A New Intervention to Stem Insecurity

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The House of Representatives, last week, constituted a 40-man ad-hoc committee to fashion out a blueprint on how to address the security challenge facing Nigeria, reports Udora Orizu

Apparently concerned about the deteriorating security situation in the country, the House of Representatives is all out to help the executive arm of government in the fight against insurgency, banditry and so on.

The green chamber at plenary, last week, set up a 40-man ad-hoc committee to brainstorm and come up with a blueprint on how to address the security challenges facing Nigeria. The committee was given three weeks to carry out its assignment, while its recommendations will be forwarded to President Muhammadu Buhari for implementation.

As the Ahmad Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila-led 9th National Assembly resumed from the Christmas break on February 9 and kicked off legislative activities for the 2021 legislative year, as expected, the worsening security situation formed the kernel of discussion on the floor of the Senate and the House, as several security-related motions and bills had been passed by the lawmakers.

President Buhari had on January 26 reluctantly let go of the former Service Chiefs, and appointed new ones that were screened and confirmed by both chambers of the national assembly while the growing insecurity in the country has not abated. Kidnapping, banditry, terrorism and farmers/herders crisis have now become a way of life with everybody living in fear.

Past Resolutions of the Senate

At one of its plenaries in February, the Senate urged President Buhari to direct the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), the service chiefs, and the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, to rejig the nation’s security architecture for more effective counter-measures to tackle the security challenges facing the country.

The Senate, in its resolutions passed after a debate on a motion on insecurity, also asked governors to implement the National Livestock Transformation Plan in order to prevent farmer-herder conflicts.

In the resolutions read by Lawan, the Senate urged security agencies to deploy drones and helicopters in the forests and other ungoverned spaces to identify illegal camps of bandits so as to crush the criminals.

The Senators also observed one-minute silence in honour of all victims of insurgency, banditry, herdsmen-farmers’ clashes, and other security challenges.

The Senate came up with the resolutions following points raised by Senators Tolulope Odebiyi (Ogun West); Solomon Adeola (Lagos West); Kola Balogun (Oyo South); Ali Ndume (Borno South), among others, calling for urgent action to be taken against the security challenges facing the country.

The Senate, therefore, urged Buhari to direct Monguno, the new service chiefs and Adamu, to rejig the nation’s security architecture and evolve more effective counter measures to battle security challenges particularly, in the rural areas.

House’s Resolutions

At the House of Representatives, the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, admitted that the government of the day has failed in its primary responsibility of protecting the lives and property of every Nigerian. He stated categorically that from the abundance of these failures has emerged a culture of self-help in matters of internal security that portends grave danger for the nation’s continued existence.

Gbajabiamila stressed that the true test of government was in its ability to protect the most vulnerable, adding that it was impossible to separate the goal of economic prosperity from the ambition to ensure that people live in a just society free from abuse of power and protected by a justice system built on fairness and the rule of law.

To this end, Gbajabiamila noted that the House would shortly begin considering bills to amend the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, and also follow it up with a long-overdue review of the Trafficking In Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement And Administration Act and other legislations that seek to deliver a justice system that works for all.

“The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government. With these words, the constitution obligates all of us, who swear to serve in government to do everything to protect the lives and property of all citizens and promote their wellbeing above all else.

“This obligation is central to the governing contract between the government and the citizenry. Every time a citizen going about their business is killed or kidnapped, loses their property or livelihood, we have failed in our obligation. From the abundance of these failures has emerged a culture of self-help in matters of internal security that portends grave danger for our nation’s continued existence,” he said.

The Speaker pointed out that if there was a time for all to put aside all other considerations especially, the petty concerns of partisanship and politics, it is now.

He added that if ever there was a time to set aside differences of tribe and religion to focus on a concerted effort to defeat the challenges of insurgency and banditry, communal violence, and the violent struggle over land, that time is now.

Gbajabiamila noted that the forces that threaten lives and property, sovereignty and nationhood, do not make any exceptions based on the God individual prays to or the language of the individual’s native tongue.

According to him, from every region and state, citizens of every tribe and religion have suffered and will continue to suffer the pain of death and the grief of loss until we put an end once and for all, to the terrors of banditry, insurgency and malignant crime in all forms.

Gbajabiamila added: “Here in the National Assembly, we do not command any armies or control the police. Command and control of our nation’s security infrastructure is an exclusively executive responsibility. Yet, it is to us that our constituents look to when the forces of darkness descend to disrupt their lives, often irreparably.

“We have to reconcile the obligations we owe to our people with the constitutional limitations under which we operate. But we will not shirk from our role as advocates for the forgotten voices, and we will continue to exercise the appropriation and oversight authority vested in us to hold to account those who bear direct responsibility for the protection of all our nation’s people.”

Introducing the 40-Man Team

The House Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, at plenary last Wednesday after an executive session, announced the committee, saying that it would comprise of 10 principal officers and 30 other members.

Gbajabiamila said the committee members would sit down for the next two to three weeks and come up with a comprehensive proposal to stem the tide of insecurity in the country.

Members of the committee, who are non-principal officers include Chairman House Committee on Defence, Hon. Babajimi Benson (APC, Lagos), Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers), Ahmadu Jaha (APC, Borno), Linda Ikpeazu (PDP, Anambra), James Faleke (APC, Lagos), Shehu Balarabe (APC, Kaduna), Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta), Oluwole Oke (PDP, Osun), Hassan (Kano), Usman Danjuma (APC, Taraba), Sani Zangon-Daura (APC, Katsina) and Shettima Lawal.

Others are Sada Soli (APC, Katsina), Bamidele Salam (APC, Osun), Sergius Ogun (PDP, Edo), Julius Ihonvbere (APC, Edo), Mohammed Datti (APC, Kaduna), Enwo Igariwey (PDP, Ebonyi), Jerry Alagbaso (PDP, Imo), Uju Kingsley (APC, Imo), Joseph Bello (APC, Kogi), Obinna Chidoka (PDP, Anambra), Abubakar Naralaba (APC, Nasarawa), Victor Nwokolo (PDP, Delta), Pat Asadu (PDP, Enugu), Bello Kumo (APC, Gombe), Sulaiman Abubakar Gumi (APC, Zamfara), and Muntari Mohammed Dan Dutse (APC, Katsina).

While the initiative is laudable, only time will tell if what they come up with will help stem the tide of insecurity in the country.