Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives maintained yesterday that the increasing spate of killings in parts of the country required drastic action from the National Assembly, the presidency and security chiefs.
Specifically, Saraki decried a situation whereby security agencies work at cross-purposes while Nigerians are being killed incessantly, saying if the heads of the security agencies are not capable, they should give way for competent persons.
Saraki who spoke with journalists in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital, after an assessment tour of some ecological-prone areas in the metropolis was reacting to the recent wanton destruction of lives in Plateau State.
He, however, assured that the National Assembly under his leadership would not shy away from its responsibilities.
He said, “As we resume, we will continue on our part as parliament to ensure that those who have the responsibility of protecting lives and property are accountable to the people. It cannot continue; it is not something to be politicised. If somebody is not capable he should give way for others that are competent. We have heard that security personnel are working at cross-purposes. A is not talking to B and B is not talking to C. They don’t attend meetings jointly. Things need to be done.
“Let us forget about party; these are people’s lives. It is not about the Speaker of House of Representatives or the Senate President; it is about Nigeria. The sooner we see that and address this, the better. More of these could have been prevented since we have been shouting about this but we must sit down all of us- both the presidency and the legislature – to thrash out the issues. We must discuss the issues. Something needs to be done. Something is wrong. This cannot continue.”
Insisting on a complete overhaul of the country’s security architecture, Saraki said, “As you know very much, the National Assembly under my leadership many months ago had seen the danger. We had called for security summit to address the issue of security architecture. We had seen the need for us to review the security structure. We had invited service chiefs on the matter. You are all very aware that some service chiefs decided in their own wisdom that there is no need for them to work with the NASS to address these issues.
“We are beginning to see the wisdom in some of the things we were saying. We have always stood for what is believed is good for this country. We always politicise everything in this country. There is no society that continues to experience incessant killings as it is and then we think it is business as usual. It requires drastic action.
“It requires collective collaboration of all agencies and all arms of government for us to be serious. We, on our part at the NASS, will not get frustrated but we have been sounding this alarm. A society where gunmen could go in, shoot for seven hours and nobody is caught is not a normal society”.
On his part, Speaker Dogara warned that untamed violence on innocent citizens signals a great danger for the country.
Speaking during his condolence visit to Plateau State following the recent attacks in the state, which claimed the lives of about 200 people, Dogara pledged that the House would work with the executive arm of government to combat insecurity.
He noted that the National Assembly would deploy legislative tools such as appropriation to ensure adequate funding for security agencies.
He said, “I’ve always repeated the point that we cannot afford to lose the fight against violence and still maintain our democracy and civilization; it’s impossible. Whatever it takes, we have to defeat violence. Because if we do not, we may think now it is affecting only Plateau and some selected states in Nigeria but unfortunately, mayhem like these can lead to chaos on a national scale.
“It may lead to a scale that may even play out outside the territory known as Nigeria, with international implications. It is therefore our collective responsibility to ensure this doesn’t occur again and if we are determined, we’ll be able to stamp it out.
According to a statement signed by his special adviser on media and public affairs, Turaki Hassan, Dogara described the sad occurrence as a collective loss, not just to the affected communities and families, but to the country as a whole.
He continued: “I know that in difficult moments like this when you’re dealing with tragedies that involve collective loss, it’s always difficult to cope in the sense that, in most cases, bereavement has been individualized. People tend to deal with the bereavement on individual basis but this is something that involves collective loss, not only to the people of Plateau State, but across Nigeria as a whole. I know that the wounds will still be fresh and deep, because tragedies of this scale leave scars.
“When events like these happen, the tendency is to ask what the government is doing about it? I had cause to have an interface with the President, in company of the Senate President, and he has assured that the affected communities will be rebuilt.
“He has even directed NEMA to take census of what has happened and present the implication to him for approval. He also talked about looking at the security architecture to see what can be done in order to ensure that we do not have a repeat of this type of tragedy.
As a leader in the National Assembly, I want to say from the bottom of my heart because of the teeming people who put us in office, that we are willing and ready to work with the security agencies and the Executive to provide whatever is necessarily needed to end this mayhem across Nigeria, wherever it is in the North or South, and to provide support and funding through appropriation to be able to deal with this challenge that is a serious threat to us all”.
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