Buhari’s marching order to security agencies

President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive last week to the military and security agencies to immediately rescue all those held hostage by kidnappers and terrorists is not only a welcome development but also underscores the fact that the president is as concerned about the rising security challenges in the country as critics of his government.

National Security Adviser (NSA), Major-General Babagana Monguno(retd), made the disclosure last Thursday in Abuja while briefing journalists at the end of the Security Council meeting presided over by President Buhari.

“The president spoke about his sadness in respect of recent security challenges and developments we have had in the country, in particular the incident in which several Nigerians lost their lives with many more taken into captivity by criminals and bandits.

“Not just those that were captured during the last Kaduna-bound train incident but those that have been in captivity in other parts of the country.

“The president has directed all the operational and intelligence elements to rescue all of these innocent people immediately and unhurt. This is the basis in which other issues were discussed. The chief of defence staff, the service chiefs and the inspector general of police all briefed the president on occurrences in their respective organisations,” he said.

The NSA said he briefed the Security Council on recommendations on how to tackle the security challenges confronting the nation, which the president is carefully considering.

“I submitted a memo to council and my recommendations are being looked into by the president. My recommendations are wide ranging and they touch on all aspects of security, starting with the level of security of our land borders as well as within the country itself,” he said.

He said decisive steps were being taken to secure all the land borders of the country in order to address the threats coming from outside such borders.

Monguno said the threats had now shifted from the North-eastern part of the country to the North-west and North-central and must be contained.

“It has to be contained collectively by both the Armed Forces and constabulary forces, but the intelligence agencies have also been directed to enhance the acquisition of intelligence,” he said.

The NSA said the present situation in the country calls for collective efforts by all, not only those charged with the responsibility of physically securing the country.

“Unless the wider society, right down to the local governments, are willing to give the type of information needed in order to block the activities of these criminals, this situation will continue to linger beyond whatever timeframe we are looking at towards ending this problem,” he said.

He also spoke on reasons it’s been difficult to deploy technology, especially in some areas where the military had challenges.

The NSA also expressed concern over comments by Governor Nasir el-Rufa’i of Kaduna state in respect of the activities of bandits, saying divulging classified information endangers the victims and aids the kidnappers.

He said the governor’s comments could compromise the security situation as the bandits could relocate to other destinations if they knew their current hideouts were known.

Meanwhile, President Buhari has said no responsive government can ignore the role of religious and traditional rulers in tackling insecurity in the country.

Speaking Thursday in Abuja at an Iftar with religious and traditional rulers, the president said his administration would continue to count on the invaluable advice and guidance of members of the revered institutions towards improving the current security challenges in the country.

The president said moving Nigeria forward remains a collective responsibility, urging leaders at all levels to contribute meaningfully in making the country a better place.

”Today, insecurity is one of the greatest challenges facing Nigeria’s existence. This administration has invested more resources than any other to tackle insecurity. We have acquired advanced equipment for our armed forces and the police to strengthen their capacity to confront terrorism and banditry. We have made adequate budgetary allocations for security.

Stressing that the challenges confronting the country were surmountable, the president recounted that when this administration came on board in 2015, the local governments occupied and controlled by insurgent terrorists were recovered through the determined efforts of government and cooperation of local leadership.

It is instructive that President Buhari had in January 2017, in response to a letter written by a Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, said his government will not proclaim victory over the Boko Haram terrorists until all kidnapped Chibok girls are rescued.

Unfortunately, five years after the president’s pronouncement, the Chibok girls saga has not only persisted, a new wave of banditry and kidnapping for ransome has assumed more frightening dimension.

The March 28 Abuja-Kaduna train attack seemed to have ruffled some feathers as some stakeholders in the Nigeria project including the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) ask President Buhari to resign.

It is on the backdrop of this reality that we commend the president’s marching order to the security agencies to rescue all those being held captive by terrorists, bandits and other criminal elements across the country.

This will, to a large extent, dispel the apprehension that the 2023 general elections may not hold as it will provide the enabling environment for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a hitch-free exercise devoid of security threat.

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