligence to track attacks by bandits and follow up on them is a clear failure of the intelligence community.
“The Nigerian Communications Satellite Ltd (NIGCOMSAT) established many years ago by a PDP administration is designed for this purpose and others,” Secondus said.
He added that states where matters of national security challenges origi- nate or exist should be invi- ted to the National Security Council meeting for delibe- ration and problem-solving interactions.
“We call for the creation of National Boarders Protection Force to secure our borders. This will include an integrated border protection system that will draw personnel and equipment from existing armed services and Immigration.
“We cannot continue to watch while terrorists and
bandits continue to levy war on our nation, through our porous borders. This border force should be equipped with reconnaissance, intelli- gence gathering and preven- tion enforcement. It should, therefore, have air, sea, and land capability.”
The opposition party demanded that all the perpetrators of violence be punished according to the law.
“All culprits who have levied war on Nigeria should be brought to book. It is unfathomable that several mass kidnappings have been successfully staged with the culprits not being held to account.
It is a shameful irony that a few bandit leaders that have been taken out were killed by rival gangs and not our security agencies,” he said.
According to him, security agencies should have been able to track, arrest and prosecute bandits if Sheik Gumi could detect and engage with them.
“The administration of President Buhari should completely shed weight on arrogance, lack of respect for Nigerians and its pretenses of being an island of integrity.
“He should begin to engage the citizens directly. He should address the nation on the various issues escalating tension in the land and pushing the nation farther to the tips of precipice,” he said.
On the economy, the PDP chairman told the go- vernment to stop borro- wing, adding that future generations are being mort- gaged and railroaded into an avoidable debt trap.
He called on the APC to do away with nepotism and hire experts that will “help to creatively navigate the nation through the dire eco- nomic challenges they have led the nation into.”
“The country is bleeding economically and the opera- tions of the NNPC must be investigated and over-sighted by the parliament,” he said.
On politics, Secondus said it was worrisome that the National Assembly Joint Committee on INEC, which finished its work since February 2021, is yet to lay the report in the two chambers of the National Assembly.
“We are, therefore, alarmed at the decision of the APC-led leadership of the National Assembly to sit on such an important report, contrary to their promise to pass the Electoral Act by March, which has now been shifted to June.
“It is imperative to state that INEC and the government of the United Kingdom have equally raised concerns over these undue delays, as it appears this current amendment is going the way of the Electoral Act amendment in the 8th National Assembly that was ultimately not signed by Mr. President,” the party chairman stated.
Corroborating the PDP chairman’s statement, Taraba State governor Darius Ishaku said the party had decided to put opposition aside and work with government to find lasting solutions to the security crises.
”We at the states are having it worse. We find it difficult to explain to our people why we cannot protect them – because security is not under our control,” he said.
Ishaku decried the use of the military as the first resort in internal security crisis, noting that the police should be properly equipped to place its role as the lead security outfit in internal matters.
Former Senate President Bukola Saraki also urged the federal government to listen to the demands of Nigerians on ensuring the protection of lives and property.
He noted that while the opposition will continue to play its role in the society, they are ready to help government overcome the security crises.
On his part, the Senate minority leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, blamed nepotism and what he called ‘ethnic triumphalism’ for the current tension in the polity.
He said, “No one in Nigeria wants Nigeria to break up. Those who want it to break are those who refused to manage our diversity.”