Senators argued along party lines on Wednesday over who to blame for the rising insecurity across the country.
While senators of the Peoples Democratic Party condemned President Muhammadu Buhari's 'silence' in the wake of the kidnappings and killings across the country, those of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) disagreed, saying the Buhari administration is doing its best to tackle insecurity.
The PDP Minority Caucus of the National Assembly was the first to state its position. The lawmakers, led by the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, accused Mr Buhari of not only breaching the constitution but also being 'absent from duty' in the face of grave insecurity facing the country.
hey also frowned at the government's economic strategy which they said "has led us to the very high inflation that we have today, devaluation of our Naira to the height that we never expected and has also concomitantly brought out unemployment and has led the government to contemplate, as we see today, to raise the price of fuel, electricity tariff and all manners of charges on helpless Nigerians."
While addressing journalists on Tuesday, Mr Abaribe said after due consultations, the caucus "will at the appropriate time, utilise all constitutional methods and measures available after consultations with our colleagues to do the needful to save the country from collapse."
Many Nigerians have called for the resignation of the president or his impeachment by lawmakers if he fails to address the security situation. The call is, however, yet to enjoy widespread support, including among lawmakers. It is not clear if impeachment is the 'constitutional method' Mr Abaribe was referring to.
No serving lawmaker has publicly called for Mr Buhari's impeachment while a number of lawmakers have publicly opposed it.
A possible reason for the lawmakers 'silence' could be, as Mr Abaribe said, that the lives of members of the opposition have been under threat for daring to speak out against the federal government.
"The Minority Caucus of the National Assembly expresses very strong concern about the ineptitude and the inability of the APC-led government to arrest the drift to anarchy of our nation at this time. This APC-led government, at inception and during campaigns prior to 2015 elections, made promises to the Nigerian public, the first of which was that they were going to deal with security challenges within their tenure.
"Sadly and most unfortunately, from 2015 to date, rather than resolving the security situation, the APC-led Federal Government had rather broaden the security challenges. So, from the problems of the Northeast, it has spread to other parts of the country. Virtually all parts of Nigeria is now beset with one security challenge or the other.
"We, therefore as a caucus, suggest that immediate steps should be taken by governments at all levels to set up proper security infrastructure whether in the mode of State Police and other constitutional reforms to arrest the drift of the nation," he said.
APC reactsIn its reaction, the APC Senate caucus said the PDP caucus went too far given the good working relationship in the ninth assembly.
Speaking to journalists on Wednesday, the APC caucus led by the Senate Leader, Abdullahi Yahaya, described Mr Abaribe's comments as capable of over-heating an already charged polity.
"While we acknowledge the natural disposition of playing politics, we are worried and disturbed that our colleagues are playing with lives. The state of insecurity, for which the Senate has continuously debated and issued resolutions, is too delicate to play with.
"In all our deliberations, the entire Senate including the Minority had discussed exhaustively in a very robust, transparent and patriotic favour to arrive at our concrete resolutions. A case in point is the current invitation to engage the Service Chiefs," he said.
The comment on the president's absence, Mr Yahaya said, 'is false and cheap politics' because the president and service chiefs "are meticulously busy every day and every night in deliberations with a view to addressing the security challenges across the entire country."
"Mr President had always made statements to Nigerians on all major security incidents and assuring Nigerians and indeed the international community that he would continue to do his best in making sure that the security challenges are tackled head-on. We want to assure Nigerians that Mr President is in charge of government and is discharging his duties conscientiously and patriotically," he said.