Terrorism: Reps Lobbying US to throw out Pantami—Lawmaker

By Tordue Salem – Abuja

Members of the House of Representatives are in talks with United States officials to nail and get out embattled Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Rep. Sergius Ogun, a lawmaker disclosed at the weekend.

Mr. Ogun, made the disclosure in an interview with selected media houses, including VANGUARD at the National Assembly.

The legislator, was responding to a question on the seeming division in the House on the matter.

His words: “From where I stand I believe the minister should resign, he will go, I don’t think he will stay beyond the end of this year. Now we are approaching America for help, will America tolerate such things, they will give you terms if they are going to come here. Right now we don’t have to power to dictate, anything they throw at us we well accept, so for me if he doesn’t go today he will go tomorrow. But I thought the President should release him, but what do you expect from this President”.

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According to him, “I think people are also disenchanted with the way government is handling it, because when someone asked me in a forum, that we are not saying anything about insecurity, i had to start posting some of my YouTube videos in 8th Assembly. The last executive session we had Speaker said people will be able to speak when we are in the Executive session so things ordinarily you won’t be able to say in front of cameras, you will be able to say it. But when Speaker said we’re going to go into executive session, I raised my hand and he recognized me, my question was, this shouldn’t be an executive session, we should speak so Nigerians will hear. His was ok there are things people will not be able to say for the camera that they can disclose during an Executive session, let’s do the executive session then the resolution agreed on we will now take it to the Executive”.

The lawmaker blamed the worsening insecurity in the country, on an alleged treatment of terrorists with kid’s gloves, in some parts of the country, as he lamented the problem, might persist, if that culture of encouraging impunity, was not addressed.

“Remember we fought for the removal of Service Chiefs, has anything changed? Someone said our motion was take out the Service Chiefs and bring in competent ones, so what we’re saying now is that we are sure these ones are competent. Ok take these ones out, who else will come? I think it’s just the system basically, those in the north are paying tax to the bandits, a colleague of mine said that, he’s from Katsina, they said the village heads gets like 30k, but now they are collecting money on behalf of the bandits. So we actually have two governments in this country. So for us it’s not just talking about it, it’s a resolution, it’s not binding on the Executive”.

On the ongoing arms procurement probe of  over a billion dollars, the lawmaker said some of them were in the dark on how the funds were expended.

“They keep telling you this is security, and they don’t divulge anything, I’m a member of the committee on army, the last budget I think we worked with the Senate there were even specific questions the chairman had told me to ask, and I told him trust me I will ask. But just then they said ok relax the Chief of Army Staff, said there will be another Committee, he cannot brief committee of the whole, so I didn’t know the outcome of that. But it comes under the fact that this is insecurity you can’t say everything before everybody. But now you’re aware that they have set up another adhoc committee on purchase of arms in the House, but the chairman senate committee on Army, Ndume is saying that there’s no need to probe and if anything the army need more money, yes we agree on that, but need to know what they are buying with the money because no one is happy with the state of insecurity today, if we are sure on what they are buying then by all means we can make the sacrifice and give them the money so that people will sleep with both eyes closed. But how do we know that when the money is given to them, tomorrow when you say ok account for it, they are saying this executive matter and should not be debated openly, in the whole House you cannot debate it, Committee you cannot debate it”.

He called on the media, to ask more questions on the state of insecurity in the country, as according to him, only politicians, were incapable of effecting the desired change.

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“You the media, the civil society organizations should begin to talk. I use to think as a politician , you have power to just change certain things, so when you are handicapped and you can’t say some of these things, if the people begin to talk, I don’t think it’s because of our motions that Mr President changed the Service Chiefs, it’s because of the people, they kept commenting, talking about it, that’s what pressured him. So I keep saying everybody should take part. A system that’s not functioning will become a security problem, because people somehow will have to get that money to survive, be it a teacher or civil servant. We need to form these sectors, train them all and be more responsive to them”.

He also dismissed most service men, as unqualified to be in the services, putting part of the blame for insecurity, on the misfits.

“We have to go back to the recruitment process, most people in these services shouldn’t be there, we can clean the police now and then going forward you recruit the right people. Even the army subcommittee on recruitment that’s what they told us clearly. It’s not enough for the National Assembly to recommend someone and say the person was not taken the person must meet our criteria required for recruitment. If you look at the police we have all manner of people, nobody is doing the right test, they don’t even ask them why they want to join the police, because it’s recommended from somebody that’s it and you expect these people to come into uniform and do magic? So we need to go back to the process of how we recruit people be it the armed forces, police or even the civil service.

“When was the last time you heard they advertised in the civil service? But they have all manner of people there and you expect these people to deliver this country? How much are you paying them anyway, how much does a permanent secretary or director earn? If the person is earning N150,000 or N250,000 and then you give them a budget of over N50 billion, that’s like giving yam to a goat, he will eat it.  So till we look into these things, I am the first person to criticize the President, but in fairness to Mr President, he’s part of the problem but not the problem. It’s not enough to blame him alone because it didn’t start today, why he’s part of the problem is because he has been in the system, and for the past five years he had been in the office, what has he done?”

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