We’ll enact laws to address root causes of insecurity — Speaker Abbas

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The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Tajudeen Abbas, assured Nigerians on Thursday of the 10th Assembly’s resolve to enact legislation to address the root causes of security challenges in Nigeria.

Hon. Abbas, who gave the assurance while declaring open a two-day post-inauguration retreat for members of the House Committee on Defence organised jointly by the Committee and the National Defence College, also pledged his administration’s readiness to strengthen the capacity of Nigeria’s Armed Forces to be able to respond to such challenges.

Speaker Abbas noted that security is one of the priority areas highlighted in the legislative agenda of the 10th House.

He stated that the security of the nation is a collective responsibility and that the legislative arm of government has a critical role to play in ensuring that the Armed Forces and the police are well-equipped and adequately funded to tackle the multiple security challenges facing the country.

He said, “As legislators, we have a critical role in ensuring that the necessary legislative frameworks are in place to support the national security architecture. This includes enacting robust legislation that addresses the root causes of the security challenges.

“We must also strengthen the capacity of our Armed Forces and other security agencies to respond to these complex and ever-evolving challenges effectively. The 10th House will continue to support the efforts of security agencies and actors through adequate funding, the provision of modern equipment, ramping up training, and improving the welfare packages for security personnel.”

Speaker Abbas said the retreat came at the right time, noting that capacity strengthening for legislative committees on security and defence was crucial to maintaining robust oversight and governance within the security sector.

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While commending the leadership of the Committee, chaired by Hon. Babajimi Benson (APC, Lagos), for the foresight in planning the retreat to equip Members to discharge their oversight and lawmaking functions effectively, the Speaker lauded the efforts of the National Defence College partnering the Committee in providing a functional understanding of Nigeria’s national security architecture and other defence-related issues.

He added that “the Legislative Agenda of the House, which I unveiled on Tuesday, November 14, 2023, highlights security and states our commitment to adopting legislative measures to improve national security.

“In furtherance of this commitment, the House is set to commence sectoral debates today at its plenary. The maiden edition of the debates will be on security. All service chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police have been invited to appear before the House to brief Members on their respective agencies’ overall state of affairs.

“The purpose of this is to enable us to understand the progress made so far as well as the challenges requiring legislative intervention,” the Speaker said.

Emphasising the importance of a comprehensive approach to national security, the Speaker explained it should involve a coordinated effort between the Executive, Legislature, and Judiciary with other stakeholders such as civil society organisations, the private sector, and the international community.

He urged members of the Committee to make the best use of the retreat to engage with experts, share ideas, and ask critical questions that would improve their understanding of the defence sector for proper oversight.

“I am confident that with the support of the National Defence College and the collective efforts of all stakeholders, we can create a functional understanding of Nigeria’s national security architecture and higher management of defence-related issues and build a more secure and prosperous future for our country.”

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Speaking at the event, Chairman of the House Committee on Defence, Hon. Benson, said the Committee was concerned about the security challenges in the country.

He said the Committee had continued to interact with the defence establishment with a view to finding lasting solutions to the challenges, noting that they would leverage the knowledge garnered from the retreat to improve funding to the security sector within the available resources.

“I want to reiterate my assurance to Nigerians that we are determined to carry out our legislative functions effectively, efficiently, and in a manner that will ensure the safety of their lives and property.

“Consequently, I have sponsored several bills aimed at revolutionising Nigeria’s defence sector. These bills include the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria Bill, the Nigerian Armed Forces Support Trust Fund (Establishment) Bill, the Defence Research and Development Bureau Bill, the Armed Forces Act (Amendment) Bill to establish a Space Force for the Armed Forces of Nigeria, and many others.”

The Chairman of the Defence Committee said he was optimistic that at the end of the retreat, members would gain useful skills, knowledge, and experiences that they would bring to bear in the performance of their duties in the Committee.

He thanked the Speaker for declaring the retreat open and appreciated the National Defence College for its readiness to develop the capacity of the members of the Committee to efficiently carry out their mandate.

“The House Committee on Defence looks forward to an even more robust partnership with the college as we work towards a peaceful and secure Nigeria,” he said.

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The Commandant of the National Defence College, Rear Admiral Olumuyiwa Morakinyo Olotu, said the College was ready for more partnerships with the Committee in the coming years.

While thanking the Speaker for being personally present to declare the retreat open, the Commandant lauded Speaker Abbas for providing good leadership in the House.

He noted the critical role that the Legislature plays in the democratic journey of every country, especially with regard to security.

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