Reps to grill service chiefs on war against terrorism, military funding

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Nigeria’s House of Representatives will grill the new service chiefs of the Nigerian Armed Forces on questions covering a wide range of subjects, including professional skills and experience, war on terror and insurgency and insecurity in general, funding of the military, strategic security knowledge and vision of the nominees and welfare of military personnel.

Chairman of the House Committee on Defence and Screening Committee, Babajimi Benson, disclosed this Wednesday at the screening and confirmation exercise for the service chiefs nominees at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja.

The House had at plenary last Wednesday read a request from President Muhammadu Buhari informing it of the nomination of Lucky Irabor for appointment as Chief of Defence Staff; Ibrahim Attahiru, Chief of Army Staff; Awwal Gambo, Chief of Naval Staff, and Ishiaka Amao, Chief of Air Staff.

Buhari in the letter also presented the nominees for confirmation in accordance with the provisions of Section 18 (1) of the Armed Forces Act, Cap A20 Law of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

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Benson, who is chairman of the screening panel, reiterated the House’s commitment to ensure that government lives up to the responsibility of securing the lives of Nigerians, hence the plan to engage robustly but also constructively with the nominees and if confirmed, provide them with all the support they will need to succeed.

The lawmaker assured that the screening panel will in the coming days compile notes, deliberate fully and extensively and submit its report and recommendations to plenary next week.

“The essence of the framers of our Constitution requiring the Service Chiefs to be confirmed by the National Assembly is to reiterate the supremacy of civil authority over the military in a constitutional democracy. We shall therefore take our role very seriously and we intend to discharge our responsibilities diligently on behalf of Nigerians,” Benson said.

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“Nigeria as a country is blessed with brave and gallant soldiers; many of whom have paid the ultimate price in service to the country. It is to their memories that we must get it right with our National Security and help secure the peace for which they gave their lives.

“We are therefore here today to perform the screening exercise of the nominees as part of the legal confirmation process. From the inception of this 9th House of Representatives, National Security has been discussed more than 200 times at plenary. Yet the nation is still grappling with diverse and increasing security challenges, despite some successes recorded by the gallant men and women of our Armed Forces. While I appreciate there is no single magic solution, I believe the kind of leadership provided to our Armed Forces is part of the solution mix.

“We are aware of the many sensitivities around national security matters and because of our desire to robustly engage the nominees to a good level of granularity across many subject areas; we have decided to conduct these vigorous exchanges behind closed doors. This will not only help protect national security but more importantly also give the nominee the freedom to respond more adequately, comprehensively and expansively without any fear of an unwitting exposure of sensitive information,” he said.

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He expressed hope that the frank and constructive engagement they would have with the nominees would be the flavour of future encounters and would continue if they were confirmed by the National Assembly.

“National security requires an all-government approach. We in the House of Representatives will continue to engage constructively with the government and provide any support needed to strengthen the hands of our gallant men and women in uniform to successfully secure this nation and provide the peace and stability needed for economic growth and development of our country,” he said.

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