*Laments Nigeria divided more ever than before
*Says issues of security, citizens’ welfare not prioritised by FG
*Reveals most equipment used by soldiers procured by Shagari 42 yrs ago
FORMER Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume (All Progressives Congress, APC, Borno South), has condemned moves to retain the Presidency in the North by the ruling APC in 2023, saying having a candidate from the North and South was unconstitutional and tantamount to third term.
He also condenmed subtle moves by some persons to retain the 2023 Presidency in the North, adding that what held at present was a government of some people within the government.
According to him, Nigeria has become so divided along ethnic and regional lines more ever than before.
Ndume, who spoke on the State of the Nation Roundtable organised by Correspondents’ Chapel, FCT, of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, in Abuja, weekend, said 2023 presidential pendulum for equity, fairness and justice should shift to the South because the North has had its own, having had its two term tenure.
Ndume said: “What we have now is a government of some people within the government. I am against APC producing its presidential candidate from the North. The APC presidential candidate should come from the South.
“I have said it before and will still say it again that if we have a northerner as APC presidential candidate, to me, it is tantamount to third term and it is not constitutional.
“The (APC) constitution says the president shall serve two terms and we said then that the North should serve two terms.
“If you say the North should produce the presidential candidate again, it means you are going for third term, which is not fair and I believe in fairness, justice and equality.
“Let it be a candidate from the South — and that means, South-South, South-East and South-West — to clinch the ticket.
“For the South-East, let me say for example, you want to be the head of this house and you are calling for the division of the house, will it work?
“I think the South-East needs to think about it. That is what is creating the rumour for the northerners to even say they want to be the president again. If you want to be president of Nigeria, you must believe in the unity of Nigeria. I support the candidate to come from anywhere in the South.”
Most equipment used by soldiers procured by Shagari 42 yrs ago
Ndume, who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, revealed that having gone round military establishments across the country, he discovered that the equipment being used by the Army were procured 42 years ago during the late President Shehu Shagari’s administration.
He lamented that in the course of his oversight to these formations, no Army was seen with a new AK-47 rifle, against what obtained with bandits, insurgents and kidnappers seen with new AK-47 rifles and ammunition.
He called on the Federal Government to prioritise the major issues of security and welfare of citizens of the country, describing them as serious threats that must be taken very seriously.
He said Nigeria was in sorry state, considering the high rate of unemployment, collapsing education system and frequent kidnap of school children, among others.
Ndume, who noted that Nigeria security agents were not well-equipped, urged the Federal Government to request the assistance of government of the United States of America to bring to the country experts to train its security personnel rather than taking them there for maximum output.
Senator Ndume said, “The state of the nation, which we are talking about today is a serious matter. We all know that Nigeria today is in a state of serious crisis because the fundamental thing that keeps a country going and progressing to survival which are security and citizens welfare, these two things are now under threat in Nigeria.
“In Maiduguri now, once it is 5 o’clock you cannot go in or come out from all angles. The most unfortunate thing is that Nigerians from the top to the bottom, still triviliase tribalism and continue to give the situation religious coloration.
“I, as a legislator of almost 20 years now, I must confess that I am confused. The problem in this country is so much. The country is so divided now.
“The issue of security and welfare of citizens has not been prioritised by the government. We have basically four challenges— insurgency in the North-East, banditry in North-West, herdsmen attack in the South and armed robbery cases everywhere.
“The total number of security personnel in the country, including the Customs, Immigration, Police, the military and others is not up to 800,000 in a country of over 200 million population.”
A country like Nigeria is not serious in addressing its security challenges. Most of the Equipment being used by our Soldiers and security agencies were procured by Former President Shehu Shagari. I have not seen a Soldier with a brand new AK47, but the bandits are having new AK47. I have gone round to Army formations to see all these.
“If you go round and see the conditions of our Soldiers, you will not allow your brother to be there no matter how patriotic you are.
“The Nigerian Armed forces that is engaged in more than 32 states, because of the need to address some of the serious security threats, are not up to 160,000. The Nigerian Police personnel is not up to 400,000 in a country where you have security threats here and there.
“The Nigerian security agencies, especially the armed forces are not well equipped. The military has not been able to finish the terrorists because their equipment are not enough. The solution is with the government. As legislators, we give all the supports needed.
“I was embarrassed when the present government launched only three helicopters at the Eagles Square, while Myanmar that is not more than Lagos State ordered for 15 attack jets.”(Vanguard)