From TONY OSAUZO, Benin
Contrary to views in some quarters that Nigeria could not disintegrate, former minister of Information and Communication, Prof Dora Akunyili warned yesterday that nobody should brag that the country cannot disintegrate. Delivering the Convocation lecture of the Benson Idahosa University, Benin, with the theme “Quest for Security and National Integration: The Hope for Nigeria,” the former Director-General of National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control, said: “We need to work hard to ensure unity of the country. For peace to prevail, various groups must talk about it. We must negotiate our unity and togetherness because we are a diverse people. We have to agree on how best we can come together to acheive unity.”
She faulted the hierarchical structure of the Nigeria Police, saying that it was defective and too cumbersome for effectiveness. “Nigeria is too big for one central police command under the Inspector General of Police and that is a setback in the quest for security in their various states. “Let the state Commissioners of Police be answerable to the state governors. State governors should have some level of control over the police.
There should, therefore, be a way to give state governors the power to control state Commissioners of Police without necessarily undermining the authority of the Inspector General of Police,” she said. She advocated for increase in salaries as well as insurance policy for police personnel, just as she called for reform of the judiciary and the police to earn public trust.
“Nigeria’s budget for security in 2013 should be used for the purpose. Police salary structure is a disaster. It is unacceptable. How can an ill-equiped policeman put his life on the line for others?” On Boko Haram, Prof. Akunyili called for neutral persons to be asked to negotiate with the terrorist group and suggested that such talks should hold within the West African states.
“I believe that Boko Haram problem will be solved faster if we embrace dialogue, no matter how painful and humiliating this may appear. I feel strongly that they will show up if they trust the negotiation process,”she submitted She also commented on the increasing spate of kidnappings in the country and observed that the menace had endured because of payment of ransom to kidnappers. “I wish people should stop paying ransom. We should try and close our minds to ensure that this malaise stop.”