President Goodluck Jonathan has appealed to all Nigerians to see the protection of the nation’s infrastructure as their core responsibility.
The President made the appeal Monday at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, when he declared open a two-day Stakeholders’ Forum on the Protection of Critical National Assets and Infrastructure, organised by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), noting that the conference could not have come at a better time.
He particularly called on communities where these assets are situated to take more interest in their civic responsibility, saying that “by providing useful information, communities will be assisting the security agencies to apprehend criminals, and by so doing, helping to guarantee their well-being and safety.”
President Jonathan, who said that his administration would continue to invest in critical infrastructure, such as electricity generation, transmission and distribution, oil and gas production, transportation and distribution, telecommunications, water supply, agriculture, public health, mass transit systems and financial services, decried the activities of some unpatriotic elements bent on destroying the nation’s commonwealth for their selfish gains.
Represented by the Vice President, Alhaji Mohammed Namadi Sambo, he observed that the protection of the nation’s critical assets and infrastructure from the activities of terrorists, vandals and saboteurs, which governments at all levels had invested so much on, could not be left in the hands of the security agencies alone.
“The assets and infrastructure being protected belong to the public and were installed for the welfare and convenience of the people. Hence, their cooperation, awareness and alertness are of great importance particularly in the provision of information to the security agencies,” he stated.
President Jonathan, according to a statement by the spokesperson to the Vice President, Alhaji Sani Umar, used the opportunity to commend the security agencies for their untiring efforts in the protection of these infrastructure.
He however challenged them on more synergy on inter-agency collaboration to tackle the menace.
Similarly, the president, David Mark, called on the private sector and other stakeholders to update their internal security policies and systems, while also calling on them to collaborate with security agencies to ensure the security of critical infrastructure under their management.
The Senate President, represented by the Chairman Senate Committee on Intelligence and Security, Senator Mohammed Magoro, noted that the human resource of the country was its most critical asset.
The representative of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chairman, House Committee on Interior, Hon. Umar Bature, stated that through legislation the National Assembly would empower relevant agencies to tackle the menace. He challenged the National Security Adviser to come up with a review of the National Security Act, established in 1986.
In his remarks the Minister of interior, Comrade Abba Moro, urged the forum to come up with adequate sanctions against those engaged in the condemnable activities to serve as deterrent to others. Similarly, the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, likened the activities of vandals to a moral equivalent of war, lamenting the loss of over 35 per cent of the nation’s power capacity to the activities vandals.
Earlier, the National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd), stated that the forum, which was the first ever to be organised was to deliberate on ways to adequately protect the nation’s critical assets and infrastructure from vandals, terrorists and saboteurs.
The meeting which was graced by the Governor of Yobe State, Alhaji Ibrahim Geidam, also had in attendance several stakeholders from security agencies, the National Assembly and the private sector.
And in a bid to stem the continued decay of public infrastructure, the Minister of Works, Mike Onolememen, called for the declaration of state of emergency in the infrastructure sector and the establishment of an Infrastructure Development Fund (IDF).
He said they were essential to get the country out of its huge infrastructure deficit.
Onolememen also noted that the country had just completed the development of a National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan which would require tens of trillions of naira to implement.
In his goodwill message to the 2013 International All Africa Youth Reunion/Camp in Abuja, he requested the National Assembly to pass appropriate legislation establishing the IDF and the implementation of the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan (NIIMP) from the first line charge over a 10-year period.
The message with the title: ‘Funding Infrastructure Development in Africa: Nigeria as a Case Study’, also suggested better corporate governance, which he said needed an amendment to the Company and Allied Matters Act that requires companies to contribute 3-5 per cent of their pre-tax profit to the IDF.
The minister who was represented by the Deputy Director, Highways (Planning and Development), Umunna Ekenna, described the infrastructural deficit as large and affecting every sector, adding that investments in the road sector alone requires at least the construction of 14,000 km of new roads annually for the next seven years.
Onolememen identified good infrastructure as “critical to the overall development of the Nigerian economy, which in turn, impacts the standard of living of Nigerians.”
The government, the minister stated, could not fund the huge portfolio alone due to its limited financial resources and against the backdrop of current global financial tightening and increased competition for available infrastructure funds.
He stated that much time had been devoted to exploring new ways that would bridge infrastructure gap in the country, which reforms would ensure enhanced sustainable financing of infrastructure development.
Meanwhile, the federal government has put to rest the rivalry between the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Nigeria Police Force over control of the nation’s critical infrastructure by declaring that the role is constitutionally designated to the Corps.
President Goodluck Jonathan, worried by the spate of vandalism of all the critical infrastructure and national assets in the country, has therefore called on the warring security agencies to bury their differences so as to put an end to what he described a ‘threat’ to the nation development.
He said: ” There is need for quicker resolution of court cases as well as greater inter agency and information sharing among the nation’s security agencies.