By Emmanuel Ogala and Bassey Udo
The National Security Adviser, Owoye Azazi, says the current escalation of insecurity in the country, particularly the rampaging activities of the dreaded extremist sect, Boko Haram, is traceable to some undemocratic practices by the political parties during elections, especially the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Mr. Azazi, who was speaking at the on-going South-South Economic Summit in Asaba, Delta State, said the festering insecurity in the north eastern part of the country, which has been exacerbated by the frequent and deadly attacks of the extremist Boko Haram sect across the country, could be traced to the politics of exclusion of the PDP in the region.
“In discussing the relationship between national security and development, let me say that one cannot do without the other,” the NSA said.“The issue of violence did not increase in Nigeria until when there was a declaration by the current president that he was going to contest. PDP got it wrong from the beginning. The party started by saying Mr. A can rule, and Mr. B cannot rule, according to PDP conventions, rules and regulations and not according to the constitution. That created the climate for what is happening or manifesting itself in country. Is it possible that somebody was thinking that only Mr. A could win, and if he did not win, he could cause a problem in the society.
“Let’s examine all these issues to see whether the level of violence in the North East just escalated because Boko Haram suddenly became better trained, better equipped and better funded, or something else was responsible.”
Mr. Azazi, whose views were supported by the Edo state governor, Adams Oshiomhole, said the Boko Haram problem would be difficult to resolve without the various stakeholders coming together to address, holistically, the issues that gave fillip to its existence.
“It takes very long for somebody to be a sniper,” Mr. Azazi said.
Listen to Azazi below
“But, I can assure you that Boko Haram can garner that level of sophistication over time, if it has not got it already. There are a lot we know that they are doing, and there are a lot that could be done to address the problem.
“But, then I must also be quick to point out that today, even if all the leaders that we know in Boko Haram are arrested, I don’t think the problem would end, because there are tentacles. I don’t think that people would be satisfied, because the situations that created the problems are not just about the religion, poverty or the desire to rule Nigeria. I think it’s a combination of everything. Except you address all those things comprehensively, it would not work.
“It is not enough for us to have a problem in 2009 and you send soldiers to stop the situation, then tomorrow you drive everybody underground. You must look at what structures you need to put in place to address the problem holistically. There are economic problems in the North, which are not the exclusive prerogative of the Northerners. We must solve our problems as a country.”
Mr. Oshiomhole, who agreed with the NSA, said some of the security situations the country is currently facing could be traced to attempts by a section of the political elite at various levels to manipulate the electoral system and impose themselves on the electorate during election.
“Where did Boko Haram start from and who were behind it,” the governor queried.
“Who used them to win elections and for how long was he able to do so? Who were the victims and the beneficiaries? My experience has been that politicians, who are unelectable, but have access to state treasury at various levels, often appropriate funds and procure arms to arm the unemployed, who they deploy on election day to manipulate and intimidated voters.
“If one comes to the South, some politicians have tried to cash in on the issue of pollution and the gap between the natural resources and the poverty of the people by arming people to manipulate elections, and after elections they use those instruments for some other ends.
“When one looks at why these people have not been stopped and call them to justice, one would find that they involve big time players in society and very top sections of the political elite.
“To solve the problem, we must have the political will to deal with whoever is using resource of state to procure arms for the unemployed to use them for all kind of purposes, including the manipulation of elections.
“We must resolve to allow the peoples will to prevail during elections, whether as governors, presidents, ministers and council chairmen to use fund at their disposal to procure arms for unemployed youths in order to harm the electorate on Election Day,” Mr. Oshiomhole said.
But the Akwa Ibom State governor, Godswill Akpabio, who noted that security and development are inter-linked, traced the current state of insecurity in the country to the structural defects in the polity, placing so much responsibility on the shoulders of the Federal Government.
Mr. Akpabio said the federal government had failed to deliver, rating its performance at 10 per cent.
“Beginning from the present administration, the Federal Government should begin to unbundle the weight on it shoulders and try to decentralise and give more duties relating to other aspects of development, like creating jobs, to the states and local governments, and focus more on providing security for the country, since the states and local government do not control the apparatus of security,” he said.
According to Mr. Akpabio, this calls for the readjustment of the revenue formula to enable the other states and local governments carry the challenge of grassroots development, pointing out that the menace the country has found itself in the last 50 years would remain if the Federal Government continues to make politics at the centre more attractive for people.
“We must unbundle the federal government, make a new revenue allocation formula that gives more monies to the states and local governments to face development at the grassroots while the federal government would be allowed to face security, to guarantee sustainable development” he said.
On Boko Haram, Mr Akpabio said the rising insecurity in the North is due to the failure of political leadership in the region, saying the attacks were a result of frustration of the majority of the people who appear not to see any visible benefit for years the political leadership of the country has remained in the control of the elite from the region.
“The reactions in some of the regions in the country are as a result of poor leadership and not caused from the present administration,” he said.
“People are complaining in the North, yet for more than 35 years, the leadership of this country came from there. People are reacting as a result of pent up frustration, due to lack of empowerment and essential amenities,” Mr. Akpabio said.
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