Chieftain of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, has said that ongoing national security concerns are more pressing than the 2023 elections.
In a statement from his media office in Abuja, yesterday, he explained that the political leadership of the country must not concentrate only on permutations on the 2023 elections to the detriment of urgent national security concerns.
“We must have a nation first before election and our people must be alive and safe first to be able to vote. The Barbarians are at the gate of the capital, our Republic is under threat, our tested ways of life pluralism, democracy, State secularism, are about to be imperilled. The clock is ticking, time is running out, the forces of evil are set to take the capital,” Olawepo-Hashim said.
According to a report by Beacon Consulting, a security risk management and intelligence consulting company, banditry and terrorist attacks have escalated across Nigeria, leading to the death of 7,222 persons and abduction of 3,823 others in the past seven months.
A breakdown in terms of geopolitical zones revealed that the North-East recorded 777 incidents, in which 2,052 individuals were killed and 344 kidnapped. In the North-West, 519 incidents occurred, leading to the death of 2,229 individuals, while 1,989 were abducted. No fewer than 494 incidents were witnessed in the North-Central, of which 1,748 residents lost their lives, and 950 were kidnapped.
Olawepo-Hashim maintained that “in the past two years we have spoken on the Nation’s security challenges and offered concrete suggestions on how to confront them, but all suggestions have been ignored. Now is the time for Patriots and statesmen and friends of Nigeria to rally and defend the Ideals of our Republic, the Ideals of Peace and the Ideals of modernity and civilisation.”
He had on August 10 2021, listed a six point agenda as a pathway to security and peace in the country. It included establishment of a Defence Co-operation Agreement (DCA) with a friendly nation to halt the enemy’s advance as well as creating the framework for states and local governments to have their own police. Also on February 5, 2022, Olawepo-Hashim maintained that for the sacrifices and efforts of our gallant soldiers not to be in vain, “it is time for the nation to construct a new defence and security architecture to permanently destroy the seed of terror and uproot banditry/kidnapping across the country.”
He said with all manners of armed groups within two-hour drive to Abuja from Niger and Kaduna, government should not downplay the alarm raised by Governor Zulum of Borno on the growing number of ISWAP fighters in the country.
He equally noted in his April statement that if between 2015 and now, the government had allocated approximately N5.081trillion for defence, including the appropriation of N4.669trillion to the Federal Ministry of Defence from 2016 to date and $1 billion for the purchase of military equipment, the template on the fight on terror requires political responses that must tackle the underlining causes of the threats.
“Presently, it is an understatement to say we are at a turning point in our history when terrorist forces have technically surrounded our nation’s capital highlighting the severity of our national security challenge. Despite the offensive of the military to clean up the bushes in the capital, the axis surrounding the capital are still in the hands of the enemy and they retain the capacity, flexibility and initiative to launch attacks at any place and time of their choice We should never surrender through in-action, limited action or wrong and slow response to the urgent threat confronting our father land, our response must be deep, broad and all encompassing.”