Let sanity, security be restored going forward

Clearly, but avoidably, we are not living in Nigeria as we used to know it – a peaceful country inhabited by sane people. Today’s Nigeria is clearly inhabited by some insane people, both in government and out of it, and bedevilled by myriads of problems, chief among them is insecurity, poverty and high levels of unemployment and internal conflicts.

Now, we regularly, but sadly so, see and hear cases of kidnapping, ritual killing, murder and mayhem occurring in all parts of the country.

Of course, Nigerians wonder, rightly so, if their safety and well-being no longer form part of the top priorities of the government.

Although the answer could appear to be the obvious, this week, President Muhammadu Buhari said that tougher security measures will be put in place in restive parts of the country.

According to the President, his administration will review current security operations with a view to producing similar strategies and tactics that resulted in relative peace existing in the South-South and North-East zones.

Speaking, albeit warningly and as a matter of fact, at a meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the President said the major security challenges have remained in the North-Central and North-West zones, stressing that: “We are going to be very tough. Our main problem now is in the North West and North Central. People are killing one another in these places, what for? We are going to be very tough.”

While the trend continues, it is hoped that the soon-to-be-introduced measures will, as the President promised, tackle the security menace plaguing the country, especially North-central and North-west zones.

No doubt, it is sad to note that though Nigeria, like other sovereign states in the world, has military and intelligence services tasked to ensure security, these agencies are not only struggling but the country’s security architecture has, arguably, been made unserviceable in many parts of the country.

It is, no doubt, alarming how terrorists brazenly invade roads, airports and rail lines to kill and abduct people.

No doubt, what the security situation in the country portends is a dire need for collective, concerted and deliberate efforts from all Nigerians to fight incessant woes.

Thankfully, to aid us in our onerous collective responsibility of restoring and maintaining security in our country, technology presents itself as an ally to fight insecurity and handle our other societal challenges.

On this note, Nigeria should, like many other countries, deploy technology, particularly Artificial Intelligence, to strengthen its national security infrastructure. Thanks to the emerging modern tools like surveillance cameras, social network analysis, biometric surveillance, data mining and profiling, corporate surveillance, satellite imagery, RFID and Geo-location devices have become available.

Investing heavily,m in such technological devices will surely demonstrate the higher level of seriousness and readiness of the Buhari-led government to end insecurity in the country, particularly in the North-central and North-west zones.

No doubt, the need for Nigeria to upgrade its military capabilities and become second to none in Africa cannot be overstated. Military strength is essential to prevent and respond to conflict. Unparalleled military capabilities can dissuade an aggressor and enable the military to act decisively in times of crisis.

But technological superiority is essential to our military advantage as well. For example, stealth, precision guidance and advanced communications, which are all products of science and technology, are critical to the success of the military in Nigeria.

Ultimately, the President should note that a meaningful strategy on how to deal with violent conflicts should also address issues that lead to instability such as endemic poverty, food and resource scarcity, environmental degradation and the spread of infectious diseases.

Failure to address these issues leads to mass migrations, breakdown of civil order and, ultimately, conflicts. Addressing these issues demands the sustained engagement of Nigerians, not the occasional interventions of government.

Of course, it should be noted that technology plays a vital role in addressing sources of conflicts through contributing to sustained economic development, building capacity in science and technology and promoting the advancement of knowledge.

Significance of local vaccine production

President Muhammadu Buhari, this week, directed the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, to submit a progress report on the indigenous production of vaccines in the country by the end of May 2022.

The President gave the directive while receiving the leadership of the Nigeria Integrated Biopharmaceuticals Industries Consortium (NIBI), led by Mr Vilarugel Cuyas, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Fredlab.

The President commended the NIBI consortium, made up of European biotechnology companies Merck, Unizima, Rommelag, and Fredlab, who is collaborating with the Nigerian start-up PIA BioPharma to establish a world-class Bio-Pharma Industrial Complex for the manufacture of vaccines and essential therapeutics in Nigeria.

Medicines and vaccines are developed as a result of innovation by researchers and pharmaceutical companies. As of the end of 2020, the total global pharmaceutical market was valued at about 1.27 trillion U.S. dollars.

This is a significant increase from 2001 when the market was valued at just 390 bn U.S. dollars and more than 80 per cent of this market is in North America, Europe and Japan.

The President stressed that his administration considers food and medicine sufficiency as national security issues and asked the health minister and his team to work closely with the consortium on the federal government support required for the actualization of the NIBI project within the next few months.

The NIBI project should, of course, not be underestimated, especially if viewed from the point of view of the fact that the term national security does not only entail the act of protecting the lives and properties of people from harm but it includes providing stability to all other country’s institutions capable of transforming and bettering lives of humanities.

Therefore, in the context of national security, critical sectors such as food and agriculture, environment, energy, infrastructure and, more importantly, the health sector must be properly secured for citizens.

It is only when people are alive in sound and good health that they can work and become productive. When they work, they contribute meaningfully to the food and health sectors which will, inevitably, boost the country’s economy and lead to national development.

In fact, it was based on the above premise that the President recounted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Nigeria’s economy and health system and how some nations with comparative advantages in bio-pharmaceutical productions adopted a “me-first” attitude to secure their citizens.

Thus, the President said: “I want Nigeria to make a bold statement in this field not just for reasons mentioned earlier, but because of its knock-on effects on our economy at large.”

In a way, the NIBI project is a way Nigeria has reacted to the need to look inward for its sustenance in food and medical supplies for, as the President has said, “having witnessed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our health system, our communal life and national economy, from which we are yet to fully recover, we are reminded that the wealth of a nation is dependent on the health and wellbeing of its citizens.”

Indeed, Nigeria has learnt, maybe lately but still better it did, that nations can be brought to their knees by disease outbreaks that can cripple national and international trade and that it is far better for countries to look inward for their sustenance in food and medical supplies.