A bill to amend the Constitution to allow the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to become members of the National Security Council (NSC) has passed the second reading at the House of Representatives.
The bill sponsored by Mr Olusegun Odebunmi, which passed second reading at the plenary on Wednesday, is seeking to amend Section 25, Part 1 (K) of the Third Schedule of the constitution which lists members of the council as including “(a) the President who shall be the Chairman; (b) the Vice-President who shall be the Deputy Chairman; (c) the Chief of Defence Staff; (d) the Minister of the Government of the Federation charged with the responsibility for internal affairs.
“(e) the Minister of the Government of the Federation charged responsibility for Defence; (f) the Minister of the Government of the Federation charged with the responsibility for Foreign Affairs; (g) the National Security Adviser; (h) the lnspector-General of Police; and (i) such other persons as the President may in his discretion appoint.”
According to Odebunmi, who led the debate on the bill, the only difference between democracy and any other form of government is the legislature, noting that among the functions of the legislature is to make laws for good governance of the country, while good governance has security of life and property as one of its determinants.
“Information, they say is power, hence the parliament needs to be well informed in the area of security. That is why this bill is seeking to amend the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) to include the presiding officers of the National Assembly, that is the Senate President and the Speaker of House of Representatives in the composition of the National Security Council.
“The essence is for the parliament to be well informed and for it to be well guided in making laws that affect the area of security, in line with what is practically realisable.
“This is practically not an attempt to infuse legislature into the executive’s responsibilities in the spirit of the principle of separation of powers. It is rather an attempt to put the legislative arm of government in such a position that it will, through its leadership, be well informed to be able to guide legislative activities in the direction that conforms with what is either happening or been planned for in the security circle.
“It will also encourage executive-legislative collaboration to collectively secure Nigeria and Nigerians as well as preventing the two arms from working at cross purposes. This is important due to the sensitive nature of security issues to our nation now and beyond”, Odebunmi said.