Presidency kicks over call for Buhari’s resignation
• Lawmakers want emergency rule on insecurity
• Seek sacking of service chiefs
• Raise panel to interface with security agencies
• Gbajabiamila laments menace, backs Amotekun
For about five hours yesterday, the Senate debated the rising insecurity in the country. But an uproar was triggered when the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, advised the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to quit for failing to provide a solution to the menace.
The motion, which sparked the debate that was intended to proffer legislative solutions to the security problems facing the country, has the name of all the senators attacked as sponsors. Issues of state police, lack of coordination and lack of synergy among the security agencies, lack of political will, and the expiration of the tenure of the service chiefs formed the thrust of the debate.
When the debate was thrown open, Abaribe, who was the first senator to speak, went straight to the issue when he said that “he who lives by propaganda will die by propaganda.” He lamented that instead of taking practical steps to address the security issues, government officials kept deceiving the people that the Buhari administration had defeated insecurity.
Abaribe’s position attracted intermittent interventions from the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, who preached against what he called the use of hate speeches during the debate. On the submission that the government had failed, Lawan said: “This government was re-elected because it had done well.”
But Abaribe insisted that this administration deserved to be “stoned out of power” for not living up to the expectations of Nigerians. He accused the government of using propaganda to deceive Nigerians that security was being restored.
“We are very serious here, this is a matter of life and death! They had said that Boko Haram had been defeated, that Nigeria is now safer. Everything is being done to make sure that the hard work that is supposed to be in place in securing Nigeria is not there because certain people are not doing their work but prefer to cover the eyes of Nigerians with propaganda.
“We have wasted time in Nigeria trying to find all these excuses for non-performance. Reality is no respecter of persons and it is the reality we are facing now. Senator Sani Musa was shouting everyday that his people were being killed in Niger, we just took one motion on a student who was murdered by a Boko Haram and we were told that the killers had been defeated,” Abaribe said.
And when he became sure that maximum attention was being paid to his debate, the minority leader hit the nail on the head when he asked President Buhari to resign immediately.
“To go to the fact of what we must do, we must have read on the pages of newspapers today where even you (the Senate President) have suggested that we should invite the inspector general of police (IG). Nigerians did not elect the IG, we did not elect the chief of army staff, we did not elect the joint chiefs, we did not elect the national security adviser, we elected the government of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015 and reelected the administration in 2019. The reason we reelected them was that they continued to tell us that they had the key to security, I agree with them. When you want to deal with a matter, you go to the head, so we will go to the government and ask this administration to resign because they can no longer do anything,” Abaribe submitted.
Lawan, again, interjected, saying: “Let me remind you once again that Nigerians voted for APC in 2015, and because they saw improvement in their lives, they voted APC again in 2019. I don’t want us to be partisan and I will advise against hate speech.”Not deterred by Lawan’s warnings, Abaribe declared: “Yes! Nigerians voted a government into power and that government even said if it did not do well, it should be stoned. We are going to take stones and stone them now because they are not fulfilling that promise.”
Abaribe’s suggestions which attracted applause from many lawmakers, however, led to a moment of rowdiness and exchange of unpleasant words when a former Nasarawa State governor, Abdullahi Adamu, rose and voiced out very hostile words against the call that the government should resign.Adamu described the suggested stoning of the government as another step in promoting insecurity. He advised Abaribe to withdraw his remarks, a position that attracted another round of shouts of disapproval.
The issue of state police recorded a boost during the debate. When the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, attempted to oppose the idea on the ground that the state governors would hijack state police if allowed, many of the lawmakers shouted in disapproval as he tried to explain his position.
George Thompson Sekibo (PDP, Rivers State) challenged Lawan, who chaired a committee on security summit in the 8th Senate, to dust the report and work on it.
Ibikunle Amosu said the nation could have federal police as well as state police. “I have been a governor and I know. There are well-founded fears that when governors have control of state police, they would be misused. I can tell you with all sense of responsibility that what we stand to benefit from state policing is far more.“What we may do is to say that the federal police should be in charge of the election, but the day-to-day security operations should be left to the state police,” he added.
Amosun urged stringent monitoring of the borders to disallow bandits from Mali, Libya and other countries from infiltrating Nigeria.
“We should also look at the issue of technology. Trackers will sort it out. Look at the issue of SIM card registration. It is only in Nigeria that people go buy SIM card without being registered.”
Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf (APC, Taraba State) said: “The whole issue is the failure of the political class and the business class who have insisted on using the police. Why do we have the Police Service Commission? It is because most of us here carry one policeman or the other. “We have personalised policing to the extent that we undermine community policing and make it subservient to personal policing to the extent that the police have no respect for the institution as they do for individuals.”
Betty Apiafi (Rivers West) observed that “the tenure of the security chiefs expired a long time ago and it will be good to allow them go and bring up new minds to head the security agencies in the country.”
Mathew Urhoghide (Edo South) noted: “The fundamental issue is the lack of coordination. Who is responsible for coordinating the various security outfits established to protect the entire nation at various levels? Nobody has been able to answer that. Is it the NSA, is it the chief of defence staff, is it Mr. President himself? Of all the revelations made to us by the NSA in the Eighth Assembly, one thing that was clear was that there was no synergy among the security agencies. Some of us are calling for funding, if we are unable to ensure a coordination unit, then it would amount to nothing.”
At the end of the debate, the Senate resolved to urge President Buhari to declare a national security emergency.The upper chamber also set up a 17- member ad hoc committee chaired by Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, to engage the security agencies and report back to the Senate in two weeks.It will also engage the NSA on the implementation modalities of the December 2019 national security strategies.
At the end of the debate, Lawan said:“We should prepare our minds that not all what we have resolved on would be implemented, we should pray that whatever we resolve will bring solution. The executive may have their own solution on the way forward, so there would be need for us to join the two efforts to ensure that the lives and property of Nigerians are protected.”
Also, in the House of Representatives yesterday, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, expressed concern over the spate of insecurity in the country. Speaking at the start of plenary session, he assured Nigerians that the House would live up to its responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of the citizenry.
The speaker, who lamented the upsurge in the nefarious activities of the Boko Haram terrorists, particularly supported the decision by the South-west governors to put in place the regional security network code-named Amotekun to support the efforts of the Nigeria Police in preventing crime and protecting life and property. He urged the leadership of the House to take active steps to bring to the floor, appropriate amendments to the constitution and other interventions to protect life and property.
Gbajabiamila said: “We have witnessed across the country, a recognisable uptick in crime, manifested through the activities of bandits destroying communities, kidnappers operating for profit and insurgents seeking to remake our world in the image of a discredited theocracy.
“All people of conscience mourn the loss of a reverend and a senior member of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Adamawa State, Mr. Lawan Adimi, a good and honourable man, who through the church and in his personal capacity served the people of his community, earning their reverence and our collective gratitude.
“In the midst of our mourning, our hearts were broken once more by the release of a video depicting the gruesome assassination of Mr. Ropvil Dalep Daciya, a student from Plateau State who was abducted by suspected Boko Haram terrorists on his way back to school at the University of Maiduguri.“God forbid that it is now our nation’s fate to live forever under the threat of abduction and murder. What gaps and weaknesses continue to exist in the national security infrastructure that makes us more susceptible to the machinations of those who seek to achieve wealth and power through brutal violence?
“Our cup of endurance has run over and we are no longer willing to labour under these dark clouds of random violence inflicted upon our people by faceless cowards whose ends we do not understand, and whose means we do not know.
“Overcoming our overwhelming national security challenges now requires of us all that we be willing to accept new approaches and consider novel ideas. Neither the security institutions nor political leaders can afford to hold on too tightly to a status quo whose frustrating limitations are painfully evident, whilst reflexively rejecting innovations that may improve our fortunes if properly implemented.
“The establishment of Àmòtékùn, as the network is called, has met with commentary from across the country, both for and against. Too often, it has seemed to me that lost in these interactions is the hard, brutal and unavoidable fact that Àmòtékùn and other such state or zonal interventions that already quietly exist in other parts of the country are a desperate response to the vile manifestations of insecurity that trouble the lives of citizens, depriving them of the peace and security that gives life meaning.
“I do not know that Àmòtékùn or whatever iterations of it may follow represents the ultimate or perfect solution to the problem of insecurity in our country. Nobody does that. What I do know with absolute clarity and certainty is that the localised manifestations of insecurity across the different parts of our country call for unique and localised approaches that take those peculiarities into account.”
The Presidency reacted to Abaribe’s resignation comments angrily, describing the call as “foolish.” A spokesman for President Buhari said he cannot resign based on the “stray” opinion of an “armchair critic”.
“If a leader like President Buhari needs to resign, there are millions of other Nigerians who need to resign, including Senator Abaribe who unlocked the door to enable the escape of traitorous and treasonable suspects,” Buhari’s special assistant on media and publicity Garba Shehu said in a statement.
“President Buhari is working hard to keep Nigeria and Nigerians out of the harm terrorists have unleashed in the entire Sahel and Sub-Saharan Africa with the support of Nigerians and our foreign friends, he is going to finish off these terrorists.”
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