ADDRESS BY THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, REP. FEMI GBAJABIAMILA AT THE OPENING OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES SPECIAL SUMMIT ON NATIONAL SECURITY. MUHAMMADU BUHARI CONFERENCE CENTRE, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY (NIA) COMPLEX, ABUJA. MONDAY, 24TH MAY 2021.
- Good morning. I welcome you all to this Special Summit on National Security, and I thank you all most sincerely for being here today.
- This Summit is holding in the shadow of the death of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, alongside other officers of the Nigerian Army and Airforce, who last week, lost their lives in a most unfortunate air accident. On behalf of the House of Representatives, I extend my sincere condolences to their families and pray that they are comforted through the abundant grace of God.
- At this time, let us in our hearts pray for the dearly departed: Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, Brig. Gen. MI
Abdulkadir, Brig. Gen. Olayinka, Brig. Gen. Kuliya, Maj. Hayat, Maj. Hamza, Sgt. Umar, Flt. Lt. Asaniyi, Flt. Lt. Olufade, Sgt. Adesina and ACM Oyedepo. They died in the service of our nation. May they rest forever in peace.
- Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru and the soldiers and airmen who died with him gave to our nation the last full measure of devotion. It is for us the living to show fidelity to the cause they served by rededicating ourselves to the task of building a more perfect union. Through the achievement of lasting peace and abiding prosperity, we honour the memory of those who have given their lives that this nation might live.
- Today, at this time in our national history when insecurity threatens the authority of the state and the foundations of our nationhood. When the activities of bandits, insurgents and criminals of every stripe impede our efforts at progress and prosperity, we must confront the realisation that our previous and current approaches to addressing the challenges of insecurity have not yielded the desired results.
- Ultimately, an enduring peace depends on our ability to build a society where individuals can aspire to and achieve their righteous ambitions on the strength of their effort and regardless of the status of their birth. Yet, achieving this kind of society depends on securing the lives of our people, protecting property and investment, and ensuring that people can freely traverse the length of our country without fear of danger and molestation.
- The legislative obligation to make laws for the good governance of the country exists alongside a duty to make sure that the policies we develop and the legislation we consider and pass, address the most pressing concerns of the Nigerian people. Policies and legislation must also include the considered contributions of our citizens and be capable of meeting the highest ambitions of our nationhood.
- We have convened this Special Summit on National Security to jointly, as citizens and public servants, find solutions to the problem of insecurity in our country. We are here because we know that our national ambitions will not be attained without lasting peace and security. We are here to have honest conversations about where we are, how we got here, and the hard choices we must make to guarantee a secure future for all our nation’s children.
- We will over the next few days consider the contributions of a cross-section of the Nigerian people and develop therefrom, recommendations that take into proper account the social and constitutional, political, and economic factors that contribute to insecurity in our country. We will identify specific legislative actions and make practicable recommendations for executive action.
- We do not seek and do not have it in our power to put an end to all conflict. Our responsibility in government is to ensure that the lives and property of all the people within Nigeria are safe from the predations of those who use violence for profit or in service of religious or ethnic objectives. And to make sure that whosoever raises arms against our country is served the full measure of justice.
- This Summit is not an avenue for name-calling, for apportioning blame or absolving responsibility. Our national house is on fire, and the people we serve rightly expect that we will devote all our energies and resources to trying to improve the future, rather than be paralysed in the present, grieving about the errors and failures of the past. It is by the work we do now that we can redeem ourselves and save our beloved country. This Summit must be, and is solution driven.
- Our deliberations in this Summit and the recommendations that emerge therefrom will reflect all the factors that have precipitated our present circumstances, including issues of economic fairness, the allocation of state resources, the deficiencies of our criminal justice system, and the role of critical national institutions such as the National Assembly, the Judiciary, and the state and local governments.
- The work of this Summit will be conducted behind closed doors to allow informed stakeholders to engage frankly on matters of National Security in a protected environment. This way we can participate in an exhaustive consideration of ideas. Already, thousands of memoranda
Page 5 of 8
and other submissions have been received and reviewed. These will also form part of the Summit’s report and recommendations.
- This Summit will produce recommendations for legislative action and the National Assembly will begin to implement these immediately. We will present to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR our recommendations for executive action and Mr President has assured me that he will receive and consider the report, as a good faith contribution by parliament to address a matter of urgent national importance.
- The work we will do here over the next few days will only yield the desired results if we all, across government recognise that only an ‘all of government’ approach can guarantee our success in overcoming the challenge of insecurity in Nigeria. I ask that in that spirit, we resolve to work productively with one another in the joint task of securing our nation and protecting our people.
- Ladies and gentlemen, we are a nation under attack. Our victory in this present battle depends greatly on our
Page 6 of 8
ability to set aside our differences and mobilise in one accord against an impending catastrophe that threatens all of us regardless of language, religion, politics or status. It may well be that it is in the crucible of this battle for survival that we become a nation fully formed. Therefore, we must rise to the moment with passion and perspective.
- We hope for peace and desire its benefits. Yet neither fervent hope nor heartfelt desire will suffice because the ends of peace require action. As in the words of the former American President, Bill Clinton, ‘peace must be waged with a warrior’s resolve; bravely, proudly, and relentlessly. Secure in the knowledge of the single greatest difference between war and peace, in peace everybody wins.’
- Let us in this defining moment, work together to pursue the things that make for peace. Let us dedicate ourselves to ending violence, and disorder in our land, and to improving the quality of life for all our nation’s people. Let us work together to uphold the honour and glory of Nigeria, and free our nation to be a place of peace and justice forevermore.
- I thank His Excellency, President Muhammdu Buhari, GCFR for his support for this Special Summit on National Security. I assure all Nigerians that the House of Representatives remains committed to doing our part to enhance the government’s efforts at securing our country and protecting the lives and investments of Nigerians and all those who believe in our country.
- I thank all who have contributed and will be contributing to the work of this Summit. May our efforts yield success and set our nation on the path to peace, stability and security for all. I welcome you all once more to this Special Summit on National Security and I thank you all for your presence here this morning.
- May God bless and keep you. And may God bless our Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Page 8 of 8