Nigeria’s delegation of parliamentarians to the ECOWAS Parliament says the country is experiencing an uptick in security incidents.
The delegates made this known in their country report presented at the ongoing ECOWAS Parliament.
“Growing insecurity is a global phenomenon that countries, the world over, are battling to bring under control. With the increased rate of kidnappings on the highways and railways, armed robbery and incessant deadly clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the North and the unconscionable activities of gun wielding men in the South, there is no question that Nigeria is also experiencing an uptick in security incidents,” the report said in part.
“In a brazen attack in the North-West of the country, bandits on Monday 28th March 2022 bombed the Abuja-Kaduna rail track, in the process, destroyed a passenger train carrying an estimated 398 passengers. This unfortunate incident has reportedly led to the death of at least eight persons and the kidnapping of about 168 others. Incidentally, on 26th March 2022, the Kaduna airport was attacked by gunmen which resulted in the unfortunate death of an airport personnel, but further casualty was prevented by the quick response of military personnel within the vicinity.
“In the South-East, there is continued conflict between government security forces and “unknown gun men” that have been terrorizing the region and other law-abiding citizens. This has led to increased military presence in the region and security crackdowns to prevent a total breakdown of law and order.
“Unfortunately, the South-West has not been left untouched by the ongoing assault on our collective peace, as the region recently reported the killing of scores of Christians by gunmen that invaded a Sunday mass service at Owo in Ondo state.
“In acknowledgement of the dire security situation, the Federal government has exponentially increased the budgetary allocation to the defence and security sector by over 26% in the 2022 Federal Government budget. Consequently, the military has embarked on massive training of military personnel and logistics & infrastructural enhancements in renewed efforts to curb banditry and other criminal activities in the country.
The 34-member delegation also gave updates on other aspects including the forthcoming general elections, economy and health challenges.
Read full report below:
Honourable Speaker and Distinguished Parliamentarians, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the Nigerian Delegation to this First Ordinary Session of 2022, I convey warm greetings to you all from the Government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It is an honour to stand before you to present Nigeria’s Country Report which is structured thus:
- Political Situation;
- Security Situation;
- Human Right Situation;
- Health Situation; and
- Status of implementation of the ECOWAS texts.
- POLITICAL SITUATION
From the last Ordinary session till date, Nigeria has enjoyed a relatively stable political environment; this is despite the overwhelming impact of global events and insecurity on the socio-political space. The situation is projected to improve as Nigeria works towards strengthening her democracy in the 2023 general elections.
- Election Preparations
The political space in Nigeria is currently charged with election related activities. In this regard, the Federal Government and National Assembly of Nigeria, have worked relentlessly to ensure the passage of the amended Electoral Act. This is mainly to encourage active and inclusive participation of all citizens, while also enabling free, fair and credible general elections in 2023. The already signed amendment which has gained popular support guarantees amongst other things –
- That people with disabilities would have an opportunity to actively participate in the electoral process. The Act mandates the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to take reasonable steps to ensure that this group is assisted at the polling place units by the provision of suitable means of access and communication.
- The improved use of technology in voting and transmission of election results. It is anticipated that the use of technology for transmission of election results will be put to test in the upcominggubernatorial election in Ekiti state. This gives INEC time to make reasonable adjustments to the system before the general elections next year.
As of today, the major political parties are currently conducting party primaries that would see the emergence of the different flag bearers at the 2023 general elections. Consequently, the socio-political space in Nigeria is focused on discussions and matters relating to electioneering activities.
- Constitution Amendment
The Nigerian National Assembly has intensified efforts in amending her 1999 Constitution to improve the economic, political and social well-being of Nigerians. To achieve this, a total of 68 Bills were considered by the federal legislature which covered fundamental areas such as: partial devolution of powers to the state government; administrative autonomy for the local government; free, compulsory and basic education amongst a myriad of things.
In line with our federal governance system, the constitution alterations have been sent to State Houses of Assembly for further consideration.
- SECURITY SITUATION
- State of Security
Growing insecurity is a global phenomenon that countries, the world over, are battling to bring under control. With the increased rate of kidnappings on the highways and railways, armed robbery and incessant deadly clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the North and the unconscionable activities of gun wielding men in the South, there is no question that Nigeria is also experiencing an uptick in security incidents.
In a brazen attack in the North-West of the country, bandits on Monday 28th March 2022 bombed the Abuja-Kaduna rail track, in the process, destroyed a passenger train carrying an estimated 398 passengers. This unfortunate incident has reportedly led to the death of at least eight persons and the kidnapping of about 168 others. Incidentally, on 26th March 2022, the Kaduna airport was attacked by gunmen which resulted in the unfortunate death of an airport personnel, but further casualty was prevented by the quick response of military personnel within the vicinity.
In the South-East, there is continued conflict between government security forces and “unknown gun men” that have been terrorizing the region and other law-abiding citizens. This has led to increased military presence in the region and security crackdowns to prevent a total breakdown of law and order.
Unfortunately, the South-West has not been left untouched by the ongoing assault on our collective peace, as the region recently reported the killing of scores of Christians by gunmen that invaded a Sunday mass service at Owo in Ondo state.
In acknowledgement of the dire security situation, the Federal government has exponentially increased the budgetary allocation to the defence and security sector by over 26% in the 2022 Federal Government budget. Consequently, the military has embarked on massive training of military personnel and logistics & infrastructural enhancements in renewed efforts to curb banditry and other criminal activities in the country.
- Update on Security in the Gulf of Guinea
On a high note, the quest to keep our maritime space secured has yielded significant results. The 2021 launch and implementation of the Integrated National Maritime Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructures (Deep Blue Project), that targets insecurity in our waters, has resulted in the drastic reduction of piracy incidents in the Gulf of Guinea. The Q1 2022 report of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reveals a 56.25% reduction in piracy incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, as compared to Q1 of 2021, with 7 incidents recorded in 2022 as against 16 incidents in 2021.
In further recognition of Nigeria’s progress in the maritime security domain, the IMB has delisted Nigeria from its infamous red list of piracy-prone states, thus steadily taking Nigeria towards her vision of being a foremost maritime country in the region.
- HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION
- Evacuation of Nigerians from Ukraine
The massive humanitarian crisis that has ensued from the war in Ukraine has resulted in the displacement of thousands of our African brothers and sisters, most especially Nigerian students. It was most unfortunate that we had reports of Africans being discriminated against and prevented from leaving Ukraine and crossing into neighbouring countries to safety.
On receiving this unpalatable report, the Nigerian government immediately initiated talks with the Ukrainian and Polish governments on the alleged discriminatory practices against Africans, and Nigerians in particular. Fortunately, and in collaboration with private sector organizations and the Foreign Affairs Department of Ukraine, the Federal Government of Nigeria has successfully evacuated thousands of Nigerian citizens from the crisis region.
- Eradication of Human Trafficking
The Nigerian government has continued to intensify efforts to foil the activities of human traffickers in the country. In April 2022, the Federal agency responsible for the eradication of human trafficking in the country, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), rescued no fewer than 65 victims of alleged human trafficking at the Nigeria–Niger border.
As it stands, the Agency has rescued over a thousand victims of trafficking from 2021 till date and has actively pursued the conviction of 52 traffickers through the courts.
- HEALTH MATTERS
- Evolution of Covid-19 Pandemic
Undoubtedly, response to the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the largest political commitment in the history of healthcare system development in Nigeria. This is attributable to its global significance and substantial impact on the Nigerian economy. In no uncertain terms, the pandemic brought to the fore significance of prioritising healthcare on the political agenda and importance of attracting required investment in health security.
The 27th of February 2022 marked the two-year anniversary of the first detected COVID-19 case in Nigeria. Since then, Nigeria has confirmed an excess of 250,000 cases and recorded over 3,000 deaths. This pandemic that rocked the whole world resulted in the Federal Government’s implementation of frameworks geared towards strengthening the country’s healthcare system, to better cope with other infectious diseases and future health emergencies.
As such, a recent update from the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 pandemic, shows Nigeria has made significant improvement in her response and management of the spread of the virus. Due to the ‘all hands on deck’ approach of the Nigerian government and people, we are recording a decline in the number of new cases and reduced risk of importation of new variants. Incidentally, the availability of vaccines and incessant vaccination campaigns has enabled Nigeria to record significant number of fully vaccinated persons.
Based on the positive strides Nigeria has recorded in the management of the pandemic, the PSC recently reviewed social restrictions in line with the three established thematic areas: Movement; Industry & Labour; and Community Activities. As a result, revised travel protocol stipulates that inbound passengers to Nigeria who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are no longer required to carry out the former mandatory ‘Polymerase Chain Reaction’ (PCR) test before boarding Nigeria-bound flights. Also, fully vaccinated passengers arriving Nigeria are no longer required to carry out the post-arrival PCR or Rapid Antigen Tests.
- Lassa Fever Virus: Situation Report
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has activated the national multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary Lassa fever Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) in response to the Lassa fever outbreak in some parts of the country. To improve diagnostic capacity and active case detection, at least seven laboratories coordinated by the NCDC National Reference Laboratory (NRL) have been set-up to focus on swift confirmatory tests for Lassa fever.
As of April 2022, we have reported a total of 691 confirmed cases from 23 states of the federation. With a hundred and thirty-two (132) deaths, we have a case fatality ratio (CFR) of 19.1%, which is slightly down from the same time period of 2021 where we had a CFR of 21%.
Similarly, care for affected individuals has improved significantly, with NCDC providing support to states through the deployment of Rapid Response Teams (RRT). This has greatly improved outbreak investigation, contact tracing, response coordination, case management, psycho-social care for infected people, risk communication, and infection control activities, for preventive and curative treatment in centres across the country.
In addition, Nigeria through the NCDC is participating in the largest-ever Lassa fever study that aims to provide an accurate assessment of incidence of the disease in West Africa. It is hoped that this would accelerate the development of vaccines and therapeutics for Lassa fever.
- Monkeypox Virus: Situation Report
Since the latest detection of the monkeypox in a patient with recent travel history to Nigeria by the United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA), the NCDC has since put in place a National (Monkeypox) Technical Working Group (TWA). The TWA is a collaboration that brings together relevant government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and US Centres for Disease Control (US CDC), with the aim to effectively prevent, monitor, and respond to reported incidents.
- STATUS OF IMPLEMENTATION OF COMMUNITY TEXTS
- Protocol Relating to the Community Levy
In 2021, Nigeria remitted a total sum of US$ 74,730,054.43 to the ECOWAS Commission. In line with Nigeria’s commitment to fulfilling her financial obligations to ECOWAS, the Federal Government is assiduously making arrangements to pay up the contribution for 2022.
- Protocol on Free Movement of Persons and Goods
Nigeria has constantly shown initiative in the implementation of ECOWAS Texts on the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons and Goods. In furtherance of this shared vision of an economically advanced region, the Federal government of Nigeria has reopened four (4) additional land borders of the country to ease regional trade.
Additionally, as a giant in the sub-region, the Nigerian government continues to maintain her enduring commitment to the development of the region. This is shown by her active involvement and support for the Lagos-Abidjan highway, that is projected to bring exponential socio-economic development to countries within the region.
- The Supplementary Act on Equality of Rights between Women and Men for Sustainable Development in the ECOWAS Region
Nigeria’s commitment to the implementation of ECOWAS Texts on Equality of Rights between Women and Men resonates in her ongoing constitution amendment exercise.
Five of the bills that was put to vote at the National Assembly were focused on gender equity – to promote more opportunities for women in governance and the society at large. The gender equity bills underscore the following:
- additional seats for women in the legislature;
- indigeneship rights for married women;
- citizenship by registration for non-Nigerian men married to Nigerian women;
- 35% affirmative action for women in political party administration; and
- reserved quota for women in cabinet positions.
Regrettably, all five bills were rejected. Despite this set back, the Nigerian National Assembly remains resolute in her vision to enact equitable laws that would address gender imbalances in our socio-political environment.
Indisputably, the Federal Republic of Nigeria is facing challenging times with regards to matters of security and maintenance of a stable political space that supports the growth of peaceful democratic structures.
Regardless, Nigeria remains resolute and more determined to not only overcome these challenges but to actively ensure that our joint vision of a peaceful and prosperous Community is not ambushed by internal and/or other external factors.
Be rest assured fellow Community Members, that we will continue to perform our responsibilities in line with Community development initiatives.
On behalf of the entire Nigerian Delegation of Parliamentarians to ECOWAS Parliament, thank you for your active listening.