Northern Elders, Afenifere Back House’s Summon of Buhari over Insecurity

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•Senate demands sacking of service chiefs
•NEF tells president to resign
•North-east govs support use of mercenaries against Boko Haram
•We will review ways of dealing with security challenges, says Osinbajo

By Deji Elumoye, Omololu Ogunmade, Adedayo Akinwale, Udora Orizu in Abuja, Segun James in Lagos, Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri and Igbawase Ukumba in Lafia

The pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), have backed the moves by the two chambers of the National Assembly to ensure that the executive take immediate step to address the rising wave of insecurity in the country.

They supported the House of Representatives’ motion inviting President Muhammadu Buhari to explain what his administration is doing to combat the worsening insecurity in the country.

They also endorsed the call by the Senate for the removal of the service chiefs.
In addition, the NEF demanded the resignation of Buhari following what it described as the mounting security challenges in the country.

While the House, after an hour of heated deliberations yesterday, resolved to invite Buhari to appear before it over the security situation in the country, the Senate asked the president to relieve all the service chiefs of their appointments over the rising wave of insecurity.

Also yesterday, the governors of North-eastern states threw their weight behind the call by their Borno State colleague, Prof. Babagana Zulum, on the federal government, to hire mercenaries to fight Boko Haram in the region.

But Vice President Yemi Osinbajo expressed the federal government’s commitment to finding a new approach to combating insecurity, saying it will review conventional ways of handling security challenges in the country.

Reacting to the positions of the National Assembly, Afenifere’s spokesman, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, told THISDAY that the latest step by the federal legislature to combat insecurity is heart-warming.

“It is heartwarming to see both chambers rising up for the country in the midst of the total collapse of security with lamentations being the only thing we hear from the presidency. The country needs a Commander-in-Chief desperately as there is lack of a functional one at the moment,” he said.

The Executive Director of CISLAC, Mr. Auwal Rafsanjani, supported the move by the lawmakers to invite Buhari, saying that the president must rise up to take over the communication with Nigerians.

Rafsanjani said if the executive had taken action on the various resolutions by the National Assembly, especially demanding the change of the service chiefs, the lawmakers would not have had any reason to summon the president.

He said: ”In other countries where democracy works, the president regularly communicates with the citizens but in our own case, some people are making it impossible for the president to be visible and communicate with the citizens.

“So, I am not surprised that the National Assembly wants to invite the president to explain what’s going on within the security challenges that we are facing.

“The North-east and North-west have become a no-go area in terms of insecurity. All that the aides to the president will come and do is to attack the citizens that are victims of insecurity.

”That’s why the president must rise up to take over the communication with Nigerians.

His aides are not communicating very well with citizens rather they are causing more harm. The president should be communicating with Nigerians, not through his aides.”

Northern Elders Ask Buhari to Resign

NEF demanded the resignation of the president over his inability to tackle the mounting security challenges.

It also expressed outrage over the massacre of Borno rice farmers, saying life has no value under the Buhari administration.

The Director of Publicity and Advocacy of the forum, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in a statement yesterday, also described the response by a presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, that the slain farmers did not get security clearance from the military before going to the farm as ‘most insensitive.’

NEF accused Buhari of ignoring its advice and concerns raised by many other Nigerians.

It said: “These particular killings have been greeted by the most insensitive response by spokespersons of the president. The lame excuse that farmers had not sought permission from the military to harvest produce merely exposes the misleading claims that our military had secured vast territories from the insurgency.

“Under this administration, life has lost its value and more and more citizens are coming under the influence of criminals. We do not see any evidence of a willingness on the part of President Buhari to honour his oath to provide security over Nigerians.
“In civilised nations, leaders who fail so spectacularly to provide security will do the honourable thing and resign.”

Moving a motion, on behalf of other 10 Borno State lawmakers, to summon Buhari, at the plenary, Hon. Satomi Ahmed prayed that the president, to amongst other things, declare a state of emergency on security matters.

Ahmed lamented that the attackers tied up agricultural labourers working in the rice field and slit their throats.

He said the exact number of people killed in the incident is not yet known as over 44 bodies were recovered and buried with six others with serious injuries and many more residents are reported missing.

But Hon. Ahmadu Jaha, one of the co-sponsors of the motion, raised a point of order that a prayer was omitted.

Jaha said in the original motion, all the sponsors agreed that Buhari should be invited to brief the House on the state of security in the country.

He stated that this prayer was removed, adding that he was shocked by the removal.

While his observation got overwhelming support from other lawmakers, the Speaker of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, and the Majority Leader, Hon. Ado Doguwa, said it was not necessary as security issues can’t be discussed openly.

They pleaded for the understanding of their colleagues and urged them not to summon the president.

Gbajabiamila said inviting the president to the floor may not be the best way to go as there are other ways to engage Buhari.

Doguwa said every member of the House was in support of the motion, but that security issues should not be discussed in the open.

With their submissions, the House became very rowdy as the majority of the lawmakers insisted that the president must come to address them on the security situation in the country.

Gbajabiamila, in an attempt to calm the rowdy session, ruled that plenary be suspended for members to go into an executive session to resolve the matter.

Reconvening after an hour from the closed-door meeting, Jaha, who had earlier insisted on the invitation as the key prayer of the motion, was asked to formally move the motion for the president’s appearance.

The House, however, did not specify the day or time of the president’s appearance.

Again, Senate Demands Removal of Service Chiefs

The Senate, for the second time yesterday, asked Buhari to relieve all the service chiefs of their appointment.

This is just as Lawan described the killing of Borno farmers by Boko Haram insurgents as one death too many.

The Senate, in a second resolution to the president within six months, demanded the sacking of the service chiefs.

It urged Buhari to replace them with new ones with new ideas and solutions.

The resolution was a sequel to the adoption of a motion moved by Senator Kashim Shettima on the recent killing of farmers in Borno State.

The Senate also called on the president to take immediate steps to restructure and remodel the country’s security architecture and provide enough modern weapons and equipment to effectively combat the insurgents.

The Senate urged Buhari to probe allegations of corruption and leakages within the security agencies and to foster transparency and ensure all resources deployed for security are spent on the needs on the ground.

It asked the federal government to explore multi-lateral partnerships with Nigeria’s neighbours to find a lasting solution to the insurgency, and called for the recruitment of 10,000 civilian JTF as well as massive recruitment into the military and the police.

Earlier in his lead debate, Shettima had said the Nigerian Army, in conjunction with other security agencies, had not been able to quell the insurgency affecting the North-east in spite of the slogan by government officials that the insurgents have been technically defeated.

Contributing, Senator Ahmad Kaita, said the leadership of the National Assembly needs to sit with the military and reassess their performance.

He said the statement credited to Shehu that the slain farmers had no clearance to go to the farm was irresponsible at a time many Nigerians were mourning the killings in Borno.

He said killing and kidnapping had continued unabated and that if the government allows the situation to continue, the country should be ready for mourning.

He prayed the National Assembly not to increase the budget of the military until it justifies the earlier released funds.

Also speaking, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, said his earlier findings in Borno showed that soldiers at war in North-east were sharing ammunition and that some of them were without a helmet and bulletproof.

He said aside from the lack of deployment of modern military equipment, there was no coordination among the security forces.

Ndume said the Senate must take a step forward on its resolutions, asking Lawan to give Buhari a timeline to implement the resolutions.

Lawan, who presided over the session, lamented the recent killings and described it as one death too many

Lawan said: “We should not be despaired that nothing has happened to our earlier resolutions.

“It is now important that the executive should implement the latest resolution because they are not frivolous.

“Enough of excuses; those who have nothing to offer in terms of securing the country should be shown the way out. The security of Nigerians should take the centre stage. Time has come to find a solution.”

North-east Govs Demand Use of Mercenaries against Boko Haram

Also following the worsening insecurity in the North-east, the governors of the region have thrown their weight behind the call by Zulum for the federal government to hire mercenaries to fight Boko Haram.

The governors’ call came a day after Zulum, as part of his six-point recommendations on how to end the over a decade-old crisis, suggested that mercenaries should be deployed to fight the insurgents.

Taraba State Governor, Chief Ishaku Darius, who led other governors from the North-east to condole with the governor and people of Borno State on the massacre of rice farmers, said: “Our dear brother, we are here to condole with you over the killing of farmers by Boko Haram insurgents.

“We are indeed saddened and traumatised. I will key into your request, which you said that the federal government should invite some mercenaries to come and help us out of this problem because what you can’t do, what you can’t solve; I think we should invite who can solve it for us.

“We cannot continuously be mourning; there has to be a time to stop the mourning. All of us in the North-east Governors’ Forum, we are pleading with the federal government to find a solution to the issue of Boko Haram because if we neglect it, it will become worse.”

The governors also urged the federal government to allocate more resources to the North-east to stimulate growth.

“It is embarrassing that in the whole (federal) budget, what is given to the North-east is 0.35 per cent. With all these problems we are having, with the insurgency, all the problems, with the insecurity, from the whole federal budget of Nigeria, only 0.35 per cent only allocated for the northeast. This is very unfair,” he added.

With Darius were Governors of Adamawa, Bauchi and Gombe states, Ahmadu Fintiri; Senator Bala Mohammed; and Mohammed Inuwa Yahaya, respectively.

We will Review Ways of Dealing with Security Challenges, Says Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday promised that the federal government will review conventional ways of handling security challenges in the country.

Osinbajo, who was reacting to last weekend’s massacre of farmers in Borno State by Boko Haram, while on a one-day official visit to Nasarawa State, echoed the president who had earlier described the Boko Haram insurgents who killed the farmers as insane.

According to a statement by his media aide, Mr. Laolu Akande, Osinbajo described the episode as tragic.

He said: “It’s important to understand also that we will probably need to keep reviewing the conventional means of dealing with some of these issues – these security challenges, especially the randomness, which is why the president has said that he is taking a serious look at how to deal with the issues, especially the randomness.

“Some insane persons go into a place and shoot people, that is not the sort of thing that you are prepared for conventionally.

“We have to do a lot more local intelligence and some of the community policing efforts we are planning on, so that information is supplied faster, especially at the local level and then a reaction will then be possible.”