Worried by the rising threats to lives and property in the country, the National Assembly may have concluded plans to push for a supplementary budget to tackle insurgency, particularly in the north.
It was learnt from authoritative sources that the N930 billion earmarked for security in the 2012 budget is now considered grossly inadequate to cope with the national security challenges in the land.
Findings show that agencies charged with the management of the nation’s security were uncomfortable with the “paltry” sum and had already made their feelings known to the federal government in the wake of rampant bombings in parts of the north, which have claimed thousands of lives and property.
A senior government official said: “Obviously, we are really worried about the worsening security situation in Nigeria and we have made the point very clear to the authorities that something must be done urgently to checkmate those who are killing with impunity and getting away with it.
“In the face of other competing challenges in the country, money is a big problem but we have to source for it and confront an enemy that has refused to back down.
But reminded that the amount voted by President Goodluck Jonathan for security in this year’s budget was higher than the budgets of many West African countries, the source said that Nigeria needed even more funds to be able to confront the problems that are peculiar in its domain without looking at what other countries were doing.
“We do not have the same problems across the region and each country has the right to respond to issues as they arise,” the source added.
The chairman, Senate Committee on Security and National Intelligence, Senator Muhammed Magoro, confirmed that the committee had already pointed out that the amount voted for security this year needed to be increased.
The former internal affairs minister and retired army general said that the committees saddled with security in the National Assembly would soon meet to take a second look at the security vote in relation to recent challenges in the country.
Magoro said, “The security committee in conjunction with other committees in the National Assembly will put heads together to see what can be done to the budget with a view to improving security in the country.”
Nigerians are worried that terrorist attacks in the country have assumed a dangerous dimension even with increased budgets and are calling for urgent measures to halt the trend and protect lives and property before the situation gets out of hand.
Only last Sunday, gunmen invaded a worship centre at the Bayero University, Kano, and killed two professors and 18 others in a gruesome manner. While the university was still grieving for the victims, gunmen rammed into the Taraba State Ministry of Finance on Tuesday and killed no fewer than 13 persons. Another set of killers invaded a Potiskum market in Yobe State the next day and murdered 56 persons and disappeared before security agents arrived at the scene.
Meanwhile, the activities of criminally-minded persons in Nigeria’s major cities of Abuja and Lagos may soon be captured real time on close-circuit television cameras, as work on the N470 million project, which the federal government awarded to a Chinese company, ZTE, is expected to be completed before the end of the year.
Already, a total of 2,000 CCTV cameras have been planted in strategic locations in the Federal Capital Territory and Lagos under the first phase of the project and images successfully captured by the facilities.
Minister of police affairs Navy Captain Caleb Olubolade disclosed this in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP WEEKEND in Abuja.
“I want to assure Nigerians that this very vital project, which the federal government awarded in the interest of national security, is progressing steadily despite the initial challenges which have now been resolved,” Olubolade said.
The minister pointed out that, contrary to insinuations that the project had been abandoned the contractors were actually working round the clock to ensure that the project is completed on schedule.
Olubolade pointed out that the completion of the project had become imperative given the rising security threats to the nation.
He said, “In the wake of insecurity that is prevalent now, the ministry is doing all it can to ensure that the project is delivered within the next five or six months.
“Since my appointment as minister, I have tried to assist considerably by ensuring that whenever the contractors have any problems we try to resolve them immediately.”
He said that the problem of acquiring private and public sites for the mounting of antennas and cameras in some parts of the country had been partly resolved.
The minister added that the problem of the frequency which the contractors wanted changed due to the fact that it had earlier been allocated to another user would soon be resolved amicably in the interest of the nation, but declined to name the allottee.
He pleaded with Nigerians to cooperate with the Chinese firm to complete the project on time so that the nation could derive value for its money and denied an allegation that the facilities supplied by the contractors to Nigeria were inferior to those supplied other countries.
The minister said that of the 1.5 million telephone lines to be generated by the security project, 500 would be dedicated to security agencies while one million would be used by other Nigerians for information sharing.
The security contract was awarded by the late Umaru Yar’Adua administration in 2009 to the Chinese firm and was to be completed within 36 months.
Angered by the wanton destruction of lives and property in parts of the country, the House of Representatives yesterday summoned the national security adviser, Gen. Andrew Azazi, and security chiefs to appear before it next week.
Although the date for the appearance of the security chiefs was not given, the members decided to invite the affected officials because of the latest spate of mindless killings of people across the country.
Only yesterday, the private secretary to the Edo State governor, Mr. Olaitan Oyerinde, was murdered in Benin City, the state capital, by suspected assassins yet to be apprehended by security agents, a development that sparked immediate outrage across the country. Moving the motion for the appearance of the officials, Ali Yakubu said the nation was at a loss over the apparent inability of security agents to curtail the attacks.
Other members of the House who contributed the debate said it was necessary for the officials to explain their roles before the nation was overtaken by insecurity.
Meanwhile, members of a terrorist gang yesterday demanded a one-on- one dialogue with President Goodluck Jonathan to resolve the insurgency in most parts of north.
The group warned that if government ignores its request it would carry out coordinated attacks in Abuja and Lagos within the next 78 hours.
They demanded the arrest of the former governor of Borno State, Alhaji Ali Modu Sherriff, former minister of police affairs Alhaji Yakubu Lame and others, claiming that they were abandoned by the former government officials.
The leader of the group, who called Africa Independent Television (AIT) yesterday to make their demands, said that they would not accept any intermediary in their proposed dialogue with President Jonathan.
The suspected terrorist said: “We want to talk to Jonathan one- on- one. We want to meet him-no police, nothing, nothing. And if he doesn’t address us, in the next 78 hours we are going to strike and this time we are going to attack Abuja and Lagos.
“ We are not hiding it. They are going to see it and this time around it is not something that we are going to take easy.”
Asked why they wanted to negotiate directly with the president, the sect leader, whose name was not given, said, “He is the one; he and the PDP are the ones causing our riots. And if he wants to negotiate with us, either he comes to Yobe State or we open a telephone number at AIT and he will call us. We want to talk openly. We don’t want anything privately. We want the public to know what we are negotiating.
“If we are asked to come to Abuja, we will come, but on one condition. We are ready to attend the negotiation in Abuja.”