What is the Senate Doing About Insecurity?


Mon-Charles Egbo argues that the Ninth Senate has proven to be a parliament poised to ensure national security

That outburst by the Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan, about the scourge of insecurity in the land has generated varied connotations among the populace.

According to him, “the security situation in our country requires serious attention and due consideration by the senate and indeed the national assembly. Recently the security in the country had deteriorated and the attendant loss of lives is not acceptable. We need to secure the lives and property of our citizens, as enshrined in our constitution. We all are witnesses to how our economy is also affected by the inclement security situation. Therefore, we need to speedily seek for solutions to fix the security problem bedeviling our dear country. There is urgent need for paradigm shift and reform of the architecture and structure of our security systems.”

While to some, this smacks of crack in the executive-legislature relationship, others dismissed it as ‘doing the right thing at the wrong time’. But for anyone who has closely observed the trajectory of the 9th senate, this is rather a passionate expression borne out of national interest.

Empirically, this senate is defined by a patriotic resolve to be responsible to the people, among others, in the area of security of lives and properties. This explains the quantum of premium accorded it by Lawan. To him, good governance is simply a reflection of government’s diligent commitment to its primary obligation of ensuring the security and well-being of the citizenry, of-which failure to deliver on them means failure of government.

However in democracy especially our kind of presidential system, good governance demands the sustainable collaboration among the three arms of government, even though the greater task lies with the legislature. Constitutionally, the parliament is to provide the enabling environments through legislations for good governance. This is the reason a responsive legislature is unsettled whenever there are misgivings from the people.

But it is one thing creating opportunities and another, converting them to implementable policies for good governance. This is unfortunately the Nigerian situation. The parliament has continued to churn out legislations, including resolutions for good governance, but how the executive arm processes those remains a puzzle. As an instance the 2020 budget was timely passed and other sundry approvals granted, particularly confirmation of nominees, so that governance could seamlessly operate. As such, the legislature is reasonably absolved relative to the prevailing national predicament. And this is one moral justification for the senate president’s outcry.

Insecurity has reduced our country to a precarious and fragile condition. Terrorism, kidnapping and banditry have threatened even its corporate existence. Nowhere is safe in the country again, especially the highways, places of worship, markets, farmlands, even the growing internally-displaced persons’ camps. The innocents die tragically in their numbers. The economy itself is not doing well. And worse off, our attitudes to patriotism and nationalism have since degenerated. There are mutual suspicions across the country. Equally sad, concerned authorities seem to be pretending about it and living in denial. Our weaknesses in tackling it are already well-known to the outside world particularly the ‘enemies within’ themselves. The terrorists and bandits are obviously ahead of the nation in technology access and acquisition as well as deployment of sophisticated arms and ammunition. Same can be said about intelligence gathering and management. Beyond poor equipment of the military, the field fighters are at the lowest ebb of motivation.

But despite this gloomy state, the senate president is optimistic that with renewed approach, this challenge would be surmounted.
The first step in this direction was the senate’s increase of the 2020 budget estimate to the tune of 700 billion naira primarily towards addressing the challenges of this multi-faceted state of insecurity impoverishing the country. The executive had proposed to effect massive recruitments into the security agencies but could not provide for the overhead costs and that of hardware procurement. It took the sense of scrutiny of the senate to detect this costly omission. Meanwhile, the National Assembly joint-committee on Army had undertaken a fact-finding visit to the military operational headquartres and the epicenter of insurgency, where it identified combination of equipment deficit and underfunding as the major setback to the efforts of government to put an end to the scourge.

Yet Lawan is not relenting. His open lamentation has set agenda for national discourse. Both chambers of the national assembly are unanimous that indeed Nigeria is in dire need of rescue from the hooded blood-thirsty elements. It has become such topical an issue that the mind of everyone is agitated as to how soon respite could come our way. And quite expectedly, the security institution, socio-cultural organizations and religious communities are not left out.

The legislators had series of extensive deliberations on the matter. The senate through a motion curiously sponsored by 106 out of 108, passed a resolution urging the presidency to declare national emergency on security. It also set up an ad-hoc committee to intensely engage the security managers and develop within two weeks, a working document which would guide the legislature for a robust intervention towards freeing the citizenry from this unbridled attacks. The national assembly leadership backed up this move with an emergency meeting the president.

Therefore, every stakeholder should dispassionately interrogate those raised concerns by Lawan, on their merits rather than imputing sentiments. Threats of insecurity do not understand our different inclinations and ideologies.

The 9th senate has sufficiently demonstrated commitment to good governance. On the present challenge, it has proven to be a parliament poised to ensure national security. So it is a moral duty for everyone to close ranks with it for sustainability.

Egbo, a public relations practitioner can be reached at moncharles@yahoo.com