The Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) has congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari over the recent release of all the passengers kidnapped in the Kaduna train attack after eight months in captivity, while calling on him to licence governors to acquire superior assault weapons to confront bandits, terrorists and unknown gunmen currently unleashing death and terror across the country.
OPC President, Otunba Wasiu Afolabi (also known as “Askari”) gave the message on Sunday in Lagos in a Press Statement signed by the group’s General Secretary, Comrade Bunmi Fasehun.
The highpoints of the statement include:
* The urgent need for the Federal Government to expedite action to free other abductees still in captivity anywhere in the country
* Granting licences for states to acquire superior weapons that that would enable them counter terrorists, bandits and unknown gunmen, in line with the request by Ondo State’s Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and others
* President Buhari revisiting and implementing the resolutions of the National Conference of 2014 before handing over power
Afolabi said: “All is well that ends well. We congratulate President Muhammadu Buhari and his security team for ensuring a happy ending to this Kaduna train kidnapping story, an ugly episode that was an international embarrassment to our country.
“However, the government must expedite action to secure the release of other citizens in captivity, using the template that worked in the release of the kidnapped Abuja-Kaduna train passengers.
“Going forward, the President must heed the calls of governors who, as chief security officers of their states, currently lament their helplessness and inability to protect citizens from heavily armed terrorists and bandits spreading sorrows, tears and blood.
“It is clear that the statutory Police, Army and Security forces are overwhelmed by the outbreak of unprovoked hostilities perpetrated by non-state fighters across the country.
“As they say, a violent action must be met with an equal if not a greater reaction. Unfortunately, the current situation makes it appear as if the Federal Government expects that Nigerian citizens would use stones, catapults and sticks to confront bandits and terrorists armed with AK-47s, rocket launchers and explosives. Every day, these animals continue to kill, knowing that their victims lack the arms and capacity to defend themselves properly. Things cannot continue this way.
“President Buhari must heed the call of governors and allow them to acquire sophisticated armouries to confront the present danger.
“The Federal Government cannot hide behind the one-finger of the fear of small arms being further proliferated by granting permission for governors to arm their security outfits. No! Governors, as strategic security custodians, will be able to account for the movement and expenditure of every gun, every bullet and their handlers.
“By denying governors these weapons, it appears that The Presidency is taking sides with the terrorists against law-abiding Nigerians, who are being kidnapped, raped, slaughtered and displaced into IDP camps. It is time for the Federal Government to take sides clearly with the people against these beasts of no nation (as Fela Anikulapo-Kuti called them) posing an existential threat to lives, livelihoods and assets.
“State governors are the best custodians of the arms and ammunitions that are needed to confront the bandits and terrorists. However, if the government refuses to provide an orderly avenue to confront this evil, the people may resort to self-help and anarchy would be the result, as happened in Somalia and Sudan.
“The primary aim of government is to provide security for the people. Any government that fails in this primary responsibility of providing security is a total failure.”
However, OPC said granting licences to governors would be no replacement for State Police and restructuring, which would be the truest reflection of True Federalism as enshrined in Nigeria’s Independence statutes.
The group said: “OPC Founder, the late Dr. Frederick Fasehun, and others spent several years clamouring for a Sovereign National Conference, which President Goodluck Jonathan partly granted.
“Resolutions contained in the 2014 National Conference document must be revisited and implemented by President Muhammadu Buhari before he hands over power. That is the only way to silence the calls for the disintegration of Nigeria. Without coexisting on discussed and agreed terms, Nigeria will continue to stumble from crisis to crisis.”
COMRADE BUNMI FASEHUN
GENERAL SECRETARY, OODUA PEOPLE’S CONGRESS
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