The House of Representatives, penultimate week, for the umpteenth time, devoted a substantial part of its plenary to express anger and disappoint on the rising insecurity. JOSHUA EGBODO writes.
Since inception of the current House of Representatives in June 2019, there have been tens of resolutions passed, which bothered on insecurity in the country. One of such culminated in the National Security Summit, which a lot of notable Nigerians across all walks of life attended.
Recommendations therefrom were forwarded in a report to President Muhammadu Buhari, through the leadership of the House, and during which promises were obtained of the President, to carefully study same and implementation commenced.
Killings, other acts yet on the rise
With repeated condemnations, lives of innocent Nigerians are daily still being wasted through acts of terrorism, banditry, gunmen invasion of communities with associated loss in property. Followers of these developments have put the figure of lost lives at over 2,000 in the first quarter of this year alone. The most recent of such attacks have been reported from Kaduna, Plateau and Benue, with some flashes in some states of the South East.
The continuous daily loss of lives, property of the citizens and the seeming helplessness of the government to address the situation recently pushed highly placed Nigerians and groups to express their pains. Notable amongst such voices were those of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar, the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), the House of Representatives, Bishop Hassan Kukah amongst many more, all expressing concerns that the Federal Government of Nigeria has failed in its constitutional duty of protecting the citizens.
Like people with no power to take actions, those deeply concerned can in the opinion of analysts, only voice out their frustrations. So it was when for about a week running, there were sustained killings across some states of the federation. Fears were that the country was already at the brinks of collapsing into a failed state.
The killings were to, for the umpteenth time last week, forced the House of Representatives to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency on security in the country. Members expressed anger against the President and heads of of the nation’s security forces for failing to protect the citizens. Some reiterated earlier calls for the removal of the Defence Minister and National Security Adviser. Not even an announcement a day earlier by the federal government that it would unveil identities of those behind the attack on Abuja-Kaduna bound train, during which scores were abducted, and many killed could at that point douse frayed nerves on the floor.
The House had the week before, expressed disappointment with the government after the reported killings in Minna, Niger State, which occurred in quick succession with the Kaduna airport and train attacks, prompting the controversial call by Majority Leader of the House, Ado Doguwa that Nigerians be allowed to bear arms for self defence.
The angst was reinforced, following a fresh motion on the recent cold blooded killing of over 90 persons in Kanam and Wase local government areas of Plateau State. Chairman of the Committee on Navy, Yusuf Gagdi who presented the motion under matters of urgent public importance said: “On Sunday, April 10, 2022, around 10am, terrorists unleashed terror on the people of Kanam Local Government and neighbouring communities, killing 92 persons, injuring over 20 people and destroying properties in Kukawa, Kyaram, Gyambau and Dungur among other communities.
“A total of 41 houses, 86 shops and eight motorcycles were completely burnt, leaving a total of 3,413 persons displaced. Over 20 victims that sustained various degrees of injuries are currently receiving medication at Garga Primary Health Care, Dengi General Hospital, Federal Medical Centre, Bauchi, and Jos University Teaching Hospital respectively.
The lawmakers’ emotional submissions set a stage for other members’ outpouring of perceived bottled-up pains and concerns. Contributing, Bamidele Salam said the parliament must rise to hold executive arm of the the government accountable. “We have come to a situation in this country where evil is perpetrated and no one is held accountable for the perpetration. We are the privileged class. We move around with convoys and security men. We are being paid to occupy this position of privilege by the sweat and taxes of some people.
“The part of this motion that touched me was the reference that there were early warning signals, the information given to security agencies about the plans by some terrorists to attack innocent persons, and this information was not acted upon…. Is it that they feel the information is not important or that there are people they can’t touch? We must get to the root of this matter. This has to come to a stop. It appears there’s an absence of government from the executive level. The parliament must rise to that responsibility,” he stated.
In his contribution, Fatuhu Mohammed, a member from Katsina State blamed the security agencies of not meeting their constitutional responsibilities. He said “I advise that we need to do more than we think we are doing. When it’s the appropriation period, we don’t take things seriously. These people will come and present their budget and we approve and they move on. There’s no oversight, so how do you checkmate them? It’s business, there’s no military coup, so they know the only way they can make money is through this…”.
Making an intervention, Deputy Speaker Idris Wase who presided over the plenary stated that the early warning signals were ignored, revealing that there had been evidence of a security personnel supplying uniforms to bandits. “The early warning that was given is not being followed. I brought the motion and it was well debated. This situation is not about politics. Anyone that wants to politicise this is making a huge mistake. In my own community, we heard a soldier, who was supposed to be in Zamfara, given a pass for consecutively six months, was (arrested) giving uniforms to the bandits.
“Until this moment, he has not been taken to court. I want you to understand the complicity of security agencies in this matter. Why would you give your personnel six months pass? Even when we raise motions, it’s sufficient for security agencies to act but they are adamant. Drastic actions must be taken against some officers,” he said.
On his part, Bello Kumo opined that the NSA and the defence minister should be relieved of their posts. “I believe the President of the country is responsible for every action or inaction that happens in the land. He took an oath that he was going to perform his responsibilities and duties without fear or favour. I believe he’s old enough to give this country the leadership it requires, but why I blame the President is, why would he believe in the monopoly of knowledge.
“Why would you continue maintaining one national security adviser all these years of your government? The NSA is supposed to present to the President an executive summary of the security situation of the land, and the President will act on his advice. So, why keep someone who cannot think outside the box? If the President means well for this country, he must sack the National Security Adviser and the Minister of Defence. A minister that cannot move to Kaduna when there is train attacks, how can he coordinate the defence apparatus?”, he had queried. Several more spoke on the matter.
Outside Reps’ concerns
As earlier stated, the gale of killings and wanton destruction of property has also become a great source of utmost worry to many groups and individuals in the country. Reacting to the recent killings, CAN, through its youth wing, condemned the development, and charged the Federal Government to work with those who claimed to know the bandits and their hideouts in order to identify and arrest them. A communique jointly signed by the Chairman, Belusochukwu Enwere, and Secretary, Bako Elijah after a meeting last week in Abuja warned that if the rising insecurity was not checked, it would cripple farming and other economic activities in the 2022 season.
“We express deepest concern and displeasure over the crimes and injustice against humanity by the unwarranted destruction of lives and properties in different parts of the country. This senseless killing must stop now”, it said.
Also, the JNI which blamed politicians as originators of the current situation the country has found itself, in their desperate bids to grab political powers, demanded that it was time the government acts fast.
The Middle Belt Forum on its part, described the recent killings in Benue, Plateau, Kaduna and other parts of the country by bandits as a function of a failed government. National President of MBF, Dr. Bitrus Pogu, in a reaction lamented that the killings were becoming unbearable for Nigerians. “It is an unfortunate development; it is a function of a failed Federal Government, a government that cannot protect its people, a government that has failed in its primary responsibility as provided in our constitution, which is the provision of security and welfare for the people.
A worrisome drift?
To many citizens, the state appeared no longer ready, or capable of protecting them. They said even at home, abductions happen, in schools, the same, and in some instances associated with killings. Traveling either by road, rail or air is at your own risk, no matter how important your planned engagement may be. To such, calls by some that the citizens bear arms for self defence may be gaining wider acceptance. If that happens, the only inference to them is that the governance system has failed.