Last week, Senator Muhammad Enagi Bima, speaking on the floor of the National Assembly (NASS), in Abuja, lashed out at the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Bima – a Senator representing Niger South Senatorial District – was obviously agitated by the recent abduction of schoolboys at the Government Science College, Kagara, in his home State of Niger.
His disapproval of the Buhari administration, especially as it concerns insecurity, despite being a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), has already raised some dust.
This, and other interesting stories made up events at the NASS in the past week.
On February 17, Senator Bima said President Buhari had failed and is incompetent in addressing the security matters troubling the country.
“Buhari’s government is incompetent. This issue has been discussed here over and over and there’s no improvement, things are getting worse. I’m sure everybody here has stories to tell about the security challenges that we are facing, what else are we supposed to do that we are not doing? Are we supposed to amend the laws to give every citizen right to carry arms?” he had said.
He added: “Our government at centre is showing incompetence in handling the security challenges. Let all of us here imagine that it’s his son or daughter that’s kidnapped, everybody in government should think like that.”
Bima’s outburst could easily pass as a direct reflection of the feelings and thoughts of the people in Niger State, and other Nigerians directly and indirectly affected by the never-ending security challenges plaguing the country.
At first look, it positions him as one who is not afraid to speak truth to power despite his party affiliations.
In fact, he would have risked political extinction in the eyes of his constituents, if he had not called a spade a spade at a time his State is mired in one of its worst security challenges.
In knocking the Buhari administration, however, Bima conveniently forgets that there is a sitting Governor in Niger State who must also take responsibility for the fortunes or misfortunes of his domain.
A good balance would have been to weigh in on the performance of the man who currently superintends over the State. To refuse to do so, is to pretend that the quality of governance has been above average. There are huge doubts that, indeed, this is so.
Whether Bima’s outburst would inspire Buhari to brace up in tackling Nigeria’s security challenges remains a thing of guess.
For now, Nigerians can only keep hope alive.
“The war is not over and some criminals that have been killing people, you say you are doing Operation Safe Corridor for them. I am completely against the idea. They know my position on that; you can’t do that. It is when you win the war and some people surrender that you think about something like that. You are just telling people to go and join Boko Haram and then repent and become something; that’s a totally unacceptable idea and a way of solving the problem?”
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on February 16, called for stiffer punishments for anyone who bears illegal firearms in the country.
Lawan made the call during his contribution to a debate on a bill titled: “The Firearms Act Cap F28 LFN 2004 (amendment) Bill 2021,” sponsored by Uba Sani, at the NASS.
“The security situation would have been far better if we are able to control the proliferation of firearms in the country. I believe that there is no compromise for stiffer penalties for anyone caught with an illegal arm,” he said.
Lawan’s contribution could not have come at a better time when the issue of illegal possession of firearms is at the front burner of national discourse.
On different occasions, questions have been raised on how criminal elements making life nightmarish for the citizenry get the firearms they use in carrying out their nefarious activities.
Only a fortnight ago, the governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed, supported the use of AK-47 by Fulani herders under the excuse that they use it to protect themselves against cattle rustlers who attack, kill and take away their possession. This has already generated ripples, and tension across national divide.
It is hoped Lawan, in collaboration with his legislative colleagues, would pursue the passage of the bill with the needed vigour it deserves, and help save the country from the claws of those who carry unlicensed firearms to cause mayhem.
While NASS members synthesize the contents of the new bill, there is an important need as well to conduct an inquest into the alleged involvement of security agencies in letting firearms reach the hands of criminal elements.