A ministerial nominee from Kano State, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi (retd), on Thursday said during ministerial screening in the Senate that infighting among Nigerian service chiefs was affecting the war against insurgency and other efforts against other forms of insecurity.
The Senate had on Thursday screened additional 14 ministerial nominees, bringing the number of people so far screened at the red chamber to 24, having screened 14 on Wednesday.
The nominees who were screened on Thursday were Senator Tayo Alasadura (Ondo); Chris Ngige (Anambra): Abubakar Aliyu (Yobe): Mustapha Shehuri (Borno); Bashir Magashi (Kano); Zubauru Dada (Niger); Timipre Sylva (Bayelsa); and Ramatu Aliyu (Kogi),
Others were Richard Adebayo (Ekiti); Mohammed Abdullahi (Nasarawa); Mohammed Bello (Adamawa); Sunday Dare (Oyo); Sa’adiya Farouq (Zamfara) and Zainab Ahmed (Kaduna).
Magashi, who was reacting to a question by the Senate Chief Whip, Orji Kalu, on insurgency in the country, said the relationship among the service chiefs was not cordial.
He said, “Regarding the issue of the service chiefs, in my own view, we are caught in a situation where you find out that each commander or service chief tries to please the nation.
“Anytime the service chiefs conduct operations, you find radio coverage that the Air Force has done this, the Army has done this; thank God we are not near the ports where we can see that the Navy is also involved.
“If the Navy was around here, then the three services would have been on the same collision course. In an ideal situation where I served as an ECOMOG commander, it was a single unit that was overseeing the needs, the aspirations, welfare of our troops in combat zones.”
He added, “In Nigeria today, what we call command structure is now being seen as weakness. We have almost disseminated all our forces and I do not think the current structure is a true reflection of the manpower requirement in this country. We only have divisions probably by name but I do not think we have the required manpower to man them.”
He said that to fight an insurgency war or general insecurity, the Army, Air Force and the Navy should have a common troop working together and should not operate independent of one another.
According to him, a single commander should take care of reinforcement, operations, change of troops, among other needs.
Alasoadura seek speedy passage of Petroleum Bill
Meanwhile, a nominee from Ondo State, Senator Tayo Alasoadura, has urged members of the 9th National Assembly to reintroduce the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill to tackle the challenges faced by the nation in the oil industry.
Alasoadura, who was the chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) in the 8th Senate, said the issue of subsidy, refined petroleum products importation and crisis in the Niger Delta region would be a thing of the past with the passage of the bill.
He said, “I will plead with Mr Senate President and my distinguished colleagues especially, the PIGB had been passed but has not been assented to by Mr President. Please revisit this bill for the good of Nigeria.”
The President of the Senate explained that unless the Executive and the Legislature worked in harmony, the PIGB would continue to suffer the same fate.
He said, “The PIGB came to the National Assembly in the Sixth Assembly. We ended up with so many versions of the bill and didn’t even know which was which. It was a struggle to find the genuine bill from the Executive arm of government at that time.
“In the Seventh Senate, it came and was not concluded by the National Assembly. In the Eighth Senate, the National Assembly took the initiative to split the bill into four. And we passed the PIGB and there were some issues.”
Senators disagree over senior and junior ministers relationships
At the screening, senators disagreed on the relationship between substantive ministers and the junior ministers during the first-four years of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
It was observed that while some senators argued that frosty relationship existed between the minister and the minister of state, others maintained that such situation was not recorded.
The argument started when the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, asked how the nominee from Borno State, Mustapha Shehuri would ensure cordial relationship between him and his counterpart in the ministry if his appointment was confirmed by the President.
He argued that the conflicts between the substantive and junior ministers arose because there were no well-defined duties.
Abaribe however drew the ire of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, when he said the ministers in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources were also involved in the infighting.
Lawan interjected by explaining that President Buhari was the minister of Petroleum Resources and that he did not fight with the junior minister in the ministry.
The Senate President insisted that he was not aware of any infighting among ministers throughout the first four years of President Buhari’s government.
The Senate Leader, Abdullahi Yahaya, and Senator Danjuma Goje also lent their voices to the debate by arguing that there was actually clear-cut duties for the substantive and junior ministers.
Sunday Dare kicks against waivers for media house owners
A ministerial nominee, who is also the Executive Commissioner in the Nigerian Communication Commission, Mr Sunday Dare, has said it is not necessary for the Federal Government to subside the materials used in the newspaper industry.
He said doing so would make the media lose its independence and the watchdog role.
Dare said, “The democracy we are enjoying today is because the media have protected its independence very jealously. If the government provides subsidy and waivers for the publishers, a part of that independence could be taken away.
“I do agree that the media is going through a great stress because of the cost of newsprint. The appeal would be to the Central Bank to provide a foreign exchange window at an exchange rate that softens the ground for the newspaper industry to bring in the much-needed materials for their production.”
The nominee also said the NCC, being the major regulatory agency, had grown the Nigerian telecommunications investment market to the tune of $17bn since 2016.
He also said the commission had also in the last three years, increased the contributions of the sector to the national Gross Domestic Product from 9.1 per cent last year to 10.1 per cent in 2019.
He said, “To accelerate penetration, the NCC is investing in building backbone capacity to have point of access in all the 744 local governments across the country to lay 295-kilometre fibre optic.”
On how to leverage on telecommunication to arrest perpetrators of crime especially kidnappers in the country, he said it was purely a security issue.
I initiated amnesty programme, says Sylva
A former governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva, told the Senate on Thursday that he initiated the concept of amnesty programme for the repentant militants in the Niger Delta region.
Sylva, who stated this before the Senate during his screening as a ministerial nominee, expressed satisfaction that the Federal Government approved the proposal.
He said, “I initiated the amnesty programmme and sold it to the late President Musa Yar’Adua who implemented it.”
Just as Sylva made his claim, a female nominee from Kogi State, Ramatu Tijani, lamented the inadequate housing schemes for Nigerians, maternal mortality and poor empowerment arrangements for women in the country.
Tijani, a town planner, said Nigerians were still suffering from problems of housing, poor health care/maternal mortality and women empowerment and pledged to tackle the problems if given the opportunity to serve at the Federal Executive Council.