For the umpteenth time, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Ali Ndume, has kicked against Nigerian Government’s reintegration of repentant Boko Haram members into the society.
Ndume bared his mind on November 11 when Nigeria’s Army Chief of Policy and Plans, Lt Gen. Lamidi Adeosun, appeared before his Committee to defend their 2021 N27 billion budget.
The Senator had said: “I am in disagreement with the Government on the issue of deradicalising, rehabilitating and reintegrating Boko Haram repentants. I still maintain that. You can’t be resettling people, pampering them while the war is on.”
Ndume’s unapologetic stance speaks to his convictions and principle. For a long-standing member of the country’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), his disapproval of the programme could rightly be tagged as dissent by many of his party-men who are more concerned about feelings of brotherhood.
But Ndume has chosen to speak truth to power. He knows better! Borno State, his homestead is the hotbed of the Boko Haram insurgency, and it could be argued that Ndume isn’t just chasing after popularity but welfare of the majority of his people.
He has held on consistently to his position since 2016 when the government launched the DRR programme under the Operation Safe Corridor of the Nigerian Army.
“Majority of Nigerians are against the way that the Operation Safe Corridor is being conducted. It is wrong to be granting amnesty to repentant terrorists when the war is still far from being over,” he once said.
In February, the federal lawmaker pushed against a bill aimed at creating an agency for repentant insurgents. In September, he stated emphatically that the programme will not bring the required lasting peace in the troubled North-east region. In July, he said the Federal Government should stop rehabilitating the ex-insurgents because they “would never repent.”
Ndume’s determined move to have a government policy reviewed should serve as model on how lawmakers can deliver on one of their primary responsibilities, which is effective and impactful representation of their communities.
Whether a policy reversal comes immediately, later or never, Ndume has thrown a challenge which will, no doubt, continue to reverberate or dominate national discourse as long as the war against insurgency lasts.
NASS MEMORY LANE
“If not for God and this man (Bola Tinubu), even our President (Muhammadu Buhari) will not be there today. Without him, all the governors that have come to power in Lagos and the South-west will not be there. Though he left office in 2007, he has been serving all of us since that date. Help us beg God not to look at his shortcomings, but all the good things he has done to give the position of Nigeria’s presidency in 2023?”
Answer: See end of post
Two other stories
On November 9, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, warned that the country may not escape another #EndSARS protest, if it failed to effectively address the nagging issue of unemployment and take pragmatic steps in its national budget to engage them meaningfully.
Lawan issued the warning while speaking at the 2021 budget defence session of the National Assembly Joint Committee on Agriculture.
“We escaped this #EndSARS protest; any other one may be inescapable,” the Senate President said.
Lawan’s warning emanates from the place of right discernment of the reality of things. First is, perhaps, the realization that there is a growing disappointment with the performance of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The other reason is intrinsically tied to the first, and that is the administration’s failure to strategically engage its youths, leading to mistrust of government intentions. Already, the country literarily sits on the edge with over 27% unemployment rate.
Lawan’s warnings must, therefore, be taken seriously. Rebuilding trust in the Nigerian project and raising the bar of national development are twin issues that must be pursued with plenty vigour and synergy.
The Senate President and his team must realize that their jobs have been cut out, especially in the area of creatively initiating policies that would deal with the country’s sorry stats in Human Development Indices.
The food security agenda, in particular, is one the Buhari-led administration cannot afford to play politics with. If anything, the EndSARS protests were a clear signal that the land is plagued by hunger and anger.
And, like Lawan said, a second eruption of mass protests may tear the country apart irretrievably.
Protecting the judiciary
The Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, on November 10, called for adequate security measures around Judges and Courts across the country to ensure their safety from premeditated attacks.
The Committee made the call when they engaged the Chief Registrars of all the Courts on their N110 billion 2021 budgetary proposals.
The Committee Chairman, Opeyemi Bamidele, said: “Worthy of note is the unfortunate and unwarranted recent attack and vandalisation of the Court of Appeal archive office in the Lagos Division, as well as the Lagos State High Court Complex, located at Igbosere, which was set ablaze by hoodlums.
“This action is highly condemnable and a clarion call for provision of adequate security mechanisms, for the safety of Judges and the Courts, generally.”
Beyond the condemnations, it must be acknowledged that the greatest protection that may ever come the way of the judiciary is the guarantee of independence to exercise its constitutional mandate of interpreting the law and dispensing justice.
Therefore, Nigerian lawmakers must, for all practical purpose, continue to legislate for funding of the judiciary to remain a first line charge in budgets across the nation.
Anything contrary would make the judiciary vulnerable, no matter the number of armed security operatives sent to protect legal officers.
Answer: Senator Olamilekan Solomon Adeola
Senator Adeola – an unrepentant political loyalist of former Lagos State governor, Ahmed Bola Tinubu – made the statement on December 26, 2019, when he hosted Muslim clerics at his home, in Lagos State, to pray for the emergence of Tinubu as Nigeria’s President in 2023. He represents Lagos West Senatorial District in the Red Chambers of the National Assembly.
By John Chukwu…
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