The Senate has asked the Nigerian Armed Forces to sustain the ongoing onslaught against bandits and terrorists in the country until they are decimated.
LEADERSHIP reports that Nigerian troops have in recent times turned up the heat on terrorists and bandits in the North East and North West geographical zones during which many of them have been dislodged from their hideouts, killed or captured, with thousands surrendering to troops.
Speaking during the National Assembly’s resumption from recess yesterday, Senate President Ahmad Lawan said insecurity remains the biggest challenge to the country, which must be prioritised and tackled head-on by constant engagement by the Executive, Legislature and Nigerians.
According to him, efforts must be made to sustain the fight against insecurity by ensuring adequate funding for security agencies in the 2022 budget which will be submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari later this month to the National Assembly for consideration.
The Senate president applauded the Armed Forces for their gallantry and the recent successes recorded in the fight against insurgency and banditry in the country.
“I want to urge them to sustain the campaign until the insurgents and bandits are rooted out in our country,” he said.
He recalled that the federal lawmakers had approved a supplementary budget of over N800 billion for the security and intelligence agencies, which was presented by the executive arm of government in July this year, just before proceeding for the annual summer recess.
“While that provision was appropriate and indeed necessary, we should sustain the trajectory of increase in funds and resources to the security sector.
“Therefore, we should consider a ramp-up of more resources for our security agencies in the 2022 Appropriation. This also requires that our Defence and Intelligence-related committees must step up their oversight on the agencies.”
He noted that the fight against the insecurity necessitates continued engagements between the legislative and the executive arms of government.
“It also requires continued engagements with citizens, for the necessary and desired results to be achieved. We must therefore remain resolute and focused in achieving those. The National Assembly, indeed the federal government, has no more serious challenges to tackle than insecurity today.”
The Senate president listed the landmark legislations passed by the Ninth Assembly, and underscored the need for the Implementation Committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the timely execution of the Petroleum Industry Act assented to by the president on August 16, 2021.
“Distinguished Colleagues, before we embarked on our recess, we had accomplished the targets that we set for ourselves. We passed the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and also passed the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2010.
“These were landmark legislations targeted at enhancing the oil and gas sector in our country and improving the electoral system in our dear nation.
“As we are all aware, Mr. President assented to the Petroleum Industry Bill on 16th August, 2021 making it an Act of parliament.
“Also, the president had set up an implementation committee to start the execution of the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act.
“I want to take this opportunity to urge the implementation committee to expedite action so that our country will start to reap the benefits of the law,” Lawan said.
He urged the Senate Committees on Petroleum Downstream, Petroleum Upstream and Gas to start oversight on the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act, with a view to ensuring that the Senate discharges its critical mandate of compliance with contents and dictates of the law.
On the Electoral Act Amendment Bill passed by the Senate and House of Representatives in July 2021, the Senate President announced that a Conference Committee would be set up to harmonise the two versions of the bill so as to enable its eventual transmission to the president for assent.
He added that “both chambers had done a great and patriotic job to increase the integrity and transparency of our electoral processes and procedures through these amendments.”
On efforts made by the Ninth Assembly to review the 1999 Constitution, Lawan disclosed that the Constitution Review Committee would be presenting its report soon to the upper chamber for consideration.
According to him, the amendment exercise is intended to “make Nigeria a more united and stronger federation.”
The Senate President disclosed further that the Senate Joint Committee on Finance, National Planning and Economic Matters, Petroleum Downstream, Petroleum Upstream and Committee on Banking would also be presenting its report soon on the 2022/2024 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP), preparatory to the presentation of the 2022 Appropriation Bill by the president.
He added that the Standing Committees of the Senate were ready to receive ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) for budget defence.
“As in the previous years, all MDAs are expected to defend their budget proposals within October 2021 as this is the only allotted window for the exercise.”
He stated the need for early passage of the budget, noting that the early passage of the 2020 and 2021 budget had yielded tremendous benefits to the country and its economy.
According to the second quarter GDP report released by the National Bureau for Statistic (NBS), Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased by 5.01% in the second quarter of 2021 – the strongest growth since fourth quarter 2014.
“This can be attributed to the early passage and subsequent implementation of the budgets. The National Assembly is proud to be a major factor in turning around the economic fortunes of our dear country,” Lawan said.
Army Boosts Troops’ Operations With Communication Vehicles
Meanwhile, the chief of army staff (COAS), Lt Gen Faruk Yahaya, has unveiled seven communication-enabled vehicles to enhance troops’ vision during missions and urged commanders to ensure sustainability and maintenance of the equipment.
The vehicles were commissioned at the sidelines of the ongoing COAS’ combined second and third quarter 2021 conference in Abuja.
This is coming when the federal government has shut down the telecommunications network in Zamfara State as part of ongoing efforts to rid the state of bandits and other criminal elements.
The seven vehicles mounted with antenna are equipped to communicate with other phones. They also have night vision capability and internet protocols to enable troops to make calls to all Nigeria Army divisions.
He said the Nigerian Army under his watch will remain resolute and continue to chart progressive paths towards tackling the security challenges confronting the country.
Gen Yahaya said training and retraining must also be given the attention it deserves, adding that the priorities for the fourth quarter of the year would include training and more training.
“I will ensure that through functional training, officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army are equipped with the right attitude, competences and skills to effectively undertake daring missions in addition to developing special operations forces.” he said.
The army chief said this would be closely followed by procurement that ensures appropriate kitting and provision of protective gear, weapons, equipment and platforms.
He said, “Let me, however, remind you all that while no effort will be spared in achieving these goals, it is command responsibility to ensure the sustenance and maintenance of all equipment.
“We must therefore strive to improve our maintenance culture to prolong the life span of our platforms and equipment.”
He also directed that serious attention be given to sustaining and improving the tempo in all ongoing Nigerian Army operations across the country.
General Yahaya charged commanders to learn from his command philosophy to ensure that operational and administrative proficiencies of Nigerian Army units and formations are sustained and improved upon.
“Commanders must seize initiative and commanders must take initiative; they must take decisive actions to defeat the threats in their respective AORs (areas of operation).
“I will not again take or accept excuses. Gentlemen, failure is failure irrespective of the circumstances,” he said.
He, however, said he was aware of logistics constraints affecting operations across the country.
“I am glad to inform you that efforts are in progress to provide us with combat enablers that would enhance and boost our operations,” he assured.
The COAS said efforts are ongoing to eliminate the threat of improvised explosive devices which have been a major impediment to troops operations in Operation HADIN KAI.
The restated his commitment to rebuilding the fighting skills, capacity, confidence, and morale of troops across the various theatres of operations.
“I hereby charge Training and Doctrine Command along with the Department of Army Training, Corps and NA Schools to develop additional leadership training modules, curses and curriculum to enhance the careers of individual soldiers.
“We need similar additional leadership development modules and courses for our young officers to enable them to grow as competent, effective leaders and commanders. We can explore officers and soldiers’ leadership training modules from other countries even though we should be alert to domesticate them to best suit our needs, and our environment.”
Gen Yahaya noted that sound administration of troops was essential to operational effectiveness and high morale; hence troops’ welfare and that of their families will also be given paramount attention.
He said,“Welfare is not only limited to monetary incentives or promotion, but It also includes effective and realistic training which would save the troops’ lives and avert injuries.
“Welfare includes genuine concerns for the troops well-being, care and maintenance of their facilities and amenities, easing their challenges and hardship, sharing in their pains and joys, interacting with them humanely and with respect in accordance with the Service provisions.
“Welfare as part of effective training would include guiding and mentoring of subordinates, appreciating their strengths and weaknesses, and being firm and fare to them in all circumstances.”
Be Focused, Vigilant, Air Chief Urges Troops
The chief of air staff (CAS), Air Marshal Oladayo Amaoh, has urged troops of the air component Operation Hadarin Daji to remain focused and vigilant as they make concerted efforts towards ridding the entire North West of bandits and their cohorts.
The CAS gave the charge while on operational tour of the Air Component Operation Hadarin Daji (OPHD) in Zamfara State.
In a statement by the director of public relations and information, Air Cdre Edward Gabkwet, Amao said the current onslaught against bandits and their activities had continued to yield the expected outcome, hence the need to remain focused, disciplined and extra vigilant until the security situation improves.
He said, “This is not the time for you to be complacent or assume that we have overcome the enemy. Rather, times like this call for utmost discipline, alertness and extra focus on the task ahead.”
Air Marshal Amao commended the troops for their gallantry, dedication to duty and resolve towards ensuring that the fight against banditry in the North West is brought to a conclusive end.
Earlier, the General Officer Commanding 8 Division of the Nigerian Army, who is also the Joint Task Force Commander of OPHD, Major General U.U. Bassey, had briefed the air chief on the ongoing operations in Zamfara State and the entire North West.
He informed the CAS that the operations had continued to yield the requisite results with bandits’ hideouts being destroyed and decimated.
Maj Gen Bassey lauded the air chief for ensuring that the Air Component as well as the NAF Special Forces were well trained and equipped for deployment to operational areas in the region.
He said the renewed vigour exhibited by both air and ground troops will no doubt be instrumental towards bringing the security situation in Zamfara State and environs to an end.
As part of the visit, the CAS also visited wounded airmen at the Federal Medical Centre and 207 Quick Response Group, Gusau, where he assured them of NAF’s commitment towards their medical treatment and complete recovery.
Ortom Wants Offensive Against Bandits In North Central
Meanwhile, Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has urged the federal government to extend its onslaught against bandits in the North West to the North Central geopolitical region.
Governor Ortom made this call in Makurdi, the state capital, when he received members of the Niger Delta Bishop’s Voice and Minister’s Forum (NDBVAMF) on a courtesy visit.
He stated the raiding of bandits’ hideouts in Zamfara State, one of the North West states, by security agents should be extended to the North Central in order to flush out the bandits for peace to return to the region.
He decried the terrible state of insecurity and corruption in the country under the APC-led administration, saying his commitment is to the peace and unity of Nigeria, and nothing more.
Governor Ortom commended NDBVAMF for its solidarity with the people of Benue State, stressing that as a student of the Bible, he is aware that God’s wrath would visit any leader who took oath by the Bible or Qur’an and goes against its provisions.
Earlier, the national president of NDNVAMF, Archbishop Moses Omonkhuale while urging enemies of Benue to leave the state for good, encouraged Governor Ortom to remain courageous, describing him as “the David of our time.”
UAE Names 6 Nigerians, 32 Others As Terrorists’ Sponsors
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) cabinet has reportedly issued Resolution No 83 of 2021, designating six Nigerians among 38 individuals and 15 entities on its approved list of persons and organisations supporting terrorism.
The resolution underscores the UAE’s commitment to target and dismantle networks that finance terrorism and its related activities.
The resolution demands that regulatory authorities monitor and identify any individuals or entities affiliated with or associated with any financial, commercial or technical relationship and take the necessary measures, according to the laws in force in the country, in less than 24 hours.
Attempts by our correspondent to get confirmation of the reported resolution from the UAE Embassy in Abuja did not bear fruit as the embassy staff did not pick calls and did not respond to text messages sent to them.