“Most of the state governors are not doing well,” Mr Kalu says.
The former governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, has said that state governors, not President Muhammadu Buhari, should be held responsible for the insecurity across Nigeria.
Apart from several years of Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east, the perennial deadly conflict between herders and farmers, and the deadly attacks in the South-east which is linked to the pro-Biafra group, IPOB, there are several cases of killings and abduction-for-ransom in different parts of the country.
“The issue is not Buhari, the issue is that if every governor is putting their feet down in their state and say you cannot do this thing here, we would not be where we are,” Mr Kalu said on Thursday in an interview with Arise TV.
Mr Kalu was the governor of Abia State, Nigeria’s South-east, from 1999 to 2007. PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Kalu recently said he would contest for president on the APC platform if the party zones its presidential ticket to Southern Nigeria.
He said at the Arise interview that he successfully fought crime in Abia State when he was the governor because he held regular meetings with security agencies, traditional rulers and the youths, and that he was also able to confront criminals in the state.
Mr Kalu, who is a senator representing Abia North District and the Chief Whip of the Nigerian Senate, said the governors ought to know what they should do to check the insecurity in their respective states.
“If you (governors) don’t want them (criminals), they won’t be there.
“Governors need to stand up and fight the war, I am pleading with them, more of those fights lie with the governors, not with Buhari,” the senator said.
He advised the governors to strengthen their local economies in order to reduce crime in the states, adding that President Buhari cannot fight insecurity in the states when the governors are there.
“Most of the state governors are not doing well,” he said.
Continuing, the senator said, “Buhari’s administration has done very well even in fighting banditry, but we don’t have enough resources to fight these people.
“I will rate Buhari’s administration very highly. If Buhari did not come in maybe we would not have Nigeria by now, the way things were going.”
Mr Kalu’s claims are not entirely correct as the governors in Nigeria do not have control over the Nigerian Army, the police and other major security agencies in their states – they are controlled by the federal government – although a governor’s action or inaction can trigger insecurity in a state.
The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, for instance, has repeatedly blamed Mr Buhari’s administration for not doing enough to stop the incessant killings in the state.
“It is an unfortunate development that what is happening, if the federal government had taken a proactive step, we will not be where we are. In the last two week, over 70 persons just in Makurdi local government area alone. It is not acceptable,” Mr Ortom said in April 2021 when 70 people were killed by herders in Benue.
“Go to Guma, the same killings are taking place, go to Gwer-west, the same killings are taking place. This is not fair. The federal government has refused to take a proactive step to arrest this ugly situation we are witnessing here today.
“You recall that I alerted the entire nation when Fulanis from 14 countries met in Yola and declared that except we review the prohibition of open grazing law, Benue will not know peace,” the governor said.
Kalu’s ‘corruption’ history
Mr Kalu was convicted by a federal high court of stealing funds belonging to Abia State while he was governor but had his conviction upturned by the Supreme Court last year on technicalities.
The Supreme Court ordered a retrial of the case, saying the judge who ruled on the matter should not have done so because he had been promoted to a higher court.