Home Politics Insecurity: House of Rep security summit report provides solutions —Rep Igbakpa

Insecurity: House of Rep security summit report provides solutions —Rep Igbakpa


Hon. Benson Rollands Igbakpa represents Ethiope federal constituency of Delta State in the House of Representatives. He speaks to Saturday Vanguard on some of the activities of the parliament in 2021.

How will you describe the legislative activities of the House of Representatives in 2021?

We have done quite a lot under the leadership of Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila. It has been very pivotal. He has been on the driving seat and has directed us where we should go. There were many calls to the executive arm of government to take charge of the security situation in the country and that informed the setting up of an ad hoc committee chaired by the Speaker himself to x-ray the security situation.

They came out with 16-point recommendations which were handed over to Mr President for implementation. On the economic side, in line with the cooperation exhibited so far with the executive arm of government, they came with some loan applications for some critical projects and they were approved. And going into the area of our core legislative activities, we did quite well.

A lot of amendments were carried out to existing bills like the Nigerian Customs and Excise Bill, the Infectious Disease Act which was passed and I am happy that in 2021 I got my bill passed too, that of the Federal Medical Centre.

So, we actually did our best as a House and I want to say kudos to the leadership of the House for the direction they have given and for the leadership that they have exhibited. I think we did our best. Not forgetting the Electoral Amendment Act, we actually came out and we did what we had to do, we listened to Nigerians. I know that the discourse is still on.

Are you surprised that despite all the security-related bills and resolutions and the efforts of the House, the country is still being terrorized?

We are running a constitutional democracy in Nigeria, everybody, like in a football field has his area of assignment and our assignment is to make laws and do oversights. You will remember, the Petroleum Industry Bill that became very contentious but we were able to wade through and I commended my people in the south for showing understanding, believing that he who fights and runs away will definitely come another day. It is not over, there will be time for improvement on what has been done.

On the other side, it is not that these motions are not being adhered to, yes some of them, but the responsibility is actually with the executive arm of government. Ours is to churn out, ours is to oversight. But again there is one thing I noticed, if our oversight must be that effective, then Nigerians should show understanding with the parliament in terms of providing support and resources for oversight because no member of parliament will use their own money, their vehicles to do oversight.

You fly, you pay for hotels and if you want proper oversight, you must be independent in doing it. But where the funding is not enough, what is given to the national assembly as we all know, has been a very infinitesimal fraction of the national budget but there is this cry about so much going to the national assembly and it is very discouraging.

The funding is not enough. So, they need to make provisions, Nigerians must cooperate with the parliament to give Nigerians the oversight functions expected of them. You are going to do oversight and maybe the ministry you are going to oversight is the one paying for your air ticket. It doesn’t make any sense.

They say he who pays the piper dictates the tune and if they are going to pay for your hotel, it becomes difficult. But if you are going, you have everything yourself, you are independent financially, you can actually go and do it. Sometimes, because there is no funding, it becomes difficult to go and do this proper oversight that we are talking about.

When you talk about security, you talk about logistics, accommodation, your feeding and sometimes you have to even go as far as getting a consultant who is better grounded to look at issues and you have to pay the consultant.

So, I will say, yes, nobody is happy with the security situation of the country as it is today but the issue here is that of scarce resources. The Nigerian Police are underfunded. We are talking about 200 million people. If you look at one policeman to the number of people, the ratio, the gap is very wide and that is not what is applicable in other places.

So, you are saying in essence that because of funding, Nigeria has not been able to tackle the insecurity situation?

No just funding alone. Funding is just one of them. The tactics again is another thing and thirdly, we have to do what is called the mental reorientation. Even the people on the field, some of them are not free from this insurgence. Then, again, we have our people within us, people who trade with them, who give them food, who give them girls, look at those they just arrested. These people live among us.

Are you bothered that the President is yet to implement those recommendations in the security summit of the House?

Yes, I am very bothered because the security situation is an emergency and we expect Mr. President having received those recommendations from the House of Representatives to sit immediately with his team and see how the recommendations should be implemented because the more you delay, the more the damage that is done. So, I will tell you that I am highly bothered.

How do you feel getting your bill passed and what is the impact of that establishment?

I want to thank the press for the efforts and the push they have given me over time. They have really been partners in progress and that happens to my number one bill that has gone through. It is a federal medical centre and you know what health means to Nigerians and the world all over now.

Everybody is thinking of how to get the best of health care and making it affordable and accessible too because it is not just to say there is healthcare and you can’t even get to the place. So, that is the essence, bringing that one around Delta Central and Delta South and even people in Edo state could benefit from it. So, I am happy and I congratulate the people of my constituency.

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