•Says sacking of service chiefs on agenda
Adedayo Akinwale and Udora Orizu in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari is likely to appear before the House of Representatives on December 10 or 15 to brief it on what his administration is doing to tame the worsening insecurity in the country, the lower chamber of the National Assembly has said.
House spokesperson, Hon. Ben Kalu, told reporters yesterday in Abuja that although the date isn’t definite yet, the president may appear next Thursday (December 10) or the upcoming Tuesday (December 15).
According to him, the president is coming to meet minds with the lawmakers and proffer solutions to the insecurity challenges in the country.
The House had on Tuesday invited the president to come and discuss with the lawmakers, steps being taken by his administration to arrest the worsening insecurity.
It reached the decision after debating a motion moved on behalf of 10 other Borno State lawmakers by Hon. Satomi Ahmed.
The motion came on the heels of Saturday’s killing of over 43 rice farmers in Zabarmari village of Borno State by Boko Haram insurgents.
The lawmakers, among other things, had prayed that the president should declare a state of emergency on security matters and for the House to cause Buhari to appear before it to brief lawmakers on what his administration is doing to combat insecurity.
House Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, on Wednesday, led a delegation to the State House to meet the president, after which he told reporters that Buhari had agreed to honour the invitation.
He, however, declined to say when the president would appear before the lawmakers.
But Kalu, while addressing journalists, clarified that the president was never summoned by the House, but was only invited so that they could meet minds and seek better ways of tackling the insecurity in the country.
He said: “As the speaker said yesterday (Wednesday), it will be out of place since we were not summoning, when you summon, you give date and time, but this is back channel diplomacy, legislative diplomacy. We are not compelling, we are inviting, and when you invite, you rub (sic) minds to find out the availability of the person you’re inviting. That was what the leadership did yesterday (Wednesday). They engaged with Mr. President and instead of mandating him to appear on a particular day, they rubbed (sic) minds on when it will be convenient for him to appear and he accepted.
“We have an estimate of when we think it’s going to be. In every matter of urgent public importance, time is of the essence and based on that, and in the wisdom of the president, he’s not delaying but prioritising it. So, security is topmost on his agenda at the moment and that’s why in the course of next week since we just finished today, I’m sure he will be able to adjust his programmes. I know Tuesday may not be feasible because we have NEC meeting. So, we are looking at Thursday or upper Tuesday, the date is not yet definite.”
Asked why the House was still demanding the sacking of service chiefs since the president has refused to sack them, Kalu explained that the call for the sacking of the service chiefs would be one of the issues that the House would discuss with the president.
He said: “The (sacking of the) service chiefs will be one of the issues the House will discuss with the president. We are looking for solutions. It’s not about the visit of the president; it’s about solution-seeking mechanism. We are looking for strategies that will help us find solutions. The visit of the president happens to be one of them.
“What we want from him is to do a SWOT analysis of the security sector. Mr. President, what are your strengths so far, your weaknesses? We think these are your weaknesses.
“If we believe that not changing the service chiefs is a weakness, we will mention it as well. Mr. President, what are your threats? How can we help with this your threats, to covert them to opportunities? For example, declaring a state of emergency on security. We will lay everything on the table for him to see so that he will know what we think based on what they informed us at our constituents. It’s going to be a discussion.”
He explained that the House is still engaging the service chiefs because they are still serving the nation and the legislative arm can’t boycott them.
According to him, if the House refuses to engage them, it means it is doing a disservice to the nation and to the citizens.
He said the right thing was to keep engaging them and keep asking the president to explain why keeping them is the best strategy to curb the security problems in the country.