President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday played host to traditional rulers from the South-west of Nigeria.
The major point of discussion at the meeting was the security situation in Nigeria.
Below is the president’s full speech.
I am delighted to welcome Your Highnesses to State House. I thank you for honouring the invitation to attend this important consultation that concerns the security of our nation.
2. Nelson Mandela once said, “Safety and Security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.”
3. On these bases and more, I have decided to meet with Your Highnesses to assure you that this administration is doing everything to ensure that the insecurity that we see and hear today are tackled and defeated.
4. As you are well aware, the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has already begun these consultations with some Obas and I have been receiving feedback and observations.
5. I also want to acknowledge other correspondences from you, our Royal Fathers, noting your concerns, and highlighting lines of action useful in our overall effort to maintain law and order.
6. Let me state that we do welcome every such expressions of concern from all of our people, and the expectations that come with them.
7. Secondly, I want to consult with you our royal fathers, so that together we can proffer solutions to the lingering security problems in the South-West and other parts of the country. We are indeed aware there are significant security concerns in the South-West.
8. These consultations are important because traditional rulers form a critical part of governance structures, especially in their respective communities, where they feel the pulse of the people being the closest to the populace at the grassroots level.
9. As a government, at all times, we need your active collaboration as we continue to deal with crimes of kidnapping, banditry and other forms of unlawful and criminal attacks resulting in needless deaths and causing fear among our people.
10. There are some who might want to cause instability and difficulties, but we are very confident that God willing and working together as a nation, we will be able to overcome such difficulties and all our problems, and set our country on the path of peace and prosperity.
11. We must understand that the dynamics for safeguarding security keep changing and we must adapt our strategies to these challenges as well as adopt modern, technological and people-centred methods in achieving these goals.
12. When Nigerians voted massively for us in 2015, we focused on three areas, security, economy and fighting corruption. We have not relented on this promise and we will not.
13. This administration will continue do everything necessary to protect the lives of all Nigerians and ensure that every Nigerian in every state is safe, and that our people can live in peace and harmony, regardless of ethnicity, religion or region. As a government, we remain committed to the ideals of our democracy, particularly entrenching the rule of law and the sanctity of life.
14. Let me be very clear about our firm resolve to change the security architecture of Nigeria. It is one of the top priorities for this government but we won’t be able to achieve this goal without the support and input of you, our royal fathers.
15. As the traditional authorities in your communities, government and the security agencies will be relying on you to monitor the several different communities and people coming in and out of your areas.
16. We hope that, for instance, traditional rulers would be able to observe new entrants into the community by requesting leaders of such ethnic groups to notify the traditional authorities of new intakes, thereby creating the opportunities for the gathering of actionable intelligence which tracks such movements in and out of communities thereby offering early warning signals.
17 Some of these interventions include an expedited commencement of community policing, a robust revamping of police intelligence gathering capacity and the significant boosting of the numbers of security personnel in our local communities. This in specific terms will include recruiting a lot more police officers and doing so right from their local government areas, where they would then be stationed in the best practice of community policing.
18. Working with the State governments also, we intend to beef up the equipping of the police force with advanced technology and equipment that can facilitate the work of the security agencies.
19. I will be issuing directives to the appropriate federal authorities to speedily approve licensing for States requesting the use of drones to monitor forests and other criminal hideouts. We also intend to install CCTVs on highways and other strategic locations so that activities in some of those hidden places can be exposed, more effectively monitored and open to actionable review.
20. We will equally continue to bring in our military when needed to complement the work of the police including possible deployment of troops on certain highways on a temporary basis, and the use of the Air Force assets to bomb hideouts where criminals are located.
21. These measures are inter-related and have to be well coordinated. The speedy implementation of community policing will facilitate a more effective collection of intelligence. This is especially in the area of a more useful and effective intelligence gathering process that traditional rulers will play some of the most critical roles.
22. I believe you are aware that there was a reshuffle in the Army, including the promotion and deployment of Lt.-Gen. Lamidi Adeosun as the Nigerian Army’s Chief of Policy and Plans. This was done in order to reinvigorate and reenergize our troops to do more. There would be further reviews where necessary for maximum performance.
23. I want to assure you and the entire nation that we will enforce the law, prosecute law breakers and secure an atmosphere of tranquility for all Nigerians where ever they choose to live and also protect our communities from all forms of crimes. This is both in our interests as an administration and the interests of the people who voted us into office.
24. We need security to deliver on our many programmes to the people. There can be no prosperity if there is no security.
25. This is not only a message of hope but a call to action to all of us as we seek ways to secure our country.
26. On our part, as the Federal Government, we are ready to deal decisively with anyone that is fomenting this spate of criminal activities by every means necessary. We intend to deal severely with those evil Nigerians inciting violence for political ends.
27. Once again, I thank you for coming and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.