The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila has advocated for a more proactive Nigerian military in tune with the prevailing global realities.
The Speaker said the deployment of the military globally has moved beyond conventional responsibilities of physical protection of the territorial integrity of any country against external aggression.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, the Speaker, however, disclosed that the House is already working on a new model of funding the Nigerian military besides the national budget to be able to carry out its responsibilities optimally.
Gbajabiamila spoke in Abuja on Monday while declaring open a two-day capacity building workshop/retreat of the House Committee on Defence in collaboration with Centre for Strategic Research and Studies of the National Defence College and the Policy and Legal Advocacy Center (PLAC).
Citing the deployment of the military against coronavirus (being foreign aggression) in the United States of America (USA) as an instance, the Speaker said foreign or external aggression has assumed a new dimension in global conflict considering the use of technology in modern warfare.
He said Nigeria can no longer afford to be dogmatic about the roles and responsibilities of its military, noting that “Here in Nigeria, we are straight-jacketed with the military. The traditional role of the military as we understand it is, once there’s foreign and external aggression, that is when we deploy the military.
“But then, when we get foreign aggression and external aggression can be simultaneous. So, when we begin to talk about the military and expand the frontiers, rather than being straightjacket, we must consider and remember that in this day and age, this century, foreign attack can come from anywhere. We talk about cyberspace here.
“When we begin to consider the issues on this, I will suggest that what exactly is the definition, or what exactly is a foreign attack. Food for thought”.
According to the Speaker, the House is greatly concerned about the security situation in the country, which was the reason behind its relentless efforts to proffer an enduring solution.
He said: “The challenges of our national security and national defence at this critical time in world history are more diverse and more demanding than they have ever been in our history as a nation.
“We are besieged on all sides: in the north, by insurgents and bandits, in the south by militants and highwaymen. And all of us together, our economy and industry, even our democracy are threatened by the ambitions of those who will wage war on our interests through the skilful abuse of information technology and cyberspace.
“It is perhaps this last threat that promises to alter forever the nature of our existence. As legislators, we are called upon to make national security policy through the passage of legislation, through oversight of national security infrastructure and through the approval of appropriation to fund national security activities.
“We cannot effectively serve in this role unless we make the effort to understand the continually evolving nature of the threats we face and the challenges we must meet”.
In view of this, Gbajabiamila disclosed that beyond words, the House would strive to ensure that the Nigerian military no longer lacks in critical areas as a result of funding challenges.
“The House is already working on another model for funding apart from the budget. Anywhere in the world, you don’t fund either your infrastructure gap, or security matters are not funded simply through the budget.
“It’s time to look for other sources of funding, which we are doing. There’s a Bill in the House already looking at that,” he added.