Overhauling Nigeria’s security sector



File picture: Buhari with Service Chiefs

Report last week to the effect that President Muhammadu Buhari is planning a complete re-engineering of the nation’s security apparatus is a welcome development. The move is quite auspices, considering the recent attack on Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno state by the Boko Haram insurgents, which seems to underscore the dire security situation in the country.

The National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, who broke the news to state house correspondents after a security briefing penultimate Tuesday, said the president told service chiefs at the briefing that their effort is not good enough.

Monguno said since the issues are operational, the Minister of Defence Bashir Magashi, “is working on something” and will likely give a new direction to the security agencies in the days to come. He said Buhari told the service chiefs that Nigerians have lost confidence in the security sector but he is determined to restore that confidence.

“The president is angry over the declining security situation. At the last meeting, he mentioned it. What he said today is virtually a reaffirmation of what he said the first time. Yes, Mr President said you are doing your best, as far as I’m concerned, but there’s still a lot more to be done. I’m more concerned about the promise we made to the larger Nigerian society and I am ordering an immediate re-engineering of the entire security apparatus.

“This is something that I believe will be done in a very short time, but I just want us to keep hope alive. I know how everybody feels, I know how Nigerians feel. Definitely, the president is not oblivious of the fact that securing the nation is a primary responsibility of government and I believe in his sincerity. But again, since he’s not an octopus, since he’s not a spirit, if he delegates to people, then the onus is on them to actually fulfil the legitimate expectations of the larger Nigerian society.”

There have been complaints over the widespread insecurity in the country, with many asking the president to fire the service chiefs. On Monday, governors said they were planning to meet with the president over the rising insecurity in the country. They also said the attack on the convoy of Zulum, their Borno state counterpart, is an indication that the country is not safe.

Boko Haram insurgents had opened fire on the convoy of the Borno state governor in Kukawa local government area last week, prompting the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Ibn Umar Garbai Elkanemi, to proclaim that the state was no longer safe. The Shehu made this lamentation in Maiduguri when he paid a traditional Sallah homage on the  governor at the government house. A day after the governor’s convoy was attacked, Boko Haram terrorists fired several mortars in Maiduguri, the Borno state ca[pital, that killed at least six persons and injured dozens of others.

The traditional ruler, during his homage to the governor, said: “Your Excellency, we are not happy about what has happened in Baga the other time, it is very unfortunate and great pity. If the convoy of the whole Chief Security Officer of the state will be attacked, then wallahi nobody is safe, because he is the number one citizen of the state, he is the Chief Security Officer of the State. If a convoy of such highly placed person in the State will be attacked, I repeat, nobody is safe. The matter is getting worse, I urge everyone to raise up our hands to seek Allah’s intervention.”

In the same vein, the 14th Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) Teleconference is scheduled to discuss “the rapidly degenerating security situation in the country.” An invitation sent out to governors by the Director General of the NGF, Mr Asishana Bayo Okauru, said the attack on Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, would be tabled for discussion. The invitation, which was released last week Tuesday by Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, Head, Media and Public Affairs, NGF Secretariat, said it was in line with the security and policing swamp that the country had found itself.

It is quite worrisome that despite the oft-assurances by the Nigerian military hierarchy that it will soon end the Boko Haram nightmare and the general insecurity in the country rather than abate the situation is fast deteriorating. Given the incessant killings in Southern Kaduna, rising banditry in Zamfara and Katsina states, among other security threats across the country it does appear that there is no end in sight to Nigeria’s security challenges. It is on the backdrop of this gory picture that we commend President Buhari over his intent to overhaul the nation’s security architecture.

 It is, however, expedient to draw the attention of the president to the fact that the overhaul is not necessarily a change of security chiefs as this will be mere cosmetic but also a holistic re-engineering of the nation’s security policy and strategies. This is imperative for Nigeria to effectively tackle the security challenges that had been bedeviling the country over the  decade. This much the Buhari government owes the nation as a befitting legacy.

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