At plenary last Tuesday, the Senate President, David Mark, advocated dialogue as a way out of the security crisis and also beamed the spotlight on the national assembly for being reactive instead of proactive. Chibuzo Ukaibe, reports.
His first official outing after a medical trip to Israel was quite insightful. For the Senate President, David Mark, it was time for urgent soul searching for all stakeholders in the struggle to salvage the country.
While his stride into the hallowed chambers of the Senate, last Tuesday somewhat betrayed his quest for urgency, the need for urgency was more evident in his address to his colleagues.
To say the least, the address was a wakeup call regarding the inefficiency and corruption in the polity. It also sought to find a solution to the series of bomb attacks by the Boko Haram sect.
However, Mark was not mindful of the support he enjoyed while away, particularly the solidarity and perceived unity within the senate. “I am happy to be back,” he stated, “ let me first take this opportunity to most heartily and sincerely thank all of you for our prayers, phone calls, text messages and support while I was away for my medical treatment in Israel”.
Done with the pleasantry, Mark swiftly delved into the deplorable security condition in the country. He proposed that the spate of Boko Haram bombings can be halted through dialogue. This was against the background of a long debate on whether or not to dialogue with the Boko Haram sect in order to stop the ongoing attacks perpetrated by them.
More still, the senate had only recently in its motion over the recent bombing in Kaduna called on the federal government to use all instruments of the state to crush the sect. The senate president was, however, not present at the hearing.
But his position on the debate on dialogue was hinged mainly on the fact that most of the foot soldiers were mainly puns of some paymasters. Mindful of the tendency of the government to be distracted by the accusations made back and forth between the ruling PDP and the opposition parties over the recent statements of some security chiefs, especially the National Security Adviser, Andrew Azazi, he cautioned against the politicization of the situation.
Mark warned “I would like to add that these misguided groups are our brothers and sisters; government must therefore explore all avenues to discuss with them. On the other hand, those aggrieved must find a better way to express their grievances. It is in the national interest that there is peace and security particularly if we want the transformation agenda to succeed.
“The current level of insecurity in the country is unacceptable and something must be done to improve it and very quickly too. “Clearly, the terrorists have declared war on Nigeria and Nigerians. Escalating acts of terror not only threaten our unity as a nation but challenge the very human values we all believe in. In spite of all these bombings, we should not despair or be disillusioned. We shall overcome through our collective determination. This is the time for concerted action by all Nigerians; ethnicity, political affiliation, religious belief notwithstanding, we have a real problem in our hands and we must handle it with the seriousness it deserves and we shall never politicize it. Divisive statements or finger pointing are not helpful. Attempts to apportion blame for failure at this time of the burgeoning terror threats will not lead to any practical solution. The primary responsibility of tackling this challenge lies with the government but that notwithstanding, we all have roles to play.”
Mark also acknowledged the task put before the security agencies when he noted, “Let me also say without mincing words that the security agencies must intensify their preoperational responsibilities, roles and cautions and improve their operational capabilities. Their major task must be to thwart and prevent these bombings”.
Senate committees, corruption and oversight
Far from done, the senate president proceeded to encourage the senate to improve on its oversight functions with regards to the corruption currently pervading the country. Mark blamed the senate standing committees over the increase of inefficiency and corruption, adding that the committees ought to be proactive in carrying out their constitutionally backed oversight functions on ministries, departments, and agencies.
Obviously pricked by his promise to the Nigerian people at the inauguration of the seventh senate and also concerned that the senate is far from fulfilling the expectations of the populace, he directed the committees to submit their reports before proceeding on their summer recess.
He said, “Let me use this opportunity to state unequivocally that we must improve on our oversight functions. The inefficiency and corruption in the system which the various investigation committees have uncovered could have been reasonably abated if we had carried out our oversight functions exhaustively and effectively. In the course of our oversight functions, some of these incidences could have either been stopped or reduced to the barest minimum.
“I may sound repetitive but I must emphasise that having gone almost six months into the year, the committees by now should have prepared their reports for the first two quarters of the year.”
He further stated that the senate committees while preparing their reports will also look at the capital appropriation released for the first quarters of the year and weigh it against the implementation of the capital projects.