Governors seem set for a stormy meeting today in Abuja, with some states withdrawing their support for state police.
Governors elected on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria, the All Progressive Grand Alliance and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South are insisting on state police – an idea initially backed by 34 of the 36 governors.
Northern governors are backing out of the pact – to the amazement of their southern colleagues.
But the southern governors have got support from Plateau State helmsman Jonah Jang, who is backing the idea.
Of the 36 states, 18 are in favour of state police; 17 are against and one is non-committal.
According to two of the governors, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, it is surprising that the Northern governors are backing out
One of the governors said: “Ahead of our session in Abuja on Tuesday (today), we are still insisting on state police. So far, all the governors in the South, irrespective of parties, are standing by our position on the creation of state police. I can tell you that state police has the endorsement of ACN, APGA and PDP governors in the South.
“What happened was that we all met and discussed extensively on state police. At the end of our meeting, 34 out of the 36 governors signed up for state police. Only Benue and Kebbi did not sign up.
“Benue State , Governor Gabriel Suswam was not in the country when the matter came up and since he did not have the details of our meeting, he said he won’t rush at taking any decision.
“We opted for state security because we were all worried about the state of insecurity in the country and how to address the drift.
“It is also international best practices to reduce security to a manageable level that will benefit the citizenry. It is apparent that we cannot continue with a centralised police structure.
“The amazing thing is how Northern governors, whose states are under security siege, would have to back out at the last minute. We are suspecting that they are under a different political influence.”
The source noted that in the 60s, security in the North was managed by the Native Authority Police. It is surprising that the region is withdrawing from an initiative it had successfully pioneered,” he said, adding:
“And state police idea is not different from a new security initiative called ‘grassroots engagement’, which was recently suggested by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo and ex-Military President Ibrahim Babangida.”
Another governor from the South said: “I think by Tuesday, we will be able to determine whether we still need the Nigeria Governors Forum or not.
“Leaders should learn to stand by agreement or consensus on issues.”