Yakubu's confirmation, 2021 budget, PIB, others top agenda as Senate resumes Nov 24…Says NSA should coordinate, monitor their activities, report back to President

By Henry Umoru

THE Senate  has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency, give a timeline to the new service chiefs to nip in the bud the problem of insurgency, kidnapping, armed banditry and other security challenges in the country.

Speaking with journalists yesterday in Abuja, Chairman,   Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, All Progressives Congress, APC, Borno South, said with President Buhari providing for the service chiefs all the needed tools to deliver, he should ask them to come up with a dateline of when the war would end.

According to him, government should not waste time to replace them if they fail to perform. He also said if the new service chiefs must deliver, the National Security Adviser,   NSA, Major General Babagana Monguno, retd, should coordinate and monitor their activities and report  to Presidrnt Buhari on a weekly basis.

He warned against the service chiefs reporting to the Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, for effective service delivery and professional respect.

Ndume, who advised that the NSA  should serve as the intermediary between the service chiefs and the President, also called for the setting up of a Situation Room that must be domiciled in the office of the National Security Adviser.

He asked the service chiefs to come up with a war plan to address cases of insurgency as that, according to him, is lacking in the country.

Ndume also called for quarterly release of appropriated money to the military by the Ministry of Finance, and stressed the need for effective information gathering and sharing among  security agencies as well as affected communities providing the needed information to security agencies.

Ndume said: “In fact, I have been advocating and I am still advocating that now that there is a new set of service chiefs, their requirements should be front-loaded, that is to say, if they require so, so amount to execute the war, they should be exempted from quarterly allocations and be given their money upfront.

‘’Once the government does that, I suggest that the President should now in sitting with them for the first or second time, give them a timeline, that ‘Look! You want this, I have given you, you want this, I have given you, what else?’

‘’If they say nothing, ‘okay, give me a time when they should finish the war. That should determine their tenure. If they don’t perform, government should not waste time in replacing them.

“The appointment of the new service chiefs is a welcome development and that goes to show that the President is keeping to his words. I remember in his New Year broadcast, he made a promise that he was going to rejig the security apparatus and he assured Nigerians that the war against insurgency, banditry and other forms of criminality that have been disturbing the country will be properly addressed.

“This (appointment of new service chiefs) is part of the implementation of his promise and also it is just a change of guards, so to say. But the good thing about it is that the new Service Chiefs are not only qualified but they have the field and operational experience. The CDS, I know him very well, I have worked with him in Maiduguri.

“He was a very performing officer and from there he was posted to the Joint Military Taskforce in the Lake Chad region and we have seen how gallant, intelligent and humble he is. It was during his tenure that he upgraded the civil-Army relations to a next level. He is experienced enough.

“The Chief of Army Staff was also a Theatre Commander at one-time, even though his tenure was very short. He knows the terrain very well, he has the experience.

“Also, the Chief of Air Staff was at the theatre, in fact, at one-time he was the deputy commandant of the Operation Lafiya Dole. And even the Chief of Naval Staff is not new to the terrain having come from Kano, he knows the place very well.

“So, we are expecting that with this development and being conversant with the insurgency problem in the North-East particularly and in the country in general, Nigerians by the several calls they have made for the change of the Service Chiefs, have very high expectation on the new Service Chiefs. But I am confident that this crop of people will be able to deal or address this issue.

“The good side of it is that the military hardware ordered by the government have started arriving and that will give them a better capability or capacity.

“Like the ground troops need the necessary air cover or air power and with the acquisition of fighter helicopters, 23 of them, I think they are coming in or have started arriving and I think they have received about 18 of them and with expected arrival of Tucano jets this year and also the fact that the budget of the Armed Forces has been improved, we are expecting also that their performance will improve.

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“The only snag now or what is remaining is for the various MDAs responsible for making the releases especially the Ministry of Finance, should be releasing the monies that have been appropriated to the Armed Forces timely.”“The industry has awaited the passage of PlB, but the PIB must meet certain condition otherwise it will not be worth the while.  We must not pass PIB that will send investors away or put on hold  projects such as the Deep Offshore and inland Basin Amendment Act that was passed by this National Assembly in December 2019 to reduce the drive for investment in deep water.

‘’We hereby advocate that the National Assembly should always do a study on how the laws they pass helps in redirecting the industry.

“PENGASSAN and NUPENG should be represented in the commission. There should be an independent regulator of the NNPC. We must create a PIB that’s balanced,’’ he said.

Positions of state governments

Similarly, in their various presentations, some oil producing states such as Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom pushed for inclusion into the boards of the various regulatory commissions.

Rivers State recommended that in view of its strategic position in the oil and gas production scale/contribution, the headquarters of the commission and all oil producing companies should be cited in its domain, in line with presidential directives.

Delta State, which was represented by the Chief Economic Adviser to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Dr. Kingsley Emu, asked that section 238 of the bill be redrafted to read: “Section 238 ‘ failure by any holder of a licence or lease governed by the act to incorporate the petroleum host communities development trust within the time frame in section 236 shall make the holder or license to be liable to a penalty of $250,000 to be paid to the trust whenever the trust fund is incorporated.’’

Section 238 of the bill read:   “Failure by any holder of a licence or lease governed by this Act to comply with its obligation under this chapter may be grounds for revocation of the applicable license or lease.”

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