Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has said that weak and underfunded security agencies cannot live up to the task of protecting the country in the face of many security challenges. Hon Dogara therefore called for improved welfare for security agencies. This, he said, at the retreat of security related committees of the National Assembly and Security Agencies which held Saturday in Lagos.
The Speaker, who stated that the legislative agenda of the Eighth House prioritizes national security, further revealed that oversight tours of security agencies have shown that funding of the sector is inadequate. He also raised concerns about the low ratio of military to civilian personnel, with Nigeria currently ranking at 152 out of 190 countries.
“The bodies directly responsible for the implementation of the programmes and activities relevant to our protection are the security agencies. The health of the security agencies is therefore very important, for no one can give what he does not have. Weak, underfunded, poorly manned, and ill trained security men cannot defend any nation or people.”
“Our committees have been embarking on oversight tours of the security agencies. Some of the reports that we have received show that the investment we are making in the Military, Para Military and other Security agencies are clearly inadequate. Secondly, a check on the ratio of Security personnel to the civilian population clearly shows that we are well behind the recommendations of the United Nations. As a matter of fact, Nigeria sits uncomfortably on number 152 of the 190 states included in the index table.”
The Speaker drew attention to challenges such as terrorism and the presence of military personnel in most states of the federation, which are further compounding the problem of an existing deficit in critical security infrastructure.
“Despite our deficit in critical security infrastructure, the challenges facing the country are increasing; more fronts of challenges are opening. The current world terrorism index, unfortunately for us, also says that two of the four deadliest terrorist organizations in the world are operating in Nigeria. These challenges have resulted in the Military having boots on the ground in at least 32 of the 36 states of the federation. The indications, unfortunately, are that these challenges may not easily or quickly abate.”
Speaking further, he highlighted steps being taken by the House, under his leadership, to propose legislative solutions to the many challenges faced by security agencies. He urged all security personnel to adhere strictly to international best practices and called for adequate training with emphasis on respecting human rights.
“At the National Assembly, we are looking at several options. First, several private member bills on improving the welfare of the personnel of the Security Agencies have passed second reading. In the last two appropriation seasons, we worked and improved on the allocations proposed for the military agencies. Even then, we knew that what was available could not do much. In the face of other competing demands, there was not much that could be done.”
“The governance, operations and activities of our security agencies concern and affect other nations and people outside our shores. It is therefore important that our security agencies adhere strictly to international best practice. The logic of a globalized and networked world is that nothing done is hidden or can be hidden forever. The age of drones and micro devices mean that, at any point, our actions and communications are being recorded. The room for individuals to seek redress extend beyond the borders of nations. The commanding heights of our military, paramilitary and security forces must work to adhere to best standards through personal examples.”
“The mandate of the security agencies is to protect the lives of people. Human rights are all about the lives and dignity of people. The establishment laws of the security agencies in the USA and most of Europe have been amended to mainstream Human Rights. It is therefore, important, going forward, that irrespective of the challenges, the security agencies need to add issues of human rights to the curriculum of their training schools.”
Dogara also urged all security agencies to imbibe the spirit of brotherhood and cooperation.
“I am delighted to see the Police, Air Force, Civil Defense and State Security Services top brass sitting and reasoning on the same table. This form of cooperation and understanding needs to be urgently taught and enforced at the tactical and operational levels. The sad stories of security agent using their guns on one another should no longer be tolerated.”