• NASS Tasks Generals On Oil Theft, Corruption • Ekweremadu Leads Delegation To Adamawa
By Ignatius Okorocha, Isuma Mark – Abuja
After almost five hours of grilling, the Senate, on Tuesday, confirmed President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointments of the Chief of Defence Staff and the service chiefs whose names were transmitted to it last week.
They are: Major General Abayomi Gabriel Olonishakin, Chief of Defence Staff; Major General T.Y. Buratai, Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, Chief of Naval Staff and Air Vice Marshal Sadique Abubakar, Chief of Air Staff. They were appointed by on July 13.
During the screening exercise, the service chiefs assured the Senators that the nation’s military would meet the December deadline set recently by President Muhammadu Buhari to end insurgency in the North-East.
Addressing newsmen at the end of the session, Chairman, Senate Ad hoc-Committee on Publicity, Senator Dino Meleya, said: “The Service Chiefs have assured us that the December deadline of President Buhari is met, given all the necessary support. They have told us that they have the capacity and the wherewithal to term the Boko Haram crisis and they have told us.”
He said the screening took so long because of the huge expectation from Nigerians on bringing insurgency in the North East to an end and that the upper legislative chamber “is very, very particular about insecurity in this country, so we needed to exhaust all our points and many senators made a lot of contributions to this issue and it was a very robust interface between us and the Service Chiefs. All areas were covered and they have been mandated to do their best to ensure that the insurgency is curtailed.”
Senate President Bukola Saraki affirmed that confirmation of the appointments was based on merit and that it “is coming at a very crucial time with a lot of challenges, particularly the insurgents in the North East and some of the other security issues.”
The screening, he said, also focused on the issue of oil theft in the Niger Delta region, expressing “hope that during their period of time, they will take up the responsibility required. We are all keen to restore the image and reputation of the Armed Forces”.
The confirmation, he stressed, “is the beginning of that journey to restore the glory of the Armed Forces of our great country.
“It is very important also as we emphasised to them on the issue of procurement procedure in the Armed Forces. It is an area that they must work hard to root out corruption in this process. We must leave behind those days where basic equipment and all these issues that we believe should be available for our men and women out there should be made available,” Saraki added.
Recall that the confirmation of the appointments is in accordance with Section 18(1) of the Armed Forces Act, Cap. A. 20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
The screening, earlier scheduled for last Thursday, could not hold, as the service chiefs were said to be attending an event.
Following the confirmation, the House of Representatives also charged the military chiefs to ensure that Nigeria achieves total air surveillance of its territory, besides the need to check the menace of oil bunkering in the country.
Appearing before the Garba Datti-led House of Representatives Ad hoc committee, Tuesday, the Nigeria military chiefs were mandated to ensure proper protection of Nigeria’s territorial boundaries with neighbouring countries of Benin, Cameroon and Niger Republic.
According to Datti, the rampant activities of militants in the Niger Delta, along with cases of smuggling and piracy on our water ways will equally required constant policing to curtail the menace.
Datti said told the guests: “I am convinced you are all very familiar with the responsibility and challenges bothering on low morale of our servicemen and women, welfare, training, procurement process of military hardware and ordinance particularly for those of them on the frontline states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe in the North East region fighting the insurgency and the general living conditions of Armed Forces personnel and the families in the various barrack locations in the country” Datti said.
The committee’s chairman said before the resumption of the exercise that the provision of the section 18 (1) of the Armed Forces Act makes it mandatory for the National Assembly to confirm their appointment.
“This process today is pursuant to the forwarding of your names by the president and Commander in Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for confirmation as chief of defence staff, chief of army staff, chief of air staff and chief of naval staff.
“It is equally important to restate that this process is to further interrogate your competence by the National Assembly to show course on why the president had confidence in you,” he added.