Senators may boycott Senate’s security summit

Senators are threatening to boycott the February 1 security summit organised by the upper chamber, it was learnt yesterday.

They do not want the Villa Banquet Hall venue.

The decision to organise the summit was taken by the Senate after a January 17 debate on the state of the nation and killings.

The Executive showed interest in participating and President Muhammadu Buhari agreed to open the summit.

Some senators are now questioning the decision to coopt the Executive into the programme.

Yesterday, senators went into an executive session on the summit and it was learnt that the argument was heated, with many threatening a boycott.

The relationship between the Executive and the Senate has not been cordial.

After a lengthy closed-session, Senate President Bukola Saraki merely announced that the Senate deliberated on workings of the Senate and the National Assembly in general.

But a source said the issue of the security summit and where it would be held dominated the “heated closed-session”.

It was gathered that efforts by Saraki to persuade the senators to attend the summit failed.

Most of the senators, the source said, insisted that on no account should the security summit be held in the Villa.

The lawmakers were said to have said that instead of the Banquet Hall, State House, the summit should take place at the International Conference Centre (ICC).

Besides, it was gathered that the senators suggested that President Muhammadu Buhari should only attend the conference as a guest of honour where provision should made for him to speak and address participants.

Another source linked the position of the senators to the “shabby treatment meted to senators on October 26, when some senators were blocked from entering the Presidential Villa.”

“We should learn our lesson because once bitten twice shy,” he said.

Before the Closed session, a statement entitled “Security Crisis: Senate partners Presidency, to hold national summit Feb 1”, endorsed by the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan, was circulated.

The statement said in part: ”Worried by the multi-dimensional security challenges facing the nation, the Senate in collaboration with the President Muhammadu Buhari and the Executive arm will on Thursday, February 1 and Monday February 5 convene a National Security Summit.

“The Summit will provide an all-inclusive platform for heads of security and defence agencies, Governors, traditional rulers, socio-cultural groups, civil society organisations and others, with a view to finding solutions to acute and long term security challenges in the country.

”President Buhari, according to the statement, will declare open the summit to be held at the Banquet Hall of the State House on Thursday with all the 36 state governors in attendance.

“Other participants at the event include all Senators and members of the House of Representatives, Ministers of Defence and Interior, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Service Chiefs and other heads of security agencies.”

Another statement circulated after the closed session said the Ahmed Lawan statement should be dropped because the date for the security summit had changed due other national assignments.

Also in another statement entitled “Senate suspends security summit in honour of late Ekwueme”, the Senate Leader said: “The national summit on security being organised by the Senate had been postponed in honour of the late former Vice President Alex Ekwueme who will be buried on Saturday.”

The statement added, “The summit, scheduled to hold on February 1 and 5 at the Banquet Hall of the State House was to be declared open by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“A statement by the chairman of the Chairman, Senate ad-hoc committee on review of security infrastructure who is also the Majority Leader, Sen. Ahmed Lawan, stated that the postponement was to honour the late former Vice President, and to also enable Federal legislators, particularly those from the South-East, participate fully in the burial programme of the late elder statement.

“Lawan said a new date for the summit would be announced in due course, and extend the committee’s apology to the invited dignitaries.

“The summit was organised to provide an all inclusive platform for heads of security and defence agencies, Governors, traditional rulers, socio-cultural groups, civil society organizations and others, with a view to finding solutions to acute and long term security challenges in the country.

”Though the now postponed summit was an initiative of the Senate as part of its contribution to the resolution of the rising security challenges, it is being convened in partnership with the Presidency to find a common solution to the issue.”

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