Last week precisely 9th of June 2021, the Lagos State Government donated items worth billions of naira to the Lagos State Police Command towards fighting crime in the state.
The items included 150 brand new operational vehicles, four high capacity troop carriers, 30 patrol cars and two anti-riot water cannon vehicles.
The items were received on behalf of the police by President Muhammadu Buhari who was on a one-day working visit to Lagos.
This donation by the Lagos State Government on the auspice of its Security Trust Fund was not the first time, the state government was donating security related equipment to security agencies since the Lagos State Security Trust Fund was established over ten years ago.
Many other states in the federation have since borrowed the Lagos initiative and have continued to partly fund security agencies in their states. Few months ago, the Delta State Government donated 35 high grade operational vehicles to security agencies in Delta just as it had done in previous years. There are many other examples of state governments taking the responsibility to partly fund the various security agencies which are wholly owned by the Federal Government and are all answerable to the Federal Government.
The thrust of this write up is primarily to examine the justification or otherwise of such voluntary funding by the states at a time the Federal Government seems incapacitated in providing adequate security for the states and at the same time not willing to consider the agitation for the creation of State Police.
One may want to say that the states are justified by voluntarily contributing to assist security agents assigned to provide security and safety in the states since citizens or residents of the states would be the first victims in times of insecurity. The governors who are the constitutional Chief security officers of their respective states with monthly allocation of security votes would not want to see such funding as unjustified.
Agreed that such funding by the states are geared towards the good of all, but there is an obvious obscurity in trying to understand why states should be funding security agencies that are not under their statutory control particularly now that more loyalty is paid to the Presidency.
One is tempted to ask why should a state governor champion the funding of police, DSS, military and other Federal security agencies in the state by way of providing operational vehicles and other things but the same governor lacks the power to give direct order to police commissioner in charge of the state, or Director of Department of State Service or Military commander in the state in times of serious crisis.
Let us take the case of the massacre of Igbos in Enugu some time ago by suspected herdsmen. News in the public space hinted that the Governor of Enugu State who had a security report about the imminent attack had called on the heads of the security agencies in the state, but they referred him to Abuja to seek approval for a robust counter-attack. The governor was said to have been denied access to the President and Commander-in-Chief for about two hours during which time, the attackers came and carried out their evil act leaving behind tears and blood.
Just recently, President Buhari openly said that he has directed state governors to protect their states. In all sincerity, how does a state governor confront AK-47 wielding herdsmen, bandits, Kidnappers and criminal elements when their citizens are not allowed to bear arms and neither are the arms bearing security agents in the state taking direct instructions from the state governors?
If the President is sincere in his directive, let him by Executive Order grant the Governors the approval to buy arms for their citizens who could be constituted into state security network to checkmate the marauding armed herdsmen and other criminal elements.
Alternatively, the President through Executive Order or in collaboration with the National Assembly can review the law establishing the Nigeria Police Force compelling the state commissioners to take orders from the state Governors and not the Inspector General of Police whose office is in Abuja. Better still, the states can be authorised by law of the National Assembly to create their own police for their internal security while the Nigeria Police Force remains for federal related offences.
In the face of the present insecurity scenario in the country, it is entirely unjustifiable for states to spend billions in funding federal security agencies they cannot control. The money being channeled into such funding can as well be devoted in creating employment for the jobless youths in that State at least in phases. Doing so, will drastically reduce the number of youths who are driven into crime due to lack of employment.
I would therefore suggest that Lagos State Government and other states in the federation who have been spending their internally generated billions in funding federal security agencies should have a re-think. Our federal arrangement should be strengthened and not weakened by such overtures embarked upon by states ostensibly due to failure of the government at the centre