The Senate yesterday approved President Goodluck Jonathan’s request for an extension of emergency rule in the three North-Eastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. The approval came after over three hours of serious negotiations and bargains.
Rising from two separate closed-door meetings, the first by the leadership of the Senate and the second by the entire chamber, the lawmakers however listed some conditions which the President must fulfill as part of the deal for the approval of the request.
The nod also came just as the current emergency rule expires today after six months as stipulated by Section 305(6) (c) of the1999 Constitution.
The Senate, in an unanimous voice vote after a motion by the Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, entitled, “Extension of state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states,” resolved that the Federal Government in conjunction with the state governments should come up with an economic Marshall Plan to revive the fortunes of the economically and educationally backward parts of the country.
It also agreed that the Federal Government should seek and secure multi-lateral support for such a Marshall Plan.
The lawmakers also urged the President to prepare and submit to the National Assembly a supplementary budget to meet any financial requirements needed to combat the insurgency and urgently approve intervention funds to the affected states for development.
The Senate in addition urged the ministers of defence, police affairs, service chiefs, National Security Adviser and the Director- General of the State Security Service to report on a monthly basis the progress made in combating the insurgency.
On the basis of this, the Senate can take any decision it considers necessary, including but not limited to the revocation of the declaration of state of emergency.
This was as the lawmakers advised that a full military operation be undertaken on sustained basis to root out the insurgents, even as they called for proper kitting and arming of the armed forces deployed to arrest the insurgency and adequate welfare for the troops.
Furthermore, the senators urged special recruitments into the armed forces of screened and vetted youths, particularly those in the Civilian JTF, who would receive emergency training and deployed in the troubled zone to beef up the strength of the troops and win the hearts and minds of the locals.
Finally, the lawmakers welcomed and endorsed the support of the international community on the efforts to rescue the abducted Chibok schoolgirls and urged the President to expand the cooperation and collaboration to the overall arrest of terrorism in the country.
The House of Representatives had last Thursday approved the presidential request for the extension of the emergency rule, but the Senate deferred decision on the matter till yesterday.
The action of both arms of the parliament followed separate briefings by the service chiefs on the security situation in the affected states.
The approval of the red chamber yesterday came on the heels of the threat by northern senators last week to shoot down the request of the President for the emergency rule extension.
In his remarks after the emergency rule was approved by the Senate yesterday, Senate President David Mark expressed the collective concern of the Senate about the insecurity situation in the three northern states confronted by terror.
“I thank you for the pains taken in the discussion that took place and the subsequent approval. Let me also say emphatically here that we have requested that certain issues be resolved as quickly as possible.
“We stand shoulder to shoulder behind our colleagues from all the states affected. We take this in the same vein that we are all equally affected and that this is a national issue and not a sectional issue in any form,” Mark said.
In another development, the Inspector- General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, worried by the growing wave of threats by terrorists to abduct secondary school students from their dormitories, has instituted measures geared towards bolstering security network around boarding schools nationwide.
He said the move would ensure the safety and security of students and other stakeholders in the nation’s secondary institutions of learning.
Accordingly, the IGP has ordered command commissioners of police to immediately commence security audit and threat analysis of all boarding schools nationwide.
Only last week, terrorist elements had reportedly sent a letter to two all-male secondary schools in Benue State, threatening to abduct the students.
The threat came one month after the abduction of over 200 students from their school in Chibok, Borno State.
However, Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, said the outcome of the threat analysis would assist police authorities and other security agencies in the task of designing security strategies that would help in promoting safety and security in the schools.
“It is equally expected that the result of the consultations, threat analysis and the attendant security awareness campaigns will help in reducing the vulnerability of the schools and strengthen an otherwise soft terror target”, he said.
According to him, commissioners of police are expected to work in conjunction with other security agencies, the states ministries of education, the management and staff of the schools, the Parents-Teachers Associations, PTA, the host communities and other stakeholders to obtain the most reliable intelligence.
The IGP, however, reassured the citizens that the police, along with other security forces, would remain committed to their mandate of protecting the lives and property of citizens.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress, APC, said that it was obvious that the Federal Government was insincere in the fight against the Boko Haram and the search for the abducted girls.
It said the Federal Government had been ignoring the opposition party which controls the governments of the terrorist target states.
The party, after its National Executive Council meeting in Abuja yesterday, said it would hold its national convention in Abuja on June 13 and 14, 2014.
In a communiqué issued after the NEC meeting, the party said: “We make bold to say that the Federal Government has been very insincere in its persistent call for national unity to combat the despicable Boko Haram sect.
“This has been manifest, perhaps more than at any other time, since the tragic abduction of over 200 schoolgirls from Chibok over one month ago.”
APC said that up to this moment, the Federal Government was yet to reach out to them, the main opposition party, on how to forge a common front against this despicable terror group, despite the opposition’s incessant efforts to reach out to the government.
The statement by the Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed added: “Nigerians will recall our various interventions in which we stated clearly that only a non-partisan approach could help extricate Nigeria from the death grip of Boko Haram; how we have consistently called on the government to organise a national stakeholders’ summit to put all hands on deck and how we have made a number of recommendations which we feel can help pep up the fight against the terror group.
“The only response we have received so far is that in which the government said it had implemented or it is implementing those recommendations anyway, in what clearly amounts to an unnecessary hubris and a cold shoulder.”
The party also said the Federal Government that had been calling on the international community for assistance must know that charity begins at home, and that for all hands to be on deck, the APC could not be ignored.
“A party that controls 16 out of 36 states and has over 40 senators and over 150 members in the House of Representatives is too big to be ignored at a critical time like this in the life of our nation.