Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The House of Representatives has said it would meet with the United States Congress in January 2020 over the Tucano fighter jets ordered by the Federal Government from the United States.
The chairman of the House Committee on Air Force, Shehu Koko, stated this at the inaugural meeting of the committee in Abuja yesterday.
Koko said the House, like other Nigerians, was concerned about the security situation in the country, and would do everything possible to support the armed forces in the fight against insecurity.
The lawmaker noted that the security and welfare of the people was the paramount responsibility of government, as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
He pledged that the committee would strive to uphold the Constitution and other extant laws to ensure that the interests of Nigerians are protected.
Consequently, Koko added that, “Following our last meeting with the leadership of this House and the service chiefs, we have contacted the US Congress Committee on Air Force and I want to assure this House and the Air Force management team that, by next yearm January, we are going to engage the US Congress Committee on Air Force on our Super Tucanos. We are aware of the engagement and money pumped into it and we promise ourselves that we are going to do something.
“We will endeavour to strengthen our legislative frameworks in this area as well as provide adequate funding where necessary, through enhanced budgetary allocation to the Nigerian Air Force and other agencies under this committee.”
On his part, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar, who led senior air force officers to the meeting, said the service was involved in various operations, alongside other security agencies, to tackle security challenges in Nigeria.
According to him, in the last five years, the Nigerian Air Force flew over 65,000 hours to provide air power and other support in the fight against insecurity in the country.
He commended the National Assembly for passing the Air Force Institute of Technology Bill, noting that it would greatly enhance the operations of the service, especially in the area of technology.
Meanwhile, the House has frowned at deaths arising from negligence by medical workers, stating it must not be allowed to continue.
Chairman, House Committee on Health Institutions, Pascal Obi, said the Green Chamber would put legislative measures in place to curb the ugly development.
Obi noted that, already, the committee has written to the various health institutions across the country to caution them that the era of carelessness in the discharge of their duty was over.
Besides, the lawmaker said the ninth Assembly was committed to improving the health institutions, especially in the areas of service delivery, staff welfare and infrastructure.
“The lackadaisical or nonchalant attitude of the operators of the institutions is another thing. Because, most times, the workers are not serious with their jobs: a lot of carelessness. A lot of deaths have been recorded as a result of carelessness on the part of the operators of these health institutions. Those are things we feel that are necessary we confront head-on. At the end of the day, we make the conditions of the health institutions better than we met them.
“We have already written to them (health institutions). We have drawn their attention to the very palpable area of poor conduct, lackadaisical attitude, carelessness and things like that; we have drawn their attention to them,” he said.
He added that the House Committee on Health in ninth Assembly, unlike in the eighth Assembly, consists of various health professionals, as well as people from other disciplines, and promised that they would bring their experience to bear in the discharge of their assignment.
“Everything will be done towards improving the health institutions, so that, at the end of the day when we exit in 2023, we will leave the health institutions better than we met them. I know most of their problems, ranging from their welfare, at times there are not adequate welfare packages for them; in most cases, the institutions are understaffed,” Obi said.
Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, said Nigerians’ negative perception about members of the National Assembly was as a result of misunderstanding of the primary functions of the legislature.
The House spokesman said the ninth Assembly would effectively engage the public to engender a better understanding of the functions of lawmakers.