The House of Representatives has urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to promptly endorse two crucial Bills recently reintroduced and approved by the 10th Assembly. These Bills focus on providing essential support to the Armed Forces and national defense.
Initially passed by the 9th Assembly, namely the Defence Industries Corporation (DICON) Bill and the Armed Forces Trust Fund Bill, these measures lacked the necessary approval from President Muhammadu Buhari before the end of his term.
During a closing ceremony for a 2-day post-inauguration retreat for members of the House Committee on Defence, organized by the National Defence College in Abuja, Deputy Speaker Rt. Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu assured that President Tinubu, known for attentiveness to National Assembly affairs, would ensure swift action on these bills in the current dispensation.
Emphasizing President Tinubu’s commitment to both the National Assembly and the people, Deputy Speaker Kalu stated that the 10th House, led by Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas, remains dedicated to the overall well-being of the Nigerian populace.
Highlighting the government’s primary responsibility for ensuring the security of lives and property, Deputy Speaker Kalu pledged that the Parliament would ensure the provision of necessary logistics to effectively support the work of the Armed Forces.
Speaking on the DICON Bill, Kalu said, “with the Bill, there will be a stimulation of local content, in manufacturing the tools and the equipments needed to keep our nation safe.
“It is a call on Mr. President to do it and do it as urgently as possible. So that some of the funding contracts of the military at the moment will be converted into military industrial complexes.
“And I can assure you, alot of value addition to what we do with our Defence. So that the nearby countries, they will be coming here to purchase that which our ingenuity and innovations through technology is able to produce”.
Kalu further stated that, local content should not only be with oil and gas, adding that, “we should be seen with the expression of our local innovation and ingenuity. The target is nation’s security through industrialisation. This will stimulate our local economy and attract patronage from all countries in africa and beyond”.
The Bill, sponsored by Hon. Babajimi Benson, fmember representing Ikorodu Federal Constituency of Lagos State, seeks to authorise the agency to produce and supply arms and ammunition in Nigeria, in addition to the exclusive right to purchase manufacture and sale of explosives (subject to the provisions of the Explosives Act).
The Bill will also empower the agency to set up subsidiaries in partnership with local and international companies towards meeting the material needs of the armed forces and other security agencies through wholesale ownership or acquiring equities in enterprises with relevant products.
On the Armed Forces Trust Fund Bill, the Deputy Speaker said, it would enable the Nigeria’s Armed Forces to operate outside the usual envelope funding system, as it would create more avenues for findings that are available for other countries.
“We are in support of the Armed Forces Support Fund Bill, which was also presented and sponsored by my friend, Hon. Jimi Benson in the 9th Assembly. Some of the members here present were not there. I was a member of that committee, so I knew that he sponsored that Bill.
“Gone are the days when you depend on envelope funding for military and the Armed Forces. Many of you have said it here, over and over again; giving solid reasons why such restrictive funding strategy is inimical to the core mandate that the Military, the Defence, wishes to achieve.
“Therefore, by this Bill, we will be opening up other extra supports, in terms of funding for the Defence, the Armed Forces”, Kalu added.