The leadership of the Senate and its chairmen in charge of committees relating to security agencies, Wednesday held a closed door meeting with heads of the military to review the developments in the fight against insurgency in the North east zone of the country, particularly in the wake of the recent dastardly attack on Dalori town in Borno State.
The meeting, which lasted for about two hours and was presided over by the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, among several issues, focused on further empowering the security agencies to win the war against the Boko Haram insurgency.
The Military chiefs, led by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonishakin, briefed the Senators on the various challenges faced by the military, particularly the state of their equipment which they said require serious upgrading and restocking.
They also complained that their allocation in the 2015 supplementary budget was yet to be released, thereby hampering their ability to fund their operations.
Other issues discussed by the top military hierarchy was the need to continually increase the personnel in the three arms of the military and the hindrance posed by the procurement process which they complained is very slow.
The military chiefs also confessed that there was a need for the review of some laws governing their operations so as to make them able to respond to emergency situations they now confront in the Northeast zone, as well as conform with global best practices.
Other issues discussed was the need for a collective regional support in the fight against insurgency by neighbouring countries; the resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) back to their traditional homes; the issue of intelligence gathering and sharing among the various agencies; and mobilisation of the international community, particularly through inter-parliamentary efforts in support of the fight against terrorism in Nigeria.
The senators gave the military high command the assurance that their request for the review of the relevant laws being complained about would be fast tracked by putting them on the Priority Bill’s list, once they were given adequate information on areas that need to be amended. They also promised to take up the issue of the release of funds raised by the military chiefs with the Ministry of Finance immediately.
The Committees on Defence, Finance and Appropriations were also mandated to ensure that the issues raised by the service chiefs are taken care of in the budget. The Senators noted that at this point when the nation had recorded serious gains in the fight against insurgency, all hands should be on deck to sustain the momentum against the terrorists.
The meeting was attended by Saraki, his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, Majority Whip, Francis Alimikhena, Chairman, Senate Committee on Navy, Isa Hama Misau and his colleague in the Committee on Air Force, Duro Faseyi. However, Chairman of Senate Committee on Defence, Senator Ahmed Lawan was absent.
The Chief of Defence Staff, General Olonishakin led the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, his colleague in the navy, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ette Ibas and the Air Force, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar to the meeting.