Nothing can stop state police – Gov Fayemi

By Gabriel Dike, Lagos

Ekiti State Governor Dr Kayode Fayemi has said devolving policing to various levels, including the local level, is the main solution to several security challenges confronting the country.

Fayemi, who is the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), disclosed that the multi-level policing, which would give birth to state police, is an idea that nothing can stop even if it is delayed now.

He stated this in Lagos while delivering the convocation lecture at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ), Ogba.

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The governor spoke on “Media, security and nation-building.”

His words: “As the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’Forum, I don’t know of any state governor who is not in support of policing being devolved to local levels. There must be multi-level policing. It is an idea whose time has come. The excuse that state governors don’t have the resources to fund such is a fallacy.

“Right now, state governors are the ones funding federal police in their states. We buy vehicles, diesel, give them allowances and provide insurance cover for them. The only thing state governors don’t have over the federal police is control over them. If you want the Commissioner of Police in your state to do something for you as a governor, he will politely tell you he has heard you and that he would go and put things together in his office. He is not going there to put anything together but to call the Inspector General of Police and tell him of your propositions. If the IGP gives him the go-ahead, he would come back and say everything is ready, and of you don’t hear any feedback from him, his boss probably did not give him the go-ahead.

“Multi-level policing does not mean the removal of the federal police. They will be handling federal crimes such as terrorism. But there are some things you don’t need to take to Abuja to be able to deal with them. People at local levels know every nook and cranny of their community, unlike somebody you just bring in from say Kaura Namoda.

“Multi-level policing will happen one day in this country. It is one sure way to tackle the numerous security challenges we face now. To say governors would use state police to harass opposition is false. Federal police harass people too. I was a victim of such harassment even as a sitting governor in 2014,” he said.

Speaking on the impact of the South West regional security outfit, Amotekun, Fayemi noted that without the group, the situation in the region would have been more unpleasant.

Reacting to the allegation that the Federal Government is over-regulating the media space, the governor suggested that journalists should hold themselves accountable.

“There is a threat to journalism, there are gatekeepers in the industry and we must find means to deal with the excesses of some overzealous persons who would just go and post anything that catches their fancy online. It is not for government to address that, it is for professionals to deal with themselves,” he noted.

Fayemi gave a background of how journalism evolved over the years, he lauded the media for being in the vanguard of the fight for justice and democracy.

The Ekiti State helmsman said without the media, one could say there would be no nation.

While agreeing with the fact that journalism should be for the development of society, he said a number of encumbrances were on the way and charged practitioners not to be discouraged.

The Vice Chairman of the Governing Council of NIJ, who chaired the lecture, Mr Ray Ekpu, said the topic for the lecture evoked a lot of passion because of its closeness to people’s hearts.

He stressed: “It is one that tugs at our heartstrings. For the past 11 years, our country has been harassed by Boko Haram terrorists, bandits, kidnappers, herders, and other assorted criminals. Our media have focused attention like a laser beam on these incidents because it is their responsibility to do so as prescribed by the constitution of Nigeria.”

Foremost Professor of Mass Communication Prof Ralph Akinfeleye advised state actors not to try and stifle the press in any way.

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