The pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) are three notable socio-cultural groups that have backed the moves by the two chambers of Nigeria’s National Assembly to ensure that the executive takes immediate steps to address the rising wave of insecurity in the country.
They supported the House of Representatives’ motion inviting President Muhammadu Buhari to explain what his administration is doing to combat the worsening insecurity in the country.
They also endorsed the call by the Senate for the removal of the service chiefs.
In addition, the NEF demanded the resignation of Buhari following what it described as the mounting security challenges in the country.
While the House, after an hour of heated deliberations on Tuesday, resolved to invite Buhari to appear before it over the security situation in the country, the Senate asked the president to relieve all the service chiefs of their appointments over the rising wave of insecurity.
Also on Tuesday, the governors of North-eastern states threw their weight behind the call by their Borno State colleague, Prof. BabaganaZulum, on the federal government, to hire mercenaries to fight Boko Haram in the region.
But Vice President Yemi Osinbajo expressed the federal government’s commitment to finding a new approach to combating insecurity, saying it will review conventional ways of handling security challenges in the country.
Reacting to the positions of the National Assembly, Afenifere’s spokesman, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, told THISDAY that the latest step by the federal legislature to combat insecurity is heart-warming.
“It is heart-warming to see both chambers rising up for the country in the midst of the total collapse of security with lamentations being the only thing we hear from the presidency. The country needs a Commander-in-Chief desperately as there is lack of a functional one at the moment,” he said.
The Executive Director of CISLAC, Mr. Auwal Rafsanjani, supported the move by the lawmakers to invite Buhari, saying that the president must rise up to take over the communication with Nigerians.
Rafsanjani said if the executive had taken action on the various resolutions by the National Assembly, especially demanding the change of the service chiefs, the lawmakers would not have had any reason to summon the president.
He said: ”In other countries where democracy works, the president regularly communicates with the citizens but in our own case, some people are making it impossible for the president to be visible and communicate with the citizens.
“So, I am not surprised that the National Assembly wants to invite the president to explain what’s going on within the security challenges that we are facing.
“The North-east and North-west have become a no-go area in terms of insecurity. All that the aides to the president will come and do is to attack the citizens that are victims of insecurity.
”That’s why the president must rise up to take over the communication with Nigerians. His aides are not communicating very well with citizens rather they are causing more harm. The president should be communicating with Nigerians, not through his aides.”
NEF demanded the resignation of the president over his inability to tackle the mounting security challenges.
It also expressed outrage over the massacre of Borno rice farmers, saying life has no value under the Buhari administration.
The Director of Publicity and Advocacy of the forum, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in a statement on Tuesday, also described the response by a presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, that the slain farmers did not get security clearance from the military before going to the farm as ‘most insensitive.’
NEF accused Buhari of ignoring its advice and concerns raised by many other Nigerians.
It said: “These particular killings have been greeted by the most insensitive response by spokespersons of the president. The lame excuse that farmers had not sought permission from the military to harvest produce merely exposes the misleading claims that our military had secured vast territories from the insurgency.
“Under this administration, life has lost its value and more and more citizens are coming under the influence of criminals. We do not see any evidence of a willingness on the part of President Buhari to honour his oath to provide security over Nigerians.
“In civilised nations, leaders who fail so spectacularly to provide security will do the honourable thing and resign.”
Moving a motion, on behalf of other 10 Borno State lawmakers, to summon Buhari, at the plenary, Hon. Satomi Ahmed prayed that the president, to amongst other things, declare a state of emergency on security matters.
Ahmed lamented that the attackers tied up agricultural labourers working in the rice field and slit their throats.
He said the exact number of people killed in the incident is not yet known as over 44 bodies were recovered and buried with six others with serious injuries and many more residents are reported missing.
But Hon. AhmaduJaha, one of the co-sponsors of the motion, raised a point of order that a prayer was omitted.
Jaha said in the original motion, all the sponsors agreed that Buhari should be invited to brief the House on the state of security in the country.
He stated that this prayer was removed, adding that he was shocked by the removal.
While his observation got overwhelming support from other lawmakers, the Speaker of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, and the Majority Leader, Hon. Ado Doguwa, said it was not necessary as security issues can’t be discussed openly.
They pleaded for the understanding of their colleagues and urged them not to summon the president.
Gbajabiamila said inviting the president to the floor may not be the best way to go as there are other ways to engage Buhari.
Doguwa said every member of the House was in support of the motion, but that security issues should not be discussed in the open.
With their submissions, the House became very rowdy as the majority of the lawmakers insisted that the president must come to address them on the security situation in the country.
Gbajabiamila, in an attempt to calm the rowdy session, ruled that plenary be suspended for members to go into an executive session to resolve the matter.
Reconvening after an hour from the closed-door meeting, Jaha, who had earlier insisted on the invitation as the key prayer of the motion, was asked to formally move the motion for the president’s appearance.
The House, however, did not specify the day or time of the president’s appearance.