- Nigeria is at war, let nobody be deceived – Senate
The Nigerian Senate was on Wednesday thrown into hot debate on the security failure in the country which precipitated by the super fireworks of the Boko Haram terrorists, bandits in the north, then, kidnappers and other sundry crimes across the country.
The same activity dominated the legislative business of the House of Representatives.
Ironically, apart from Senator Enyinaya Abaribe, Senate Minority Leader, who acknowledged the failure of leadership, calling for the resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari for his inability to guarantee security of lives and property in Nigeria, the National Assembly leadership in the two chambers treated the issue as though it is sheer theoretical gesticulation and not a responsibility assigned to anyone. While shielding the Commander-In-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, and President of Nigeria, the National Assembly navigated to passing vote of no confidence on the service chiefs, reflecting the Senate may have indirectly passed vote of no confidence on the president who appointed the service chiefs.
The Senate, thereafter, resolved to set up an ad-hoc committee that will summon the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, and report back in two weeks.
What a senator said in the debate:
Leading the deliberation, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, Senate Minority Leader, said:
“The hard work that was supposed to be done in Nigeria is not done. We did not vote the Chief of Army Staff; we did not vote the chief of Defence Staff… Nigerians voted the present government because it promised to make security better, protect life and property; we agreed. This government has failed to protect lives and property… We will ask this government to resign because it can no longer do anything in the country.”
– Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe.
Senator Abdullahi Adamu, former Governor of Nasarawa State, had protested Senator Abaribe’s call for Buhari’s resignation. In his bid to shield President Buhari, he said:
“If we do not approach this debate with a level of responsibility that it demands, we shall be doing more harm than good to this issue of national security.”
The deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, stated that Nigeria’s security operatives are over stretched and have become ineffective. He advocated for community policing which gives credence for restructuring of Nigeria’s federal system. Omo-Agege had said: “The security architecture is over stretched and not as effective as it is. I think there is a consensus, we should be looking into the direction of community policing in Nigeria, but we are not so sure of what the structure and component will be like.”
Senator Adamu Aliero supported State Police, and therefore, made a case for constitutional amendment. Aliero further recommended the recruitment of one million police officers to reinforce the police which he said are overwhelmed. According to the senator, “On the issue of state police, our constitution places security on the exclusive list. In this position, we have to amend the various sections of the constitution. If we do not do that, we are putting the cart before the horse. It is true that Nigerian Police is overwhelmed, so, we need to recruit close to about one million officers. This is the way out. The solution now is to pass the police reform bill so funds can be made available for policing of this country.”
Senator George Sekibo appealed to spiritism. He, however, supported amendment of the constitution and state police. “We should go back to God as a country and say we are sorry. We should confess our sins and ask God to forgive us and help us. Let us review our security infrastructure to determine if it is competent enough. We should amend the constitution and stand by state police,” Sekibo said.
Senator Ibikunle Amosun, supporting state police coexisting with federal police, said that there is more to gain from governors being in charge of state police. According to him, “Each and every state should be allowed to have their own police. We can have federal police as well as we have state police. What we stand to benefit by having governors to be in charge of their security is far more. For everyday security, we need to have our state police to be in place. We need to do something about our porous borders.”
Senator Yusuf Yusuf condemned the use of police by businessmen and political actors. “The business and political class uses police. we must agree that we should not personalize the use of police. Until we define the uses of police, we will continue to have this problem,” he said.
Senator Matthew Urhoghide noted lack of coordination of the armed forces. Suggested more powers to the NSA to coordinate the security agencies. “There is no coordination among security agencies in Nigeria. The NSA advises the President on security and should be able to coordinate the security agencies,” the senator said.
Senator Oluremi Tinubu supported state police but said it should only be operated in states that are prepared for it. According to her, “I have seen what insecurity has meted out to Nigerians and the vulnerable group, in particular, women and children. State policing: if we want to go there, we should allow states that are ready. If we really want to tackle our insecurity correctly, we should look at state police. I believe in you Senate President to do it this time.”
Senator Danjuma Goje decried failure of governance to provide job in the country; thus, he opposed state police. “I am against state police because it is going to create more problems. the issue of unemployment in this country must be tackled,” Goje said.
Senator Tolu Odebiyi simply emphasized holistic approach to security reforms, recommended domestication of the security system. According to him, “The issue of security cannot be taken in isolation. I support the need to consider a security architecture that is home grown.”
Senator Bamidele Opeyemi supported the need for restructuring and establishment of state police which he said should not be imposed states that are not ready for it. “There is no need trying to trade blame. Let us not pretend, how we handle this matter is what will determine the content and character of our souls. There is need to restructure our security architecture. Legislative intervention is what we need. State police is not compulsory for every state, those who do not want it do not have to panic. Our people also feel our service chiefs have stayed for too long,” Bamidele declared.
Senator Emmanuel Bwacha suggested broad approach to finding lasting solutions to the security crisis in Nigeria. He said, “We must treat this issue with genuine open heart.”
Senator Sam Egwu recommended the declaration of state of emergency. “Let us declare state of emergency now on Security. We need to secure our people and guarantee them of their safety,” Egwu had said.
Senator Sani Musa raised the issue of international conspiracy in the funding of terrorists in the north. He also protested why the service chiefs have continued to remain in office for so long in the face of the security failures. “The reality is that our attitude as individuals too contribute to what is happening today. Most of the people entrusted to providing security know what they can do to provide such service. There is International conspiracy because my people have seen it. Most of the motorcycles they are using are uniform, they are the same. Our people are being attacked by the same conspiracy of the security forces that should protect them. If we are talking about security architecture, why are the service chiefs still in office? In a descent society they are supposed to resign. I think there would be need to set up a ad-hoc Committee of the Senate to interface with all these security agencies to bring out the facts,” Senator Musa said.
Senator Solomon Adeola said it is time for the service chiefs to step down. He recommended legislative intervention for establishment of state police. “It is time for the Service Chiefs to go. The President needs fresh ideas to tackle the insecurity in the nation. We are calling for immediate legislative intervention for the creation of state police. The creation of state police will take care of little security outfits that have been set up. It will also lead to generation of employment,” Adeola said.
Senator Ajayi Boroffice made a case for adoption of technology in Nigeria’s security system, saying: “We must use technology in securing our nation.”
Senator Theodore Orji argued for more funding of the police. “Enough trackers should be bought and distributed to contain kidnappings. As far as I am concerned, the current IGP has the capacity, the only problem is funding and if we give him more money, he will do better,” Orji said.
The youngster senator in the Ninth Senate, Senator Elisha Abbo, observed that the service chiefs have run out of ideas. He advised President Buhari tom look inwards for new ideas, then, restructure. The senator had said; “The service chiefs have done their best and I think they have run out of ideas. President Muhammadu Buhari needs to restructure the security apparatus. President Buhari should look inward and it is time to bring new ideas to help this country.”
Senator Chukwuka Utazi declared: “Anybody who wants state police should be allowed to establish it, that is the beauty of federalism. There are foreign countries exploiting the troubles in this country. That is the business of intelligence and we should look at addressing that.”
Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi declared that Nigeria is at war and nobody should pretend as if nothing is happening. He decried there is consensus among the elite involved ethnic competition which triggers conflicts in the country. The senator declared: “Nigeria is at war, let nobody be deceived. We can no longer play ostrich and pretend that nothing is happening. There is social tension in the country and there is no elite consensus on the problems of this country because of ethnicity. There is a delegitimization of the Nigerian state by violent non state actors. We are facing crisis and the time to hold on to it is now.”
Senate President Ahmad Lawan accepted the suggestions for legislative interventions that would be useful in finding solutions to the security crisis in Nigeria. He directed the ad-hoc committee that would be interacting with the National Security Adviser (NSA) to wind up in two weeks and report back to the Senate.
The Committee is expected to come up with a draft implementation /blueprint on how to tackle the security crisis for the consideration of the Senate; the committee will also invite the Inspector General of Police to appear before the plenary and brief the Senate on the concept and the practical implementation of state policing and policies on Wednesday 5th February, 2020.
Senator Lawan had declared in part: “Let me congratulate all of us for all our contributions. The security of our people is the issue that concerns every Nigerian and there is nothing that we can do better than finding the solutions. We have come to a point that the legislature will have to intervene to give legislative support. The ad-hoc committee members will be charged assiduously to finish their work in two weeks. I want to commend all for being able to discuss the issue amongst ourselves. I congratulate all of us.”
The lawmakers in the House of Representatives in their submissions, demanded the resignation of the of the service chiefs.