The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has called for joint efforts by government and all Nigerians to overcome the rising insecurity in the country.
He said to achieve this, ethno-religious differences and other factors that often divide Nigerians must be put aside for the urgency of safeguarding the nation.
Gbajabiamila was speaking on Wednesday in Abuja at the opening of a ‘Special Summit on National Security’ organised by the House of Representatives.
The summit, organized as part of the Green Chamber’s response to the country’s security challenges, was to provide a platform for discussions by security stakeholders and other Nigerians in order to make far-reaching recommendations to the Executive arm of government.
Gbajabiamila noted that the country was under attack by insurgents, bandits, kidnappers, and other criminal elements, which called for a united and coordinated security approach to contain.
He said at a time when insecurity threatened the authority of the state and foundations of Nigeria’s nationhood, and when the activities of insurgents, bandits, kidnappers, and other criminals “impede our efforts at progress and prosperity, we must confront the realisation that our previous and current approaches to addressing the challenges of insecurity have not yielded the desired results.”
He stated, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are a nation under attack. Our victory in this present battle depends greatly on our ability to set aside our differences and mobilise in one accord against an impending catastrophe that threatens all of us regardless of language, religion, politics, or status.
“It may well be that it is in the crucible of this battle for survival that we become a nation fully formed. Therefore, we must rise to the moment with passion and perspective.
“We hope for peace and desire its benefits. Yet, neither fervent hope nor heartfelt desire will suffice because the ends of peace require action.”
The speaker added that it would be difficult for the country to attain the peace it desired for development to take place if the present security situation remained unresolved.
“Let us, in this defining moment, work together to pursue the things that make for peace. Let us dedicate ourselves to ending violence, and disorder in our land, and to improving the quality of life for all our nation’s people.
“Let us work together to uphold the honour and glory of Nigeria, and free our nation to be a place of peace and justice forevermore”, Gbajabiamila said.
He explained that the security summit was organized as part of the legislative responsibility of making laws for the good governance of the country.
The speaker noted that achieving this also required citizens’ engagement and participation to get things done the right way for maximum results.
“We have convened this Special Summit on National Security to jointly, as citizens and public servants, find solutions to the problem of insecurity in our country.
“We are here because we know that our national ambitions will not be attained without lasting peace and security. We are here to have honest conversations about where we are, how we got here, and the hard choices we must make to guarantee a secure future for all our nation’s children”, Gbajabiamila added.
The speaker, who thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for supporting the summit, disclosed that the President had assured him that the recommendations of the summit would be given due attention and implementation.
Buhari, who was represented at the event by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, commended the initiative of Mr Speaker and the House in organising the summit, describing it as timely.
The President aligned with the position of Gbajabiamila on how to tackle insecurity, admitting that it remained the “responsibility of all Nigerians in and out of government” to address the challenges.
The President also urged participants to set aside ethnic, political, religious, and other considerations in the national interest to speak frankly on the security challenges and the solutions.
Buhari called on the legislature to use the opportunity provided by the summit to pass more laws to enhance the operations of national security agencies.
The President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, in his goodwill message, urged both the Legislative and Executive arms of government to work more closely together by ensuring that recommendations from sessions such as the summit were implemented.
Lawan, who said the Armed Forces needed improved funding, told the session that the National Assembly was ready at all times to partner security agencies in addressing their operational challenges.
The Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor; the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar; the Ooni of Ife, His Royal Majesty, Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi; the Obi of Obinugwu, His Royal Majesty, Eze (Dr) Cletus Ikechukwu Ilomuanya, among others, also delivered goodwill messages.