Chukwu David Abuja
Worried by the worsening state of insecurity in the country, the Senate has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately initiate a process of phasing out the current over-stayed security chiefs and replacing them with new ones with new ideas and solutions.
The Senate, yesterday, also urged the President to take immediate steps to restructure, remodel and revamp the country’s entire security architecture and provide enough state-ofthe- art weapons and equipment to effectively combat the belligerent power of the insurgents.
It further urged the President to immediately initiate probe into widespread allegations of corruption and leakages within the security structure and put mechanisms in place to foster transparency and ensure all resources meant and deployed for security were actually spent on the needs on ground.
The apex legislative chamber impressed on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency, recruit at least 10,000 Civilian JTF, versatile with the local terrain in Borno State as Agro- Rangers under the aegis of the NCDSC to complement the efforts of the Nigerian Armed Forces. Moreover, the Upper Chamber impressed on the Federal Government to aggressively explore multilateral and bilateral options of partnership with the neighbouring nations of Chad, Niger and Cameroon toward reviving and strengthening the Multinational Joint Task Force and finding a lasting solution to the scourge of insurgency in the Lake Chad region.
The parliament tasked the Federal Government to provide proper welfare for security personnel fighting in the frontlines, and give prime attention to the compensation and welfare of fallen soldiers as that would boost the soldiers’ morale and aid their concentration.
Also, as a way of proffering long term solution to Nigeria’s existential security challenges, the Senate urged the federal and state governments to adequately address all immediate and remote causes of insecurity in the nation, saying that the action must include comprehensive packages on education, employment and other social vices.
The Senate equally directed the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and North-East Development Commission (NEDC) to provide succour and psychological solution to the deceased families while also directing the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to compensate families of those who were killed in the incident. It also called on the Federal Government to embark on massive recruitment of people into the armed forces and the police, to be able to face the increasing security challenges in the country.
The Senate made these resolutions following a motion, entitled: “Beheading of 67 farmers in Borno by Boko Haram insurgents: need for urgent decisive action,” sponsored by the former Governor of Borno State, Senator Kashim Shettima. Senators, who contributed to the motion, were unanimous in calling for the removal of the Service Chiefs, arguing that they did not only overstay their tenure in office but have also lost ideas on how to defeat the insurgency in the country.
Interestingly, some of the senators, who were popular for defending President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration, for the first time, joined other lawmakers in bemoaning the failure of the Service Chiefs, and calling on Mr. President to sack them. Presenting his motion, Shettima observed that the efforts of the present security chiefs were not working, saying if President Buhari insisted that the service chiefs were doing their works well, it would imply that the President as the Commander-in-Chief had failed in his primary responsibility of securing the nation.
He said: “Whatever it is that the present security chiefs are doing is not working or at least not enough. And if the President insists that the security chiefs are doing their work well, then the logical implication of such assumption is that the President himself as the Commander-in-Chief of the country has failed in his most rudimentary assignment of securing the nation. I hope the latter is not the case. “It is disheartened that more than 67 citizens were beheaded while they were working in their farmland without any form of resistance or challenge from the security agencies stationed a few kilometres away.
“We are worried that the Nigerian military in conjunction with other security agencies up till today have not been able to quell the insurgency affecting the region despite the slogan by government officials that
the insurgents have been technically defeated. “We cannot as a nation move forward until the lives of every Nigerian is protected and secured as the primary objective of government is the security and the protection of its citizens. Protecting the lives and property of citizens is the primary obligation of government and any government that cannot discharge this basic obligation loses every iota of legitimacy.”
Contributing, Senator Ahmed Baba Kaita (APC, Katsina North), who is the Senator representing President Buhari and had always stood to defend the President in the face of criticisms, made U-turn yesterday, arguing that, even though the President was doing his best but his best without tangible result to address the insecurity in the country amounted to nothing.
He said: “Insecurity is now facing us eyeball to eyeball, we have to sit downwith this military and reassess their performance in the North-East. Day in day out, same scenarios keep repeating themselves, then something is fundamentally wrong.
“If we allow this go, let’s be ready for another mourning. Despite the efforts of the Federal Government on the security issues of Nigeria, it is totally believed that the President is doing his own best but then, doing your best is not enough when we cannot see the result on ground and this is what is happening.”
In his contribution, Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South) lamented that the report of the Senate security summit earlier submitted to President Buhari had not been implemented. He also lent his voice to the call for a comprehensive investigation into allegations of corruption within the security formations, lamenting that the nation’s security operatives were using inferior weapons to confront the Boko Haram terrorists with sophisticated weapons.
“I agree with my colleagues for the need to probe where the money being budgeted for the security agencies is being expended on because the Army doesn’t have the ammunition and weapons to fight the insurgents. I have gone round and I have not seen a solider walking about with a brand new weapon.
I believe that if the government is serious it can bring insurgency to an end in six months,” he said. Also, Senator Adamu Aliero (APC, Kebbi Central), another ardent supporter and defender of the President in the Senate, expressed serious disappointment that the President chose to send a delegation to Borno instead of going by himself to commiserate with the state.
He also called for the sack of the service chiefs, whom he said had out-lived their usefulness, urging that officers with fresh ideas should be engaged to tackle the menacing activities of terrorists in the country. He said: “The service chiefs have outlived their usefulness.
It is now time to relieve them of their services and bring in new personnel with fresh ideas on how to fight insurgency.” Similarly, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central) called for the disengagement of the service chiefs, stressing that they lacked the capacity to address the country’s security challenges. “Let us stand on existing resolutions in addition that the mover of this motion made clear to us on the floor. For me, the number one resolution is that it is time for Mr President to allow our service chiefs to go.
They have done their best; they have worked so hard. The best anybody can give is his best. “You cannot give what you don’t have and if Mr. President believes so much in them, let him remove them as service chiefs and keep them as presidential advisory committee on security matters, but let the younger ones take over their duties as service chiefs and move the country forward. Fighting Boko Haram cannot be a thing you do by habit.
This war is becoming like a routine and we must bring it to an end,” Bamidele argued. In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, said that people who have nothing to offer in their given responsibilities should be shown the way out of public officer. His words: “I believe that the National Assembly has taken the issue of insecurity very seriously.
We have always given attention to it. We have to take additional steps to insist that our resolutions are respected and implemented, because the parliamentarians are close to the people.
“I believe that this is one set of resolutions that the Executive must find a way of quickly implementing. These are not frivolous or imaginary resolutions. These are resolutions that have come from experience on ground. I think that this is one thing that will gladden the heart of Nigerians once we start implementing them.
“I also believe that the National Assembly has a lot of responsibility and weight on this and other issues, and that is to say this is supposed to be a turning point. I use the word turning point very purposefully, that barbaric killing and slaughter of people in Borno, let’s make it the turning point in the fight against insurgency and insecurity in Nigeria. I believe that government as a whole should see it that way.
Enough of excuses. People who have little or nothing to add should be shown the way out. People with the capacity and wherewithal, but probably lack the resources, we will make the resources available to them.
At the end of the day, we are responsible to the citizens, and the first responsibility is to secure their lives.”