Hon Adejoro Adeogun is the member of the House of Representives representing Akoko South-East/South-West federal constituency. He also doubles as the Vice Chairman of the House Committees on Natıonal Security and member of various House Committees. In this interview, he bares his mind on sundry national issues, raging from security, to the 2023 general elections and the redesign of the naira. OLAJIDE OMOJOLOMOJU brings excerpts:
What is your reaction to the security alert given by US/UK that led to the withdrawal of foreign nationals and diplomatic officials from the Federal Capital Territory, FCT?
The so called security alert were travel advisories, published by the embassies on their respective websites to advice their citizens on prevailing security situation. Travel advisories are normal. Remember that the Nigerian travel portal gained importance during the outbreak of COVID-19, because it became a source of information for international travelers. So the advisories weren’t an issue, but it’s interpretation by Nigerians, the ensuing panic and other unintended consequences. Like other Nigerians, I saw a picture purportedly taken at an airport to show some foreign nationals being evacuated from Abuja, I don’t know how true that is. If it is true then it is unnecessary.
How true are claims of invasion of an estate in Abuja by American soldiers, leading to arrest of bandits?
What I read in several publications was that some expatriates were seen alongside operatives of the Department of State Security, DSS, during an operation at an estate in Lugbe. If it’s true that expatriates were seen, they could be trainers or advisers, providing technical support. Any insinuation that American soldiers invaded an estate in Abuja in the absence of local security operatives should be seen as fake news. Nigeria is not under the siege of any friendly or unfriendly foreign army of occupation.
And if true, what is the implication on the sovereignty of Nigeria as a country?
I have said categorically that what you are saying is at variance with popular reports. We must be careful not to misinterpret situations in which expatriates provide training and technical support for Nigeria’s security personnel as part of equipment procurement agreements. We bought aircrafts and other hardwares from the United States, US, and receive support from the US for the training, technical support and initial operation of the hardwares. We have a similar situation with NIMASA’s investment in hardwares to safeguard our maritime boundaries. So if expatriates are seen in such situations, it should be understood that they are helping to build the capacity of our personnels
Are you satisfied with the Federal Government’s response?
I am satisfied with the prompt and professional response of our counter terrorism agencies to the terrorist threats. I am satisfied with the improvement in synergy among agencies to arrest suspects and the steps taken to harden terrorist targets within the city of Abuja
How is your committee advising the government in the current situation?
The committee is constantly engaging with the intelligence and counter terrorism agencies, helping them to build synergy, giving feedback and providing support to ensure that they continue to give Nigerians much desired security cover
What can be done as a matter of urgency to calm down the residents of FCT and Nigerians in general?
What is immediately needed is to reassure Nigerians resident in Abuja that the panic created from the widespread misunderstanding of the travel advisories was needless. There was definitely no need for the level of panic emanating from the actions of a few embassies. Truth is there was a threat, but it was promptly neutralized and the security agencies are working harder to ensure that a security cordon is provided around the FCT. If the counter terrorism agencies could make more information available to the public about the major break through they have achieved over the last two weeks, the confidence of our people in the capability of the security agencies to safeguard the city would be restored. At this stage, government needs the help of the press to disseminate the right information to residents of the city to restore confidence and normalcy.
The campaigns for the 2023 elections are ongoing, how will you advise politicians and the electorate to avoid aggravating the insecurity situation in the country?
At time times like this, it is the primary responsibility of every citizen to contribute to national security. My advice to politicians is to be security conscious and avoid providing soft targets for terrorists. Political parties may need to try out new campaign strategies that do not entail large gatherings.
There are fears in certain quarters that the 2023 general elections may not hold due to insecurity. What is your take on this?
I do not share in such pessimism. The situation today is not half as volatile as we had in 2015 when the entire North East was under the siege of Boko Haram. I am not denying that we face some measure of insecurity, especially from ransom takers and terrorists, but the threats are not enough to stop Nigeria from holding a general election in 2023.
What informed your sponsorship of the bill to amend the VAPP Act?
A desire to improve and strengthen the Act to protect vulnerable Nigerians from harmful cultural practices. Widows in Nigeria are vulnerable and we need to strengthen our laws to safeguard their rights to dignity, property, inheritance and custody of their children.
What’s your take on the plan by CBN to redesign some Naira notes?
The redesign of the Naira is not a bad idea, if well handled. My concern is the seeming absence of synergy between the Central Bank if Nigeria, CBN, and the Ministry of Finance. It is sad that the two managers of our fiscal and monetary policies have, through their ego contest, displayed their misunderstanding of the prevailing economic challenges facing Nigeria.