Military top brass parley with senators
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Security top brass on Thursday told senators the challenges confronting them as they battle to halt the worsening insecurity.
They briefed the Senate during an Executive Session on how they are grappling with lack of adequate equipment and low capacity, sources said.
The closed session which lasted for about four hours, enabled the military and security chiefs to exchange ideas with senators.
Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Lucky Irabor, Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo and Acting Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Alkali Baba Usman attended the session.
Others are the Directors-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) Maj-Gen S.A. Adebayo, and Directorate of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Magaji Bichi.
It was learnt that the CDS briefed the Senate on behalf of the Service chiefs, while the IGP and heads of intelligence agencies elaborated on the internal security crises.
Sources said the capacity problem of the Air Force, which lacked fighting assets until the Buhari government started buying equipment was listed.
The senators were also told that the Air Force lacked trained pilots until the recent acquisition of fighter jets. Training of pilots also recently resumed.
The Air Force is expecting the delivery of Tucano fighter jets ordered by the government in July to boost its operational capacity.
The senators also learnt of the capacity problem the army suffered after former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on assumption of office in 1999, retired all officers who had served in political positions.
It took the army a long time to get out of the effect of this action, because some of the brightest officers who were retired could not transfer their knowledge before exiting service.
The financing of the multi-faceted battles the military is fighting and the lack of funding for the police were also discussed, it was learnt.
Senate spokesman Ajibola Basiru spoke on what transpired when he briefed reporters after the meeting.
Basiru said: “Today (yesterday) the Senate played host to the key leadership of the Nigerian security apparatus.
“The Chief of Defence Staff who led the Service Chiefs, that is, the Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff and the Chief of Air Staff and the Director of Defence Intelligence, the DG of National Intelligence Agency, the Director General of SSS and, of course, the Inspector-General of Police.
“At an executive session, they briefed the Senate comprehensively on the state of security in the country, analysis of the various operations and theatre of activities that they are engaged in, the topography across the six geopolitical zones, the complexities and the challenges that are being faced and ways by which they believe the parliament can work together with the Executive and the heads of security agencies to ensure we rein in the atmosphere of insecurity and ensure a long-lasting peace and security for our country.
“The Senate leadership expressed our gratitude for their forthrightness, for their being very open to us and we are committed to ensuring that all necessary legislative and appropriation support is given to all the relevant agencies as may be subsequently requested. I think that is what transpired in summary at the closed session.”
Basiru added: “We did not talk about money. We did not talk about figure. We had a high-level discussion on general challenges and requirements for us to have an efficient and effective security.
“The details of whatever will go into supplementary appropriation can only be worked upon by the ministry of finance, which is an Executive arm together with our relevant Committee and such are not matters that we will go into details.
“Of course, everybody know that security is a serious matter for which you cannot take with levity when it comes to ensuring appropriate appropriation for that. We are ready to receive supplementary budget.
“We don’t have any doubt that there is synergy among the various security agencies. In fact, from the nature of the briefing that we received, it reassured us as elected representatives of the people that there is indeed a synergy.
“In any event, even the success that has been made which we were apprised of is like security is something you only feel the impact when there are breaches.
“Nobody will give you credit for security situations you have been able to address and attended to. For instance, we have a tremendous status quo report that a lot had gone into stemming the tide of insecurity in Nigeria.
“Perhaps, if not for that synergy and the efforts that have gone in terms of operationalising and putting the Nigerian security organisation, particularly the Air Force in proper shape, perhaps we would have being in a more terrible situation.
“So, the story is about how far we have gone but then there is room for improvement and we are committed to that improvement.
On whether the Senate is satisfied with the plan of the security agencies to ensure security in the country going forward, Basiru said: “After listening to the briefings, I personally became upbeat that a lot of work had gone into addressing the problem of insecurity and from the various perspectives that were brought into the discussion which is very frank, clear and without any form of duplicity, it became very clear that Nigerian security agencies are not only looking at the internal dimension of the challenge we have, we look at all ramifications both in terms of the political context, economic context and international context to the development. There were even perspectives as to what happened recently in Chad.
“So it was a very thorough discussion and I also believe that the forthrightness of the leadership of the security agencies showed the seriousness that they attached to that duties.
“So, I believe that going forward, the confidence has been built between the security chiefs on one hand and the Nigerian parliament on the other hand and that would be a good signal of what we expect in the future.”