Insecurity: I Feel Safer In Maiduguri Than Abuja – Ndume

 

Solomon Elusoji, Lagos

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, on Thursday said he is more at ease when visiting Maiduguri than Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, is closer to Nigeria’s insurgency war in the North-East.

The war has raged on for over a decade.

But Ndume, while speaking on Channels Television’s Politics Today, said the insurgents have been kept away from the city and can only attack soft targets in other areas of Borno State.

“I live in Abuja and also live in Maiduguri,” he said. “Once I come to Maiduguri, I feel safer than in Abuja, because somebody can knock down your door with a gun. In Maiduguri, we don’t hear of that.

“It is outside Maiduguri where the insurgents are marauding around and attack intermittently. And that’s normal with insurgents, that’s why they are called insurgents, they do hit and run on soft targets.”

He stressed that “in every society, you can’t wipe out criminality completely. In America, there is school shooting. Our own is that we have known terrorists and the army is fighting them.”

Senator Ndume, who has repeatedly called for more funding for the army, said the situation seems to be improving with President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to the welfare of the fighting troops.

“With the new budget, things will soon change,” he said.

A turning point

Senator Ndume was speaking on the heels of President Buhari’s visit to Borno earlier on Thursday.

The Senator described the visit as a boost to the morale of the Nigerian troops.

“The President went round for six hours – I was tired. He came in 10 o’clock and we were going to see various projects until four o’clock this evening before he left,” he said, praising President Buhari’s stamina.

Senator Ndume also commended President Buhari’s bold welfare plans for the state, including the decision to build 10,000 houses for displaced persons and the provision of financing for a power plant.

But he urged the federal government to “walk the talk” and fast-track its financing of army operations, especially the acquisition of improved fighting equipment.

“We should now walk the talk by accelerating the release of funds on time,” Senator Ndume said. “The army now has the numbers.”

A less hideous enemy

With the apparent death of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, terrorist group ISWAP appears to have replaced Boko Haram as the new face of insurgency in the region.

“ISWAP is more deadly, more sophisticated, have international connection, access to military armament and the likes, but the other side of them is that they don’t kill civilians indiscriminately like the Boko Haram and in fact that was what ignited the fight between the ISWAP and the Shekau group,” Mr Ndume said.

“Now the Shekau group have been virtually eliminated, it means that our Nigerian troops are going to face what they know specifically.

“What was frustrating them most was the indiscriminate killing of civilians and other soft targets, destruction of public property by the Boko Haram.

“But now that the ISWAP is saying we are just going after the military or the armed forces or the security agencies. Our security agencies are up to the task; Our security agencies are up to the task and ready for them. They have engaged themselves and (ISWAP) have suffered serious casualties.”

Open Grazing: I Expected Immediate, Long-Term Solutions From Southern Governors – Ndume

 

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, has faulted the declaration of the ban on open grazing in the South by governors in the region.

He believes making a public proscription of the movement of cattle by foot in the southern part of the country by the governors cannot be as effective as meeting with the President to address the issues of concern.

“I am not concerned about what they (the governors) said … I was thinking that they would come out with immediate solution, mid-term solution, and long-term solution to open grazing,” he noted,” Senator Ndume said on Thursday when he featured as a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today.

He added, “We have serious security challenges in this country that are different in all the geopolitical zones and I was expecting that the governors will come together and address these issues, come up with the solutions that they have mentioned and discuss with the President in a closed-session as we call it in the Senate, not to come out to the media and issue a blanket statement.”

 

Be Practical, Realistic, And Honest

Two days before the interview, the state governors in the South resolved to ban open grazing and movement of cattle by foot in the region at a meeting in Asaba, the Delta State capital.

A group photograph of state governors in southern Nigeria after a meeting in Asaba, Delta State on May 11, 2021.

 

Apparently putting the security challenges in the region ahead of their political differences, the leaders called for the restructuring of the country along with fiscal federalism, devolution of powers, and state police, among other demands.

They also asked President Muhammadu Buhari to address the nation and convene a national dialogue to address the agitations by various groups in the region.

In his reaction, Senator Ndume stressed that convening a national dialogue was not the way to go, citing the outcome of the National Conference of 2014 as an example.

He also stated that he has no problem with the ban on open grazing in the South, although he asked the governors to look at the larger picture.

According to the lawmaker, Nigeria is faced with various security challenges and not just open grazing in a particular region.

A file photo of Senator Ali Ndume.

 

He maintained his position on the approach of the governors rather than meeting with the President to privately address the issues raised.

Senator Ndume said, “The governors, being the chief security officers of the various states in the South, should not take these things lightly or should not politicise it, or even try to look as if they are just grandstanding.

“They have unfiltered access to Mr President who is the Commander-In-Chief … all these things are not going to be implemented by making statements to the media, that is my concern.”

“When the leadership is playing to the gallery in a very challenging situation like this, I get so concerned. They should be practical and realistic and honest and that is lacking in that statement,” he added.

Blanket Amnesty May Breed A New Form Of Criminality – Ndume

 

The Chairman Senate Committee on Army, Ali Ndume says the provision of blanket amnesty to bandits has the tendency to breed new forms of criminality in the country. 

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, Senator Ndume said “I don’t think blanket amnesty is the solution because if you do that another form of criminality may emerge hoping that the government will bring them to the negotiating table.”

According to the lawmaker, the government must tackle the banditry situation with the carrot and stick approach.

READ ALSO: Insecurity: What We Are Facing Can Cause Bloody Civil War, Says Fani-Kayode

Senator Ndume said the government must strive to get to the root of the situation to ascertain what the true cause of the banditry problem is.

He further inferred that the government should form a committee of eminent persons who can reach out to the grassroots and get to proffer lasting solutions to the issue.

Staying on the security situation, the lawmaker said the military needs to be better funded to win the war against insurgency.

He said: “This is not a conventional war, we are not fighting another country. We have the forces on the ground but they need what it takes especially modern equipment” for surveillance, monitoring, and intelligence gathering.

Ndume said the funding of the Nigerian Armed Forces should be placed as a national priority, stressing that if the military is not properly armed, then they cannot effectively prosecute the war against the insurgents within the northeast.

Ndume To Buhari: Reconstitute FEC, Bring People Connected To Grassroot

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Ali Ndume

 

The Chairman Senate Committee on Army, Ali Ndume has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to reconstitute the Federal Executive Council.

Speaking to journalists on Sunday night in Maiduguri, Ndume sighted poor representation and lack of connection with the grassroots people as reasons for his demand.

The lawmaker, who represents Southern Borno at the National Assembly affirmed that going by the 90% budget performance of 2020, the Buhari-led government is working but the impact is not being felt at the grassroots level, blaming the ministers.

“I am telling you the FEC should be reconstituted. Let him bring in people that are connected to the grassroots,” he said.

“The President should look at his cabinet especially the FEC. You are talking about those fighting war, what of those that are sitting down there? They are disconnected. We have ministers that don’t know anyone in their local government, but you people are not talking about them.”

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He also blamed the army’s inability to end the war on poor funding and shortage of the required equipment.

“When you say the Nigerian army performed better in Sierra Leone, Liberia and all that why was that? They had the good training, resilience and gallantry but above all they had all they needed; United Nations was providing everything they had their helicopters they had ammunition they had everything,” Ndume added.

According to the lawmaker, it is unfair to expect the army to perform optimally when their needs have not been met.

He however expressed optimism that with the new platforms recently acquired by the Nigerian air force and the army, as well as a budgetary allocation of ₦500 billion with ₦100bn going to Operation Lafiya Dole alone, 2021 promises to be a better year.

Ndume Disagrees Again With FG On Rehabilitation Of Repentant Boko Haram Members

 

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army, Ali Ndume, has again reiterated that he disagrees with the Federal Government’s move to rehabilitate and reintegrate repentant Boko Haram members.

His position which was the same as that of the committee was made known on Wednesday at the closed-door budget defense session with the Nigerian Army.

Ndume who has always been of the opinion that deradicalizing Ex-Boko Haram Members is a misplacement of priority stressed that the Federal Government cannot be resettling and pampering former terrorists while the country is still at war.

“I am in disagreement with the government,” Ndume buttressed.

He further noted that Boko Haram members who are apprehended can be kept as prisoners of war, adding that in due time they can be profiled and tried in accordance with the law.

Damboa attack carried out by repentant Boko Haram member

In further defense of his position on the matter, Senator Ndume claimed that the recent terrorist attack in Damboa was orchestrated by a repentant Boko Haram member.

According to the lawmaker, the repentant Boko Haram member was feeding the terror group information regarding the movement of the army.

Ndume was of the opinion that it is unfair and not right to have the government lavish its resources on those who threaten the peace of the nation.

‘I Am Completely Against It!’

Early in February, Senator Ali Ndume pushed against the bill aimed at creating an agency for repentant insurgents.

The Boko Haram Bill which is aimed at creating a national agency that would see to the rehabilitation, de-radicalization, and integration of repentant insurgents in the country met with stiff opposition from Ndume who believes it is a misplacement of priority.

“I personally disagree with that. The war is not over and some criminals that have been killing people you say that you are doing Operation Safe Corridor for them.

“I am completely against that idea. They know my position on that, you can’t do that.

“It is when you win the war and some people surrender that you think about something like that,” Ndume said on the floor of the Senate where the bill was read for the first time.

He added that the idea of the bill will only make Boko Haram have more recruits since they are sure of rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

“You are just telling people to go and join Boko Haram and then repent and become something (sic) that’s a totally unacceptable idea and a way of solving the problem.”

VIDEO: FG Not Doing Enough To End Insurgency, Says Ndume

 

The lawmaker representing Borno South Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Senator Ali Ndume, has faulted the Federal Government over the handling of the security situation in the North East.

Ndume who was a guest on Channels Television’s NewsNight on Monday said the current administration is not doing enough to tackling insurgency confronting the region.

“Government is not making any deliberate efforts. This is a war situation; we are at war with criminals in Nigeria now – the bandits, kidnappers, and Boko Haram as the top one.

“Nigeria has to stand up to address that issue and leave any other thing. How can you be talking about infrastructure or development and all that? Is it not when you have peace that you can use all those places,” he said.

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Ndume who is also the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army decried the number of personnel of the nation’s Armed Forces Nigeria, describing the situation as “grossly inadequate”.

The lawmaker representing Borno South Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Senator Ali Ndume decries the security situation in the northeast.

He, therefore, asked the Federal Government to look into the welfare of the troops at the theatre of operation in the region.

“There are only 30, 000 in that theatre. It is grossly inadequate. They are not well-equipped, they are not well-kitted, they are not well-funded.

“In Nigeria of 200 million, you only have 150, 000 soldiers with 6,000 officers. Can you say we are serious?” he questioned.

The lawmaker noted that smaller countries neighbouring like the Gambia, Chad have taken up their security issues seriously.

He urged the government to adequately provide the Armed Forces with the needed support, logistics and funding to tackle the several security challenges in the country.

Ndume Reintroduces Peace Corps Bill In Senate

A file photo of the Peace Corps Office in Abuja.

 

 

The Nigerian Peace Corps (Est, etc) Bill, 2019 has been read for the first in the Senate Chamber of the National Assembly.

This followed the reintroduction of the Peace Corps Bills to the lawmakers during Tuesday’s plenary by Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume.

The bill seeks to transform the Peace Corps which operates as a non-governmental organisation into a paramilitary government agency to be known as the Nigerian Peace Corps.

The 8th National Assembly had passed the Peace Corps Bill in 2017 following a protracted battle involving the organisation and security agencies in the country.

A file photo of Senator Ali Ndume.

 

 

While many Nigerians, especially the youth were hopeful that the creation of the corps would reduce the unemployment rate, the bill failed to become a law as President Muhammadu Buhari withheld his assent in February 2018.

The President had explained that he rejected the bill due to security concerns and the burden of funding the organisation by the Federal Government.

He also said the bill sought to empower the Peace Corps to undertake activities currently being performed by extant security and law enforcement agencies in the country.

Displeased with the President’s action, some members of the House of Representatives decided to revive the bill by vetoing President Buhari’s decision.

However, there was a loud negative response from members of the House when the then Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, put the motion to a voice vote in May 2018.

Boko Haram Insurgency: We Lost Over 847 Soldiers From 2013 To Date, Says Ndume

 

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, has said that Nigeria lost over 847 soldiers fighting in the North East to Boko Haram from 2013 to date.

Ndume, who stated this while briefing journalists in Abuja on the findings by his colleagues who recently returned from Maiduguri, explained that the figures are for only soldiers buried in the Military cemetery located in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.

“From the record, we saw in the cemetery, by their record, I think we lost over 847 soldiers from 2013 to date that is their record.

“And they have other cemeteries elsewhere in Abuja and other places where they bury their victims.”

READ ALSO: Senate Asks FG To Declare Emergency On Federal Roads

He also debunked allegations that a mass burial is conducted for soldiers by the Nigerian Army in Maiduguri, stressing that the military ensures the bodies of victims are retrieved.

“The allegation that there is a mass burial; when I saw it there, it is not true.

“Nigerian Army will never do that; In fact, if any of them is missing, they go out to search, to get that person to declare whether he is dead or alive; even if he is dead, they try to retrieve the body.”

Mr. Ndume also said that a panel has started investigating allegations that some Non-Governmental Organisations operating in the North-East, were providing useful information to the Boko Haram leaders.

“Another area of concern which the senate will look into is this allegation that the various NGOs in that area are conniving with the insurgents, providing them with information, logistics, and so many things.

“Well, I have been critical about this from the beginning, but it has come out now that a few of them operating there are actually aiding, abating and supporting the insurgents.

“But, we will do an investigation and you will hear if we have the evidence. So far, we have evidence, we just want to make it credible,” he added.

Ndume Demands Action As Boko Haram Terrorists Ambush Travellers In Borno

 

The Senator representing Southern Borno at the National Assembly, Ali Ndume, has lamented over continued attacks by Boko Haram insurgents in the state.

Ndume told journalists on Thursday that the spate of attacks carried out by the terrorists in the last two months is worrisome.

The latest attack in the state according to humanitarian workers, was an ambush of a passenger bus along Gwoza-Pulka road, Warabe village on Tuesday.

At least seven women were reportedly abducted in the attack, while some of the male passengers who fled into the bush are yet to be seen.

Senator Ali Ndume who is a native of Gwoza confirmed that attack, he added that he received distress calls from relatives of some of the victims.

He urged the Federal Government to intervene and find a lasting solution to the renewed attacks in the state.

“It is worrisome. There was attack in Gwoza, there was a suicide attack bombing, all these within a gap of two months. As a representative of the people, I am worried.

“I hope that the security agencies and the people responsible are equally worried and trying to do something. I appreciate the fact that changes were made last time in response to such attacks but that is not enough. The government must do more to bring an end to this issue of insurgency,” he said.

The lawmaker noted that he agrees that insurgents have been defeated but some black spots  – the Sambisa axis, Lake Chad area, the Mandara Mountains – must be paid prompt and adequate attention to.

Aim Of Defectors Is To Stop Buhari’s Re-election – Ndume

 

The senator representing Borno South, Ali Ndume, has taken a swipe at some of his colleagues who defected to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) from the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Speaking to journalists in Maiduguri on Saturday, he explained that most of them have corruption questions to answer and are therefore doing everything they can to stop the president’s re-election in 2019.

“This is a gang up which is targeted to Buhari by politicians that are afraid.

“The war against corruption is not going to be compromised by President Muhammadu Buhari and people feel that this war is going to get to them if he gets another term.

“So, that’s why you see a conglomeration of people of the same character saying, “let’s get rid of this man first”.

Ndume also mocked the PDP calling it a dead party with 12 people jostling for the presidential ticket in their desperation to oust Buhari.

“There is only one presidential slot in the PDP and right now there are 12 people going for the same presidential ticket. But the strange thing is that they are working together and their objective is to get Buhari out,” he said.

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The senator had in an earlier interview with Channels Television, described the PDP as a “dying party” adding that although some issues may not have been handled properly within the APC, the PDP was not any better.

“Everybody knows that PDP is a dying party, in fact, it is a bad brand and that’s why I think they’re rebranding.

“I heard that they want to even change the name after apologising to Nigerians. So if people are going to that place that is apologising to Nigerians or thinking about changing their name, then so be it”.

He further stated that the defections, even that of key figures like the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, would not affect the chances of the APC or President Buhari in the 2019 general elections.

“When you lose even one person, especially a senator or the Senate President, you’re losing a key figure but that is not to say that anybody is indispensable in any way.

“You can’t say Saraki is not important but I’m saying that he cannot do irreparable damage to the APC or the chances of President Muhammadu Buhari,” he said.

2019: Saraki’s Defection Not A Threat To APC, Buhari’s Chances – Ndume

 

The senator representing Borno South, Ali Ndume, has said that Senate President Bukola Saraki’s defection from the All Progressives Congress (APC), to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is not a threat to the party’s chances or that of President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 general elections.

Speaking on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Wednesday, he admitted that although Saraki is a key figure in the party and every member is significant to its success, the defections would have little effect on the party.

He said, “When you lose even one person, especially a senator or the Senate President, you’re losing a key figure but that is not to say that anybody is indispensable in any way.

“So just because of the defection of certain individuals, which is not new in the political scene, you can’t write off or hang the future of anybody – not even the president but anybody – and I can say authoritatively without fear of controversy that the president, especially because of his integrity and the type of person he is, we need him more than he needs us.

“So, the political fortune of Mr President specifically cannot be questioned by the gale of defections,” he said.

The senator further explained that “Yes, when you lose people, you’ll be concerned. At the time we left the PDP, five or six governors left with us and about 10 or 25 of us were senators then.

“At one time, Vice President Atiku left, so this is not a new thing and it’s not a real big deal, it’s not a real threat.

“You can’t say Saraki is not important but I’m saying that he cannot do irreparable damage to the APC or the chances of President Muhammadu Buhari”.


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Ndume Accuses Saraki Of Shutting Down NASS Over Personal Issues
Saraki Reserves The Right To Reconvene Senate – Kola Ologbondiyan


Ndume, however, admitted that some issues within the APC, may not have been handled appropriately and some members may have been treated unfairly.

“I want to equally say that, that is not to say that the people have been fairly treated because I know that some of my colleagues have issues that would have been handled better.

“Even Saraki’s case would have been handled better,” he said.

The Senator, however, took a swipe at the PDP, saying that the party was not a better option for the defectors.

“Everybody knows that PDP is a dying party, in fact, it is a bad brand and that’s why I think they’re rebranding.

“I heard that they want to even change the name after apologising to Nigerians. So if people are going to that place that is apologising to Nigerians or thinking about changing their name, then so be it”.

Saraki Reserves The Right To Reconvene Senate – Kola Ologbondiyan

 

The Spokesperson for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Kola Ologbondiyan, has said that the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, reserves the right to reconvene the Senate.

He said this on Wednesday in response to comments by the senator representing Borno South, Ali Ndume, that Saraki had shut down the Senate abruptly and therefore, asked that it be reconvened.

Quoting section 12 of the Senate’s Standing Rule, the PDP spokesperson explained that “It is the responsibility of the Senate President to determine when the Senate will reconvene.

“Senator Ali Ndume was on the floor the day the Senate adjourned the sitting and as such, it is wrong and amounts to a blackmail to say that he shut down the Senate.

“Senator Bukola Saraki did not shut down the Senate,” Ologbondiyan said.

Ndume had accused the Senate President of shutting down the National Assembly over personal issues.

He said he was shocked at the manner with which he (Saraki) acted and therefore, asked that the Senate be reconvened in order for it to resolve some critical national matters.

He said, “What I want to do personally is to call on the Senate President Bukola Saraki, to reconvene the Senate because we have critical matters of urgent national importance before the National Assembly.

“His closure of the National Assembly that day was unbelievable. I was shocked by the way he acted.

“The Senate is not Saraki, he is just a member of the Senate. Saraki is just a presiding officer that anybody can be, so for him to have just shut down the National Assembly because of personal issues, is very unfortunate and uncalled for especially when you have very important matters before the Senate,” he added.

According to Ndume, some of the pending matters include the approval of the FCT budget, budgets for INEC, the appointment of ICPC members among others.