INSECURITY: Beyond lamentation of National Assembly
National Assembly

…Buhari, Lawan, Gbaja, Sultan, Ooni speak at House of Reps’ security summit

…Insecurity challenging our nationhood, standing against my ambitions — Buhari

…Executive should implement outcome of security summit — Lawan

…This is not time for name-calling, house is on fire — Gbaja

…Enough of this talk, let’s work — Sultan

…Our foundation wrong; let’s engage youths – Ooni

By Levinus Nwabughiogu

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said yesterday that, due to the worsening insecurity in the country, the nation’s corporate existence has come under threat.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, spoke in the same vein, insisting that Nigeria is under attack.

The two principal officers of the National Assembly spoke as President Muhammadu Buhari lamented that insecurity and other social vices are challenging Nigeria’s quest towards nationhood and threatening the desires to achieve his ambitions for the country.

Nigeria’s corporate existence under threat — Lawan

Speaking at the security summit organised by the House of Representatives in Abuja, Lawan said: “Let me start by commending the leadership of the House for organizing this very special summit on national security.

“I want to say here that Nigeria is at crossroads today. The very essence of the existence of this country is under serious threat. What started as insurgency in 2009 or so in the north-western part of Yobe has now snowballed into full-scale insurgency in the entire North-East. What was not known to us in the North-West is now today the home of banditry and kidnapping.

“The North-Central, as we all know, is not safe. It suffers from the clashes between herders and our farmers, and the recent introduction in the South-East is another serious threat to the existence of this country, as government institutions are targeted, our police and security personnel killed on a daily basis.

“Our institutions, buildings are burnt. I believe that these are threats not only to those areas but also the entire nation, and our Armed Forces are doing their best.

“I must commend our Armed Forces and other security agencies for doing so much with the little we are able to give them. The National Assembly has always been on the side of giving the kind of support, either legislative, or the kind of financial support that our Armed Forces and, indeed, all other security agencies require, even though we have our limits.

“The essence of this summit, I am sure, is to look for ways and means of improving the performance of our Armed Forces and other security agencies. This summit is essential because we are tested as a country; we are tested as a people.

‘Executive should implement outcome of security summit’

“Criminals everywhere have found, probably, comfort in doing what they do. This is the time for the legislature and executive arm of government to come even closer in finding solutions. I want to take this opportunity to appeal and ask the executive arm of government to implement whatever would be the outcome of this summit.

“There were previous summits by NASS. I recall we had a similar summit in the 8th Assembly and I believe that the legislative perspective is essential in finding solutions to the myriad of security issues affecting our country today. I want to also appeal to all Nigerians for their continued support for the administration and for our armed forces and our security agencies. All hands must be on deck.

“A criminal has only one name and that is criminal. No criminal should have comfort in his ethnic enclave. Whoever, where that person is, once he is a criminal, he is simply a criminal and must be dealt with in the appropriate manner regardless of where he or she is coming from.

“It is also important that we provide more resources for our security agencies to enable them better tackle the criminal activities across the country, and our Armed Forces can do that. But the fact remains that we have not enabled them enough.

“Today in this country, there is no better investment than investing in the security of our people. We must ensure that we protect the lives and the property of our people. This is the essence of government. So, while NASS should work hard as it always does to provide more resources, I also want to say we must review procurement processes by the security agencies.
“While we are not going to open up how they do these things to the public, but as parliamentarians, those who approve the funding, we must understand how these procurement processes are undertaken. If the processes require that we change the way we do that, because of inefficiencies, we should go ahead and do so.

“It is not enough to just put in more resources but how the resources are deployed with economy, prudence and efficiency. I want to once again appeal to us in the National Assembly. The security agencies we know are doing their best, but I think it is high time we worked with the executive arm of government to look at the architecture of our security system for better performance.

“When I mention architecture, I also want to mention that all levels of government are responsible for securing the lives and property of Nigerians — the federal, states and local governments. Of course, it is a well-known fact that the local governments do not function.

“The local government system does not function and that takes away a lot from our efforts at providing security for lives and property of people. When I mention the local government system not functioning, our traditional rulers, who had played major roles in protecting us today have no functions, more or less.
“It is only when there are problems we look for them. In the norther part of the country and I daresay all parts of Nigeria, our traditional rulers have played key roles in ensuring security in their domains. Why can’t we look at the possibility of providing an official function for them, even if it is in advisory capacity in the constitution?”

Nigeria under attack — Gbajabiamila

Earlier in his welcome address, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, said the country is under attack, and called for the support of every Nigerian to win the war against insecurity.

He said: “Today, at this time in our national history when insecurity threatens the authority of the state and the foundations of our nationhood; when the activities of bandits, insurgents and criminals of every stripe impede our efforts at progress and prosperity, we must confront the realisation that our previous and current approaches to addressing the challenges of insecurity have not yielded the desired results.
“Ultimately, an enduring peace depends on our ability to build a society where individuals can aspire to and achieve their righteous ambitions on the strength of their effort and regardless of the status of their birth. Yet, achieving this kind of society depends on securing the lives of our people, protecting property and investment, and ensuring that people can freely traverse the length of our country without fear of danger and molestation.

“The legislative obligation to make laws for the good governance of the country exists alongside a duty to make sure that the policies we develop and the legislation we consider and pass, address the most pressing concerns of the Nigerian people. Policies and legislation must also include the considered contributions of our citizens and be capable of meeting the highest ambitions of our nationhood.

“We have convened this Special Summit on National Security to jointly, as citizens and public servants, find solutions to the problem of insecurity in our country. We are here because we know that our national ambitions will not be attained without lasting peace and security. We are here to have honest conversations about where we are, how we got here, and the hard choices we must make to guarantee a secure future for all our nation’s children.

“We will over the next few days consider the contributions of a cross-section of the Nigerian people and develop therefrom, recommendations that take into proper account the social and constitutional, political, and economic factors that contribute to insecurity in our country. We will identify specific legislative actions and make practicable recommendations for executive action.
“We do not seek, and do not have it in our power to put an end to all conflict. Our responsibility in government is to ensure that the lives and property of all the people within Nigeria are safe from the predations of those who use violence for profit or in service of religious or ethnic objectives, and to make sure that whosoever raises arms against our country is served the full measure of justice.

‘No time for name-calling, house is on fire’

“This Summit is not an avenue for name-calling, for apportioning blame or absolving responsibility. Our national house is on fire, and the people we serve rightly expect that we will devote all our energies and resources to trying to improve the future, rather than be paralysed in the present, grieving about the errors and failures of the past. It is by the work we do now that we can redeem ourselves and save our beloved country. This Summit must be, and is solution driven.

“Our deliberations in this Summit and the recommendations that emerge therefrom will reflect all the factors that have precipitated our present circumstances, including issues of economic fairness, the allocation of state resources, the deficiencies of our criminal justice system, and the role of critical national institutions such as the National Assembly, the Judiciary, and the state and local governments.”

‘Summit’ll work in camera’

“The work of this Summit will be conducted behind closed doors to allow informed stakeholders to engage frankly on matters of National Security in a protected environment.

This way we can participate in an exhaustive consideration of ideas. Already, thousands of memoranda and other submissions have been received and reviewed. These will also form part of the Summit’s report and recommendations.

“This Summit will produce recommendations for legislative action and the National Assembly will begin to implement these immediately. We will present to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari our recommendations for executive action and Mr President has assured me that he will receive and consider the report, as a good faith contribution by parliament to address a matter of urgent national importance.
“The work we will do here over the next few days will only yield the desired results if we all, across government, recognise that only an ‘all of government’ approach can guarantee our success in overcoming the challenge of insecurity in Nigeria. I ask that in that spirit, we resolve to work productively with one another in the joint task of securing our nation and protecting our people.

“Our victory in this present battle depends greatly on our ability to set aside our differences and mobilise in one accord against an impending catastrophe that threatens all of us regardless of language, religion, politics or status. It may well be that it is in the crucible of this battle for survival that we become a nation fully-formed. Therefore, we must rise to the moment with passion and perspective.

“We hope for peace and desire its benefits. Yet neither fervent hope nor heartfelt desire will suffice because the ends of peace require action. As in the words of the former American President, Bill Clinton, ‘peace must be waged with a warrior’s resolve; bravely, proudly, and relentlessly. Secure in the knowledge of the single greatest difference between war and peace, in peace everybody wins.’

“Let us in this defining moment, work together to pursue the things that make for peace. Let us dedicate ourselves to ending violence, and disorder in our land, and to improving the quality of life for all our nation’s people. Let us work together to uphold the honour and glory of Nigeria, and free our nation to be a place of peace and justice forevermore.”

Insecurity challenging Nigeria’s nationhood — Buhari

In his remarks, President Muhammadu Buhari lamented that insecurity and other social vices were challenging Nigeria’s quest towards nationhood and threatening the desires to achieve his ambitions for the country.

The President, who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, gave the House four thematic areas to work on to make the deliberations a holistic one.He said:

“This Special National Summit forms part of the collective effort to identify the root causes of our national security challenges, so we can develop and implement solutions through policies, legislation, plans, budgetary provisions, robust oversight system, bilateral and multilateral engagements that would address our present and future deals.

“Insecurity, as you are aware, impacts on the citizens and the economy and the governance machinery without regard to political, religious, ethnic or other affiliations. It challenges the foundation of our nationhood and stands in the way of our achieving our highest ambitions for Nigeria.

“I am certain that we shall overcome just as we have done many times throughout our history. However, success at this time requires that we set aside all other considerations and commit ourselves to a common endeavour in the national interest.

“I am informed that the remaining four days of this summit will be held behind closed doors to allow for frank conversations around the four thematic areas of:Local and community level security options and solutions; Strategic kinetic national security solutions; Global perspective to insecurity and international factors in national security and Non-military security option and solutions.

“I wish to propose that you also consider the question of politics and law, history and economics that are central to our national identity, and yet too often constitute the root causes of our national security challenges.

“I also urge you to remember that the force of arms is most effective only when it is a part of a comprehensive strategic efforts that includes, one, providing quality education, building infrastructure that supports job creation and implementing safety nets programmes that protect the most vulnerable amongst us with the support they need to overcome their dire circumstances.

“It’s my expectation that your deliberations will yield amongst others, specific legislative actions aimed at ensuring more effective operations of the national security agencies relating to matters of
•One, structured funding of national security agencies.
•Two, overlapping mandate and interagency conflicts.
•Three, intelligence sharing.
•Four, training and welfare of security and defence personnel.
•Five, non-kinetic security operations and strategies; and
•Six, post-conflict rebuilding, amongst others.

“While I look forward to receiving bold and innovative recommendations, I wish to assure you of my support and collaboration of the Executive Arm of Government.”

Enough of this talk, let’s work — Sultan

In his goodwill message, the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Sa’ad Abubakar III, said there had been enough talk already done on insecurity, and charged the leaders to get to work and stop the talkshop.

“We were invited because we are traditional leaders, and religious leaders. We thank the House of Representatives for inviting us to this very important summit.

“The traditional leaders are partners in progress to the political leaders of this country. We don’t have any competition whatsoever as regards running the affairs of this country, because we believe in changes and when changes happen we must accept the change because only Almighty Allah makes changes possible.

“For some of us, we’ve seen so much in our life. From the time I became Sultan till now, for 11 years plus, we have been having such gatherings to talk about Nigeria, national security, development and so on. We have talked and talked, we have talked at Northern Governors Forum level, talked at national level where I happen to be the chairman of that body, we have talked and talked. In the last few months we have had serious gatherings like this with the highest leadership of this country.

“Today we are here once again on the same issue of National Security. Enough of this talk, let’s work, let’s work the talk , the more we sit here and talk, the more time we waste in getting real actions. We know the problems. I will not say anything here that I have not said in the last seven years. It is important that when you come to public forum like this you say some few things.

“I wish this gathering is one where you don’t have media , so we can discuss very well. We know the problems and I thought we are coming for a closed-door programme with the leadership of the House of Representatives and other stakeholders. My own take on this summit is yes it’s important to sit and talk but it’s more important to implement what we talked about. We can’t just continue to talk and not implement, and come back maybe four months later for another summit to talk again because we don’t implement whatever comes out from such forum.

Leaders should fear God — Sultan

“Certain things our leaders do, you say something in public and they clap for you, you go back to your comfort zone and throw everything away. That’s why I say whatever you do God is seeing you, and as leaders God will ask us to account for the leadership he gave us here on earth and we must account for our deeds. I call on our leaders to fear God, do what’s right, don’t look at ethnic, religious or personal interest while you’re carrying out your duties.
We’ve have had so many resolutions on the floor of the House, how many of them have been implemented? It’s high time we put aside ethnic and religious profiling. Stop profiling criminals, call them by their names.

No ethnic or religious groups will be happy that everyday you are calling his own side of the coin the bad one, even when you know there are good ones which are larger in number. Unless we come together and look at the greater figure which is Nigeria and work for the country to move forward, we will continue having these problems. So when the Speaker called me and said let’s shift the summit in honour of one of our own who died in service to the nation, I said yes, I will stay back and hear what people are going to say.

“There’s so many things you can’t say in public especially with these media people, the worst which is social media. As lawmakers what do you do about social media? I’m not saying ban social media but regulate it. We’ve seen it happen all over the world, why can’t Nigeria borrow from that? It’s important for us and I hope this seminar will discuss some of these issues and when you’re ready with your decision, call some of us back, like the National Council of traditional rulers, we sit together once more,” he said.

Our foundation is wrong; involve our youth — Ooni

Similarly, the Ooni of Ife, His Royal Majesty, HRM, Adeyeye Adewusi, also in his goodwill message, said Nigeria’s foundation was wrong.

The Ooni, who noted that youths should be included in the system to help salvage the country, said: “Our dear country Nigeria, that is the binding force for each and every one of us here today is troubled. We don’t have any other place. The nation belongs to all of us. We are here talking.

“In our dear country that has brought all of us together here, the youngest serving governor is only 46 years old. And we all know the demography of this country. The demography of this country is above 50.

“But between the ages of 18 and under 40, we have them in numbers, more than 70 per cent. And we are talking about security here. Who are the active participants whenever we have a breakdown of law and order?
“It is the average age of 18 and 39, and that is the truth. Are they ghosts? Are they invisible? The answer is no. They are human beings.

“But every time we talk, the Number 2 man, Number 3 man, Number 4 man all say the same thing, the way His Eminence said it. And the participants are not faceless; they are not ghosts. It is very idiotic and stupid for us to be doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. We will continue to get the same results.

“Let us be very truthful and honest to ourselves in this country, we all know the problems. How well are we carrying along these people in that age bracket? Who are representing that age bracket in this hall? The answer is no one.
“We are not engaging them at all. But whenever we want to go for political posts and appointments, we go back to them. We know the good, the bad and the ugly in their category. As traditional rulers, they are the most active in our system.

“Let us tell ourselves the truth, they are hungry and they are angry. I repeat: they are hungry and are very angry. I will be very happy if anybody can raise up his hand and say ‘I can go to my constituency, my local government area, and stay there in peace for one week.
“Who can do it here? Including our gatekeepers, who can do it here? Including the Senate President and the speaker.

“But you left the traditional rulers; you left district heads, the baales to continue to stay there. And you are saying all will be well in this country. We are the ones facing these youths; we know their problems and we have been talking every time.

“You sit in beautiful offices and you all think all will be well? Let us be very truthful in this country. Look at this beautiful building; as beautiful as this building is, if the foundation is wrong, the entire building will collapse because the foundation has a problem.
“In this gathering, the Senate President mentioned the key factor – the collapse of local governments. It has collapsed. Let us be very truthful to ourselves, it has collapsed completely. That is the only arm of government that is the foundation of this country; you don’t have any other foundation.

“We are only building on a castle that has completely broken down. That is the foundation that will gather the most active age bracket for you in this country. You say we have 774 local governments and several wards. Where do we have the wards being put together?
“It is under the local government’s constituency. They are under-funded; you don’t even reference them for anything; you don’t care about their administration. Where did we get it wrong in this country? We all have faults – all of us here.

“If we keep talking, we will not get any result. It is getting worse. They are getting more emboldened. They are ready to face anybody because they are hungry and angry. Let us change our strategy. Let us change our style.

“If there will be problems, you give them guns to start to move around. You will never see anybody above our age in our comfort zone here that is really ready to face the music. It is very important for all of us to know that we are not all safe.

“Let us engage a lot of youth organisations that are very relevant; that understand the local government administration and governance within every district and locality of this country. It is very important for us to continue to engage them in every programme we do in this country.”

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