Senate President Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, stormed the Presidential Villa on Monday, where they told President Muhammadu Buhari in plain terms that the level of insecurity in the country has reached a tipping point.
Both leaders of the National Assembly also told Buhari that with the situation on ground, he needs all the advice he can get from Nigerians in order to solve this problem.
The visit by the National Assembly leadership was sequel to a mass protest organised by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) nationwide, where they called on the government to find amicable solution to the incessant killings in the country.
They revealed that the meeting with the president also centred on the overhaul of the nation’s security structure, including the use of technology to tackle the menace posed by insecurity.
“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 requires that we work very closely”, the Senate President said.
Lawan, who expressed concern with the situation, said the presidency was also worried with the turn of events in the country.
Recall that the two chambers of the National Assembly had debated on the spate of insecurity in the country, with Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe calling for the resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari since he had failed to deliver on security.
When State House correspondents asked Lawan his mission to the Villa, he replied, saying, “We had debated 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.
“Even though in the Senate we have our ad hoc committee that is to work and fashion out specific measures we believe should be taken, but in the interim, there is need for us as a government to ensure that 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, a road map to ensure that we secure the lives and property of Nigerians”.
Asked if the review of service chiefs also formed part of the agenda of the meeting, he said, “We discussed everything that matters as far as the issue of security of this country is concerned. We believe that 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 the president was forthcoming in his reception of their suggestions.
“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.
“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 that we are playing our part as it is necessary. But I believe that now the time has come, we have reached a tipping point that everybody in Nigeria is concerned about the security situation and 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. And, of course, I believe that citizens’ participation is critical and crucial”.
NASS also noted that the place of technology in tackling the crisis was imperative as well.
“Definitely we are looking into technology but we don’t want to divulge everything discussed about security but I believe that the issue of technology is important. We need to minimise the casualties of our armed forces and therefore we need to apply technology and become more efficient.
“It is also critical that 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 for their welfare. How do they live? Where do they live? What is the condition of the schools for their children? So these are issues that are very important and could have impact when we are able to do the right thing and we will do them”.
Recall also that after President Buhari summoned a meeting with his security chiefs recently, the Federal Government resolved to systematically withdraw military personnel from some of the troubled spots where normalcy had returned.
However, barely few days to making that pronouncement, the spate of insecurity escalated, especially kidnapping, banditry and bombings occasioned by Boko Haram sect.
On his part, Gbajabiamila said Buhari is worried over the rising insecurity as every citizen in Nigeria.
He said though opinions are divergent as to whether the security chiefs should be relieved of their jobs, but the general consensus agrees that solutions must be found.
“The president is probably more concerned as other Nigerians. Is the president looking to do something about it? Answer is yes.
“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-jack 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, anywhere in the world? 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 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 to Police, many will argue that he has done a very good job and many will argue with you that he’s arms, straight-jacketed, 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.
“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”.