Eyebrows were raised, last Tuesday, when media reports went viral claiming that the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, had called for the decentralization of the Nigerian Army University (NAUB) sited in his constituency, Biu, Borno State.
After the Committee had a public hearing on the establishment of the university, Ndume was quoted to have said: “We will consider recommending the establishment of the Nigerian Army University in all the six geopolitical zones in the country.”
As Ndume’s supposed proposition swept across the country, he turned around and denied making the statement. “I have to distance myself from the statement credited to me in some media platforms that I called for decentralization of NAUB during a public hearing. I never suggested that and I didn’t say so. So don’t mind the mischief-makers,” he stated.
He added that having worked hard and personally sponsored the bill for the establishment of the Army University, in his home town, he could not have called for its decentralization.
It is well within Ndume’s rights to deny whatever statements that might have been credited to him. Knowing Nigerian politicians, and their ways, denials are ingrained in their DNA. In the course of Ndume’s denial, he hinted that it was a certain Senator from Anambra State that suggested the decentralization of the army university.
What, perhaps, cannot be swept under the carpet is the fact that Army Chief, Tukur Buratai, was the unseen hand in the project.
Even as Ndume’s statement takes the colouration of a rumour, it serves as a silent reminder of the recent greedy scramble by Nigeria’s security chiefs to locate military establishments in their backyards.
Critics have, indeed, raised several posers. Why throw money at new military universities when we have the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA) awarding certificates and degrees? And, if the NDA does not have the capacity to absorb more students, why not use the funds for the so-called proposed army varsities to expand and upgrade the NDA to international standard?
It may be too late to complain though as the army university has already been approved by the National Universities Commission with a matching N2bn take-off grant approved by the Federal Executive Council.
Further revelations that the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, had also influenced the location of an Airforce University in his home town, Bauchi, should leave no one in doubt as to the real intentions.
For Tukur and Abubakar, therefore, their actions can best be described as abuse of office!
Ndume’s tale speaks sadly to the country’s faulted developmental thought lines where equity and justice are least regarded in the distribution and allocation of state resources. It is only natural to ask if Nigeria has now become a zone where only the strongest survives?
NASS MEMORY LANE
“Mr. Speaker, I don’t believe in coronavirus and it cannot catch me. Tell me how many people are killed in a single day by armed bandits in Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kaduna and other parts of the North. So what I’m saying is banditry is more dangerous than the coronavirus pandemic?”
Answer: See end of post.
Two other stories
How not to lose $29bn
Last Monday saw the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, raising the alarm over huge sums of money Nigeria loses due to failure of the power sector. He disclosed that the country records an average of $29bn loss each year for not having stable electricity while the N1.7 trillion injected into the sector within the last five years could be termed a waste as no improvement was noticed in power supply.
Lawan made this shocking disclosure while declaring open an investigative public hearing on the ‘Power Sector Recovery Plan and the Impact of COVID-19 pandemic’ in Abuja.
He said: “Some authorities say we lose about $29bn every year because of lack of sufficient and stable power. That is equivalent of what our people are supposed to earn.”
For drawing the attention of Nigerians to the rot in the energy sector, the Senate President’s action falls typically in line with expectations from his office. It would not be the first time that he and his colleagues in the past had mouthed concerns regarding bare-faced mal-administration in the country. Sadly, most have come to nought.
This time, Nigerians expect a radical departure from the past where outcomes from investigative probes have been left to decay in file cabinets.
Will Lawan and his team fish out the individuals and/or group of individuals whose actions have contributed directly or indirectly to the systemic rot over the years?
It would not be enough to raise the alarm but initiating credible and productive action to salvage the already dilapidated state of the sector would suffice.
To do the needful is what Nigerians expect of the Senate.
Gbajabiamila’s deft move
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila is unrelenting in his efforts to weed out the rising cases of sexual and gender-based violence sweeping like hurricane across the country.
In a meeting he held with all the Speakers of the States Houses of Assembly, last week, he charged them to domesticate the Child Rights Act and Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act.
He said: “We called this meeting to see what we can do. It is to also find out from states that have not domesticated these Acts to know what exactly the problems are; what are the issues? How exactly can we collaborate from the federal level, from the House of Representatives, the National Assembly, in helping to domesticate these two laws, taking into consideration the different cultures and communities?”
Gbajabiamila’s move was a fulfillment of his promise to a delegation of 12 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Abuja, June 4, 2020, to engage Speakers of the States House of Assembly on domestication of laws against rape.
The Speaker deserves to be extolled for initiating this move. This is one of the fundamental weapons the country needs to win the war against this societal bane. The aspect of domesticating the law to fit the local context of the various States makes it more appealing and boosts its chances of making meaningful impact in the polity.
The opinion that lack of credible legislations against rape in the country has encouraged rapists to continue their nefarious acts is rife. This is what Gbajabiamila’s legislative strategy is out to correct. The beauty of this move is that State Assemblies would take full cognizance of the socio-cultural differences in their States while making the laws.
Nevertheless, how to engender a stakeholder mentality or a total buy-in should border the Speaker more. He cannot, and must not, take for granted that this project is a walkover. Vigilance must be key to his response.
Answer: Muhammed Gudaji Kazaure
Kazaure is a member of the House of Representatives. He represents Roni/Gwiwa/Yankwashi constituency of Jigawa State. He made the statement on June 17, 2020 while calling on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency redouble its efforts towards tackling the insecurity bedeviling the nation, especially in some parts of the North.
By John Chukwu…