Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, remains one daring Senator who is always eager to bare his mind on perceived failings of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
Last week, he introduced a bill – on the floor of the National Assembly (NASS) – that would, among others, see to correcting the perceived mismanagement of sectional diversities in the Nigerian Armed Forces.
His bill faced heated arguments which snowballed into an uproar, forcing the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to call for an emergency closed session.
This, and other stories made the spotlight at the NASS past week.
On March 17, Senator Abaribe, during plenary, presented a bill targeted at restructuring of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
Detailing the import of the bill, the Senator noted that it sought, among others, to fully implement the provisions of Section 219 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended, and ensure that the appointment of Service Chiefs was in line with the federal character principle based on the recommendations of members of the proposed commission.
“The bill seeks to establish the Armed Forces Services Commission to ensure that the composition and appointment of Service Chiefs of Armed Forces of the Federation reflects federal character of Nigeria in the manner prescribed in Section 217 (3) of the 1999 Constitution,” he had said.
Abaribe’s bill appears to be a well-calculated attempt at addressing the many ignored fault lines he has tried to tackle before, especially the perceived lopsided structure the Nigerian military operates.
Indeed, it resurrects the conversation on President Buhari’s glaring neglect of federal character principle as evident in his many appointments.
It would seem that the event that played out against Abaribe was democracy in action.
But as has been argued severally, the move to stifle a debate around the configuration of Nigeria’s military hierarchy only raises further concerns over strong claims that a section of the country wants the statusquo retained in their favour.
How long the suppressed emotions will hold can only be imagined. For the likes of Abaribe, and many other Nigerians who feel the country’s constituent parts are not living harmoniously, the opportunity offered by open debates at the National Assembly may no longer provide expected succour.
Shutting the door against equity and fairness in the appointment to some strategic institutions will only deepen the crisis of confidence in the Nigerian project.
NASS MEMORY LANE
“The past administration normally bribe the members (of the National Assembly) before they brought the budget. That is what the PDP members want; that is what they experienced before. The President (Muhammadu Buhari) is not corrupt, he cannot send us money, that is why they were shouting?”
Answer: See end of post
The House of Representatives’ Committee on Host Communities, on March 17, blamed the agitation by host communities in the oil-producing States, especially in the Niger Delta, on the failure of the Federal Government and oil companies to tackle the problems they were facing.
Speaking at the inaugural meeting of the newly created Committee in Abuja, the Chairman of the Committee, Dumnamene Dekor, said:
“We all are aware of the level of crass deprivation these people have suffered since the discovery of oil in their domain.
“Despite the riches, neither the oil companies nor government has shown a strong will in addressing the common needs of these host communities. The people have felt little or no impact of the government and oil companies who derive their revenue from oil prospecting in this land have yet to show zeal and genuine concern for the welfare of these people.”
The failure of the Federal Government, and oil firms to address the needs of oil-producing communities has been a gruelling story of many decades. And, this is amidst the several publicised projects they claim to have done to make things right between them and the host communities.
More worrisome is the fact that the issue has been aggravated over the years by continuous oil spills which destroy aquatic life, including drinking water.
The disaffection over the stalled Ogoni clean up exercise, flagged off in 2016, presents a clear picture of how disappointed the people of the communities feel.
How much the Dekor Committee will be able to do in the face of a yet-to-be endorsed Petroleum Industry Bill remains a matter of conjecture. Beyond its persuasive interventions, it may be safe to conclude that the environmentally degraded communities of the Niger Delta will continue to pile the pressure on the country’s leadership and raise the bar of agitations.
On March 17, the House of Representatives called on the Federal Government to quickly enforce the installation of fire alerting systems in all buildings across Nigeria to save lives and properties during fire outbreaks.
The Lower Chamber reached this resolution following the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon. Henry Nwauba. “The fire incidence is a recurring phenomenon in Nigeria with cases of fire incidents reported across the nation without any sign of cessation and these outbreaks are caused by many factors which include human negligence,” he said.
He concluded: “Public and private structures, including markets do not have adequate systems in place to curb the menace.”
Nwauba’s motion is one of national emergency, calling for implementation without hesitation. In fact, his motion draws attention to a socio-economic disaster which the Federal Government has not shown enough leadership.
This is as fire outbreaks in public places, especially markets, is fast becoming a normal norm. For instance, on January 19, parts off Shehu Shagari Modern Market in Sokoto State was destroyed by early morning fire. The inferno ravaged shops and goods worth millions of Naira. On March 5, a plastic market in Amobi street, Onitsha, Anambra State was gutted by fire with millions of goods destroyed.
Also, on March 22, it was reported that over 100 shops at the Katsina Central Market, Katsina State, were razed by fire.
These and other fire incidences could have been curbed if a motion like Nwauba’s was already implemented. As it stands, the onus lies on the NASS members to ensure that the Executive does the right thing in pulling Nigeria away from sad tales of fire disasters.
Besides, the National Emergency Management Agency, Federal Fire Service, among others, have to up their game, and restore some sort of confidence in the eyes of Nigerians.
Answer: Gudaji Muhammed Kazaure
Kazaure made the statement, in December 2019, in response to why President Buhari was booed while presenting the 2019 budget at the National Assembly. He represents Kazaure/Roni/Gwiwa/Yankwashi Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives.
By John Chukwu