Joining hands to defeat Nigeria’s growing security challenges

File picture: Buhari with Service Chiefs

President Muhammadu Buhari has, again, said that security would be restored to Borno state, the North-east region and the nation in general.

The president made similar promises in the past but few came to pass. In fact, since the level of insecurity got escalated in the country recently, he always does. But whenever his plans started to unfold, some things appeared to make mincemeat of all his carefully laid out plans.

Recently, Nigeria is going through ups and down, as far as the state of security is concerned. From banditry to kidnappings, to murders, to rape to suicide bombings, to armed robbery, car and motorcycle snatching, terrorism and to the Boko Haram-led insurgency, Nigeria is, indeed, a country in enough turmoil to make its citizens and leaders sad, confused and lose hope of achieving peace any time soon.

But, to his credit, the president remains calm, confident and determined to restore peace to the country. Of course, he said, his confidence is based on the recent adoption of new strategies and acquisition of modern military equipment.

Speaking at the State House in Abuja after a meeting with the five North-east states governors, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Chief of Defence Staff, Service Chiefs, Inspector-General of Police and the heads of intelligence agencies, the president said: “Things will improve very soon. We are acquiring modern equipment; some are here, some are being cleared, and others still coming. We need patience with acquisition of equipment. You need to train the trainers for their usage ahead of their deployment to the field.”

The meeting was held to afford the president the opportunity to reassure people of the North-east, through their governors, of the commitment and readiness of the Buhari-led administration to restore peace particularly to the most troubled region. “I assure you, the North-east Governors, especially that of Borno, that we go to bed and wake up thinking about you, how to secure our country, that is the responsibility of every government….We are doing our best and we will continue to do even better,” he said.

And, truly speaking, the government should do better than it currently does. Agreed, the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the economy is making scarce resources that can be deployed to fighting criminal activities even scarcer and crippled the supply chain of military equipment and spare parts.

There is no doubt that the major challenge of Nigeria’s national security is the containment of diverse manifestations of violence spearheaded by various groups. The major group that has stretched the resources, expertise, patience and even the competence of Nigeria’s security apparatuses to the limit, both individually and collectively, is the Boko Haram whose activities is predominantly felt in the North-east.

The sheer number of deaths arising from attacks orchestrated by the Boko Haram far outstrips any other cause of death in Nigeria, including epidemics. But the challenge posed by the Boko Haram sect in Nigeria is not only about the viciousness of either its terror campaigns or avowed mission to impose Shari’a law on the country, but about the confusion regarding the exact causes of the violence.

Of course, some people have offered explanations to the problem, with many among them suggesting socio-economic, political and religious reasons for the Boko Haram insurrection. While all may be correct, however, there are strong indications that the suggestion do not explain the reason for the violence, brutality and cruelty perpetrated by the Boko Haram insurgents against Nigeria and Nigerians.

But, generally, the country’s democracy is being tested by rampant crime and an unprecedented campaign of terror such that in the South-south region, civil unrest threatens safety and stability; in the East, gangs who kidnap for ransom lie in wait on the roads, bars and cities.

In fact, Nigeria, security wise, is in crisis and in need of quick and long term solutions to its security problems. There is no doubt that the current dominant approach of relying heavily on the use of military force to end criminal activities and bring peace to Nigeria is inadequate.

Happily, the president said the present administration is set to deploy new strategies. However, to tackle insecurity, a country and its citizens need to possess economic security, energy security and environmental security. Security threats involve not only conventional foes such as the Boko Haram insurgents, bandits and kidnappers, but also those who make life unbearable for the common people through corruption and embezzlement of the country’s resources.

Despite the difficult times, the government should not be allowed to deal with the issues pertaining to security alone. Security, as it’s said, is everybody’s business! Thus, the elite, especially from the North-east, and Nigerians must join hands with the Buhari-led administration to salvage this country together.

The elite, in whichever region of the country they come from, should broker peace in their region as it is believed that they are lovers of peace and tranquility which the menace of insecurity threatens. After all, it is only in peace that their individual region will witness the kind of development promised Nigerians by this administration.

On the African Trade Insurance Agency instrument…

This week, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the instrument of accession of the agreement for the establishment of the African Trade Insurance Agency.

This was made known through a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu.

ATI was founded in 2001 by African countries with headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, to cover trade and investment risks of companies doing business in Africa, provide broad range of investment risk solutions and, in particular, to mitigate against the risks of sovereign and corporate non-payment and contractual breach.

AIT currently has 18 member countries including some of Africa’s strongest economic performers such as Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda, and nine institutional members including the African Development Bank (AfDB) Trade Development Bank, UK Export Finance (UKEF), SACE, Chubb and Atradius. India became the first non-African member country to become a shareholder through its government-backed export credit agency, ECGC.

As at 2017, ATI has supported African countries with $35bn in trade and investments in agribusiness, energy, exports, housing, infrastructure manufacturing, mining and telecommunications. We are creating awareness for the Nigerian market with financial assistance from the World Bank.

ATI is Africa’s only multilateral investment and credit insurer and it had supported trade and investments into Africa valued at over US$62bn since inception and for H1 2020, ATI recorded US$6.5b in Gross Exposures and US$390.8m in equity.

ATI is, however, not in competion with banks and insurance companies. It only provides additional capacities to them. In Nigeria, ATI has already intervened in some deals, though not big ones, through undertaking corporate risk for the likes of Dangote Group and Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and in some banks where it has done some currency swaps.

It is, therefore, expected that with the recent finalisation of the process of joining the ATI, Nigeria will stand to benefit even more. Specifically, it is hoped that the agreement will support and encourage regional economic integration through co-operation in trade liberalisation and development so as to attain sustainable growth, promote economic activity and create an enabling environment for foreign trade, as well as cross-border and domestic investments.

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