- As many senators arrive venue late
By Christiana Ekpa and Ikechukwu Okaforadi
It was a huge shock for the Senate leadership yesterday at the NAF Conference Center, following the glaring absence of the Governors of the 36 states of the Federation, who in apparent loyalty to President Muhammad Buhari had shunned the security summit organized by the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Security.
Recall that President Mohammadu Buhari, who also refused to honour the Senate invitation to the purported Security Summit by the Senate, had warned the red chamber against the planned summit, saying that the federal government has taken decisive steps against the threats to national security in some states.
Peoples Daily reports that the security summit which was earlier proposed to hold in the presidential villa was rescheduled because the President did not approve the use of the Villa as venue for the summit; hence the Senate leadership quickly hired the NAF Conference Center for the summit.
Our correspondents report that most of the senators, for whom the summit was being organized, arrived the venue very late, after the Vice President had departed, thereby casting doubt to the seriousness of the summit.
In his speech at the event, the vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, in a veil reference to the needlessness of the security summit , reminded the Senate that the Executive had in August last year held a broad security summit in which even traditional rulers were invited.
He said, following the invaluable contributions made by the stakeholders, the Executive designed a marshal plans to bring an everlasting end to this security threats across the country, implying that the summit was an exercise in futility.
Recall that President Mohammadu Buhari had, in his letter addressed to the Senate President with the tittle ‘Re: Report on the Review of the Security Infrastructure on Nigeria on the Emergency Visit to Benue State”, said, to infer that nothing has been done by the government is incorrect, as the police are strenuously working to apprehend the rest of the culprits of the heartless killings.
“I have instructed the IGP to relocate to Benue State and redeploy forces to the most sensitive towns. The federal government is initiating measures to address these and other security challenges, alleviate the consequence of these attacks and forestall reoccurrence. The Senate’s resolution, itemized in your letter, would be taken into consideration; and I am instructing all relevant MDAs to factor them in their work.
“On December 19 to be precise, while receiving the report of the committee that was set up to review the technical and administrative structure of the NIA, I underscored the need to review the entire national security architecture, as I promised in my inaugural address on the 29th May 2015, action is being initiated to receive maximum cooperation from the Senate in line with paragraph three of the Senate resolutions,” Buhari told Senate in the letter.
Itemizing the steps taken by the government to address the farmers/herders crisis, he reminded the Senate that on Thursday 4th January, he sent the Minister of Interior and the Deputy Inspector-General of police in charge of operations for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation.
“You may recall that I told you of the following steps taken as soon as the information came in to me about the Benue killings. On Friday 5th January, the Inspector-General of Police briefed me verbally on the latest situation, calm had then been restored.
“On Monday 8th, the minister of interior met with the following, governors of Adamawa, Kaduna, Niger, Benue Taraba and Nasarawa together with the DG of the State Security Services, Inspector-General of Police, CG Civil Defence, Minister of agriculture and rural development and police commissioners of the six aforementioned states.
“After the meeting, I instructed the Minister of Interior to brief you on the information gathered so far and steps taken.
“9th of January, at a session with governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state during which in informed of police arrests of some suspects. In addition, I told him that I have instructed to speed up trial of the suspects and give wide publicity of the police efforts.
He also told the senate that at the instance of the governor, a meeting was held in the Presidential Villa on 15th with a wide cross-section of Benue personalities and frank and open discussions were held, where everybody appreciated the difficulties of this farmers-herders strife, even as he assured all of his commitment and assured that justice would be done.
“I thank you for your letter referenced NASS/8S/R/01/33 dated 18th January 2018 and carefully studied the resolutions and comments there in. As I briefed you and the RT. Hon speaker when we met, several courses of action have been taken prior to the senate resolution”, the letter reads in part.
Meanwhile, the Senate President Bukola Saraki in his open address at the event said Summit programme has been designed to allow full and unfettered discussion,reiterating that, the summit was not aimed at indicting.
“Let me reiterate that we are not here to indict anybody. This is not an indictment, it is not to lay blame or point fingers, and it is not to take credit for what goes well. This process is very much solutions-driven. In order for us to ameliorate the current difficulties, therefore, it is important that people speak frankly.
“What our country needs at this time is leadership that will work to douse the flames and reduce tension in the land. It is essential that we lower the barriers in our actions and rhetoric, and refrain from playing politics with a crisis situation in which Nigerian lives are being lost, tragically and needlessly, on a regular basis.
“To the Executive, I say this: you cannot do it alone – and this is why we are all here to join efforts. It is all hands on deck. No one person, organisation or arm of government can single-handedly tackle the hydra-headed monster of insecurity. The Constitution makes it clear that the safety of lives and property of citizens is the responsibility of government. We in government must therefore do everything in our power to ensure that Nigerians are safe from harm, and their livelihoods and belongings protected.
“Let me extend our deepest gratitude to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, for his and the Executive’s support towards the convening of this Summit. Appreciation also goes to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, for the cooperation that brought the entire 8thNational Assembly on board for this Summit.
“The kind of collaborative and joined-up working that should be an example to Nigerians, is already on display here; and it is hoped that we shall use this as a springboard for the success of this Summit, the outcome of which must be such as can feed into the search for a solution” he said.
Also the Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan in his welcome speech disclosed that,the summit is one event in the history of the 8the senate that seeks to contribute to search for answers to the security challenges facing our nation today.
“As it is now known it will soon be said of the federal republic of Nigeria has kept emerging security threat bedeviling the nation for a number of years now under very close scrutiny through its legislative and oversight powers.
“In the past few months, numerous attempts by the senate have been made to deepen our understanding of the security challenges, the capacities of our security systems, law and order assess as well as the concerns of communities over threat to lives, livelihood and our economy.
“The ad hoc committee which I am privileged to chair is the product of genuine attempts at addressing concerns over the state of our nation’s security. The committee to review the current security infrastructure in the country is a bold effort to appreciate the strength and weaknesses of foundations of our national security and it has commenced its work and it is on record that it has already visited Benue for an on-the-spot assessment of the killings in the state in early January this year.
“The senate has also charged the committee with the task of organizing this summit with the leadership of all arms of the federal government, state governments, traditional and religious leaders, CSOs, media and other experts to identify solutions on acute and long term security challenges.
“In the cause of planning this summit, we have been gratified by the support and cooperation of Mr president and all managers of security policies and operations, our colleagues in the national assembly and many leaders and groups for which we are grateful” he said.