Buhari and his critics

Expectedly, President Muhammadu Buhari, this week, fired back at his critics who have recently developed a somewhat higher level penchant to castigate his administration for the alledged growing state of insecurity in the country.

Speaking when he welcomed the national executives of the Buhari Campaign Organisation (BCO) at the State House in Abuja, the president said those criticising him over the current state of insecurity in the country are not patriotic.

The president assured Nigerians that his administration will resolve lingering insecurity-related issues in some parts of the country.

Specially, the president said successes recorded in degrading Boko Haram in the North East would be extended to various parts of the country experiencing security challenges

“Every country in the world has security challenges,” he said. “While we have made significant progress in the fight against terrorism, we acknowledged that there are also new and emerging challenges like kidnapping and banditry. I assure you and Nigerians that we will not relent in our efforts to secure the country from criminal activities. Those who politicise the isolated cases of insecurity are not patriotic Nigerians.

“I’m confidence that this administration uses all resources at its disposal to protect the lives and property of all Nigerians and not just prominent Nigerians or those who make headlines.’’

And, apparently, the administration so does. After all, no one can deny the successes recorded by the administration in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgents in the North-east.

Security needs to be strong on all fronts and it’s important that our governments and elite and businesses invested in protecting themselves and their constituencies from attacks.

It is the responsibility of all, not only the federal government, to safeguard and protect our society from security deviants.

No doubt, security concerns have existed before the Buhari-led administration came into office but the challenges have actually never been as readily manifest as they are today.

Consequently, what is needed is for all to adopt the right attitude to security which begins with the acceptance of the fact that no amount of arms, ammunition and guards can produce the desired result if it is not collectively pursued.

We all must accept that security is the collective responsibility of everyone in the society. More importantly, the right attitude encompasses security awareness, a mindset, the understanding that those elements that constitute threat to security problems should not be the exclusive responsibility of the government, but the solemn duty of every member of the community.

Without doubt, the causal factors of the threats to Nigeria’s national security are mainly high rate of unemployment and poverty, socio-economic and political exclusion of the people, radicalisation of religious groups and intolerance, illegal militant activities, uneven distribution of scarce national resources, environmental degradation leading to agitations, particularly in the Niger Delta area, and effects of globalisation and natural disasters.

Happily, in this regard, the policies put in place by the present administration to support farmers and small businesses are yielding positive results and beneficiaries will be integrated into the larger economy.

While conceding the fact that security challenges, given birth by unemployment, illiteracy and poverty, cannot be addressed in a year or four, there is enough reason to be happy when the president said that his administration is committed to lifting millions million Nigerians out of poverty.

Other than that, there is the need to consider the often repeated suggestion to formulate a national security strategy that will be constantly reviewed and updated. The establishment of a national strategy office should be a priority, with the appointment of a coordinator reporting to the president through the national strategy council.

Essentially, Nigeria must seek to win the peace and not simply the war against criminals. There is also the need to place greater emphasis on the strategic and tactical operations and exploit the psychological operations/warfare as part of the propaganda/counter propaganda war against terrorists.

And, more interestingly, there is the need to take advantage of satellite technology and the use of drones to identify and monitor terrorists, herdsmen attackers, kidnappers and bandits.

On endless agitations for community policing…

All lovers of Nigeria believe that the country will, sooner rather than later, wake up from its slumber, become greater and overcome its current security challenges.

But when an authority like Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said he is optimistic that the country would be peaceful again because of the mechanism put in place by the federal government, we all need to rejoice and pray harder for the country.

Osinbajo made his optimism known when he condoled with Pa Reuben Fasoranti, whose daughter, Mrs Funke Olakunrin, was killed by gunmen a few days ago in Ondo state.

He said the federal government is making concerted efforts to tackle the country’s security challenges and protect lives and property.

Like other sympathisers, Osinbajo, of course, condemned the killing of Funke and, crucially, said the killers will be brought to book.

“This is a massive tragedy as you can imagine, and we have seen it precipitated here and there, kidnappings and death,” Osinbajo said, stressing that “…we are looking at the whole security architecture and trying to upscale the security architecture, to ensure that we are able to protect the lives and property of Nigerians.”

Nigerians, he said, and there reasons to believe, can be hopeful that the country will see peace and calm as some of the steps the government takes start coming into fruition.

Still, what is even more interesting is that the vice president said he met with governors in the South-west and different zones and everybody sees the need to come together to work to ensure that Nigerians feel safe and secure.

Of course, like the vice president emphasised, going forward, Nigeria needs to embrace community policing in dealing with crimes. No doubt, it’s gratifying that the president recently met with the service chiefs, the Inspector General of Police and heads of other security agencies, and laid out a new policy on community policing.

In operating the system of community policing, it is the responsibility of every community to recognise the humanity of the men and women who volunteer to put themselves in harm’s way, to answer the urgent call in the night, to do the best that they can.

And it is the responsibility of every officer who takes an oath to protect and serve to respect the dignity of every person that he or she encounters, young or old, male or female, and eschew corruption which is seen as the greatest setback to conventional police in the country.

Governments at all levels must honour, respect and dignify the country’s law enforcement agents. We need to agree as a nation on two basic statements of truth. Number one, cops have a right to make it home to their families every day. And number two, Nigerians have right to be treated with dignity and respect by law enforcement agents.

Of course, all life matters. And the fact that all life matters is the reason most officers became cops in the first place. And no one, no matter the position they occupy, is above the law. That is, there should be no notion of impunity for any individual in the society, regardless of their position.

Significantly, one of the most important things needed for achieving and maintaining security is gathering intelligence, and that is why the country is planning to introduce community policing and policemen will be trained in their own local governments and remain there.

When there’s criminal activity, people living around there, most of the times, know what’s going on but may be afraid to call the police because they may become the victim if the offenders find out they called them. But if they know a policeman and have his name and phone number, they are likely to call and report.

Of course, it is commendable that under the proposed system, there will be a bit more military presence, especially along the roads. This move would significantly deter criminals from committing terrible crimes like murder and kidnapping from occurring.

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