Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has assured that efforts would be intensified to secure all parts of the country within the next two months.
Speaking to newsmen after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Monday, he said the government was intent on achieving a more secure and peaceful environment, and reducing the current prevalence of crimes and insecurity.
He assured that the government was doing everything possible to ensure that peace returned before the rainy season set in so that farmers and others could go about their normal lives in a secure environment.
He also stressed the need for political and traditional leadership to play a role in de-escalating the current tension across the country, even as he stressed the right of Nigerians to live peacefully in any part of the country and be protected.
Speaking on why he met the President, Lawan said: “I’ve come to meet with Mr President, to discuss the issue of security of our nation, and in fact, there is nothing more important today or more topical, than the security of Nigeria.
“We had a very extensive discussion on the security of all parts of Nigeria and how we should go about improving the situation, we all have roles to play. Nobody would like to see the kind of things that we experience in various parts of the country in the form of insecurity.
“As political leaders, we have responsibilities to our people and we cannot shy away from that, we have to get our people secured, we have to secure the environment for them to earn their means of livelihood, we’ll like to see our farmers go back to farms before the rainy season starts.
“This means we have to secure the rural parts of Nigeria as well as the urban centres because we need businesses to flourish. So, I believe that between now and probably the next two months, there will be a lot of activities to ensure that we recover and secure the environments for our people to lead a very normal life.”
Lawan noted the plan by the National Economic Council (NEC) to draw funds from the Excess Crude Accounts to fund the further equipment of the Armed Forces.
He assured that the National Assembly would complement the efforts to upgrade the armed forces by helping with the appropriation of the required equipment.
Lawan added: “We also believe that the government is headed in the right direction. You’ll recall that the National Economic Council approved of taking some funds from the Excess Crude Accounts with a view to giving more resources to our armed forces.
“This is a commendable effort and we are ready to help with appropriation to ensure that we acquire those security weapons for the armed forces of this country to end this insecurity in the northeast, in the northwest, in the southeast/South-south and southwest as well.
“We believe that this is also going to help empower and build the capacity of other security agencies like the police because the police need to be there. They’re supposed to maintain the internal security and whenever this the armed forces secure an environment, the police should be there to stay put and make sure there is law and order.”
He admonished the political class and the traditional institution to make deliberate efforts to de-escalate the charged socio-political atmosphere in the country, saying: “recently, there has been a lot of arguments on what should happen and what should not, especially with regards to what political leaders would say or not supposed to say. I want to point out very clearly that Nigerian citizens believe in Nigeria so strongly and that is why you will find an Igbo man, a southeasterner in the remotest parts of northern Nigeria.
“That’s why you will find a Hausa man in faraway South-West or South-East or South-South and probably even marry from those areas. Probably he will sell kola nuts, but he believes that this is Nigeria and he can live peacefully and is living and make a family. You will find a Yoruba man in faraway south eastern or northern Nigeria, maybe even becoming an indigene.
“I was born and brought up in Gashua. Gashua is in Yobe State. The Kalega family and I want to use this as an example of how people can be integrated. The Kalega family lived in Gashua for almost 100 years. We were born to see a family like that. I earned a scholarship from my state, the Kalega family members earned the same scholarship. In fact, they are indigenous Bade local government, my main local government.
“So, we have this Nigerianness in our citizens. As political leaders, we are supposed to ensure that we support this kind of feeling by giving everybody protection; if a Yoruba man, a southwesterner, decides to live in faraway Sokoto, he should be protected.
“If a Hausa man decides to live in faraway Bonny or Port Harcourt, he should be protected, and so on and so forth because this is how we will be able to use our diversity to weave it into a capacity to make Nigeria a big and successful nation.
“So, I believe that we will work throughout both the federal government, the state governments and even the local governments and our traditional rulers will have a role to play in this.”
The senate president also spoke on the status of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), noting that the National Assembly is in alignment with President Buhari’s resolve to sanitise the operations of the Commission.
He added: “We also have discussions on the need to ensure that government functions very well. We have few issues, these are housekeeping issues of getting the NDDC governing board nominations and I agree with Mr President that we have to end the forensic audit to ensure that everything is done properly and the report is submitted to him.
“It is very significant that whoever is found culpable should be treated as such so that that we serve as a lesson and as a deterrent to others because NDDC should have transformed the Niger Delta into a better environment than what it has been.
“NDDC was created by a law of the National Assembly since 2000 or so, and we are talking about how many years now, we are talking about almost two decades. That should have given sufficient time, given the resources that were deployed into the NDDC. So we need to sanitise the NDDC and get the resources fully deployed in developing the area in the Niger Delta.”