The senator representing Rivers East in the Senate, Andrew Uchendu (APC), has attributed the general insecurity in the nation to youth unemployment.
He suggested that in order to curb crimes and prevent long-term consequences, senators should dispose three of the five vehicles they each own and use the proceeds to engage the youth.
“We need to find appropriate economic policies to engage idle hands,” Uchendu had argued.
The senator spoke at the plenary on Thursday during the debate that followed the presentation of the senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani.
Sani had moved a motion he described as “Senseless killing of a Briton and the abduction of three others in a holiday resort in Kaduna State by armed bandits.”
In seconding the motion, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, expressed condolences to the families of the victims and also to “all Nigerians living in fear.”
Ekweremadu added, “We need to declare a national state of emergency to enable the government put in place measures to end this problem.”
Another respondent, Senator Joshua Lidani (PDP Gombe South), also supported the motion, noting, “Nigeria is becoming a killing field and this will have an effect on investment and tourism.”
“We need to do something drastic, something unusual that we have not done before.
“We need to mobilise the military to those areas and we should not be shy of asking for help,” Lidani added.
In his contribution, Senator Babba Ahmed Kaita (Congress for Progressive Change — Kankia/Ingawa/Kusada constituency of Katsina State), expressed concerns for the families of the victims, asking, “What have we done as senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria?”
He then advised, “We should marshal out a plan from the chambers of this Senate to secure this country.”
In his response, President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki said, “If you all remember yesterday, we observed a minute silence and condoled the family and sent messages to the embassy, but the deputy Senate President rightly stood up and said, it goes beyond just this individual worker, both Nigerian and foreigner.”
He, therefore, warned that, “There are a lot of issues that we need to address because the way these series of killings are going on and that is why we brought it up today.
“In line with the last speaker, we must begin to look at the solutions.
“When we talk about the way forward, we need to be honest with ourselves. We need to talk as senators in this upper chamber because in addressing these issues, we need to be frontal on what has led us to where we are today and we must proceed through our political parties’ platforms and see it as a problem that all of us need to address.”
Saraki counselled that, wherever there is a fault, the nation must be bold enough to say it; and that “where there are sanctions that need to be taken, we must be bold as well to say so.”
Decrying what appears to be the uncooperative attitude of Police top hierarchy, the Senate president avers, “I mean, you have all been in this chamber; for one year, we could not even communicate, converse or engage with the Nigeria Police.
“You were all here when the Head of Police refused to even come before us. How can we work together to move things forward because, at the end of the day, we must begin to sit down with those in charge and discuss what we need to do, how do we help you.
“Even if we want to recruit, we can’t do it from here, we need guidance, they need to tell us what we need to know.”
He urged senators to suggest solutions to the problems, appealing, “let’s contribute with what is the way forward, what do we need to do.
“That’s the only way we can truly show that we are serious, it is the only way we can honour those that have died.”
Lamenting the murder of the British tourist, Faye Mooney, in the Kajuru Castle incident, Saraki noted that the lady had worked in dangerous situations in Iraq and Kosovo and had survived until she came to Nigeria.
“That does not portray this country in a positive way at all,” he said.
Denouncing the insecurity on the nation’s highways, Saraki said, “Today, Abuja-Kaduna road has been abandoned as, I was told, everybody is going by train there. Nothing is happening to address that. If we want to politicise it, we will not make a way forward.”
“We need to decide whether we want to find a solution or whether we just want to play to the gallery. In the past, kidnappings used to be done in the cities; now they are kidnapping villagers too, its a big problem.”
In his contributions, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha (PDP-Taraba South), went ahead to suggest that, in order to avoid the long-term effects of the insecurity, the nation must reexamine the possibility of having a state Police.
“The long-term effects will be catastrophic. I want to suggest that the issue of State Police be looked into; we need to create a synergy between the state Police and vigilante and locals of these states. It will dramatically reduce the menace.
“We need massive military deployment to these flash points. We also need to come up with capital punishments for these crimes.”
Senator Kabir Marafa (APC- Zamfara Central), warned that the killings are evidence that, “The north is at war. Unless something is done, I am afraid that in the next two to three years, the situation might be out of control. This has become a business because there is technically no business in the north.
“The way forward is to fight corruption and set standards.”
Attributing the crimes to youth unemployment, Senator Andrew Uchendu (APC-Rivers East) said, “Until our youth are engaged, this problem will continue.
“If we dispose of three of the five vehicles we own and use the proceeds to engage our youth, would it not be better?
“We need to find appropriate economic policies to engage idle hands.”
On his own, Senator David Umaru (APC-Niger East), said the soldiers are not provided with enough logistics and therefore use this as an excuse to collaborate with kidnappers.
“The state government has not helped matters; they do nothing to provide funds.
“We need to devise short-term goals and long-term solutions. We need to establish a special force to address this problem,” he submitted.
The Senate therefore resolved to do as follows:
I. Observe a minute silence in honour of the departed souls;
II. Urge the security authorities to intensify the search for the perpetrators and bring them to book;
III. Urge the government to set up inter-agency task force to tackle cases of banditry and kidnapping in Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and Niger states;
IV. Urge security agencies to give special security cover to foreign workers and tourists;
V. Urge security agencies to immediately deploy the use of drones and interceptors in tracking kidnappers asking for ransom;
VI. Urge community leaders, traditional rulers and all stakeholders to co-operate with security agencies;
VII. Urge telecommunications companies to provide security agencies with information in areas where there are kidnappings;
VIII. Urge Senate to send a delegation to the British Embassy and condole (with) the British government.
IX. Senate should invite the acting IG of Police to brief the Senate on the initiative put in place to curb the current security situation in the country; and
X. Leader should ensure that the Bills that we passed on the Police Reform and Trust Fund be sent to our counterparts in the House, so we can get concurrence and have these Bills sent to the President so that we can get assent as quick as possible.
“We hope that with this, we will begin to see improvement in the security situation in the country,” Senate President Bukola Saraki concluded, thanking the senators for their contributions.