CISLAC partners lawmakers, others on security
The connection between national security and economic growth can’t be overemphasised. For Nigeria as a nation, the country in the last decade had witnessed series of unending crises from ethnicity, to religion and lately the insurgency, which has disrupted the socio-political economy of the country. And this constantly put the country in bad light on the global stage.
Recently, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), held a one-day retreat with the aim of identifying and analysing active bills, to know their status, effectiveness on the defence sector, highlights of reforms, accountability component, the role of civilian and oversight agencies and entry points for civil society engagements.
In attendance at the retreat were Hon. Babajimi Benson (Chairman, House Committee on defence); Hon. Abdulrazak Sa’ad Namdas (Chairman, House Committee on Army); Rt. Hon. Yusuf Adamu Gagdi (Chairman, House Committee on Navy); Hon. Abbas Adigun (Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Air Force); Hon. Tyough Robert Aondona (Member, Committee on Air Force); Hon. Eta Edim Mbora (Member, Committee on Air Force), Clerks of Security Committees, executive director of CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani, CISLAC Conflict Advisor, Salawudeen Hashim among others.
In his opening remark, executive director of CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani said the dialogue became imperative by bringing together strategic lawmakers within the Defence and Security Committees, as well as other stakeholders to interface on a variety of issues such as the Defence Management Bill, the Armed Forces Revamp Bill and the proposed Armed Forces Service Commission which is a novel idea.
Rafsanjani said the participation of the lawmakers in the retreat was strategic because of their responsibilities such as setting the legal frameworks, adopting the budget and overseeing defence and security activities. “They can only exercise these responsibilities in full if it has broad access to information, the necessary technical expertise, and the power and intention to hold the government to account.
“However, the variety and technicalities of the issues involved, the significant size and complex organisation of security personnel and, frequently, the secrecy of the security sector, make it particularly difficult for parliamentarians to work effectively.”
While the CISLAC boss was not lording himself on the activities of the honourable members, as a citizen, he said Nigerians need to know the parliamentary update as it regards to defence budget performance and policy. The $1b used for the procurement of arms? The Super2Kano Aircraft already fully paid for?
Commending CISLAC for a robust discourse of national issues, Rt. Hon. Yusuf Adamu Gagdi said defence is an issue that involved all and sundry. According to him, the bedrock of any society is adequate security and if the House of Assembly can vote for money why is the Nigerian Armed forces having issues acquiring software to combat the insurgency.
On the Maritime bill, he said it has been signed to adjust to some NIMASA roles but noted that some of the roles allotted to NIMASA are obsolete. “Any organisation that plays security role is vital to the stability of the country, as we know that any bandit in whatever whether on water, sea or on ground is projecting the country image in bad light. He enjoined the two arms of the government to come together to address the security issues and also implored the CSOs to still find time to bring together particularly the security chiefs to future discourse.
On how to make the defence effective, Hon. Abbas Adigun said the global conspiracy and internal forces are undermining the security situation in Nigeria.
Adigun who served in the United States Navy where he retired before joining politics, said his decision was purely his concern for the state of the nation.
He noted that the country couldn’t go forward if security issue is taken with levity. Commenting on the bandit and sophisticated weapons, Hon. Adigun challenged Nigeria’s security intelligent to rise to the occasion.
Hon. Babajimi Benson in his goodwill commended CISLA for the initiative. On thematic focus of the retreat, he said everything starts from budgeting, as the budget allocated to the Nigerian Armed Forces is nothing to write home about. While vouching for the capacity and capability of the Nigerian Armed Forces reflected in their exploits in international peace mission, he wondered why they often struggle at home. He stressed that a nation cannot have economic growth without a vibrant security and verse versa.
After over four hours of robust dialogue, the participants recommended that it is important to bring together the executive and legislative arms of government as well as Civil Society Organizations in strategic engagements of these sort to enable a more robust interaction, building of synergy and more effective results.
That CISLAC should help collate international laws and best practices that legislators can utilize, contextualize and incorporate in our systems to move security sector reform forward and achieve optimal results in the interest of the peace, security and wellbeing of citizens and the country.
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