Security of lives, property top priority in 9th Senate – Senator Musa

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Senator Sani Musa

As part of activities to commemorate the second anniversary of the ninth Senate, the chairman Senate Committee on Senate Services, Senator Sani Musa, in this interview with ROSEMARY MORIBIRIN delves into a range of topics including the insecurity and measures towards restoring peace.

How has the 9th Senate been able to manage its differences in cooperating with the executive?

Right from inception and induction of 9th Senate, we all agreed to work for Nigeria. We reckoned that we cannot achieve working for Nigerians without synergy with the executive. We cannot be constructive in whatever we want to do without agreement.

The main purpose of the legislature is law making for good governance and when you’re also becoming parts of that problem that needs a legislation, then you have not started. 
This was why the 8th Senate in my own opinion got it wrong. The three arms all serve the same government; So, why do we have to look at the executive as a competitor. When we came into the 9th Senate, we decided that we must cooperate with the executive for good governance and so far, you can see the budget cycle has changed completely. In the 8th Senate, it was sometimes around this time that the budget is being passed, but we now pass the budget by November/December. 

This is the second year that we passed the budget. The 2020 and 2021 budgets were passed in December and we’re hoping that the executive would do the needful by forwarding the 2022 appropriation bill early so that we can start working on them. 
I believe the synergy we created with the executive has led to the success of so many things including the Finance Bill where we are now able to control the revenue and how the Consolidated Revenue Fund is being managed. The 9th Senate has been able to call all the revenue generating agencies to table and look at their books. 

That has never happened before where the Fiscal Responsibility Commission works. So, as you can see, there are lots of things that this government has done. The only thing that has happened in the 9th Senate which is a nightmare to us is insecurity. We have been working in a bipartisan way to see how we can tackle the situation.

You would recall that the 9th Senate sometimes in February last year set up an ad-hoc committee on national security and they came up with a workable proposal which has been passed to Mr President. I know he would use his wisdom to choose the ones that are necessary for this country to move forward.

You can see the issue of policing, we have been able to pass the Police Act to make our police more friendly, proactive and improve their welfare. We’ve been able to work with the defence ministry as well. When the President decided to make a change, we also called for the change in this 9th Senate.

I personally was at the forefront of that change. We have not seen the results that we’re all expecting looking at what is happening with banditry and insurrection in the South east, but I can tell you that the 9th senate has worked with Mr. President and we’re willing to give him more support to surmount these challenges and succeed. 

In your opinion, has the security measures put in place yielded any positive results?

You know in every system, the dimension of change is not immediate. It doesn’t come immediately and the same thing is with the issue of security. Yes, the president has changed the Service Chiefs, but we shouldn’t just assume overnight that it would bring change in terms of the security lapses immediately. 
One thing I know is that there’s an affirmative action that they would bring back security in this country and as legislators, we believe they would do it. We would support them to achieve that.

All this banditry, especially in my own community, cannot continue without the cooperation of indigenes; so you can see that our problems are multifaceted; so, it would take them time. Remember, these people are not fighting a conventional war, it is more or less of a gorilla war. This is why as a member of the Constitution Review Committee, we are doing public hearings in all the geographical zones.

Right-thinking Nigerians are already giving us memoranda even from the South-east. What is happening today, if we don’t handle it properly, it would not be different from what is happening in Libya, Afghanistan and Rwanda. 

Niger and four other states are set to get Borderline Community Development courtesy of a bill that you sponsored. What does this bill seeks to achieve?

If you remember, Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Ondo and other states were part of the development of the former federal capital. Government gave them support, infrastructure and built industrial layouts.

Now, back to the FCT, in the masterplan and in the agreement, it was agreed that all the inhabitants of Abuja would be resettled with schools, hospitals, infrastructure and water systems provided. But as I’m talking to you, nothing has been provided. 
Today, there’s no federal government presence in Suleja or any of the surrounding border towns to the FCT. So that’s why I brought that bill and it has gotten an overwhelming support and passed Second Reading. Now before the Senate Committee on FCT to work and report within weeks. I believe it would pass the Third Reading. 

From the consolidated revenue that the federal government is generating, a certain percentage is left for the committee to work. Federal government should contribute, state government should contribute, local government should contribute as well as private individuals that are paying taxes and revenues with their VAT. Government should be able to take something out from there and give it to this committee so that this areas could be developed and when the areas are developed, even the issue of insecurity would be brought under control.

The bill is not just for Niger state, but for all the states that share border with the FCT like Kogi, Nassarawa, Kaduna and Plateau. At the moment, everything is overstretched, even the market is overstretched because of explosion of population and is not only people that work with the government, but those in the private sector, because it’s only in those outskirt areas like Karu, Mararaba, Suleja that you will be able to find cheap accommodation. I want to be very partisan here, Suleja had always given Mr president 98% of votes since he was in CPC up until now; so, I’m sure Mr president would not see anything that improves the living standard  of Suleja people and ignore it; instead, he will accept it.

What should the people of Niger-east, especially your immediate community expect from you within the next two years?

Every elected representative  that comes here has nothing in mind but thinking of what he can derive from here and take to his people; so, it’s the same thing with me. Everything I’m thinking of is how to make things work better for my people. They have been patient enough, especially in my own district where there are so much attacks by these bandits. So, I will call on my people to be resilient, patient and always abide by the rules. We are law abiding citizens and by the grace of God, we shall excel. 

I believe that I will do the best I can because my utmost concern is to see to the development of my town; today, that development is being hampered by the numerous attacks, that has caused a lot of insecurity to my people who have deserted their farms and homes. Most of them are in IDP camps. We will not come to the open to say what we are doing in that direction, but I want to assure my people that we are not leaving them behind, we are not leaving them alone; we are together in this thing and by the grace of God, we shall all triumph and come out of it stronger.