A former governor of Yobe State, representing Yobe South Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Senator Ibrahim Gaidam, has vowed not to lobby any of his colleagues to support his controversial bill.
The bill is titled, ‘A bill for an Act to establish a national agency for the education, rehabilitation, de-radicalisation and integration of repentant insurgents in Nigeria.’
Gaidam, who was reacting to criticisms that had greeted his bill, especially from some of his colleagues, told journalists in Abuja that he was not desperate to see the proposed legislation passed at all cost.
He also said he did not consult the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, before coming up with the bill because he did not see any reason to discuss with him or any other senator on the proposed legislation.
He said, “My colleagues who are opposing the bill have not understood the concept well in view of the fact that the repentant insurgents are those who voluntarily laid their arms and surrendered.
“The bill is not meant for those who were captured by the soldiers. The people that would benefit from the proposed agency are those who willingly come out to surrender and who have shown some signs of remorse.
“Those who were captured at the battlefront had been taken to courts and there were some being detained by the military. If they are fully rehabilitated, they can be educated.”
Gaidam, reacting to the opposition mounted by a former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, towards the bill, alleged that the Borno South Senatorial District senator was merely confirming his alleged relationship with Boko Haram.
He said, “Senator Ndume is a good friend of mine. Sometime in the 7th Senate, his image was almost dented when he was alleged to be having interactions with the Boko Haram insurgents.
“If Senator Ndume tackles this bill, then he is confirming that he has relationship with Boko Haram insurgents. He is entitled to his opinion. To the best of my knowledge, he is a personal friend of mine.
“He has nothing to do with Boko Haram. He did not in any way relate with Boko Haram. Even when he was taken to court, they brought one witness who said he was exchanging correspondence with Senator Ndume.”
He added, “If Senator Ndume could support the bill, it will become something else. I’m not surprised that he is not supporting it. Senator Istifanus Gyang is also entitled to his opinion. We are doing this in the best interest of the people because we have been under attacks since 2009.
“It is my expectation that a bill like this will go a long way in tackling insurgency and it is my expectations that the bill will scale through but if they shut it down, I will know that I have tried my best.
“I won’t lobby my colleagues to get the bill passed in view of the fact that I am doing it with genuine intention. Whoever is supporting it is just discharging his responsibility as a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”