Last week, Senator Abba Moro’s sponsored bill for the establishment of Families of Fallen Servicemen Support Fund made progress at the Red Chamber of the National Assembly (NASS).
Moro’s bill is designed to cater for the families of hundreds of Nigerian military personnel who had lost their lives in the over 10-year intense Boko Haram insurgency, including other security threats plaguing the country.
This, and other engaging stories dotted the National Assembly past week.
“We all know that coping with death of loved ones is an enormous load to bear as it sparks traumatic heartbreaks that can lead to feelings of desertion or indignation in addition to deep poignancy,” he had said.
“In the case of families of fallen heroes, it is even more burdensome because, in any such circumstances of the loss of a loved one, a grieving spouse may have the additional responsibility of caring for the children.”
Moro’s bill presents a doorway of offering succour and compensation to bereaved families of Nigerian military personnel. A few instances detail the gruesome passing of some soldiers.
On November 18, 2018, the Islamic State of West Africa, a faction of Boko Haram, were reported to have sent about 100 soldiers to their early graves in an attack at an army base, in Metele, a village in Borno State.
A July 31, 2019, report by Wall Street Journal painted a pitiable description of how the corpses of Nigerian soldiers are sometimes treated. According to the report, corpses of soldiers killed in the insurgency in Borno State are, at times, laid by flashlight into trenches dug by infantrymen or local villagers paid a few dollars per shift.
Whereas in March 2020, Boko Haram extremists were said to have killed at least 50 soldiers during an ambush in Yobe State, on January 9, 2021, reports made the rounds that heavy gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades hit a convoy in Gazagana village, in Yobe State, killing 13 soldiers.
READ ALSO: NASS REPUBLIC: Sponsoring terrorism
Low morale, insufficient men and material, lack of intelligence and sabotage are seen as contributing to the continuous massacre of the Nigerian military.
While Moro’s bill may be deserving of attention, it’s pertinent to query how his initiative addresses the many years of mismanaging monies appropriated for the Nigerian military.
Indeed, should his energy not have been devoted to leading a probe of the now recanted claims of the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, that billions budgeted for the military since 2015 may have been looted by the former service chiefs?
This submission must be treated as the crux of the matter even as Senators consider Abba Moro’s bill.
NASS MEMORY LANE
“As lawmakers, in attracting projects, we can lobby and say that these people need boreholes, need other good things as the dividend of democracy. Throughout my stay in the 8th Senate, and to the best of my knowledge, there was no single time the issue of award of contracts to Senators came up. Both at Plenary, Executive sessions and Committee levels, the award of NDDC Contracts to Senators was never discussed?”
Answer: See end of post
Two other stories
Fixing Nigeria’s health sector
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on March 22, affirmed the need for innovative solutions and collaborations to address the challenges confronting the health sector.
Speaking at the official commissioning ceremony of the Muhammadu Buhari International Conference Centre and Telemedicine Hall at the Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta, Ogun State, the Speaker, among other things, said: “We have in our country today a deficit of healthcare infrastructure and a problem of healthcare cost. There are structural issues relating to healthcare regulation and the distribution of responsibilities across the country’s three governance tiers.
“A shortage of personnel compounded by the inadequate service conditions for medical professionals presents its own unique set of challenges. These problems demand innovative solutions…”
The issues in the Nigerian health sector which Gbajabiamila raised have been around for decades. And, sadly, past and present administrations have not been able to find a lasting solution to them.
More troubling is the fact that even the State Clinic at Aso Rock is not left out of the mess. It could be recalled that on October 9, 2017, the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, had been quoted as saying, “I called the Aso Clinic to find out if they have an X-Ray machine, they say it’s not working. There is a budget for the hospital and if you go there now, you will see a number of constructions going on, but they don’t have a single syringe there.”
Though persuasive, Gbajabiamila’s proposed innovative solutions, which could materialise through a collaborative approach between governments and private sector, can only become celebrated when his ideas manifest in actionable programmes.
What then becomes a thing of concern is whether the Speaker, in collaboration with his NASS colleagues, will pursue their proposals with all deserved vigour.
On March 27, the Deputy-Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, disclosed that he believed his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), would take over the six states of the South-South region in 2023.
He made the disclosure while addressing journalists at the end of the party’s South-South Zone town hall meeting on Constitutional Review in Asaba, Delta.
“The South-South region is growing to become a formidable base of our great party. By the end of the 2023 general elections, it is our aspiration to have in our column, control of all the six States in the region. This is possible and we intend to make it happen,” said Omo-Agege.
Omo-Agege’s dreams may sit well with the larger APC vision of dominating Nigeria’s political space for the next thirty-two years, as declared by its interim National Chairman, Mai Mala Buni.
However, what should give a sense of worry is the dwindling political capital and/or fortune of the party.
Under the party’s leadership, the country has witnessed its worst nightmares as seen in growing banditry, Boko Haram insurgency, farmers-herders’ conflict, unemployment rate, corruption, among others.
Therefore, beyond dreaming big and talking loudly, it might be more appropriate for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to do some introspection and strategize quietly on how to consolidate its hold on power.
The boastful disposition of the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), back in time must serve as a lesson to draw from.
The two years before the 2023 general elections provides an opportunity for them to walk this path.
Answer: Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi
Abdullahi made the statement on August 5, 2020, in an interview with newsmen while clarifying that Senators were never beneficiaries of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), contracts. His statement was not unconnected with the alleged declaration of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, during a probe on the misappropriation of funds in the Commission, that Federal lawmakers received contracts from the NDDC. Abdullahi is the Deputy Chief Whip in the Senate.
By John Chukwu
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