Wale Bakare, Special assistant to the Senate President on Electronic and Broadcast Media commends the efforts of the Dr. Ahmad Lawan-led Senate at tackling the wide range of security challenges in the country
Insecurity in Nigeria has recently assumed an alarming rate affecting every facet of Nigerian life with no end in sight. Successive government have had to battle with one form of insecurity or the other which continues to claim the lives of children, women and men especially, and has led to the mass displacement of people from their ancestral lands within the rural communities. With these recent attacks, it is evident that the current security architecture has not achieved its desired aim of putting an end or curbing to its barest minimum – kidnapping, communal clashes and banditry.
The main point of departure is the way the social menace is managed. Unarguably, insecurity has heightened leading to severe unimaginable social consequences which has further blighted the socio-economic pursuit of an average Nigerian. This implies that threat to human life does not only emanate from situation of violent conflicts such as Boko Haram or Fulani herdsmen activities but also from other non-conflict sources. These security challenges are not peculiar to a particular region, it cuts across the six geopolitical zones, but more particularly in the North-East, North Central and South-South. Residents in these regions now sleep with one eye open while government grapples with the best possible solutions to protect lives and properties of every Nigerian as guaranteed in the constitution.
In his inaugural speech at the inception of the 9th Senate, the Chairman of the National Assembly and the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan had expressed his growing concerns about the current security situation in the country. He pledged to work closely with his colleagues in both the Senate and the House of Representatives and with the other arms of government through collaborations and a robust legislation to end rural and highway banditry; inter-ethnic conflicts; herdsmen and farmer conflicts, cattle rustling; kidnapping and all other forms of criminality in the country. On the 29th of January 2020, the Senate moved to restructure, review and organize the current security architecture by setting up an ad hoc committee to engage security agencies to assess the insecurity level in the country. The report of the committee chaired by the Senate Leader, Dr. Yahaya Abdullahi has since been submitted to the Senate and the recommendations is expected to be adopted by the executive arm of government.
On the 17th of May, 2020 17 people were reportedly killed in Gajiagan, Magimeri local government and another thirty-three lives were lost in a similar attack in Nganzai local government in Borno State. More recently, a total of Ninety deaths were recorded in Foduma Kolum village of Gubio local government of Borno State. The activities of Boko Haram insurgents and bandits in parts of the country has necessitated the need to implement the various reports of the Senate ad hoc committees set up on the rising security challenges in Nigeria. Part of the resolution reached on Thursday, 11th June at the red chamber was the urgent need to beef up and deploy personnel and equipment in and around the Lake chad shores as well as a joint meeting with Mr. President of the heads of the red and green chambers.
In reiterating his commitment towards ending the security challenges currently being faced, Dr Ahmad Lawan, at a press briefing prior to Senate’s resumption from its six-week-recess sought restructuring of the security apparatus in the fight against insecurity in the country. Lawan noted that the entire security architecture should be restructured as the present system did not appear to give Nigeria the type of outcome that was needed. “Whether it is the federal, state or local government; even the traditional rulers or others, the most important thing is to secure the lives and property of Nigerians and we will do that. The legislature and the executive must be forthright in the fight against insecurity in the country as there are so many happenings destabilizing communities across the country”. He said.
Speaking further, the Senate President stated that “the system is not working effectively and efficiently as it should” and as elected officials, they owe Nigerians the responsibility to intervene, to work with the other tiers of government, to ensure a quick change in the way and manner security issues are being approached the country.
Similarly, in a bid to further address the security challenges, the Senate identified that one of the local root causes of conflicts and social unrest is the diffusion of illegal arms and weapons in the wrong hands and subsequently moved to establish the National Commission against the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light weapons. This Bill, presently in its second reading has been referred to the Committee on National Security and Intelligence for further legislative input. In less than a year, the 9th Senate has interfaced with head of security agencies through its standing committees to understudy the challenges they face and propose the best possible ways the Senate can assist them with interventions and legislations to tackle these challenges. These bold steps taken through constant collaboration and engagement with the executive arm has ensured that the working budgets of security agencies like the Nigerian Military and the Nigerian Police Force are adequately reviewed and new provisions were made in the 2020 Budget to allocate more funding to address the existential issues of underfunding. This will enable the security agencies to recruit and train more personnel, acquire state-of-the-art machineries and equipment to effectively discharge their duties.
As it stands, the upper chamber has passed quite a number of people-oriented bills and the Senate is set to begin the presentation of reports on oversight of the executive arm during the plenary session in order to improve the oversight function being carried out by the various legislative committees. The Ahmad-Lawan led Senate is determined to ensure that only bills that directly impact on the lives and improve the living condition of the people are given a top priority in the 9th Senate. An environment with a volatile security challenges cannot attract the right kind of business investment needed to drive an economic growth hub that Nigeria currently desires; this is why the Senate President has urged the federal government to, as a matter of urgency, implement the recommendations contained in the report of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Nigeria Security challenges. Recall also, that an overwhelming majority of the Senators had earlier called on the Presidency to declare a national emergency on security, this, they reckon will enable the government tackle the root cause of insecurity and impose policies geared towards ensuring lasting solutions.
In the coming weeks, the Senate is expected to continue to build on the solid foundation laid thus far, by carrying out more security sector reforms and supporting the executive in promoting democratic norms and the principle of good governance.