The National Assembly, NASS, has been given a five-point agenda to compliment the military’s brave fight against terrorism.
At an advocacy meeting held at the Unity Fountain, Abuja, on Tuesday, the One Nigeria Movement reeled out a quintet programmes that would ultimately end security challenges in the country.
In a statement signed by Convener, Comrade Ibrahim Dalla, the group said the move has become imperative owing to the grossly inadequate funding accorded to the military in the past.
The advocacy group lamented that the current budgetary allocation for defence doesn’t align with the harsh realities on the ground
According to them, the country’s security apparatus are stretched beyond their capacity, especially when they still make use of colonial era equipment.
The group, however, advised the 9th National Assembly to put an end to lips service, politics and religion/ ethnicity while drastically improving the annual budget of the military.
“We have come to the point where it is expedient to prick the conscience of our legislators. It is time to for them to acknowledge that the entire country can actually come together to tackle the menace of terror only if they provide the needed legislative oversight and budgetary approval that will rapidly reposition the Armed Forces, Police and other relevant security agencies. We cannot continue to repeat the same cycle of inadequate funding and expect different outcomes,” the statement reads.
“This is no time to paying lip service to the war on terrorism like the 8th Assembly did. It is pointless moving motions and passing resolutions when the organizations that will be responsible for the implementation of the actions resolved on are not properly and adequately equipped to perform their functions. Any call made by the Senate or House of Representatives for the military and security organizations to fight terrorism and crime today will amount to asking the personnel of these agencies to go into fist combats in a war that the terrorists are coming to with anti-aircraft guns and rocket launchers. Instead of paying lip service to the counter-terrorism war, our dear lawmakers must take realistic actions to better fund these organizations.
“It will be most uncharitable to delay, obstruct or prevent improved funding for the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria because of petty politics. We call it petty politics because terrorists do not make distinction of who to attack based on political affiliation – they attack and do so rabidly such that persons of all political leanings have fallen victims of their evil. If the National Assembly members continue to foot drag in improving funding for the operations against these killers, everyone will be at risk. Our lawmakers must therefore unite across party line to recognize this threat to Nigeria and act in the interest of the fatherland and not political affiliations that have repeatedly and consistently proven transient.
“Not only must the members of the National Assembly eschew ethnicity and religious bigotry but they must take the additional step of criminalizing any attempt to play the ethno-religious card in the course of seeking solution to Nigeria’s war against terrorism. We are aware of past experiences when some members will cynically use ethnic balance as a basis to deny funding for the counter-terrorism war by saying money spent on security will only favour one region of the country. We have seen today that the problem will eventually become worse if resources are not marshalled to counter it while still confined to one geo-political zone of the country.
“Our lawmakers must note that the requested attitudinal change will yield results faster when they place timely budgeting and financing for the military and other security agencies a priority. We have made our own findings so we task the National Assembly members to research what countries spend on their defence and security.
“The lawmakers must go a step further by using their oversight powers to ensure that the Ministry of Finance does not delay the release of funds that have been appropriated for security and defence purposes. In fact, delay of the release of funds for budget that have been passed and signed into law in this regard should be treated as a crime.
“The 9th National Assembly must make laws to deal with individuals and organizations that finance and support terrorism. This is necessary given the constant evolution of the nature of terrorism. The existing legislation against terrorism should also be reviewed to reflect whatever shortcomings have been discovered in their application. It is an exercise the National Assembly must embrace with the understanding that the scourge of terrorism should have been fully tamed by now if the existing legislation were adequate.“