By Aaron Ossai
Worried by rising cases of violent crimes across the country, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has lamented that the current security challenges are a threat to the foundations of the country’s nationhood.
Gbajabiamila, however, noted that the Nigerian Government has responded to the challenges by taking certain measures such as increasing funding for the police and the military and recruiting personnel for security agencies, among others.
The Speaker said this in a paper he delivered at the School of Oriental Studies London on Wednesday, which was titled ‘Democracy in Challenging Times: The Role of African Parliaments in Safeguarding and Delivering on the Dividends of Democracy,’ as part of his ongoing official visit to the United Kingdom.
A statement issued on Thursday by the Special Adviser to the Speaker on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, titled ‘Insecurity Threatens Nigeria’s Foundations of Nationhood – Gbajabiamila said African Parliaments Working Together Through CoSAP,’ quoted Gbajabiamila to have pointed out that “the most pressing of these challenges today is the national security crisis that threatens the foundations of our nationhood and portends great danger for Africa and the world if it persists.”
“First, to address present challenges and then to build resilient institutions that can withstand uncertainty in troubled times, more than anything else, our focus must remain on the young and vibrant youth of Nigeria and Africa who have so much to offer the world and who have proven that they can thrive under challenging circumstances given half a chance. However, we cannot do this for as long as our present national security challenges persist.
“The government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has responded to the reality of our present challenges by increasing funding provisions for the police and armed forces, accelerating recruitment and training to put more boots on the ground, and also acquiring weapons systems designed to give the security agencies an advantage”, he said.
The Speaker said after the 9th House resumed, “the scope of our challenges was evident, matched only by our confidence that we would do what was required to overcome those difficulties and deliver the dividends of democracy for our people.”
He added, “For me and the House, we understood that the best dividend of democracy is a just society, where individual rights are recognised and respected where citizens have the freedom to dream big dreams and the social resources and infrastructure to achieve those dreams.”
Gbajabiamila also said with the support of his other colleagues across the African continent, “I convened the first Conference of Speakers of African Parliaments as a platform for continental parliamentary cooperation and coordination that will allow us to try to change this dynamic.
“Already, the conference is participating in a broad partnership to renegotiate the terms of our national debts and free up much-needed resources for development whilst committing to a new regime of responsible administration of public resources.”
The Speaker said the Nigerian House of Representatives would this year host the inaugural in-person meeting of CoSAP to establish a framework of action to ensure the achievement of the objectives that motivated this unique partnership.