By Christiana Ekpa
The three arms of government must take all necessary actions to face and address the security challenges facing the country, the Speaker of the House of Representatives Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila has said.
He said this while declaring open a 2-day retreat and workshop on promoting effective legislation and oversight of the security sector in Nigeria organized by the House Committee on National Security and Intelligence in collaboration with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) foundation in Abuja on Thursday.
He said: “We are at this moment experiencing in many parts of our country, significant internal security challenges that have disrupted the lives of many of our citizens, and led to a loss of lives and property at a scale that cannot easily be quantified.
“These internal security challenges threaten the very existence of the Nigerian state because they undermine public faith in the government’s ability to fulfil its fundamental obligation to protect the lives and property of citizens.
“Across the three arms of government, we have a shared responsibility to take all necessary actions to meet these challenges head-on. This is what the people who elected us rightly expect.
“National security is generally understood to be the preserve of the executive arm of government. As a result, the general public and even the political class often do not know what the legislative role in national security is, or ought to be.
“This knowledge gap presents an ongoing limitation on the policy-making and oversight role of the legislature as it pertains specifically to the challenges we face in the national security sector. Workshops such as the one we have gathered here for today are an essential tool in reversing this gap,” the Speaker said.
Gbajabiamila said the retreat should be “an opportunity to critically assess the legislative role in ensuring a safe and secure country for our children.
“The realities of the moment require that we be willing to speak honest truths about the things we haven’t gotten right so that we can then focus our energies on making sure that we do better for the future.
“I encourage all of you to remember that a lot of the hopes we have for our country depend on our ability to guarantee the safety of our people and the security of property and investments. And from this remembrance, I hope we can find the motivation to do all that this moment requires of us.”
“Key followers of the House would notice that security has been a very important part of our work. It’s part of our legislative agenda. When I came in, I visited three key states affected by insecurity. I went to Katsina, Borno and Zamfara.”
“We now have in our process the means of alternative funding for the security agencies.
“I think we should have the roles of each security agencies clearly defined. It’s important that we understand the separation.
“There’s no way you can have a government that thrives without security. Anything else relies on security. That’s why when this government came in, security was one of the legs,” the Speaker added.
In an address, the chairman of the House Committee on National Security and Intelligence, Rep. Sha’aban Sharada, said members of the committee were committed to seeing that all security agencies under them are provided with the necessary support to succeed in their mandate.
Saying the retreat could not have come at a better time than now due to the security challenges facing the country, Rep Sharada noted that the committee is currently working on a bill on proliferation of small and light arms as part of efforts to tackle insecurity.
He called on all security agencies to strengthen their efforts and that the citizens should give them the maximum support. He thanked the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Nigeria for their support.
In a remark, the Resident Representative of KAS Nigeria, Dr Vladimir Kreck, said his organization has been partnering with different government institutions in Nigeria, including the House of Representatives, in the area of security to find lasting solutions to the challenges in the sector.
He said his organization’s partnership with the House of Representatives was very critical in addressing security challenges in the country, hoping that such would yield fruitful results in the end.
There were goodwill messages from the Governor of Zamfara State, Bello Mohammed Matawalle, who was the Chairman of the Committee in the 7th Assembly, and the Minister of FCT, Mohammed Musa Bello, both of whom were represented.