There are indications that state governments will fund their various security outfits with the security bailout they are demanding from the Federal Government, The PUNCH has learnt.
It was also gathered on Tuesday that states were seeking reimbursements for their expenses on the police and other security agencies during the COVID-19 lockdown.
To complement the Federal Government’s efforts, some state governments have established their own security outfits.
It was, however, learnt the poor state of the economy and the outbreak of COVID-19 had made it difficult for many of them to effectively fund the security outfits.
State governors had, at their meeting with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on August 11, sought security bailout to enable them to finance the fight against growing spate of insecurity in their states.
Before the meeting, some state governments had set up security outfits to tackle killings and other crimes in their areas.
For example, in January, the South-West states inaugurated the Western Security outfit, codenamed Amotekun.
Also, at their meeting in Enugu on February 9, the South-East governors decided to establish Forest Guards to tackle attacks by herdsmen.
Some state governments, in separate interviews with The PUNCH, emphasised the need for the Federal Government’s assistance.
Bailout will assist in funding Amotekun, says Ogun gov’s aide
The Ogun State Government said the security bailout would assist in funding Amotekun and other security initiatives in the state.
The Special Adviser to the state governor on Public Communications, Remmy Hazzan, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said so far, the state government had not detached itself from the governors’ forum demand for security bailout.
He said, “The Ogun State Government has not particularly made any categorical statement, but I want to take it for granted that if the governors’ forum is saying that, Ogun State is part of that governors’ forum, until the executive governor says otherwise.
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“The governor of Ogun State is part of the forum. Unless the governor expressly says he is not part of it, we will take it for granted that all the governors said it.”
On the need for the bailout, Hazzan said, “It has been discovered over time that funding from the federal purse is grossly inadequate. There is virtually no state that does not have a support system for policing both for regular police and their own security initiatives.
“So, that is essentially why you see all these states have different security initiatives. Lagos has Rapid Respond Squad. Ogun has Quick Respond Squad. All those security initiatives are fully funded by the various states.
“With what is going on in the states, especially the activities of kidnappers, bandits and insurgents, all these security initiatives are already being overwhelmed. That is why you will see further security initiatives such as Amotekun of the South- West coming up. All of these call for more funding if they will see the light of the day.
“If states will keep their head above the water, whatever help they can get outside of the current system is required.”
On the difference between security vote and security bailout, Hazzan said, “The security vote is what the state has already appropriated to spend on the security architecture of the state and the security bailout is the help they are asking the Federal Government to assist in all the initiatives they are bringing out.”
A governor in the North-West, who confided in one of our correspondents, in Abuja on Tuesday, said states could no more bear the burden of funding the Federal Government’s security agencies, particularly the police.
He said, “The truth of the matter is that the cost of maintaining security in our various states has become an unbearable burden. What comes from the federation account has shrunk. What is set aside as a security vote now has also gone down. Imagine, during the lockdown, we had to pay out about N60m weekly to various security agencies as allowances for enforcement of the lockdown.
“We couldn’t generate much internally because there was literally no economic activity during that time.”
On his part, the Special Adviser to the Zamfara State Governor on Media, Alhaji Zailani Baffa, backed the NGF’s demand for security bailout, saying it was a collective request by governors.
Baffa said although the state Governor, Bello Matawalle, did not personally request the fund, he was in need of it more than any other governor.
He said the state was hosting about 8,000 soldiers, adding , “They are being taken care of with the security vote of the state which according to him is grossly inadequate.”
Baffa said the security vote was quite different from the security bailout He said, “The security vote is a certain amount of money deducted by each governor from the monthly allocation of his state which is kept for security purposes, while on the other hand the security bailout is an additional money given by the Federal Government to fight insecurity.”
Also, the Ekiti State Commissioner for Information, Mr Muyiwa Olumilua, said that the hardship imposed on the states by COVID-19, especially in the area of finances, had necessitated the need for the bailout.
Olumilua said, “With the issue of COVID-19, some states can hardly stay afloat because their finances have been adversely affected by the economic downturn, so definitely, they might need some help from the Federal Government for them to be back on their feet.”
T he Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the state Governor, Samuel Ortom, supported the NGF’s decision.
He said, “I have yet to get details of it from my principal but he is with the decision of Nigeria Governors’ Forum on the matter.”
The Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State, Christian Ita, in a chat with The PUNCH, said, “The governors asking for security bailout are the ones wearing the shoes and they know where they pinch.”
Details of the security bailout being sought by governors were still being worked out.
These, one of our correspondents gathered, included amount each state would get and the criteria for the payment
A source privy to the development said, “The cost of security is not something states alone can bear under the current federal system. The Federal Government budgets for the police and other security agencies annually, but the states still augment this by providing vehicles, allowances and other expenses.”
The Spokesman for the NGF, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, could not be reached for comments as calls to his mobile telephone indicated that he could not be reached.