* Says NDDC board to wait till completion of forensic audit
By Deji Elumoye
The leadership of the National Assembly on Monday gave an assurance that it will approve extra-budgetary request of the Executive for the security agencies to wage a total war on the rising level of insecurity in the country.
It also stated that the composition of a new board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) may have to wait until the on-going forensic audit of the agency is completed and its report submitted to the Presidency for necessary action.
The Chairman of the National Assembly and President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, who made this disclosure while speaking with newsmen at the Presidential Villa, Abuja after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, stated that the federal government is headed in the right direction with its latest moves to fight security challenges across the country.
According to him, the legislative arm will approve budgetary proposals for more funds to be released from the excess crude account to the security agencies to procure more weapons in the fight against insurgency and other security matters facing the nation.
He said: “You’ll recall that the National Economic Council approved of taking some funds from the Excess Crude Accounts with a view to giving more resources to our armed forces. This is a commendable effort and we are ready to help with appropriation to ensure that we acquire those security weapons for the armed forces of this country to end this insecurity in the North-east, in the North-west, in the South-east/South-south and South-west as well.
“We believe that this is also going to help empower and build the capacity of other security agencies like the police because the police need to be there. They’re supposed to maintain the internal security and whenever the armed forces secure an environment, the police should be there to stay put and make sure there is law and order.”
Lawan explained that he had fruitful deliberation with the president on the need to secure all parts of the country, especially the rural areas ahead of the planting season for farmers.
“We had a very extensive discussion on the security of all parts of Nigeria and how we should go about improving the situation. We all have roles to play. Nobody would like to see the kind of things that we experience in various parts of the country in the form of insecurity.
“As political leaders, we have responsibilities to our people and we cannot shy away from that. We have to get our people secured; we have to secure the environment for them to earn their means of livelihood; we’ll like to see our farmers go back to farms before the rainy season starts.
“This means we have to secure the rural parts of Nigeria as well as the urban centres because we need businesses to flourish. So I believe that between now and probably the next two months, there will be a lot of activities to ensure that we recover and secure the environments for our people to lead a very normal life,” he said.
The Senate President also stressed the need for Nigerians to live in any part of the country irrespective of where the people come from in the spirit of one Nigeria.
“I want to point out very clearly that Nigerian citizens believe in Nigeria so strongly and that is why you will find an Igbo man, a South-easterner in the remotest parts of northern Nigeria.
“That’s why you will find a Hausa man in faraway South-west or South-east or South-south and probably even marry from those areas. Probably he will be selling cola nuts, but he believes that this is Nigeria and he can live peacefully and make a family. You will find a Yoruba man in faraway South-eastern or northern Nigeria, maybe even becoming an indigene.
“I was born and brought up in Gashua. Gashua is in Yobe State. There is one Kalega family, and I want to use this as an example of how people can be integrated. The Kalega family lived in Gashua for almost 100 years. We were born to see the family like that. I earned a scholarship from my state, the Kalega family members earned the same scholarship. In fact, they are indigenous Bade Local Government, my main local government.
“So we have this Nigerianess in our citizens. As political leaders, we are supposed to ensure that we support this kind of feeling by giving everybody a protection; if a Yoruba man, South-westerner, decides to live in faraway Sokoto, he should be protected. If a Hausa man decides to live in faraway Bonny or Port Harcourt, he should be protected, and so on and so forth because this is how we will be able to use our diversity to weave it into a capacity to make Nigeria a big and successful nation,” he said.
Lawan also mentioned the issue of the non-composition of the NDDC board which he said was discussed with the president and that the board will have to wait until the forensic audit is completed.
According to him, those found culpable in the mismanagement of NDDC funds will face the music once the audit report is submitted to the Presidency.
He said: “We also had discussions on the need to ensure that government functions very well. We have few issues, these are house keeping issues of getting the NDDC governing board nominations and I agree with Mr. President that we have to end the forensic audit to ensure that everything is done properly and the report is submitted to him.
“It is very significant that whoever is found culpable should be treated as such so as to serve as a lesson and as a deterrent to others because NDDC should have transformed the Niger Delta into a better environment than what it has been.
“NDDC was created by a law of the National Assembly since 2000 or so, and we are talking about how many years now, we are we are talking about almost two decades. That should have given sufficient time, given the resources that were deployed into the NDDC. So we need to sanitise the NDDC and get the resources fully deployed in developing the area in the Niger Delta.”