By Musa Adamu and Ikechukwu Okaforadi
A motion urging President Muhammadu Buhari to review security architecture in the country was stood down yesterday at the Senate plenary.
The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, stood down the motion because, according to him, it generated divergent constitutional views from senators who contributed to the debate; and as such would be difficult to arrive at consensus.
Senator Victor Umeh had sponsored the Bill urging the President to include the South East part of the country in the National Security Council and National Defence Council to achieve national balance and constitutional adherence.
But while the Bill was supported by Senators, mostly from the South East, those who spoke against the Bill were mostly of Northern extraction.
According to Senator Enyinaya Abaribe, the President does not have any choice than to reflect regional balance in his appointment into security architecture because the Constitution has so directed him.
He said: “He does not have any option. But what has been witnessed is a deliberate decision to exclude the South East. He has all the opportunity, but he deliberately wanted to exclude the Igbos; and that is what we are talking about and asking. I urged the Senators to support it to ask the president to do the needful.”
In his contribution, Sen. Mao Ohuabunwa raised point of Order 153i (g), support his argument that the National Security Council must include all sections of the country.
He said: “There is nothing difficult to appoint the South Easterner into the council, especially as the constitution has empowered him.”
But countering the arguments of those in support of the Bill, Sen Bala Ibn Na’Allah said the sponsor of the Bill misunderstood the provision of the constitution.
He said: “Umeh grossly misunderstood the Constitution. There is a core officer appointment and an ordinary appointment. The appointments and the list of those there were brought to Senate which represents all zones; and they found it expedient and convenient to approve it. It has never been the policy of any government to exclude any section, and it will not be.
“The Senate should be careful about what comes out of the chamber because they were all present to confirm the appointment.”
Similarly, Sen Jibrin Barau raised a point of order for explanation, arguing that his assertion was not correct since the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who was from the South East, was a member of the Security Council.
In his ruling, President of the Senate declared that: “It is not a motion that the Senate should reach a consensus. Therefore, it is noted because all sections of the Constitution have different interpretations to it and the points there in has been noted, calling on the relevant authority to take action.”
Reacting to faith of the Bill, Sen Umeh said though the motion was stood down in the chamber, it had achieved its objective, and the points were well made.
He said: “Like the Senate President said, let those who have ears hear.
Those who opposed the motion are those who are benefiting in the status quo; and they are opposed to change, and change in the right sense of it must be enforced.
“Restructuring must be a key player in the buildup to the 2019 general election. The constitution is there to guide every democracy, but if people do things outside the constitution there will be aggrieved persons.
“The Minister of Foreign Affairs is a member of the National Security Council but his motion was based on National Defence Council.”
He said most of the Senators who wanted to speak were not allowed after some Senators raised point of order against it.
“Igbos constitute good number of the population, and they have qualified officers that are experienced and capable of making good input. Nigeria is a country that is still being built; and if we cannot do things in a way to carry everybody along, some persons would be aggrieved.
“The spirit of the motion was to urge the President and not to force him, and not to direct him.”