By Haruna Salami and Tom Okpe
The Senate, security chiefs and key cabinet Ministers are in crucial talks over heightened insecurity in the land.
Invitation to the broad based discussions, initiated by the upper legislative chamber, had been extended to the National Security Adviser (NSA), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and the Minister of Defence, Abubakar Badaru.
Also invited to the meeting are the Minister of State for Defence, Bello Matawalle; Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufai Abubakar; and the Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo.
The Senate had earlier summoned the Chief of Defence Staff, Christopher Musa; Chief of Army Staff, Taoreed Lagbaja; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Hasan Bala Abubakar; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla; Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun; and the Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Magaji Bichi over the matter.
The security chiefs are slated to brief the Senate on the deteriorating security situation in the country on February 13.
The Senate’s invitation was initially extended to the three military service chiefs, Inspector General of Police and the Director General of the DSS who appeared before the lawmakers on Wednesday.
However, the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio announced a shift in date to February 13 to allow participation by heads of other security agencies and some key Ministers.
Also, on Wednesday, the House of Representatives resolved to summon the National Security Adviser (NSA) along with top security chiefs for similar briefing and strategic session.
The House, during its plenary session, expressed concern over the upsurge in banditry and kidnapping within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The House, however, did not give any specific date for the security chiefs to appear before it.
The Reps directed the FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike to install security cameras and other security gadgets around the FCT and equip security personnel with modern security equipment, including drones, to combat the rising and frightening insecurity within the territory and its environs.
Adopting a motion of urgent public importance sponsored by Dominic Okafor (APGA, Anambra), the House asked heads of all security agencies to collaborate among themselves, train and set up special units within their formations to track and clamp down on the criminal elements within and around the territory.
In addition, the House asked the security agencies to immediately commence the use of the National Identification Numbers (NIN) in their technology to trace and curb insecurity across the country.
Moving his motion, Okafor reminded his colleagues that the FCT remains the seat of the federal government from where national policies are formulated.
He also noted the cosmopolitan status of the capital territory with most federal government agencies having their headquarters there.
Okafor said the level of insecurity in the centre of unity in recent times was quite disappointing and unbefitting of a federal capital city.
The Rep member canvassed restructuring as the most appropriate step towards addressing the declining political, economic and security situation in the country.
It would be recalled that top presidency officials on Tuesday began crucial talks over the prevailing economic hardship and high cost of food in the country.
The meeting, which was held at the presidential villa, Abuja, had in attendance the Minister of Finance and coordinating Minister of the economy, Wale Edun; Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Yemi Cardoso; the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu; and the Minister of Information, Mohammed Idris.
Idris, who addressed State House Correspondents shortly after the marathon meeting, said it was an inaugural meeting of a special presidential committee to address the current food shortage in the country.
“This is just the beginning of that meeting. It is going to continue tomorrow and day after tomorrow. The government is very concerned about what Nigerians are going through, especially what happened in Minna yesterday, and therefore government is taking some actions to ensure that Nigerians have some relief in terms of availability of food on the table”, Idris said.
Residents had on Monday stormed the streets in Minna, Niger State and Kano in their numbers protesting against food scarcity and high cost of living.
The Information Minister said the federal government would start unlocking foodstuff, mainly grains, in the National Food Reserve across the country.
“You know that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture has some food reserve. That is going to be made available to Nigerians. The government is also talking to major millers and major commodity traders, to also see what is available in their stores.
“To open them (stores) up, so that government will provide some intervention, discuss with them and provide some intervention to make food available to Nigerians.
“What the government is noticing is that actually there is still food in this country. Some people are taking advantage of the situation especially because of the high cost, the depreciation in the value of our currency that has led to the cost of these food items going up. So all these issues that were discussed”.
The Minister said food scarcity comes with national security implications, adding that President Bola Tinubu acknowledged the fact that government needs to step in to arrest the situation.
“Government will not fold its arms and see the way Nigerians are suffering in terms of the availability of these food items. So I want to plead with you to understand with the government.
“By the time these meetings are concluded, we’ll be able to issue a definite statement on what the position of government is in this regard.
“But all I can say is that discussions are ongoing and very soon a solution is in sight for Nigerians”, Idris said.