Teddy Oscar, Abuja
The National Assembly on Thursday explored two paths in its bid to approve President Goodluck Jonathan’s request for the emergency rule extension in three northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa by another six (6) months.
Recall that Jonathan had on Tuesday April 13, written the Senate and House of Representatives, requesting them to approve the extension of the state of emergency in the Boko Haram ravaged states.
But while the Red Chambers met with the chief of army staff, chief of air staff, chief of naval staff and the inspector general of police on Wednesday, the Green Chambers waited until Thursday to meet with the service chiefs.
Following the meeting, the House voted overwhelmingly for the extension of the emergency rule in the states for another six months, but the Senate resolved to consult with relevant stakeholders before taking decision on President Goodluck Jonathan’s request for the emergency rule.
The House witnessed a robust debate as members argued both for and against the request.
Reacting to the development, Hon. Bukar Lawal, representing Yobe State, maintained his opposition to the extension, despite the overwhelming support for it.
“I have told them there is peace in Yobe State, but they still
voted for the extension of state of emergency,” he said.
But Hon. Pally Oriase from Edo State explained that the House arrived at the position in the interest of the nation and the security of its people.
“After listening to the service chiefs, we were more enlightened, and we had to bend some of our positions to support the extension of the emergency rule by another six months,” he said.
Speaking at the weekly press briefing, Hon. Zakari Mohammed, chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, said that the House, after the session with the service chiefs, agreed to vote unanimously in support of the extension in the interest of stability.
He added that the chiefs promised that within the extended period, all the progress made so far will be crowned, especially with foreign
“We have all the assurances from them that they are on top of the situation. Even though there seem to be some calm in Yobe State, all the affected states are interwoven and if you exempt a particular state, it may become another safe haven for the terrorists. We must give the military some time and re-introduce confidence in
them,” he concluded.
At the Senate some northern senators, who on Wednesday, had vowed to frustrate the proposal, shifted their earlier position, resulting in a sharp division amongst them after brainstorming with the security chiefs.
Highlighting the position of the Senate on the meeting with the security chiefs, the deputy president of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the session, said that the Senate had resolved to embark on more consultations with relevant stakeholders before making a definite decision on the request for emergency rule extension.
Ekweremadu, after the marathon session, noted that the deliberation of the senators with the service chiefs was fruitful and that the discussion was analysed after the security personnel had left.
“The Senate met with the service chiefs, inspector general of police and the DG SSS, and we are fully briefed on the operations of the state of emergency in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa over the last twelve months. Thereafter, when they had left, we analysed our conversation with them and as responsible and patriotic Nigerians, we are looking at it from very diverse angles to ensure that the security in those States improved at the shortest possible time.
“And further to that, we have also agreed to do further consultations with all the necessary stakeholders to ensure that everybody would buy into whatever needs to be done to secure those states and to defeat insurgency in those states. This is exactly what transpired in the closed door session. So by Tuesday we would continue our deliberation on the issue of the state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states,” he stated.
Also, fielding questions from the press after plenary, Senator Smart Adeyemi disclosed that the northern senators had started changing their opinion from their previous position to ensure that the state of emergency was never extended.
“Well I must confess to you that when the service chiefs came and they spoke at length to us, quite a number of people changed their opinion; those who were for and against were shifting from one side of the divide to the order in the sense that there were superior arguments coming for and superior arguments against.
“So, as it is, many of the legislators have not really made up their mind as to whether they are going to support it or not. But what is important is the safety of life and property of people. That is of paramount importance to all of us.
However, Senator Ahmed Lawan, in a seeming pessimistic voice, said that the insurgency in the country would persist, citing examples of other nations that have been battling with insecurity for many decades.
He also insisted that the North was vehemently opposed to the proposed extension of the state of emergency in the affected stated, pointing out that the situation could still be tackled without emergency rule.
“We are against state of emergency. What we require is effectiveness of those who are there and that does not require state of emergency. What we need to do is to ensure that whatever resources are appropriated are utilised properly. The military had conducted very massive operations in Nasarawa, in Benue, in Zamfara and recently in Katsina. Those states were not under a state of emergency before those operations were conducted.
“And let me tell you, insurgency does not end. In Turkey, over 30 years, the PKK, in Colombia over 50 years, the FARC. insurgency doesn’t end. What you need to do is to continue to get the right arms and re-strategize until you get to the situation where people would feel better. And you don’t have to be under state of emergency,” Lawan argued.