KWARA: Partnership with police, Fulani, monarchs yielding result
Kwara state which serves as gateway between the north and the south and particularly share boundaries with Ekiti, Osun, Oyo, Niger States and Benin Republic surely has its own fair share of cases of insecurity currently ravaging the country.
There have been reported cases of kidnapping, banditry as well as farmers / herdsmen clashes in the state too, but Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq had taken steps to effectively contain the cases and prevent them from escalating.
Consequently, the visiting Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba who paid one day visit to Kwara state on Wednesday acknowledged the untiring efforts of the governor to drastically reduce insecurity in the state. Addressing the rank and files of the personnel at the state police command, the police boss described Kwara state as one of the few states that had been experiencing low state of insecurity.
The Inspector General of Police further commended the governor for fixing various police barracks and stations across the state in order to make the job of the police a lot easier and boost the morale of the officers.
Receiving the IG and his team in his office at the Government House, Governor AbdulRazaq called for increased presence of policemen and other security personnel in the state to fortify the state and enhance its socio-economic development.
He said, "Our challenges are enormous. Being a relatively safe state, security agencies tend to be comfortable with Kwara and that explains why they often take out forces from Kwara to bolster security elsewhere. For example, the Army has taken out most of its men to northeast but we are making efforts to get them back. For the police, our need requirement is about 8,000 to 10,000 men but we have only about 3,000 now. Many officers of the two mobile squadrons here have been moved out. I am saying this because we definitely need more men on ground here."
AbdulRazaq also called for improved collaboration among security agencies to sustain relative peace in the state, with the traditional rulers equally playing vital roles in strengthening security architecture.
"We thank the Police authorities for the Police School in Ballah and the Intelligence School in Share. In fact, we had to put a transformer there few months ago to make sure we get the place working. But we are saddened by the relocation of Police Public Relations School that was here in Ilorin before. We hope you will look into that again and return itĒ, the governor said
AbdulRazaq also commended the police and other security agencies for making the state relatively safe for economic activities.
Inspector General of Police Usman Alkali Baba, on his part, said he was in the state to meet with officers and men of the Nigeria Police in Kwara command and inspect the Nigeria Police Intelligence School which is under construction in Share, Ifelodun local government area.
Alkali said his administration was adopting intelligence gathering and ICT to check crimes and criminalities in the country.
"I have a mission and vision of policing through intelligence and proactive means. Policing is key, ICT is key and training is key. With the three, you can sit down and police the whole state," he said.
Governor AbdulRazaq had at various times been holding strategic meetings with stakeholders in security which include leaders of Miyetti Allah association, monarchs, community leaders, police, soldiers, NSCDC and local vigilantes on how to nip in the bud, various security challenges in their domain.
Consequently, he donated 20 new patrol vehicles and dozens of bulletproof vests to security agencies in the state, a gesture meant to strengthen rapid response, curb crimes and make the state safer.
The vehicles comprised 10 saloon cars exclusively donated to the police and another 10 Toyota Hilux meant for rapid response arm of the multi-agency, Operation Harmony.
The governor said at the handing over ceremony: "We are donating vehicles to the security agencies to fortify their work. We did that last year and later this year we will be adding more vehicles. It is a continuous exercise. The federal government is doing a lot and this is our own little way to support what the central government is doing. We use this opportunity to thank the security agencies for what they are doing for us to sleep at night while they do what they need to do".
The Governor further said that Kwara had become increasingly peaceful while people were finding the state a safe haven.
Kwara State Government had also commenced renovation of selected barracks and police stations in the state, a step Governor AbdulRahman said was meant to make the security agents more comfortable and boost their morale to continue to protect lives and property.
The Governor said this would complement his administrationís provision of vehicles and other gadgets to strengthen the security architecture, thereby supporting the efforts of the federal government to secure lives.
During one of the visits of the Governor to the barracks of the mobile police in Ilorin where the administration has almost completed the phase one of the renovation, AbdulRazaq said the next phase would include the renovation of Area 'A' police division and provision of other amenities for quarters inhabited by cops.
The Governor meanwhile had appealed to monarchs to continue to work with the government on security and peaceful coexistence in their domain. He said the administration was cooperating with Abuja to stem the farmers-herdersí crisis through various initiatives, including the National Livestock Transformation Programme (NLTP) which he hoped would help settle herders in one place.
Governor AbdulRazaq said,"We are aware of security challenges in Nigeria and Kwara State is one of the safest in Nigeria. We recognise the contributions of our traditional rulers and security agencies. They have been able to work together to build strong security network.
"We had an interaction with our second class and third class traditional rulers who are much closer to the people and the agenda was how to mitigate the effects of the crisis around us, especially the fallouts of the migration into the state.
"We are engaging our traditional rulers to talk to the people on how to manage the relationships between various economic groups in their communities in collaboration with the government.
"We need to avoid crisis that could lead to food insecurity in Nigeria. We do not want our farmers too to be displaced because of insecurity. So, our discussion is on how to have better security and how to manage ourselves and create avenue for dialogue and how to reduce conflicts."
The Governor also said a major takeaway from the #EndSars crisis was a need to improve the living conditions of security agents.
He said,"After the #Endsars protest I moved round many security formations and I saw a need for us to support the federal government to improve the living standards of the security agents. So it is not just about giving them vehicles (which we have been doing) but how to also upgrade their living conditions. So we are embarking on the Barracks' renovation project.
AbdulRazaq commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his huge investments in human capital and infrastructural development, which the Governor said were unmatched in the recent history of the country.
Governor AbdulRazaq during one of his meetings with the Fulani community in the state, also reassured them of fair treatment and urged them to work with the government and other stakeholders to prevent crimes and guarantee peace and security for all.
The Fulani in Kwara, like other communities in the state, will receive government's protection and patronage in terms of infrastructure projects and social security programmes, the Governor added.
The meeting was attended by Fulani leaders and representatives from across the 16 local government areas of the state. It came a few weeks after the Governor held consultative meetings with traditional rulers and grassroots influencers focusing on peaceful coexistence and security.
AbdulRazaq said the meeting was to forge a consensus on how to manage herders-farmers' relationship amid ultimatums on cattle grazing in some southern states and mass movement of herders to the north, especially Kwara.
He also said the last engagement the state government had with Oyo on security has been yielding positive results, hoping to do same with other boundary states like Ekiti state.
Special Assistant to the Governor on Herdsmen, Alhaja Aishat Yusuf, on her part, said the Hausa/Fulani community are solidly behind the present administration because of the priority attention it accords them.
Hajia Yusuf said her people enjoyed a sense of belonging under AbdulRazaq-led government more than ever before. President, Fulani Elites, Kwara state chapter, Alhaji Ahmed Magaji, said it was unfortunate that nomadic identity was being painted badly and lamented their age-long suffering from discrimination and poor access to quality education. He urged AbdulRazaq to engage more Fulani elites in his government, saying they have a lot to offer with their western education and exposure.
Earlier, the spokesman for the Fulani community, Kwara State Alhaji Atiku Abdulsalam conveyed the group's gratitude to AbdulRazaq for providing them with 16 hand pump boreholes last year, stressing how such an intervention deepened their access to potable water.