The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Wednesday restated his opposition to state police, saying it was not an option for addressing insecurity in the country.
The President also insisted that the establishment of grazing routes would solve the problem of farmers, herders’ clashes in the country.
Buhari, who said these during an interview with Channels Television, also dismissed Igbo leaders’ plea for the release of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra’s leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
But the interview attracted various reactions with the Peoples Democratic Party and Afenifere faulting the President’s position on state police and grazing routes.
Ohanaeze plans meeting, President dismisses plea for Nnamdi Kanu’s release
Ohanaeze on its part insisted on a political solution to Kanu’s issue.
Igbo leaders under the aegis of Highly Respected Igbo Greats had appealed to Buhari to ensure the release of Kanu.
However, the President dismissed their plea, saying he would not interfere with the judiciary.
He added that Kanu had to defend himself after making several accusations against his regime while he was out of the country.
Responding to a question, he said, “There is one institution that I wouldn’t dare interfere with – that is, judiciary. Kanu’s case is with the judiciary.
“But what I wonder is when Kanu was safely in Europe, abusing this administration, I never really thought that he wanted to voluntarily come to defend himself on the accusations he has made. So, we are giving him the opportunity to defend himself in our system, and not to be abusing us from Europe as if he was not a Nigerian.
“Let him come here, criticise us here. Nigerians know that I don’t interfere with the judiciary. Let him be listened to. For those who are saying that we should release him, no, we cannot release him”
We’ve to go back to grazing routes to address farmers, herders’ clashes – Buhari
Buhari also insisted that grazing routes must be restored across the country to address the gory seasonal farmers-herders clashes.
He said that state police was not part of the options his regime would explore to address insecurity.
On August 19, 2021, The PUNCH had reported that the President had approved recommendations of a committee to review “with dispatch,” 368 grazing sites across 25 states in the country, “to determine the levels of encroachment.”
Speaking on Wednesday, Buhari said, “The Ministers of Agriculture, from Audu Ogbeh to Mahmud now; one of the issues I discussed with them is to go and get the gazettes of past republics, especially of northern states.
“There are cattle routes and grazing grounds, and herders are confined to those areas. Those that go outside it were arrested. So we said we have to go back to that system again to make sure that we prepare the grazing areas, windmills and even veterinary departments so the herders won’t veer into farms.
“What we have to do is start from bottom-upwards. We must ensure that the grazing areas and ponds are secured for them, so they don’t have to go through people’s farms.”
The President expressed surprise over the clashes between people who, he said, used to co-exist in peace for decades. He said the problems were communal and could only be solved at community levels.
Quizzed about state policing, the President said, “State police is not an option. Find out the relationship between local governments and the governors. Is the third tier of government (local governments) getting what they should get constitutionally? Are they getting it? Let the people in the local government tell you the truth, the fighting between local governments and the governors.”
When asked when restructuring will take place given that the All Progressives Congress promised to install true federalism, Buhari said he didn’t understand the concept of restructuring.
Opposition party, Afenifere carpet President for saying state police not an option
Responding, however, Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, carpeted the President on some of his assertions in the interview.
Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, stated that the 1999 Constitution which Nigeria presently operates cannot address some of the issues bedevilling the country. He called for a national dialogue to create a new Constitution head of the 2023 general elections.
Reacting to Buhari’s comment that he did not understand what restructuring being clamoured means, the 93-year-old lawyer partly said, “With all that he knows, if that is all he will say, at the end of his term (second tenure), after he had contested election on that basis, we are doomed in this country.
Adebanjo asked why the ruling APC set up a committee on true federalism chaired by Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State if Buhari truly does not know what restructuring is.
Speaking on the President’s insistence on maintenance of grazing routes as the solution to the frequent and deadly farmers-herders clashes and grazing routes, the Afenifere leader said, “How can anybody talk about that now? It is only in this clime. Anybody who is talking about grazing routes…until we change this constitution, if we go to another election, we will die under slavery.”
Insisting on grazing routes shows Buhari lacks ideas – PDP
The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, accused the President of being comfortable with the state of insecurity in the country, insisting that the President’s statement that state police was not an option suggested that the situation might not be about to change.
He added that the President’s insistence on grazing routes to address the challenge of killer herdsmen showed that Buhari was bereft of ideas.
Ayu also criticised the President for pushing the blame for the incessant killing of farmers by terrorists on locals along grazing routes.
A statement from Dr. Ayu’s Media Office quoted the PDP National Chairman as declaring that “it appears the continued killings in some localities of Nigeria, particularly in the North, and more specifically in President Buhari’s home state of Katsina, may not matter to him” with his statement that state police is not an option”.
The PDP chairman, who described Buhari’s interview on Channels Television as a waste of time, said it would be futile for anyone to expect anything new from the President.
He added, “As has been said by many before now, to expect anything new from our President would be a misplaced and unfortunate expectation.
“From the economy, to insecurity, killing of innocent farmers by terrorists (which some erroneously term farmer/herder clashes) and other sundry issues, President Buhari honoured his calling as a President who has nothing new to offer.”
Kanu: Ohanaeze insists on political solution, says President will understand soon
On its part, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation Ohanaeze Ndigbo, insisted that only political solution could solve the case of the detained Kanu.
Ohanaeze spokesman Chief Alex Ogbonnia, stated this while reacting to the president interview on political solution in releasing Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
Ogbonnia said, “Ohanaeze position is very clear and constant. We have looked at the whole scenario and we are convinced that Nnamdi Kanu’s case and IPOB can only be solved through a political solution. It is unfortunate that the Presidency or the president hasn’t appreciated the Ohanaeze position and by extension the Igbo position or the Igbo leadership position on this matter. But we are very confident that by time we will meet him early this year he will understand it more.”