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Mark returns, urges dialogue with Boko Haram

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By Richard Ihediwa with agency report

President of the Senate, David Mark, yesterday presided over the business of the upper chamber of the National Assembly for the first time in weeks during which time he was receiving treatment for an undisclosed ailment in an Israeli hospital.
According to Premium Times which covered the Senate sitting yesterday, Mark, who returned to the country last week, spent over a week convalescing in his Apo mansion where friends and well-wishers trooped to wish him quick recovery.
“I am happy to be back,” he said as he took his seat at the high table in the Senate chamber.
The Senate president used the opportunity to address the Presidency, his colleagues in the Senate and the entire nation.
“The current level of insecurity in the country is unacceptable and something must be done to improve it and very quickly too,” the Senate president said, apparently referring to the Executive arm of government, whose response to the security crisis has been by most Nigerians to be unsatisfactory.
“Clearly, the terrorists have declared war on Nigeria and Nigerians,” the Senate president said.
From his viewpoint, the escalating acts of terror threaten Nigeria’s unity and challenge the very human values Nigerians believe in.
“This is the time for concerted action by all Nigerians,” Mark said.
“The primary responsibility of tackling this challenge lies with the government but that notwithstanding, we all have roles to play,” Mark said, specifically suggesting that government dialogue with the sect.
“These misguided groups are our brothers and sisters,” he said.
“Government must therefore explore all avenues to discuss with them.
“On the other hand, those who are aggrieved must find a better way to expressed their grievances.”
Since August 2009 when the Boko Haram terrorist sect first launched attacks on the Nigerian state, over 1,000 Nigerians have been killed.
Recently, however, the sect has added media houses and tertiary institutions to its list of targets.
The government and its security agencies have in most cases appeared to be steps behind the attackers.
“Let me also say without mincing words that the security agencies must intensify their pre-operational responsibilities, roles and actions and improve their operational capabilities,” the Senate president said.
“Their major task must be to thwart and prevent these bombings.”
Mark blamed his colleagues for helping fuel the corruption which is ruining Nigeria’s economy and international reputation.
He said his colleagues have allowed the system to go corrupt because of their laziness in playing their oversight role over the government.
“Let me use this opportunity to state unequivocally that we must improve on our oversight functions,” he said.
“The inefficiency and corruption in the system, which the various investigation Committees have uncovered, could have been reasonably abated if we had carried out our oversight functions exhaustively and effectively,” he added. 
He said if his colleagues carried out their constitutional oversight functions effectively, some of the incidents of corruption in Nigeria could have either been stopped or reduced to the barest minimum.

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