By Rapheal Izokpu
The Bill introduced by Senate Minority Leader and senator representing Abia South Senatorial District, Enyinaya Abaribe, seeking the establishment of the Armed Forces Service Commission has received the the backing of a coalition of civil society organizations.
Senator Abaribe had moved a motion for its consideration yesterday on the floor of the Senate.
The senators were however divided on the Bill.
The bill as presented by the Senator seeks to establish the Armed Forces Service Commission to ensure that the composition/appointment of Service Chiefs of the Armed Forces of the Federation reflects the Federal Character of Nigeria in the manner prescribed in section 217 (3) of the 1999 Constitution.
The Coalition of Civil Society for Peace and National Security, in a statement on Wednesday said the bill if passed is a step towards tackling the security challenges in the country.
The statement by the Coalitions National Coordinator, Dr Mohammed Nagogo and National Secretary, Barr. (Mrs) Funke Ademola, said the bill will also check the total disregard to the nation’s federal character principles and elevation of ethnicity in considering service chiefs.
The group flayed criticisms that trailed the consideration of the bill and tasked the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan and all other senators to support Senator Abaribe to see to the success of the bill.
The statement said “We write to strongly commend Senator Eyinaya Abaribe for his courage and sense of patriotism for sponsoring a Bill that seeks for an establishment of Armed Forces Commission .
“We applaud him for moving a motion for the consideration of the bill on the floor of the Senate yesterday.
“Although the bill was rejected due to some sentiments, it would have addressed some critical issues that are hindering performance in our Armed Forces,” the statement said.
According to the coalition, “The bill would have addressed the issue of injustice being perpetrated against some geopolitical zones of the country.”
“No doubt, the bill will also encourage commitment and hardwork from members of the Armed Forces,” it added.
The group said, “We are suprised that such an important bill that was capable of ending issues promoting insecurity in Nigeria would be discarded in the manner we observed at the National Assembly.”
“Though it was said that the bill be amended and re-presented by the mover, we hope it was not a ploy to completely discard it.
“We, in the civil society wish to completely align ourselves with the bill.
“We call on the Senate President and other senators not to allow themselves to be used by some external forces who are benefiting from the age-long imbalance that has trailed appointments into offices in the security sector of our country,” it urged.
According to the Coalition, “Senators must look beyond religious, and ethnic sentiments when considering such an important bill.”
“We are however, glad that there is still a window for the bill to be re-presented hence we urge Senate Minority Leader to make necessary adjustments to the bill and re-present it before the Senate.
“We appeal to all the senators to support this bill in the interest Nigeria.
“We advise our citizens that we should consider the interest of the country first in everything we do, as it is the only way we can get it right,” the statement further read.
According to the Coalition “All we are after is to have one strong and united Nigeria that can withstand and defeat internal and external threats to national security. We need to close ranks and make Nigeria work now and for the benefit of the younger generation and those yet unborn.”