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More men, arms for military to battle insecurity, says VP
Bolaji Ogundele, Abuja
MORE men and arms are to be injected into the armed forces.
There will also be increased surveillance and funding, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said on Monday.
Besides, the armed forces will collaborate with local vigilante to enhance security.
Osinbajo spoke on Monday in the wake of Sunday’s “Prayer Walk” by Christians in protest against killings and upsurge of insecurity in the country.
The “Prayer Walk” called by Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) was led in Lagos by General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) Pastor Enoch Adeboye.
Thousands of RCCG parishes nationwide participated after a prayer for the nation by Adeboye during the thanksgiving service, beamed live to all parishes of the church.
On Monday, there were many instances of security breaches across the country. (See box).
Osinbajo, who spoke during the visit to the Villa, of clergymen under the auspices of Arewa Pastors Forum for Peace, was quoted by his spokesman Laolu Akande, as assuring Christians that the Federal Government was “handling security well”.
The Vice President said: “We are doing everything that needs to be done.
“We are handling security well, and as you know, including military deployment in diverse fields, like the Boko Haram in the Northeast.
“In fact, we have to now recruit more into the army, and much faster than we ever did because we need men on the ground; resources also – to buy more arms, to buy more platforms.
“At the last meeting of the National Security Council that was held on Thursday, we had discussions on how to beef up the military’s platforms. How do we beef up the numbers? How do we recruit more men and women into the army? How do we collaborate more with local vigilante, the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) and all that,”
“So, there is a lot going on in terms of trying to beef up security. The security situation is one that is very challenging. We are also looking at aspects of surveillance – how we can do more aerial surveillance using drones and electronic devices to improve surveillance”.
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Prof. Osinbajo assured the clergymen that the Federal Government is also committed to finding lasting solutions to the perennial crisis in communities in the North and other parts of the country, including the ones bothering on religious prejudices.
He urged the group as ‘Men of God,” to also come up with ideas and their thoughts on how to find lasting peace.
President of the Forum, Bishop Mbayo Japhet, said the group’s visit to the Presidential Villa was to support the administration and the vice president. They described him as an apostle of peace.
Also on Monday, President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the National Assembly agreed on a better funding of the police to properly carry out its duties as the statutory body in charge of internal security.
The decision was taken after a meeting at the Aso Villa on Monay.
President Buhari met with Senate President Ahmed Lawan and House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila for over one hour.
The meeting was sequel to the anger shown by federal lawmakers last week during plenary on the state of the nation’s security.
The lawmakers called for the resignation of Service Chiefs or their removal by the President.
They also mandated their leadership to convey their views to the President.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Gbajabiamila said: “We are talking, even just right now we have gone on to set up a committee that will periodically review the issue of security, maybe once a month or once in six weeks, which will involve the two arms of government and the party.
“Major progress was made in this discussion, which is a meeting that lasted over an hour and I believe Nigerians will begin to see traction, they’ll begin to see changes. You can be sure that concrete steps were taken in that direction”, he assured.
Gbajabiamila explained that the problem facing Nigeria is internal, which should be within the purview of the police, hence the need to build the police to be able to properly fill its traditional role.
“Is the President as concerned as we are? Answer: probably more. Is the President looking to do something about it? Answer: yes. The question of security is uppermost in his mind and he opened up to us and you must understand that some communications are privileged, but suffice to say that the President is concerned and he intends to do something about our challenges.
“Opinions are divided; the generality of the opinion is that the service chiefs should go, that was evident in our debates in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, but, sometimes, you don’t want a knee-jack reaction.
“Many of us identify that something drastic has to be done, there’s also the school of thought that says since we are talking about banditry, kidnapping and murders, what have the armed forces got to do with that, anywhere in the world? So the question then arises that if he changes the service chiefs, does that address the issues of kidnapping and banditry? The army, navy and air force are outfits set up to tackle external aggression. It is the police that is set up for internal security, such as we are all witnessing.
“That’s talking about Service chiefs, has the Inspector-General of Police met up with his responsibilities? The question is if we now narrow it that to the Inspector General to Police, many will argue that he has done a very good job and many will argue with you that he’s hamstrung, straight-jacketed, there’s very little he can do in the face of no equipment, no funding and we explained to Mr President that we have to increase funding, we have to recruit more.
Addressing the controversy that followed the call for the sack of Service chiefs last week by the National Assembly, the Senate President said the matter was discussed, but noted that the first issue to consider would be the condition under which policemen and men of the armed forces had been operating and make amends.
“We discussed everything that matters as far as the issue of security of this country is concerned. We believe that it is imperative that we are able to provide those necessary equipment and welfare for the armed forces of this country and the police, to ensure that they are able to operate and perform efficiently and effectively.
“Mr. President was forthcoming, of course as the leader of this country, he is more worried than anybody else about the situation. So, we are on the same page that we should be able to do whatever it takes to ensure that the security agencies are able to perform better than they are doing now.
When asked if he believed that sacking the service chiefs could solve the security problem, Lawan said: “You see, in matters of security, of course as leaders, we are suppose to lead but when it concerns security every single citizen matters in this. So it is for all of us, citizens and leaders to ensure that we are playing our part as it is necessary.
“But I believe that the time has come, we have reached a tipping point that everybody in Nigeria is concerned about the security situation and therefore we are all prepared and that is why we have come to meet with Mr. President as leaders of National Assembly on behalf of our colleagues, to discuss the way forward. And of course I believe that citizens participation is critical and crucial.
“It is also critical that because we are dealing with human beings, you are asking the military, the police to go and fight insurgents, kidnappers and bandits, you also need to do something for their welfare. How do they live? where do they live? What is the condition of the schools for their children? And so on and so forth. So, these are issues that are very important and could have very impact outcomes when we are able to do the right thing and we will do them”, Lawan said.
More men, arms for military to battle insecurity, says VP