POLITICAL WILL NOT SECURITY SUMMIT NEEDED TO TACKLE INSECURITY

Every passing day, the security situation in Nigeria tends to assume a frightening dimension. Just when the citizens were beginning to heave a sigh of relief that the military and other security agencies had tamed the monster that is insurgency in the North East zone, the farmers and herders clashes took over. As if that was not disturbing enough, kidnapping, banditry and cattle rustling hit the North West zone like a tsunami.

The southern part of the country, which was relatively free of this dangerous trend, was however caught in the web of “yahoo boys”, rival cult clashes, and a resurgence of kidnapping, which declined in the region following the imposition of death penalty by some state governments. Without warning, the South also came under the siege of armed herders, who took over major highways, raped, killed and maimed. The gun-toting suspected herders also invaded several communities, displaced the residents, and took over their farmlands. Till date, the criminals are still on the rampage without any concerted effort in sight to rein them in.

Before the security challenges assumed this terrific and horrific dimension, the 8th Senate on February 8, 2018 convened a national security summit, which made far-reaching and implementable recommendations to the executive arm of government.  To be specific, the committee presented 20 recommendations to the Senate on how to improve security in the country. All of them were adopted by the Upper legislative House.

Except for the recommendation on police funding, all the other aspects of that report are still untouched by the appropriate authorities. That same year, the executive, precisely on June 8, 2018, joined the fray as the federal government organised another national security summit, which was attended by the presidency, the 36 state governors, service chiefs, and other stakeholders. Not much has been done on the recommendations of that conference.

It is against this backdrop that this newspaper considers as misplaced the recent call by the Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan, for another “all-inclusive” national security summit. We are of the view that what is urgently needed is not another summit but the political will to implement the reports of earlier summits cited above. The situation at hand demands desperate attention that another summit may not readily be able to address. With every sense of responsibility, we are convinced that another summit, by whatever name called, will be a waste of resources, an exercise in futility.

Interestingly, Lawan as the Senate leader then headed the ad-hoc committee which put the security summit together and came up with well-articulated and well-taught out proposals, which if implemented, have the potential to address the debilitating security challenges the nation is facing.

It is from this standpoint that we urge the Senate to revisit those reports, hold special sessions to update the aspects that may have been overtaken by events, adopt resolutions on them and represent the report to President Muhammadu Buhari for necessary action.

There is so much work awaiting the attention of the 9th Senate. Among them is ministerial screening, the list of which has just being submitted by the President. The screening of the cabinet nominees, in our estimation, is not an overnight job. The reform of the Electoral Act is imperative because the extant law almost marred the 2019 general election and contributed to the inconclusiveness of some key contests.

It is also our opinion that going by the plan of the Senate President to return the country to the January-December budget circle, the Senate may have more than enough to chew if the presidency sends the 2020 budget on time as being anticipated.

The Senate should join the executive which has taken a positive posture on state police to amend the necessary statutes for the decentralisation of the Federal Police for the effective policing of the country.

The federal government must necessarily demonstrate the political will to bring all criminals to book. The states can equally borrow a leaf from the Zamfara State government, which evolved its own home grown solution to addressing banditry, kidnapping and cattle rustling.

As we have done in the past, we strongly canvass a better salary and welfare package for the security agencies.  Our security personnel, especially policemen are poorly paid.  A demoralised and ill- equipped Police force cannot face the highly sophisticated and well-organised criminals that are terrorising the polity. All considered, these suggestions will make greater impact than another national security summit, whose outcome, no one can predict or determine. We insist that what is required at this point in time is the political will to do justice to reports on the subject that are already in place.