The former Senator believes selfish politicians contribute to Nigeria’s disunity, and make implementation of State Police impossible.
BY Hindu Livinus
Decrying the clamour for State Police as “impracticable” because of the “intolerance” of the political class, Professor Jubril Aminu, a former Minister of Education, and of Petroleum Resources, bares his mind on the general insecurity in the country.
The erudite scholar cum politician, lending his voice to the opposing end of the debate, said although varied discussion is needed on the issue, it should not lead to the unnecessary rancour it now breeds among politicians.
Insecurity issues, Mr. Aminu said, were no excuse for the country’s disunity.
“This is the only country that is so great with a working constitution and functional government yet the people are always talking everyday about its disintegration,” he said, describing how certain people have now made an “occupation of the breaking up of this country.”
In this interview with PREMIUM TIMES, he elaborates on these issues and more.
PT: Right now, the issue of insecurity has become a major subject, especially with many voices calling for the adoption of state police as a means of tackling this issue. What is your view on this?
JA: The security of this country is in the hands of the people ruling now. The president, the governors and all the various security agencies saddled with this constitutional task. So also is [sic] government policies under their control. Whatever is happening now is their responsibility.
In the First Republic, we had local jurisdiction of police under the police native authority. I want to think every country must constantly review the management of its law enforcement agencies in terms of efficiency, visibility and very importantly cost. And I think every country must allow a free discussion on these things.
Don’t misunderstand me. The review and free discussion does not mean the creation of state police. Also, it should not bring about unnecessary rancour. We have had experience of the police force under the native police authority. We have also seen something that looks like local policing, but is in effect not policing like the Bakassi Boys, Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) and all that attempts to circumscribe law enforcement. And what have we seen?
The only acceptable form of law enforcement is one that is federally organised and controlled. Let me give you an example: last year, towards the election, some politicians including myself in my home state wanted to hold a meeting in one of the hotels. Even though it was only a meeting, we were not allowed. I spoke with the commissioner of police over the planned meeting, but the then Assistant Inspector General of Police in the state refused, and did not allow the meeting using his men to cordon off the venue of the meeting.
This is even when the police is still under federal control nonetheless sequestered under local control. What would it have been if those police belonged to the Adamawa State government? It is a very complicated issue. It is not a question of posting police here and there. No. And people have got to think about it very deeply.
In my opinion, the only satisfactory control of police in this country is federal, because it is tied to people’s feeling of safety, people’s feeling of their access to justice or their suffering injustice, and it is also tied to the issue of national equity. How will various entities feel under a Nigerian police force that is under the control of a state?
PT: It appears your objection to the concept of state police lies in some fear about its workability. Does it have anything to do with the attitude of our leaders?
JA: State police is not just going to work because of the intolerance of our rulers at all levels. The intolerance of the elite in power is so disgusting. They would [sic] do everything they can to protect themselves from their opponents. We should just focus on providing the funds to the police to develop its capacity, and move it away from what looks like a band of uniformed people at the beck and call of influential personalities.
The police force has been so ‘uncatered’ for and disgraced, it is yet to achieve its independence. But I don’t think it is bad for people to be discussing it, if only to lead us to the point where people can have a better understanding of the issues.
We cannot emulate countries like Great Britain and America, which have state police because it worked there. I think the major work we have before us is to build institutions that we have completely debased. And to stop the situation where personalities arrogate to themselves power to do just about anything.
In London, during the Olympic Games, the Prime Minister of England, David Cameron, was going to the Games with Underground train like any other person. Can our people do that? No. Because he didn’t want to disrupt the traffic and monopolise the facility; because guests were coming from every part of the world. Can our people do that?
It is a disgrace the way our people behave. This love for power and showing off and intolerance of different opinion is appalling.
PT: There is a clear divide in the country between the North and South on the issue of state police. Do you take exception to a clause enshrined in the Constitution to make any federating unit adopt state police if it so desires, as a middle of the road kind of solution on the matter?
JA: What is the special requirement that a state like Rivers will have State Police and Kaduna will not? What is the special requirement that a state like Akwa Ibom will have State Police and Kano will not have? Nations must have certain systems that are uniform throughout the country; otherwise, things will not work. A perfect example is the educational system, under the military era where we had the 6-3-3-4 until they left in 1999.
How can a country run different educational system? Some do primary school in 5 years while others do in 4 years. It is not done all around the world; it may differ from one country to another but every country has a uniform educational system. The constitution is quite clear and people should stop tying it to Nigerian unity. Security threat is different.
It is not a political division. And that is what we should address: how to restore security. Nigerians need security. Everybody needs security. Security issues is [sic] not an excuse for questioning the unity of this country. This is the only country that is so great with a working constitution and functional government yet the people are always talking everyday about its disintegration.
If you talk about the disintegration of, say a country like Somalia, I would not argue with you – even though we pray it doesn’t happen. But when people now make an occupation of the breaking up of this country, -it is actually treasonable. There is no basis for that except that there are politicians, who are not satisfied and who don’t mind destroying Nigeria.
PT: What do you have to say about the government’s avowed intentions to dialogue with Boko Haram?
JA: Everybody knows that in the end it is only political settlement that will last. Negotiation is the only vital answer. Have you seen any settlement, which is not a political settlement that has lasted?