In the confines of the Presidential Villa, during a recent meeting of the National Council on Security, one of the many security meetings called at his instance, President Muhammadu Buhari told heads of security agencies that they must address the alarming insecurity situation in the country because he is not prepared to exit office as a failure.
To underscore his desire to leave office a celebrated leader, the President said he would make fresh changes in the country’s security architecture and personnel, when and if necessary, to turn things around in the theatres of military operation in the ongoing war against insecurity and make Nigeria and Nigerians safe.
The President, naturally, expressed his happiness with the military successes being recorded in the Northeast and, especially, the surrender of large numbers of Boko Haram insurgents to government troops.
However, the story is not the same in some other parts of the country where banditry and kidnappings for ransom have become the order of the day. Today, insecurity is the greatest challenge facing the Buhari-led administration.
Since the return to democracy in 1999, traditional security threats such as violent conflicts, militancy, armed robbery and kidnapping have assumed worrisome dimensions in Nigeria. Evolving threats such as insurgency and terrorism have further complicated the situation.
It was because of the entire unfortunate situation and the measures being taken by his administration to counter the criminalities and restore normalcy in Nigeria that the President talks about leaving office a hero, not a failure.
The truth, however, is that, currently, Nigeria is in a messy situation as far as the issue of security is concerned. Yet, Nigeria is a country endowed with enormous natural and human resources sufficient to place it among the first 20 developed countries of the world.
Nigeria is Africa’s largest producer of oil and the sixth-largest oil-producing country in the world. With a population of over 200 million people, Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and its largest economy. Coupled with the possession of hundreds of tertiary institutions that produce more than hundreds of thousands of graduates every year, Nigeria possesses abundant human capital critical for national development.
However, despite Nigeria’s huge resource endowment, the majority of its population wallow in abject poverty while the rates of unemployment and insecurity keep growing.
The country’s economic fortune has been dwindling due, largely, to faulty conceptualisation and implementation of socio-economic policies by the previous administrations. The result is that the country has been caught between affluence and affliction, making many people believe that bad leadership is a major factor why Nigeria has been reduced to a toothless bulldog.
Thus, many Nigerians think that a focused political leader, such as Buhari, is desperately needed to rescue Nigeria from its unfortunate deep level of chronic indiscipline, disorder and corruption. It is this reason that accounted for the goodwill that greeted the emergence of Buhari as president in May 2015 and continues to account for the goodwill he currently enjoys.
No doubt, the challenges facing the President are as huge and diverse as the country itself. Certainly, the President is aware of the enormous challenges that have hindered the country’s economic prosperity, sustainable security and overall national development, all of which must be addressed simultaneously otherwise it is unlikely for the President to evade getting termed a failure.
In the past, the President has never failed. He wouldn’t like to fail at this late stage of his life. But to succeed as a president, he must deal with insecurity and, especially, corruption in high places, including the military.
Corruption is at the root of many of Nigeria’s problems. It has permeated through public and private life in Nigeria, with degenerative effects on national value, institutions of governance and the rule of law. For instance, out of the $60 billion being illegally siphoned out of Africa annually, Nigeria is said to accounts for over 68% of the figure.
Therefore, any failure on the part of the President to harness Nigeria’s huge potential will create several more security, economic and political challenges that have, before now, prevented Nigeria from becoming strong, secure, stable and developed.
More importantly, for the President to defeat insecurity and bow out of office gracefully in 2023, as he wishes, Nigeria needs to reform its defence and security sectors. The existing security framework appears to lack a clear chain of command.
A decentralised framework, with both state and local government policing systems, could help provide a swift response to hostilities. Nigeria must cease to be reactionary, and build up the capability of its defence forces.
For a start, security agencies with similar objectives should be streamlined to eliminate role duplications. Agreed, Nigeria’s defence budget is low, but it can deliver much more impact than it currently does.
Nigeria needs accountability policies, processes and restrictions to ensure a higher impact from the available security budgets. The government, including the legislature, judiciary and executive, should be effective in making decisions, ensuring accountability of security personnel, coordination of multiple stakeholders, monitoring and evaluation of military operations and peace-building initiatives.
Chief, among all measures, however, and to help the President leaves office as a successful president, every Nigerian should realise that he or she has a role to play in tackling security challenges facing the country and join hands with others to end the menace.
Thus, there is a need for a unified stance, guided by an agreed national interest, irrespective of our political, religious and ethnic affiliations. Doing so will, definitely, significantly improve Nigeria’s chances of ending the spate of violence across the country.
That daring attack on NDA…
In an unexpected raid, time and place, bandits, this week, stormed one of the nation’s elite military formations, the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna.
It was claimed by some witnesses that the bandits raided the NDA around 01:00 a.m., in their large numbers, leaving some officers killed, injured some and kidnapped one.
Expectedly, while commiserating with the families of the soldiers who have lost their lives, the President prayed God to comfort them, stressing that the soldiers did not die in vain because their death would provoke reactions from their surviving colleagues which will aim to annihilate all killers of soldiers and Nigerians of all other categories and, eventually, “clean the country of vermin and emancipate the polity from deliberate, targeted and contrived atrocious acts.”
Regrettably, the attack on the military facility came on the heels of heightened insecurity, especially in the North-west, with Kaduna state badly affected by the situation.
Of course, considering the level of insecurity in Nigeria and paucity of funds to generously cater for the welfare of the country’s fighting forces and acquire adequate ammunition and fighter planes, the NDA saga was, indeed, enough to dampen the morale of soldiers and make them abdicate their defensive duty and flee their duty post.
Cheerfully, however, rather than dampen the morale of the soldiers, an objective which the attackers of the NDA sought to achieve, the unwarranted attack boost morale of soldiers.
In fact, according to the President, the attack will make the soldiers more determined and ready to make the necessary and decisive push to end all forms of criminality in the country.
Interestingly, the latest attack on a military formation came at a time that the military had forced insurgents Boko Haram members to surrender, in their hundreds, and pressurised bandits, kidnappers and other types of criminals to retreat.
It is, therefore, hoped that, as the President has said, the military will continue with its onslaught against the criminals with a view to “uprooting evils in the polity…in the shortest possible time.”
As the President observed, this is no time for politics and or recriminations. This is the time for all Nigerians “to support and encourage those who are in the vanguard of the battle against wickedness in the land” to succeed.