By Bolaji Ogundele, Abuja
Insecurity is holding down development, President Muhammadu Buhari told senators and House of Representatives members Tuesday night.
He said the menace has inhibited his administration’s ability to build infrastructure and engage in other development targets it set for the country.
According to him, the prevailing situation requires hard choices and difficult decisions that must be taken with diligence and patriotism.
He said such measures remain the only way to ensuring Nigeria’s survival.
The President spoke at a dinner with the 469 members of the National Assembly, held at the State House Conference Centre, Abuja.
Buhari told the lawmakers that nothing must be spared in ending insecurity, reinstating his administration’ readiness y to use everything within its powers to restore peace and bring perpetrators of criminal activities to book.
According to him, insecurity has also truncated the government’s plan to provide the much-needed social services to the people and to attract investments that drive innovation, create industries and provide jobs and create wealth.
He said: “Insecurity, manifesting as insurgencies, banditry, kidnapping and urban crime of all sorts is the single most difficult challenge we face today.
‘‘Some of the people who perpetuate these various manifestations of insecurity do so for profit, others, in the name of discredited ideologies.
“Whatever their motivations may be, their actions are an existential threat to our country.
“In the circumstances, we must do everything within our power, without consideration of distractions, to put an end to their activities and bring them to book.
“We cannot allow ourselves to be distracted from this objective, or waver in our commitment, and I am confident that together we will triumph in our present efforts.”
President Buhari lauded the Ninth National Assembly for discharging their legislative duties with maturity and competence, describing the legislature as “full partners in national development.”
He particularly commended the minority parties in the legislature for their cooperation and support for government programmes.
The President said: “Our ability to govern in the best interests of the Nigerian people depends to a great deal on effective collaboration and partnership between the Legislature and the Executive.
“The obligation to check and balance each other is not an invitation to conflict, and it should not be characterised by quarrelsome disagreement when consultation, engagements and compromise have proven time and again to be a more effective approach.
“In the Ninth Assembly, you have distinguished yourselves by your conduct in office, by the scale and quality of your legislative interventions, and by your capacity for engaging with the difficult questions facing the country with maturity and competence.”
The President listed the restoration of the January – December budget cycle; the amendment of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), the Nigeria Police Act, the Finance Act, the Deep Offshore Production Sharing Contract Act, among others as some of the legislative accomplishments of the Ninth Assembly.
Commending the leadership under Senate President Ahmad Lawan and House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila for their dedication through challenging times, the President said: ‘‘You have also, succeeded in overcoming the political and other obstacles that have for two decades, inhibited the much-needed reforms of our oil and gas industry, resulting now in the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
“I congratulate you all, and thank you for your contributions to the difficult, yet necessary task of nation building.”
The President, who noted that the two arms of government came amid significant challenges, said: “Overcoming these challenges require that we finally confront long ignored questions of economics, politics, law and history that are often at the root of our national problems.
“This moment in history requires us to make hard choices, take difficult decisions and act with diligence and patriotism to ensure that our country can survive and thrive long after we have all left.
“What this means in effect is that our jobs will not get any easier. However, the objectives we seek, and will work together to achieve, deserve our best efforts regardless the sacrifice.”
Noting that the second legislative year of the Ninth Assembly has just come to an end, the President said was appropriate to jointly review shared commitments, to identify what has been achieved, and what is still left undone.
“This way, we can prioritise activities and allocate the resources necessary to ensure that in the lifetime of this Assembly, and of the administration, we can complete the work we have started, and leave behind a record of achievement that will stand all of us in good stead in the assessment of history,” he said.
Lawan said the dinner was beyond eating as the purpose was to bring together the arms of government that had worked so closely.
According to him, since the beginning of the Fourth Republic in 1999, no government has been so challenged by paucity of funds and myriads of other challenges.
He said although members of the National Assembly belonged to different political parties, they have worked in brotherhood, standing together and ensuring that they are able to deliver when necessary.
Lawan noted that the senators and representatives had worked together, seeing to the demolition of the “demons” that stopped the passage of critical bills such as the PIB and others in the past.
The State president said the legislators worked as patriots and as people who were there to ensure the good governance of the country.
Stressing the need to allocate more cash for security, Lawan noted that “there is not better investment in Nigeria today than investment in security,” hoping that security would have more money in the 2022 budget.
Lawan observed that the nation’s economy survived many shocks because the legislature passed the national budgets in time in the last two years.”
He advised Nigerians to aggregate their views and build a consensus on matters they want addressed in the ongoing constitution review exercise.
Gbajabiamila said it was a delight that they could sit with Executive not over official matters but to eat, adding that he was proud of House members, singling out opposition members who he said were engaging in constructive opposition “as they watch their number deplete.
“As we move towards 2023, I hope their colour will change. I wait on them,” the speaker said.
He lauded the National Assembly, especially on the passage of the PIB, assuring that the Electoral Act amendment would be passed before the National Assembly goes on break tomorrow,
Legislators from all political parties in the legislature were invited for the event.
It was the first time members of the National Assembly from across parties would be hosted by the President at the Presidential Villa.
At the reception were Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha, ministers and other senior government officials.