The Senate Tuesday threw its weight behind community policing in addressing the worsening security situation in the country.
The body also said it would soon summon the Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu and other security chiefs for thorough dissection of the problem with a view to finding lasting solution to the seemingly endless security challenges.
The lawmakers’ position came barely one week after the federal government and the South-west governors agreed to draw a legal framework onAmotekun, a security initiative by the region.
At the end of the meeting presided Wednesday by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, it was agreed that: “Having regard to the need for all hands to be on deck in addressing the security concerns across the country, it was agreed that the structure of Amotekun should also align with the Community Policing strategy of the Federal Government.”
Speaking along same line in an address to welcome his colleagues back from the end of 2019 recess, Senate President Ahmad Lawan said the security chiefs, especially the police authorities, would be invited to brief and update the upper legislative chamber on the progress made so far.
Lawan said the security situation in the country had deteriorated and required serious attention and due consideration by the Senate and indeed the National Assembly.
He said: “We need to secure the lives and property of our citizens, as enshrined in our constitution. We all are witnesses to how our economy is also affected by the inclement security situation. Therefore, we need to speedily seek for solutions to fix the security problem bedevilling our dear country.
“There is urgent need for paradigm shift and reform of the architecture and structure of our security systems. Equally important is the citizen participation, and collaboration in providing security. In this regard, the Senate will engage the Executive arm of government to discuss the implementation of the recently launched National Security Strategy (NSS) 2019.
“For a long time, major stakeholders in the security of our nation and police authorities appear to achieve consensus on the necessity of introduction of community policing in the country.
“The Senate is going to pursue the implementation of community policing vigorously. To this end, the police authorities will be invited to brief and update the Senate on the progress made so far.”
Shortly after their closed door meeting, the Senate President Lawan said aside security, other areas the Senate would focus on are, passage of Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), electoral amendment act, power sector reform, solid mineral and agriculture sectors reform.
“Our electoral processes and procedures need special attention in order to address the challenges we had observed in the 2019 general elections and the various re-run and bye-elections.
‘It is a fact that free, fair and credible elections work as tonic to democracy, as voters will continue to have faith and trust in the efficacy of their votes”, he said.
On the PIB, Lawan said the 9th Assembly would learn from the mistakes that mitigated against the successful passage of the bills, adding, “we need to break the jinx. We must avoid the pitfalls that worked against the passage of the previous bills.
On the power sector, he said: “It is an incontrovertible fact that the power sector cannot function optimally and thrive under the current circumstances.
“The anticipated outcome of improvement in effectiveness and efficiency of the privatization process has not been achieved, and doesn’t look feasible. Therefore, we have to take all necessary steps to salvage this indispensable sector.”
The solid minerals sector he added, was neglected after the discovery of oil, saying though there were attempts to revamp this sector, it was yet to make any meaningful contribution to our economy.
“Today, the solid minerals sector accounts for only about 0.3% of our Gross Domestic Product. It is obvious that we need to take a holistic look into the challenges in the sector”.
He further said: “The agriculture sector played an important and leading role in our economy before the discovery of oil. However, with the discovery of oil, the lure of petro-dollars turned the focus of the country from agriculture.
“Despite the present efforts of the Federal Government to enhance the performance of the agricultural sector, there is still much to be done to make the sector perform optimally.”
And in a response, the South-west governors said the Senate’s position on the nation’s security vindicated their position.
The governors’ position was made known Tuesday by Director General Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission Mr. Leye Oyeleye.
The commission was the initiator of Operation Amotekun.
Speaking to Blueprint in Ibadan, Oyeleye said “I listened to the Senate President, Dr Lawan talking yesterday when he alluded to the fact that our security architecture is no longer adequate to meet the need of Nigerians and that policing needs to be devolved to the state, like say regions.
“He said clearly that with what we have at the moment, there is insecurity in the land.”
The DAWN helmsman said this “prompted the six governors of the South-west into contemplating the idea of Operation Amotekun .
“With the position of the Senate, it is now clear that the establishment of Operation Amotekun by the South-west governors is not for any sinister motive but a child of necessity.”
‘Hard times await bandits’
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday said harder times await bandits whose disruptive activities have brought sorrow to Nigerians, kept many away from their means of livelihood and heightened insecurity in parts of the country.
The president, who received a delegation of eminent and respected citizens of Niger state, led by Governor Abubakar Sani Bello in the State House, Abuja said the activities of the bandits had forced many to abandon their farms and homes.
“I was taken aback by what is happening in the North-west and other parts of the country. During our campaigns, we knew about the Boko Haram. What is coming now is surprising. It is not ethnicity or religion; rather it is one evil plan against the country.
“We have to be harder on them. One of the responsibilities of government is to provide security. If we don’t secure the country, we will not be able to manage the economy properly,” he said.
The president said the onslaught of the bandits had also affected agricultural output in some parts of the country, in spite of the favourable weather for farming, because many farmers were attacked and others stayed away for safety.
He said the poverty level in the country would be significantly controlled by diversifying into agriculture, instead of the heavy reliance on oil, urging more Nigerians to take up agriculture.
The president said discovery of oil and gas reserves in Chad Basin, Benue trough and Bida, and some parts of Bauchi and Gombe, would further bolster current efforts at strengthening the nation’s economy.
He advised leaders in the Niger Delta to counsel those blowing up pipelines, resulting in spillages that affect farming and farmlands, noting that the loss had always been collective, sometimes turning hard working farmers to victims.
The eminent and respected persons said they needed to show appreciation to the president for his many interventions on infrastructure, security and appointment of indigenes of the state into key positions of government.
Speaking for the group, the former governor of Niger state, Dr Aliyu Babangida, said activities of bandits had rendered many homeless, while others could no longer go the farms, thanking the president for taking a more decisive action by directing aerial protection by the military.
He called on the president to intervene in completion of some federal roads, like the Mokwa-Birnin Gwari-Kaduna road, Kotongora road, and he also asked for more attention on the Minna airport, which should complement access to the FCT.
In his remarks, the Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, assured the president of continuous support, praying: “May God give you strength and wisdom to handle the affairs of our great country, Nigeria.’’
In a related development, Benue state Governor Samuel Ortom has said insurgency and banditry in the country were overstretching the security agencies in the country.
Ortom also acknowledged the support of the Nigeria Air Force to health and educational development of the state through the provision of quality healthcare services and secondary education.
The governor said this when Air Officer Commanding Tactical Air Command Makurdi Air Vice Marshal Olusegun R. Philip paid him a visit at the Government House, Makurdi.
The governor stated that apart from supporting the state to ensure security of lives and property, the NAF authorities were always handy to help fight cases of fire disasters with the state of the art equipment.
He also said lack of standard equipment was also posing a big challenge to the fight against insecurity.
Governor Ortom also lamented that insurgency was almost pushing the country into a religious crisis, saying people should be allowed to practice any religion of their choice without coercion.
He said the state had played its role in the dispute between the host community and NAF authorities, and was waiting for communication from the Chief of Air Staff Sadique Abubakar before meeting with the host community for amicable resolution.
He pledged his administration’s support for security agencies in the fight against insurgency, banditry and other criminal activities in the state.
Earlier, AVM Philip had pledged to work towards maintaining peace and ensure the readiness of the Air Force to the security of lives and property of Benue people and Nigerians in general.
He said the security agency would always count on government’s support to deliver on its mandate.