National security: Imperative of paradigm shift now! | Dailytrust

National security: Imperative of paradigm shift now!

The National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno rose from a meeting of the National Security Council last week to read the riot act on insecurity which signaled the administration’s new agenda that promises unprecedented, drastic counter measures by it. Top of these measures as approved by President Muhamadu Buhari are a clamp down on Zamfara State – an epicentre of the crises, with the imposition of a ban on all mining activities as well as a no-fly zone order, over the area. In a related development was also the order by the President to the security forces to shoot at sight, any unauthorised person in possession of military type assault rifles such as the AK-47. Ordinarily, the President’s shoot at sight order and Monguno’s pronouncement qualify to affirm the resolve of the government to match force with force, in dealing with the sundry instances and sponsors of insecurity across the country. However, from the drastic slant of these measures it is unmistakable that Monguno and the country’s security establishment deserve copious measures of sympathy and support, as the level of insecurity in the country has upgraded to a level that is no more a matter for the security establishment alone, but a pan-Nigerian problem. Hence the traditional approach of depending on the security agencies alone may prove inadequate to solve the problem.

By the last count, the various faces of insecurity include routine sorties in kidnapping for ransom, robberies, murders and others nefarious activities which are executed across the entire country with impunity, and in a manner that virtually dares the government to do its worst. The cross section of the perpetrators no more engage in these activities as crimes to be ashamed of, but as business ventures for earning money. In the circumstances, innocent road commuters are routinely snatched at gunpoint on the country’s high ways, school children in their hostels are carted away into inaccessible forests with some of them killed and the rest abused as well as tortured in order to extract ransom payment. Hence while the tough talk by Monguno offers assurance to Nigerians, history dictates that he faces an uphill task which cannot be resolved with mere good intentions.

Among the many angles to appraise the success factors for NSA Monguno’s intervention and mission, are the issues of scope of the problem, as well as level of synergy built between his office and other stakeholders including the wider Nigerian public. Even as the general public may not carry arms, their contribution in providing intelligence and moral support remains critical for any success as while the security agencies cannot span every spot in the country, the citizens are there to provide real time follow up on challenges.  Lamentably, the responsibility for keeping the country safe has largely been seen as the exclusive responsibility of the security agencies. Hence beyond the actual theatres of conflict, hardly is there any commensurate commitment by the rest of the country to the matter of insecurity.  Even the present ramping of the government’s response was triggered by recent rash of sundry threats to the country’s existence as one country under God, courtesy of miscreants masquerading as Fulani herdsmen to wreak havoc on innocent victims.

A rather disturbing evidence of detachment of the civil society from the imperatives of fighting insecurity, is with respect to the states in the North West and North East zones of the country where the problem manifests most viciously, with their respective governors unable to even reach an agreement on how to deal with the situation. As at last count, some of the affected governors there were constrained to shamelessly go cap in hand to negotiate peace with the criminals.

Hence, while the tough talk by Monguno provides assurance of a new deal by the administration, his message and strategic response need to be anchored in an elaborate sensitization of the Nigerian public to buy into the government’s efforts at fighting insecurity. For without the buy-in by the wider society it remains an uphill task for the government to succeed in the fight. A win-win configuration for the country in this war shall comprise of the security apparatus acting as the arrow head while the general public shall rise up as one body, to provide the critical back-up for the frontline. So far such is not happening and therefore needs to be considered.

The imperative for the NSA to court popular support for his enterprise is defined by the very wide scope of incontinences in the country’s effervescent political space, with its notoriety for unpredictability. It is not always that the strategic goals of national security enjoy congruence with the proclivities of potentates for whom their political goals unfortunately often national interest. The implications of such an extant, anomalous state of affairs for the country’s security architecture are well known by the NSA himself. At least, it is easily recalled that until the death of the former Chief of Staff to the President Abba Kyari the immediate past service chiefs routinely by-passed Monguno as NSA to whom they should be reporting and reported to the former. Not surprisingly, Monguno himself had cried to high heavens at that time lamenting the situation. Hence even if his recent intervention suggests a recourse to normalcy in the relationship between him and the newly appointed service chiefs, the ambitious new stance of the federal government as articulated in his riot act requires a drastic revamp of the country’s security architecture.

This can only be achieved holistically through the buy-in by all parts of the country, on a template that formally synergises the competencies, capacities and deliverables of the 774 local government councils, 36 states and the Federal government, along with all other relevant, non-state actors. This is the new best fit paradigm for tackling insecurity in Nigeria today.