The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has followed developments around the bold and necessary steps taken by Nigerian citizens in some parts of the country including some northern states to call attention to the deteriorating national security and other pressing concerns around the dwindling economy, prohibitive commodity prices, rising inflation amidst mounting poverty and prolonged stay at home by university students.
The CNG notes the appreciative progression of the citizens’ action that climaxed with government’s swift response to one of the concerns raised with the scrapping of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police, and its immediate replacement with Special Weapon And Tactics Team (SWAT).
CNG notes also the reassuring cooperation and solidarity extended by governors and elected representatives to the protesters in mostly the southern parts of the country and Zamfara and Borno state in the North.
In the unfolding scenario, the CNG hereby inevitably arrives at the following observations and inferences:
- That while the southern elected and appointed leaders and representatives are quick to identify with their people at the time of need, their counterparts from the North, including the President, the Senate President, Senators, Rep members, governors, state legislators and other government appointees would rather abandon the hundreds of thousands of people in northern communities exposed to crime, lawlessness and insecurity in the hands of bandits, insurgents, kidnappers, rapists rustlers, and other violent criminals without any form of protection.
- That it is contradictory that despite several protests and pleas by northerners, the authorities never deemed it fit to extend the swift spirit deployed against FSARS into securing the North, or addressing the myriad distresses faced by northerners.
- That the authorities appear bent on sustainig the harsh, unacceptable regime of exploitative hikes in electricity tariffs for which the North shall bear the brunt more than other parts of the country.
- That the federal government appears not keen on resolving the lingering dispute with the Academic Staff Union to enable the recommencement of university education.
In the light of the foregone observations, the CNG is left with no option but to direct the extension of the protests to all northern states, commencing from Thursday, October 15, 2020.
By this, all CNG state chapters and student wings are mandated to resume the mobilization of responsible sections of the civil society, NGOs, women groups, professional associations, artisans and concerned parents in their respective states for the continuation of our protests started in Katsina state in June to:
- Demand the federal government to immediately declare a state of emergency on security and take practical steps to end all manifestations of insecurity in northern Nigeria and other parts of the country.
- Demand thorough reorientation of the entire police force and its empowerment by way of additional personnel, modern training and adequate equiptment to be able to reclaim its universal internal security function.
- Mount pressure on leaders to show real commitment to protecting lives of citizens, ending the prolonged closure of our universities, reconsidering hiked commodity prices, reducing youth unemployment, and checking the rise in poverty level.
- Publicly condemn and pass a vote of no confidence on those office holders and elected leaders who have abandoned the bulk of northerners to the mercy of a vicious insurgency, destructive banditry, rape and sexual assaults, violent communal clashes amidst mounting poverty and entrenched fear of widespread kidnappings for ransom.
- To declare the agreement reached by labour with the government on new electricity tariff unacceptable and demand the immediate, unconditional reversal to the old rates.
We conclude by pointing out that the sudden scraping of the FSARS has now created a huge vacuum in the fight against dangerous crimes that particularly threaten the very existence of most northern communities.
While we welcome the creation of the SWAT to replace SARS, we call for expiditious action for the improvement of the professionalism of the personnel to be drafted through reinforcement, retraining, equiptment update and improved welfare.
It is also imperative that henceforth, all formations of the SWAT be monitored by officials of the Human Rights Commission and members of the Police/Community relations to forestall the avoided FSARS breaches.
We therefore recommend the immediate commencement of massive recruitment of educationally and morally qualified young Nigerians according to local government areas for injection into the force as a way of infusing fresh energy and ideas in its operations.