By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
Anger and frustration over the innocent blood of about 43 innocent rural rice farmers resonated in the Senate yesterday, with the red chamber lawmakers, each taking a swipe on the current Service Chiefs to resign their positions to enable president Muhammadu Buhari to inject fresh bloods and ideas into the military in tackling the terrorists.
Note that the current Service Chiefs have overstayed their welcome by Nigerians, especially in the face of the deteriorating security situation in the country, with thousands of innocent citizens being killed helplessly yearly, yet President Buhari has not needed the call to sack and replace them.
Debating a motion on the killing of about 43 rice farmers by the insurgents at the weekend, brought before it by the Senator representing Borno Central, Kashim Shettima, who is immediate past Governor of the State, Senate also urged Buhari to take immediate steps to restructure, remodel and revamp the country’s entire security architecture and provide enough state-of-the-art weapons and equipment to effectively combat the belligerent power of the insurgents.
It further urged the President to immediately initiate probe into widespread allegations of corruption and leakages within the security structure and put mechanisms in place to foster transparency and ensure all resources meant and deployed for security were actually spent on the needs on ground.
The apex legislative chamber also impressed on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency, recruit at least 10,000 Civilian JIF, versatile with the local terrain in Borno as Agro-Rangers under the aegis of the NCDSC to complement the efforts of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
Moreover, the Upper Chamber, impressed on the Federal Government to aggressively explore multilateral and bilateral options of partnership with the neighboring nations of Chad, Niger and Cameroons toward reviving and strengthening the Multinational Joint Task Fcrce and finding a lasting solution to the scourge of insurgency in the Lake Chad region.
It also impressed on the Federal Government to provide proper welfare for security personnel fighting in the frontlines, and give prime attention to the compensation and welfare of fallen soldiers as that would boost the soldiers morale and aid their concentration.
Also, as a way of proffering long term solution to Nigeria’s existential security challenges, the Senate urged the Federal and State Governments to adequately address all immediate and remote causes of insecurity in the nation, saying that the action must include comprehensive packages on education, employment and other social vices.
The Senate equally directed the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and NEDC to provide succor and psychological solution to the deceased families while also directing the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs to compensate families of those who were killed in the incident.
It also called on the Federal Government to embark on massive recruitment of people into the armed forces and the police, to be able to face the increasing security challenges in the country.
The Senate made these resolutions following a motion, entitled:
“beheading of 67 farmers in Borno by Boko Haram insurgents: need for urgent decisive action, sponsored by the former Governor of Borno State, Senator Kashim Shettima.
Presenting his motion, Shettima observed that the efforts of the present security chiefs were not working, saying if President Buhari insisted that the service chiefs were doing their works well, it would imply that the President as the Commander-in-Chief had failed in his primary responsibility of securing the nation.
He said: “further observes that whatever it is that the present security chiefs are doing is not working or at least not enough. And if the President insists that the security chiefs are doing their work well, then the logical implication of such assumption is that the President himself as the Commander-in-Chief of the country has failed in his most rudimentary assignment of securing the nation. I hope the latter is not the case.
“Disheartened that more than 67 citizens were beheaded while they were working in their farmland without any form of resistance or challenge from the security agencies stationed a few kilometres away;
“Worried that the Nigerian military in conjunction with other Security agencies up till today have not been able to quell the insurgency affecting the region despite the slogan by Government officials that the insurgents have been technically defeated;
Contributing, Senator Ahmed Baba Kaita (APC, Katsina North), berated the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media, Mallam Garba Shehu, for blaming the killed farmers for not getting clearance from the Military before going to their farms.
Kaita, who is the Senator representing President Buhari, and had always stood to defend the President in the face of criticisms, made U-turn yesterday, arguing that, even though President was doing his best but his best without tangible result to address the insecurity in the country amounted to nothing.
He said: “let me say if the statement credited to the Spokesperson of Mr President, Garba Shehu, is true then let me say that it is highly irresponsible. You might be exposed to information that we and other Nigerians do not have but at that point in time when everybody was mourning the loss of citizens who are innocently killed and who have gone into their farms despite the challenging economic situation in this country and thereby losing their lives, and somebody said it was because they did not take clearance from the Military. We don’t harvest crops in one day, we harvest them overtime.
In his contribution, Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South), lamented that the report of the Senate security summit earlier submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari had not been implemented.
He also learnt his voice to the call for a comprehensive investigation into allegations of corruption within the security formations, lamenting that the nation’s security operatives were using inferior weapons to confront the Boko Haram terrorists with sophisticated weapons.
“Mr President, the first report that you submitted to Mr President was not implemented; the scone report was also not implemented. We have made several suggestions in this Senate and nothing was done. Mr. President, this Senate needs to take a step further to save this country.
“I agree with my colleagues for the need to probe where the money being budgeted for the security agencies is being expended on because the Army doesn’t have the ammunition and weapon to fight the insurgents. I have gone round and I have not seen a solider walking about with a brand new weapon. I believe that if the government is serious it can bring insurgency to an end in six months”, he said.
Also, Senator Adamu Aliero (APC, Kebbi Central), another ardent supporter and defender of the President in the Senate, expressed serious disappointment that chose to send a delegation to Borno instead of going by himself to commiserate with the State.
He also called for the sack of the service chiefs, whom he said had out-lived their usefulness, urging that officers with fresh ideas should be engaged to tackle the menacing activities of terrorists in the country.
In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said that people who have nothing to offer in their given responsibilities should be shown the way out of public officer.
His words: “I believe that the National Assembly has taken the issue of insecurity very seriously. We have always given attention to it. We have to take additional steps to insist that our resolutions are respected and implemented, because the parliamentarians are close to the people.
“I believe that this is one set of resolutions that the Executive must find a way of quickly implementing. These are not frivolous or imaginary resolutions. These are resolutions that have come from experience on ground. I think that this is one thing that will gladden the heart of Nigerians once we start implementing them.
“I also believe that the National Assembly has a lot of responsibility and weight on this and other issues, and that is to say this is supposed to be a turning point. I use the word turning point very purposefully, that barbaric killing and slaughter of people in Borno, let’s make it the turning point in the fight against insurgency and insecurity in Nigeria. I believe that government as a whole should see it that way.
“Enough of any excuses, people who have little or nothing to add should be shown the way out.”