The National Assembly appears to be at the end of its tether over the poor handling of national security by the executive of government and the continued spurning of its resolutions. In an interview on Thursday’s edition of Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily monitored by TELL, Dachung Musa Bagos (PDP), representing Jos South/East Federal Constituency of Plateau State in the House of Representatives, warned that its proposed security summit would be the “last shot” for the president. Bagos, Deputy Chairman, Anti-Corruption Committee, and Member, National Security and Intelligence Committee of the House, raised the red flag to President Muhammadu Buhari warning of dire consequences should he “thrash” the resolutions of the summit like he had done in the past.
According to Bagos, “… after this last resort of this summit, if nothing is done, brainstorming, spending resources to bring out solutions…and the executive did not do anything after some months of it, then definitely we call for the resignation of the president”.
The federal law maker lamented that “If the executive had implemented 30%, just 30% of the resolutions and advice the National Assembly had been giving the executive, I can assure you, we couldn’t have reached this level”. Excerpts.
The House has been quite concerned in recent times. It has asked the president to declare a state of emergency in security in the country. It would seem that that was arrived at unanimously..
And right now we hear that you have inaugurated a 40-member security committee. Give us the specifics of what the committee is supposed to do.
Serious as the matter and the issue look like, what the House has just resolved in doing, just like the first line of our national anthem – Arise oh compatriots – and the 360 members of the House of Reps represent the entire Nigeria. And looking at the peculiarity of insecurity in the country, and looking at issues that have been happening, there is no member that has not been affected directly or indirectly as a result of the insecurity in the country. . In my constituency, I can count how many on a daily basis, pockets of killings; and you find a lot of members like that. So, if we don’t rise now to the challenge to look at how the issues would be brought to the table, there won’t be a National Assembly again tomorrow.
And state of emergency – some people have been conflicting the word state of emergency with may be there won’t be democratic structures, but far from it. State of emergency on insecurity, meaning giving the president leeway to look at where, just like you have a rat in your room and every night, you can’t sleep; today you hear a sound here, tomorrow. What can we do to be able to address that? It’s just like a blank cheque that the National Assembly has given the presidency and the executive that look, what do you have? Bring it to the table; we are ready to approve as long as you will solve the issue of insecurity. And that is what we referred to as state of emergency.
And coming to the committee as well, the committee, in the wisdom of the speaker, there is no day on the floor of the House that you don’t have matters of urgent public importance in terms of insecurity from one member or the other. And we say look, let’s all come together and proffer solution because for the past two years on the floor of that House, resolutions upon resolutions; resolutions upon resolutions to the executive. And we looked at it; if the executive had implemented 30%, just 30% of the resolutions and advice the National Assembly had been giving the executive, I can assure you, we couldn’t have reached this level.
But it has been to me, they looked at it with a kid glove in the sense that it’s not our problem; it’s the problem of opposition. But now that insecurity has risen to be bipartisan, it’s no longer looking at who is PDP, who is APC and so on and so forth. And the essence of that committee that Mr. Speaker inaugurated yesterday is that look, let’s look at the issues very well; and not just looking at the issues, we’re going to have a security summit, bring the executive to the table, tell us how can we solve this problem once and for all. And we are trying to change the narrative. Yes, there had been executive summits, security summits, not once, not twice, but this time around, we want to look at the executive; what is your problem? Why can’t you solve this problem because to us, if we have the executive powers to be able to do this, we will?
But looking at political will; and I want to look at the political will in two ways ; we have the legislative will. Under the political will, we have the legislative will, the executive will, and the judiciary will. And the legislative will, it’s been there; the parliamentarians’ will is there that look, we are ready. The executive, are they ready? What level? How have they been able to take this to what level? Who is now in prison for the past how many years because of terrorism? Who has been arrested? And that is why if you look at our resolution, we said look, the executive should be able to look at those issues. The judiciary, all the cases that have been in court that have to do with kidnapping, that have to do with terrorism, who is now in jail?
People would say watching what the House has done, that they can see that they’ve taken this matter up very seriously. You are also planning a summit which is one of the things that the 40-man committee is also set up to do. It’s not the first summit that would be organized. In the eighth Assembly, the senate was very worried enough about security that it organises it’s own summit. And you rightly pointed out the fact that in this Assembly alone, in the last two years, you’ve had resolutions upon resolutions and that if they were to implement 30% of what you have recommended, perhaps we would not be here. It would seem that the executive is derelict in its duty. Is that correct?
I quite agree with you. But let me tell you something. With discussions amongst members, and if the executive would not take what would come out of this summit very seriously, I can assure you that as parliamentarians, and as representatives of the people which means we no longer have role if we don’t call for the recsignation of the president because this will be like the last resort. This summit between us and the executive, let’s come to the table, let’s look at the issues, and these are the issues, we are now giving you a blank cheque on state of emergency on insecurity. Whatsoever you want, bring it to the table; we have given you this and this is the summit we are organising, brainstorming, bringing in experts from all over the country, all over the world. We, alongside the executive, we now give you that blueprint and you don’t execute, which means you are not capable.
The impression out there from Nigerians given the way the leadership of the National Assembly came on board is that they don’t see them speaking “truth to power” to the extent that they would hit the nail on the head having seen the way the country is headed. One wonders, what is the point of setting up this security committee? Is it going to stop the herders from killing people? Is it going to address the security architecture which, if you check the dailies today, the South-south and South-west governors appear to be speaking in one voice saying the current security architecture is of no use? So, what is that committee going to achieve?
Well, I understand the plight of Nigerians which is the concern of every one of us. But this committee, this time around, it’s going to be like the last hit and which, like I said earlier, bringing everything to the table. What options do we have because we have discussed this not once, not twice on the floor, and especially during the executive session which was one of the longest executive sessions that we’ve ever had in the House; that if we don’t do this now, there won’t be a House of Reps again. And so, the committee will look at all options; the committee will look towards organising a summit, bringing everybody together. And unfortunately, let me say that the National Assembly, our role is to advise, and at the same time to make laws. But we always have a last resort and which most of us members, without fear or favour, would say it any time, any day, that look, after this last resort of this summit, if nothing is done, brainstorming, spending resources to bring out solutions…and the executive did not do anything after some months of it, then definitely we call for the resignation of the president.
We have the power to impeach the president that he cannot do this; he can no longer secure lives and property of Nigerians. So, this is just like a last resort and we are taking it very, very seriously. We know the discussion we have to take to be able to come to the issue of having this summit; we know how members were talked to, to be able to understand that look, okay, this summit that we want to have, let it be like a last shot to the executive. But sincerely, we can assure Nigerians that with the resolutions that will come out of this summit, if the executive did not take this summit very seriously and want to thrash it just like other summits, the National Assembly will hit the gavel – Mr. President, give way to who will come and implement the recommendations because we cannot continue to sit like this when people are being killed on a daily basis. Somebody must be responsible for something at the end of the day.
Time has come that we would no longer sit and sweep things under the carpet, or to be hiding behind the curtains. Time has come that we must see things eye-to-an-eye because now, looking at the threats around the country, looking at how infrastructure of Nigeria is being captured, just like the governor of Niger has talked about Shiroro, and people don’t understand how critical Shiroro is to Nigeria where you have the Dam, where you have electricity. These people are going and capturing infrastructure that gives life to Nigeria. And I said this like in 2018 that look, check the demography of where these people are capturing; and if you go to Plateau State, you will see the demography of where lands have been grabbed; they are all riverrine areas, which means they are looking and capturing areas that would be able to give them land so that they will be able to snuff people out of life.
God forbid tomorrow you find them around airport axis, which means they are going towards the airport; and once the airport is captured, the tower is captured, we are no longer there. Tomorrow, if Radio House is captured…they are strategic in doing their thing. Why can’t we too be strategic? So, this is the last resort that we are trying to put up towards the summit and I can assure you that after this summit, if nothing is done, definitely, you would see the gavel from the National Assembly.
We have also heard a senator speaking about the option of impeachment as you referenced. That would be moving from one crisis to the other. So, given the way the National Assembly is presently constituted, many don’t ever see them being on the same page on the subject matter. We’ve been through this before such that those who suggested it the last time got the backlash. What makes you think that this time around, there would be any difference?
There is nothing wrong in giving what would give you a solution a trial. And once the executive sees that the people in the same party are now talking that look, if you don’t have the solution you should go, definitely they would sit up. And I’ll advise the ruling party that look, what were those points – bullet points- that they promised Nigeria and Nigerians in terms of insecurity from 2015. Go back to your drawing board to look at those issues that you think that the former administration was not doing and you were able to convince Nigerians. When you are talking of national security, you’re not just looking at security that has to do with banditry and so on; the security that has to do with the economy is there where what level are we.
So, they should be able to go back to the drawing board. What is item one, two, three, four that you promised Nigerians in 2014 and you were able to get this mandate? And if it’s so overwhelming to you, then you look for options. And who are these people giving us these problems? Look, we have been able to identify to some certain level, that we have people coming in from the neighbouring countries. Yes, we do know we still have banditry within us as Nigerians. I am happy that the president has sought for the help of United States and now they are talking of China. But when you look at international relations, when you are in an environment, and the neighbours you have, their houses are not being attacked as your own house, who will you resort to? You will ask your neighbours what have they been able to do to solve their problems.
We always look at Chad, Benin and Togo, and all those people as our neighbours. But to me, France is our neighbuor. France controls most of these countries. Have we sat down with France, because France controls the entire neighbourhood; France controls even the Gulf of Guinea. Have we sat down to discuss some of those issues with some of these countries around? Yes, we have now reached out to US, we are now trying to reach out to China, but I think we should bring France to the table as well because we allowed such issues, and we are now looking at who can supply us with mercenaries to solve our problems. To me, I have not seen countries that mercenaries come in and they go. Once mercenaries come in, they live in your country and start giving you other issues.
Do you think we’ve done enough locally first before seeking external help? People believe we need to be careful the way we approach all these countries, even France…so that at the end of the day, Nigeria will not start taking loans from France.
Well, locally, I don’t think we have done much; but at the same time, it’s not out of place to reach out to international communities. Reaching out to international communities on advisory and support, not for them to come and take charge. Locally, we have been talking that look, if policing reached to the state, local and community policing, we would be able to have a way out. But if we just sit down and say that okay we are reaching out to the international community, not because of loans; some of us still stand against some of these loans that we collect from other countries… But when you now look at people that have military might to be able to see how you can be able to discuss with them, come to the table to help you address some of these issues, even if it means accessing their satellite, because they see everything that is happening within the country and within their borders. If we reach out to France about accessing their satellite, it’s going to go a long way because we don’t have the technical know-how to be able to address some of these issues.
And when you are now looking at insecurity as just an issue that is fire power by fire power, then we have not gone anywhere. What are those equipment that we have; what are the drones that we have? Just unfortunately that the Air Force went and now bombed soldiers; it shows that technology was not in place. They just saw people and you thought that those people were insurgents, and you bombed another security outfit. To me, reaching out to some of these countries has to do with technology because they have the technological know-how to be able to address some of these issues.
Two other suggestions have been made. Some have come from governors. This is in line with the constitution which says defend yourselves. They are saying that let citizens be allowed to carry weapons. They’ve also asked for state police. Would these suggestions be brought up at the conference which you are planning?
A lot of suggestions would be brought up. And even from our executive session, part of our resolution, if you check, is that all the House committees that have to do with insecurity should audit our armoury. What we have approved so far; and approval is not about resources. We have straitjacket approvals that have to do with the law. There are some issues that before you carry out some things, the law must be amended. So, there are areas that the laws must be amended to be able to address some of these issues. A satellite cannot just come and be mounted in a certain area without amending some areas of the law like NBC; we just amended the NBC law last week to be able to address some of these issues.
Some people would say maybe it’s not a conference that we need. Maybe an investigative hearing, the same way the House investigated what happened with subsidy issue. Sadly, it didn’t end well…Is it possible to beam a light on what has been happening in the security sector?
We gave the chairmen of all the security committees in the House four weeks to check all these things and to report back to the House because part of their own resolutions will still form part of the security summit. And to disagree with you a little bit that we don’t need a summit, this ninth Assembly with the crop of young, intelligent representatives that are so passionate and patriotic in what is happening need to bring in new ideas to the security agencies. If you see the ideas that most of the House of Reps members have in terms of insecurity; information that they have in terms of insecurity, you will be so surprised. And if the security agencies are out of ideas, let’s bring these ideas together and take them to the table.
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