Fred Itua, Abuja
The Chief Whip of the Senate, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, has called for equity in the spread of appointments of heads of the major security outfits in the country, particularly the Service Chiefs.
This is as the former governor of Abia State described the controversy generated by the now suspended Ruga settlement policy of the Federal Government as unnecessary.
Fielding questions from newsmen on national issues in Abuja, Friday, Kalu said that appointments of Service Chiefs should be spread across the six geo-political zones in the mode of constitutional provision of one minister per state.
He disclosed that a bill to that effect may come up in the Senate soon as a way of allaying the fears of marginalisation from any segment of the country.
“In terms of appointments because the constitution says that every state should have at least one minister; that is statutory, it is good to also spread the Service Chiefs, which I will like people in the Senate to bring a bill, so we can make a bill that every region must have a Service Chief,” he said .
While the Service Chiefs are the Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army of Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Chief of Air Staff and the Inspector General of Police, heads of strategic security outfits in this context are those of the Department of State Services (DSS), National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and political appointees such as National Security Adviser (NSA) and the Minister of Defence.
The Senate Chief Whip, however, added that inasmuch as appointees in such category are more or less personal staff of the president, Nigerians should focus more attention on service delivery of whoever is in power than the nature or composition of his appointees within the security circle.
According to him, President Muhammadu Buhari in spite of alleged lopsidedness of appointments being attached to his government, has done more for the South Eastern geo-political zone than any other previous governments in terms of projects execution.
He said: “When you look at it, Service Chiefs are like personal staff of the president, they are not really constitutionally owned because you only work with military men you trust. That is the truth whether you want to hear that or not.
“I can take you to memory lane on all those that have been Heads of State, they just did the same thing the president is doing so there is nothing new. Who was President Obasanjo’s director of SSS? He was Colonel Kayode Aare, he was not from my village, who was President Jonathan’s director of SSS? He was Ekpenyong, he was not from my village.
“ So, everybody goes back to his region. He might not be the best, but that is the trend because everybody wants to be in control of his security. So, this is why I see people shout they are marginalized, sometimes these things are not real, we should look for productive things that would be done by the government.
“I don’t care about who is appointed. What I care about is what services are they giving for people to move about their businesses, for people to be secured for people to be saved, for armed robbers to stop harassing people, kidnappers to be tamed and so on and so forth.
“In the area of project execution in the Southeast, for example, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government is doing far, far better than the previous ones consciously voted for by the people of the area.
“The Second Niger Bridge is coming on board. I can tell you from the 70s, specifically from 1975, every administration has promised the easterners Second Niger Bridge and the benefit is not only for Easterners, it is for the Nigerian people and every other person that came spoke big English and grammar and they did not do anything, but President Buhari is implementing it right away.”
The recently suspended policy to on Ruga settlement, according to the senator, was not properly marketed to Nigerians, particularly those in the southern and North-central axis. The policy, he disclosed was perfectly implemented by him in Abia State in 2001 when he was governor without generating any controversy let alone mistrust or suspicion between Abians and their brothers from the North or other categories of Nigerians resident there.
“When people talk about Ruga, I wonder, in 2001 I did a Ruga in Abia. In Lokpanta I built it and the cows were being sold in Umuahia and Aba. In 2001, I invited the Hausa community and they said, Umuahia and Aba, we needed to decongest.
“I held meeting with the communities and they agreed on Lokpanta and that is the biggest cow market both Southeast and South-south of Nigeria today. So, it is about the attitude of people to issues.
“Some of us are the largest sellers of cow. I started selling cow as far back as when I was in the university. I am still selling cows till tomorrow because it is profitable, so, most of the cows you see are not owned by Hausa people. We trade on cows. So, people should have information because information is power,” he explained .