Senate’s National Emergency Call: Coming Down to Reality

To those who had previously called for the president to be given emergency powers to tackle the country’s security issues, the resolution of the Senate on February 17, 2020, was a pleasant surprise. The Senate asked President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency on security without further delay.

The call was made following a point of order by Senator Sani Musa on the abduction of students and staff of the Government Science Secondary School, Kagara, Niger State. The Senate demanded the implementation of its ad hoc resolution on security, urging a combined team of military and police to set up an operation to destroy criminal camps across the country.

Good enough, the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, and most members of the Senate admitted that the security agencies had challenges with personnel and funds. But what result-oriented deliberations or resolutions has the National Assembly carried out in this regard ever since they had this awareness?

With the Nigerian Military battling with Boko Haram insurgents in the trenches, bandits, and kidnappers advancing into other states, we are now seeing serious thoughts and concerns sandwiched between the blames the Senate had continued to trade over the years.

Politicians and public office holders are already sounding the alarm that Nigeria’s security is in a serious crisis. Some are even suggesting legislation to allow legal possession of firearms for all to tackle this challenge.

Many elites in the country have still not realized that as long as quick fixes are offered as solutions to national problems, things are not likely to change.

Even before now, analysts have assessed the problems and have cited that what is really needed is for the President to receive full emergency powers to comprehensively tackle all challenges.

In his article published a few months ago in The Journal titled, “Buhari Needs Emergency Powers to Tackle Insecurity,” Udu Yakubu captures it succinctly that the situation today is a replica of what happened during the Nigerian civil war over five decades ago.

Prosecuting the war, he stated, was not without huge and frightening challenges to the Federal Government led then by General Gowon.

Nigeria had gone into the Civil War in 1967 with just about 5000 soldiers in its army. However, just before the war came to an end, Nigeria had well over 250,000 men in its national army, all within the space of 30 months of prosecuting a civil war for which it had no previous experience. The government embarked on mass recruitment into the military, and simply overwhelmed Biafra by the sheer number of soldiers who were in the theatre of war. There were federal boots in every available space within recovered territories.

The significant point that must be made and firmly established, Yakubu stressed in his article, is that, in going to war, a nation’s military requires both strategic and programmatic approaches.

After over ten years of engaging insurgency in the country, he noted that the Nigerian president needs full emergency powers that would allow him to deal with these matters decisively.

In pushing hard against the current insurgency and decimating it, Yakubu opines that Nigeria needs to inundate her space with a near-ubiquitous military presence to make the needful statement against the Boko Haram fighters and bandits with boots everywhere the ground.

Yakubu proposed that there should be a timeline for increasing the number of recruits into her military to 400,000 well-trained active personnel within the next six to nine months.

Nigeria would need to actively explore and engage other options in terms of arms procurement, as well as reach out to these countries with technological capabilities to significantly aid the task and processes of finishing the war. The depth and implications of achieving the required critical measures can work effectively in the context of presidential emergency power.

In Yakubu’s words, “Fighting a counter-insurgency war will require a lot of resolve by the government to see the battle to a clear and logical conclusion. This resolve must show how much the country is ready to commit to the fight in terms of funding.

“It is only with funding that the numerical strength of the military, and its weaponry, can be increased to the required levels. But the current financial state of the Nigerian military does not indicate the expected level of readiness”.

The National Assembly would  need to move in promptly to endorse it for maximum effect. It is when the President assumes such emergency powers with the support of the lawmakers then he can pursue a critical military development agenda.

With these salient facts, it becomes obvious that those previous calls for the prompt replacements of the former service chiefs, spearheaded by men of the Red Chambers, were misplaced priorities.

The emphasis should have been on emergency powers for the President and increased funding for the Nigerian Army. In an article in The Guardian titled, “A Case for Better Funding”, a security consultant noted that the funding of the Nigerian Army has been on the front burner, but real funding has only been less than proportionate to the demands of the sort of engagements needed in the current campaign. The consultant noted that lack of adequate equipment caused by deficient funding has largely accounted for the protraction of the war against insurgency and insecurity in the country.

The Nigerian Army itself has always complained about a lack of weaponry. Some soldiers in the trenches have consistently decried that the insurgents wield sophisticated weapons such as Rocket Propelled Guns, automatic rifles, grenades, and other high calibre ammunition. The position has always been that funding is a strong reason behind the inability of the Nigerian Army to live up to its full potentials.

But the Senate, instead of pushing for better funding for the military, alongside providing the necessary parliamentary framework required by the President and the Nigerian Military in the war against insurgency and insecurity was always in the business of questioning the expenditure of the Nigerian Army.

At a point, some were even asking that foreign mercenaries be brought in to help the Army in the fight against insurgency.  Many analysts noted the problems of such quick fixes, and equally cited the dangers. The query was that if there are resources to bring in foreign mercenaries, why not invest such in our own military whose patriotism cannot be questioned, compared to foreigners, who themselves may be fueling the war as commercial warfighters.

In another article published in The Journal titled, “Looking for More Trouble: NE Governors, Mercenaries and the Merchants of insurgency”, it was strongly recommended that lawmakers, political leaders and stakeholders should look inwards to identify what the Nigerian military needs in dealing with the nation’s security challenges. The writer dissected the need to recruit more boots on the ground, deepen the military arsenal and provide a budget that is commensurate with the demands of asymmetrical warfare encountered on the battlefields today.

Read Also: Senate Orders Comprehensive Audit of NNPC, NPA, NIMASA

Nigeria would really need to take her fate into her hands. This should begin with the President and Commander-in-Chief, Muhammadu Buhari, assuming emergency powers that will immediately enable him embark on building up the Armed Forces into a massive and intensely dominating mobile attacking force, that will completely crush every element of insurgency in the country, and make the country a safe haven for every citizen.

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