BY OUR CORRESPONDENT
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas Ph.D has stated that actions of the lawmakers can potentially shape the future of the country.
The Speaker who made this known in his remark during the commencement of the Sectorial Debate with the Service Chiefs and the Inspector General of Police on Tuesday said the House under his leadership made a conscious decision to commence the Sectoral Debates with the security Sector given that it is prioritized in the Legislative Agenda.
He said Section 14(2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution (as altered) declares that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.
“In this declaration, the security and welfare of the people are conjunctively presented as a sole purpose,” he said.
The Sectorial Debate on Tuesday was sequel to a motion for admittance of security chiefs by the Deputy House Leader, Hon. Abdullahi Ibrahim Halims and Seconded by the House Minority Leader, Hon. Kingsley Chinda.
The Chief of Defence, (CDS), General Christopher Musa; Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-General Taoreed Lagbaja; Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla and Inspector General of Police, Egbetokun Olukayode were ushered into the chamber immediately after the motion was adopted.
Abbas said “Today marks a significant milestone in the implementation of our Legislative Agenda as we commence the Sectoral Debates of the 10th House of Representatives. This is the maiden edition of the Debates, and I am pleased we are commencing with the security sector.
“Our focus on security is immediately clear, given the unprecedented challenges of the past decade. Over the last few years, we have made significant progress in tackling insecurity through improved investment by the Federal Government and the gallantry and professionalism of our service men and women.
“I salute the courage of our armed forces and law enforcement personnel.”
The Speakers called for a minute silent in the middle of his remark in honour of the security operatives who died in the course of doing their job.
The Speaker said: “Let me emphasize from the onset, that appearance in person for all invited heads of MDAs are required throughout this sectoral briefing. As such, the House shall not accept proxy representation for any reason whatsoever. Notices are sent well in advance to forestall any excuses.
“Dear Colleagues, only a few days ago, I had the honour of unveiling and presenting the Legislative Agenda of the House to the public. An important component of the Agenda is improving the quality of debates on the floor and engagement with the Executive on critical issues of national interest. As representatives of the Nigerian people, it is our duty to ensure that the policies and programmes implemented by the Executive are in line with the aspirations and needs of the citizens we all represent here in the People’s House.
“The commencement of the Sectoral Debates with Ministries, Departments, and Agencies once again demonstrates our determination to ensure that legislative measures and decisions are evidence-based and people-oriented. The Sectoral briefs will provide us with an opportunity to scrutinize the policies, activities and plans of each MDA. It will also allow the House and Members to understand better the challenges facing government agencies, their programmes and areas for legislative interventions.
“Accordingly, we have developed a Calendar for our planned engagement with the Executive covering several thematic areas, including the economy, education, health, agriculture, infrastructure, and many others. This will be undertaken regularly throughout the life of the Tenth Assembly. The Debates are in line with our constitutionally assigned powers to make laws for the good governance of the Federation and to ensure that government programmes and expenditures are in line with legislative intent. Therefore, the legislature must engage in constructive dialogue with senior government officials from all sectors to understand their operations, challenges and legislative needs.”
He said this session with the heads of security agencies is an important opportunity to brief the House on the progress made so far and other lingering challenges.
He said “Members will be able to ask questions on context-specific issues, and you will be given ample time to respond to the issues raised.
“Through this interaction, we aim to foster collaboration in tackling the multiple security challenges that confront us.
“I urge all members of this esteemed House to approach these briefings with an open mind and a commitment to serving our constituents and our country. Let us ask probing questions that seek clarity on legislations, policies, programmes, and implementation strategies.
“Dear Colleagues, let us approach these sectoral debates with a sense of purpose and responsibility. We must remember that our actions can potentially shape the future of our great nation. Together, we can build a prosperous, inclusive, and just Nigeria.
“I encourage our security chiefs to be transparent and forthcoming in their presentations. You are encouraged to provide us with accurate and up-to-date information, share your successes, and acknowledge your challenges. We are here not to reprimand but to understand better and, by so doing, find long-lasting solutions.”
Abbas said the presence of the security chiefs in the chamber today demonstrate their commitment to democracy and good governance, promising that the House of Representatives will provide a conducive environment for fruitful discussions and deliberations.
In his remark, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa; said they have visited most of the operations since their appointment in June this year.
CDS said the various operations are conducted to ensure peace and harmony in the country.
He said each of the operations is meant to tackle problem peculiar to the zone.
He noted that security is the responsibility of everybody. Adding that in some nebouring countries, once a stranger enters a community, the people raise alarm immediately but that is not what is obtainable in this country.
He said children should be taught in schools on how to be security conscious.
The CDS said there is need to buy a lot of equipment for the smooth operations. He acknowledged exchange rate as one of the challenges as it affects the purchasing power of Naira.
“Every ammunition is bought in dollar, and this has been our major challenge because when the naira is changed to dollar, almost everything is gone,” he said.
He buttressed the point that good governance helps in minimising the security
On his part, the Chief of Army Staff , Lt-General Taoreed Lagbaja noted that in defending the territorial integrity of the country, army has deployed forces in each of the six geo-political zones.
He said there is a joint task force in the North East, tackling terrorism and insurgency in the North East, anti bandits and kidnapping, in the North West, two special operations in North Central to tackle communal clashes and other forms of security challenges in the zone, while army is being supported by Navy and other security operatives in South South, South East and South West to protect life and property, infrastructure, oil and gas.
“We are responding to threats, terrorist attack in the North East, threats in North West which started as cattle rustler and mass kidnapping, demanding for ransom, in the North Central, communal clashes and other threats,” he said.
The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla on his part noted the effort of the Navy in respect of protection of territorial integrity particularly the maritime domains.
He said their roles centred on three aspects, namely protection of territorial integrity of Nigeria , policing and diplomatic role.
“We are also working with other agencies such as police, EFCC. We hope of reducing crimes in maritime environments, halt oil theft and other criminal activities in the maritime environment.’
He said through operation water guide, they have recorded a lot of success.
“Nigeria is now considered piracy free nation due to the efforts of Navy, improvement of oil production.
“We first purged ourselves before purging others and that is why we recorded the improvement. Nigeria navy is a service that is technological based and we need assistance in both human resource and material resources. We are about 30,000 for now and material resources such as air craft to cover the creeks, rivers, are needed to check illegal refineries and oil theft.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, said their wide range of operations across the country is stop terrorist freedom to operate and carry out violent attack.
He said the air operation collaborate with land operation is to neutralize the criminals.
“Each of these operations is meant to check activities of the criminals peculiar to the zone.
Inspector General of Police IGP Egbetokun Olukayode said he is ensuring that police will deliver on its constitutional responsibilities.
He noted that the manpower in police is inadequate and provision of logistics is difficult. He said some of the division don’t have patrol van.
“Despite these challenges, the citizens want optimal performance. Today we make arrest of 100, tomorrow 200 criminals are coming out” He , appealed for collaboration.