(By Iheanyi Ezinwo)-Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has promised to reach out to President Muhammadu Buhari with a view to resolving the emergent dispute between the Rivers State Government and the Nigerian Army over the desirability of the Rivers State Neighbourhood Safety Corps Agency in the state.
Speaking at the site of the collapsed 7-storey building at Woji road in New GRA, Port Harcourt on Friday, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who condoled with the Rivers State Government and relations of victims of the building collapse, described the incident as a very sad one.
Accompanied by his wife, Patience, Jonathan said it was in the interest of Rivers State to have the security outfit and promised to take up the matter with Mr. President to see how the matter will be resolved amicably in the interest of Rivers people.
“If you don’t have the cooperation of volunteers working with the security services, we will not be able to manage the security situation “, Jonathan observed, even as he harped on the need for the police and Army within a state to give their maximum cooperation to a government that is setting up a volunteer service to manage their security situation.
He further said: “If there are any issues that should be cleared, I expect the Commissioner of Police and the General Officer Commanding to meet with the Security Adviser to the Rivers State Governor to discuss these grey areas”, while maintaining that managing security in the extremely riverine states require the contributions of locals in the form of volunteers.
“These are extremely riverine states. Apart from the Navy, 60 percent of the personnel of the other security services cannot swim. Managing security in these states require the locals”, he said.
The Former President recalled that as Deputy Governor to Late DSP Alamiesegha, Bayelsa State had to set up the Bayelsa Volunteers to tackle piracy alongside the security agencies.
“When we set up the Bayelsa Volunteers, we worked with the Police to reduce piracy in the state. I have realised that without the locals, you cannot succeed in terms of managing security anywhere “, he said, adding that as a President he allowed the setting up of the Civilian Joint Task Force to work with the military to tackle Boko Haram insurgency, a decision which, according to him, proved to be very helpful.
It would be recalled that the 6 Division Nigerian Army in Port Harcourt had on Thursday said it discovered an illegal militia training camp inside a Rivers community and had gone ahead to take over the camp.
However, the Army’s claim of illegality was faulted by the Rivers State Government who maintains that the Neighbourhood Safety Corps is a creation of law, and that the Army was duly invited to assist in the training of the corps members, whose mandate, according to the law has to do with assisting security agencies with intelligence across the state.