Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has said that the state of insecurity in the country has reached the tipping point.
He spoke shortly after a closed-door meeting President Muhammadu Buhari had with him and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, over the worsening security situation in the country.
This is even as the Presidency and the leadership of the National Assembly set up a committee to periodically review the security situation in Nigeria.
It will be recalled that the two chambers of the National Assembly had last week, demanded that service chiefs be sacked to make way for officers with fresh ideas to tackle headlong the security lapses.
The House of Representatives had specifically passed a resolution asking the President to sack the service chiefs.
But speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting which held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, President of Senate, Dr Lawan said the meeting was for the two arms of government to find a lasting solution to the myriad of security challenges in the country.
He said: “We met with Mr President over the security issues in the country and other matters of governance. The recent security challenges this country is facing require that we work very closely.
“We had debates in the two chambers of the National Assembly last week and resolutions were taken and we have come to discuss with Mr. President on the way forward, what we feel about some of these security challenges and also to ask him what he thinks we should do.
“Though in the Senate, we have our ad-hoc committee which is to fashion out specific measures we believe should be taken, in the interim, there is need for us as a government to ensure we provide a way out to tackle the security challenges.
“In the intermediate and the long term, we should be able to come up with some strategies, the road map to ensure that we secure the lives and properties of Nigerians.”
On call to sack service chiefs
Asked if the meeting discussed the recent calls for the sack of service chiefs, Lawan said they discussed everything.
“We discussed everything that matters as far as the issue of security of this country is concerned.
“We believe it is imperative that we are able to provide those necessary equipment and welfare for the Armed Forces of this country and the Police, to ensure that they are able to operate and perform efficiently and effectively,’’ he said.
On whether the security chiefs will solve the insecurity problems, the Senate President said the country has reached tipping point.
He added: “You see, in matters of security, of course, as leaders, we are supposed to lead but when it concerns security, every single citizen matters in this. So, it is for all of us, citizens and leaders, to ensure we are playing our part as it is necessary.
“But I believe that the time has come; we have reached a tipping point that everybody in Nigeria is concerned about the security situation.
“Therefore, we are all prepared and that is why we have come to meet with Mr President as leaders of National Assembly, on behalf of our colleagues, to discuss the way forward. Of course, I believe that citizens’ participation is critical and crucial. Technology is equally important.
“Definitely, we are looking into technology but don’t want to divulge everything discussed about security but I believe that the issue of technology is important.
“We need to minimize the casualties of our armed forces and, therefore, we need to apply technology and become more efficient.
“It is also critical because we are dealing with human beings. You are asking the military, the police to go and fight insurgents, kidnappers and bandits, you also need to do something about their welfare.
“How do they live? Where do they live? What is the condition of the schools of their children? And so on and so forth. These are issues that are very important and could have very positive outcomes when we are able to do the right thing, and we will do them.”
On Buhari’s response
On the response of the President, Lawan said: “Mr President was forthcoming. Of course, as the leader of this country, he is more worried than anybody else about the situation.
“So, we are on the same page that we should be able to do whatever it takes to ensure that the security agencies are able to perform better than they are doing now.”
On his part, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, rhetorically asked if sacking the service chiefs would stop banditry and kidnapping.
He said President Buhari was more concerned about the security situation in the country and intended to do something to tackle the challenges.
He said: “The question of security is uppermost in his mind and he opened up to us and you must understand that some communications are privileged, but suffice to say that the President is concerned and he intends to do something about our challenges.
“Opinions are divided; the generality of the opinion is that the service chiefs should go, that was evident in our debates in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, but sometimes you don’t want a knee-jerk reaction.
“Many of us identify that something drastic has to be done, there’s also the school of thought that says since we are talking about banditry, kidnapping and murders, what have the armed forces got to do with that?
“So, the question then arises that if he changes the service chiefs, does that address the issues of kidnapping and banditry? The Army, Navy and Air Force are outfits set up to tackle external aggression. It is the Police that is set up for internal security, such as we are all witnessing.
“That’s talking about the service chiefs. Has the Inspector-General of Police met up with his responsibilities? The question is if we now narrow it down to the Inspector-General of Police, many will argue that he has done a very good job and many will argue with you that he’s hamstrung, straight-jacketed, that there’s very little he can do in the face of no equipment, no funding and we explained to Mr President that we have to increase funding, we have to recruit more.
“As we are talking, even just right now, we have gone on to set up a committee that will periodically review the issue of security, maybe once a month or once in six weeks, which will involve the two arms of government and the party.
“Major progress was made in this discussion, which is a meeting that lasted over an hour and I believe Nigerians will begin to see traction, they’ll begin to see changes. You can be sure that concrete steps will be taken in that direction.”