The question is this: After the rage expressed by the lawmakers and the resolutions, what next?
In the last couple of days, there have been anger across the country over the killings of some officers and men of the Nigerian Army in Borno State by insurgents, who attacked the military base in Metele on November 18. The social media has also been awash with pathetic tales of how the insurgents wrecked havoc at the military base.
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Expectedly, the Melete killings was the major discourse on the floor of the House of Representatives penultimate Tuesday. The Deputy Minority Leader, Chukwuka Onyema had drawn the attention of the House to the issue in a motion sponsored under matters of urgent public importance. While condemning the killings, Onyema said that, in the last one year, no fewer than 600 soldiers have been killed by insurgents in Borno State, especially around the fringes of Lake Chad.
The motion opened the floodgate of lamentations, as lawmakers took turn to decry the menace of the Boko Haram insurgents, and how the war against it is being prosecuted by the executive arm of government.
The consensus among the parliamentarians was that needless death of officers and men of the armed forces in hands of the insurgents was unacceptable. And that it is imperative for the House to ask questions about how funds so far appropriated for the prosecution of the war against insurgency in the country have been utilised. The pathetic tales from Borno, no doubt, has brought to the fore once again the deplorable security situation in the country. However, the question is this: After the rage expressed by the lawmakers and the resolutions, what next?
This is not the first time the House would be taking far reaching resolutions about the state of insecurity in the country. What have we got from such resolutions? Nothing. If the past resolutions have been effective, probably, things would have been different in the country today, security wise.
Recall that in February, the House passed a vote of no confidence on the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris over his inability to contain the activities of killer herdsmen in Benue State and other parts of the country. On April 25, the Green Chamber passed another resolution demanding the resignation of the service chiefs, and to suspend plenary for three legislative days in protest over the deplorable security situation in the country. On that same day, the House resolved to invite President Muhammadu Buhari to address lawmakers on what the government is doing to improve the security of lives and property in the country. Seven months after, nothing has come out of those resolutions.
Ordinarily, the kind of anger lawmakers usually display whenever security related motions are brought before the House should spur action. But what do we see? Impotent rage. Many times, one wonders if our lawmakers are serious about all the indignation they express about the spate of insecurity in the country or they are just playing to the gallery.
It is high time our lawmakers stopped talking and start acting. The Metele killings should serve as a wake-up call to the parliamentarians as the representatives of the people. I know that as it is usual with our politicians, some people may want to make political gains out of these issues. However, this is not the time for unnecessary politicking, as insurgency does not discriminate. It neither knows party nor ethnic affiliations.
It is not enough for the lawmakers to say the President and the service chiefs have failed. The House should equally be humble to admit that it has equally failed in its duties to people, especially in the area of effectively oversighting the security agencies. If it is true that the troops are ill equipped, what has the relevant security committee done about it? If it is true that troops in the battle front are not well catered for and that they don’t get their dues, what has the parliament done about it? How many times have the relevant House committees visited the troops in the frontline to interact with them, and get first hand information on the state of affairs? Therefore, as the House begins the probe of the utilisation of the funds appropriated for the fight against insurgency, the parliament should be humble enough to beam the searchlight on itself, too. It must do all within its power to ensure that the men and women, who stay awake under very harsh conditions, so that we can all sleep are not unnecessarily put in harms way. In Igbo land, it is said that whoever sends a child to catch a shrew, must provide him water to wash his hands.
Our soldiers have been sent to catch the shrew and the parliament must ensure that the water they need to wash their hands is not lacking. As it goes about with its inquest on what happened in Metele a fortnight ago, and how the military budgets were utilised, the Green chamber must show keen interest in the face-off between members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) (aka Shittes) and the security agencies. The water must be baled now that it is still at ankle level.
Besides, the House must not lose sight of other security challenges confronting the country. For these are indeed perilous times as far as security is concerned in our dear country. Like Honourable Nnenna Elendu Ukeje rightly stated on the floor of the House on Tuesday, our backs are currently against the wall. And we must fight back.
No part of the country is safe. From the North to the South, no path of the country is safe. In the North East, it is insurgency while the people of the North West can no longer sleep with two eyes closed. Also, because of the activities of armed bandits, the North Central and the three geo-political zones in the South are groaning under the yoke of ruinous herdsmen, who are on rampage across the country.
Across the length and breadth of the country, kidnapping for ransom has become the order of the day. No one feels safe any more. It is time for the government to declare a state of emergency on security in the country.