President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday met with Senate President Ahmad Lawan and House Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila in Aso Rock Villa, and set up a committee to periodically review the security situation in the country.
The federal lawmakers had last week severely criticised the nation’s security chiefs and demanded their sack by the President as the security agencies struggle to contain the spiralling cases of kidnapping, banditry and terrorism in the country.
Fielding questions from State House correspondents after the meeting with the President, Lawan said their demand came up for discussion with the President but was not categorical on the outcome.
According to him: “We have come to discuss with Mr. President on the way forward, what we feel about some of these security challenges and also to ask him what he thinks we should do.
“We discussed everything that matters as far as the issue of security of this country is concerned. We believe that it is imperative that we are able to provide those necessary equipment and welfare for the armed forces of this country and the police, to ensure that they are able to operate and performed efficiently and effectively.
“Mr. President was forthcoming, of course as the leader of this country he is more worried than anybody else about the situation. So we are on the same page that we should be able to do whatever it takes to ensure that the security agencies are able to perform better than they are doing now.”
Specifically asked if changing the security chiefs will solve the insecurity problems, the Senate President replied that “in matters of security, of course as leaders, we are supposed to lead but when it concerns security every single citizen matters in this. So it is for all of us, citizens and leaders to ensure that we are playing our part as it is necessary.
“But I believe that how the time has come, we have reached a tipping point that everybody in Nigeria is concerned about the security situation, therefore we are all prepared and that is why we have come to meet with Mr. President as leaders of National Assembly on behalf of our colleagues, to discuss the way forward.”
On his part, Speaker Gbajabiamila explained to newsmen that the committee, which membership he declined to name, would include representatives of the Executive, Legislature and the ruling party.
He declined to name members of the Committee, but explained that it would help proffer lasting solutions to the entire security structure in the country, as it is believed that something drastic needed to be done under the present situation.
Apparently deviating from an earlier resolution of the House of Representatives, Gbajabiamla declared that removing the service chiefs might not entirely address the crippling security situation in the country.
Gbajabiamila said that “opinions are divided; the generality of the opinion is that the service chiefs should go, that was evident in our debates in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, bus sometimes you don’t want a knee-jerk reaction.
“Many of us identify that something drastic has to be done, there’s also the school of thought that says since we are talking about banditry, kidnapping and murders, what have the armed forces got to do with that, anywhere in the world?
“So the question then arises that if he changes the service chiefs, does that address the issues of kidnapping and banditry? The army, navy and air force are outfits set up to tackle external aggression. It is the police that is set up
for internal security, such as we are all witnessing.
“That’s talking about service chiefs, has the Inspector-General of Police met up with his responsibilities? The question is if we now narrow it that to the Inspector General to Police, many will argue that he has done a very good job and many will argue with you that he’s hamstrung, straight-jacketed, there’s very little he can do in the face of no equipment, no funding. And we explained to Mr. President that we have to increase funding, we have to recruit more.
“Just right now we have gone on to set up a committee that will periodically review the issue of security, maybe once a month or once in six weeks, which will involve the two arms of government and the party.
“Major progress was made in this discussion, which is a meeting that lasted over an hour and I believe Nigerians will begin to see traction, they’ll begin to see changes. You can be sure that concrete steps are taken in that direction.”