By Williams Anuku, Abuja
NIGERIA’s National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd) on Wednesday, admitted that the challenges posed by insecurity in Nigeria has assumed a complex nature.
He said this reality informed the launch of a new National Security Strategy 2019, which will attempt to address most of the lapses in the existing document of 2014.
Monguno who addressed State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari, alluded that there was a growing mix when reviewing issues of insecurity both at national and continental levels.
According to him, these security challenges were not peculiar to Nigeria, rather nations around the world are at a fix in trying to demystify it.
The launch of the new security roadmap which preceded the Federal Executive Council meeting afforded the NSA to explain further.
He said, “The maiden edition of the national security strategy was published in 2014. Ever since then, evolving trends in the security environment have given rise to new and more complex challenges thus, necessitating a review of this national security strategy based on the timeline of five years which is stipulated for the review of this strategy.
“Therefore, at the instance of Mr, President, I convened a committee of experts drawn from the various departments and relevant branches of government to undertake a rigorous review of this strategy drawing inputs from various ministries, departments and agencies. Thereafter, I tasked this committee with the formulation of the national security strategy of 2019.
“It addresses the current threats faced by the Nigerian nation as well as those threats that are anticipated to emerge in the near future. We have also proffered appropriate strategy to address these threats which demand a whole of government approach in combination with a whole of nation to achieve a whole of societal approach in dealing with these challenges.
“Now, this is critical because the perceptible trend in the national security landscape is that the traditional clear cut issues of internal and external security as it affects us today in the globalised world without borders are no longer the sole requirement for categorizing national security risk. Therefore, in the context of today, there is a vigorous interaction between internal and external threats thereby creating a complex constellation of threat and risk to all of us”.
Linking the spate of insecurity in Nigeria to transnational boundaries, the NSA explained, “Let me give an example, the issue of insurgency in the north east is directly linked to the issue of terrorism in the Sahel which is an increasingly volatile neighbourhood and the situation is also derived from what is happening in Libya which in turn is affected by the lack of security in Syria which derived its own situation ultimately from Iraq.
“Now when we look at the issue of farmers and pastoralists perpetual conflict, it is also linked to the influx of armed groups and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons across porous borders. In our own case, we are talking of some 4,040kilometers of land borders.
“Again, when you look at the upsurge in armed banditry, it is part of the sphere of transnational organized crime which is affecting us. And looking at the Niger delta situation, basically, the activities of criminal gangs in the Niger Delta are equally linked to pipeline vandalism, oil theft, piracy and sea robbery in the Gulf of Guinea. These have brought about untold problems and placed our maritime economy in dire strait while at the same time, putting in a difficult situation in our energy infrastructure.
“In all of these situations, traditional law enforcement agencies have used various approaches and these approaches are complemented by the robust responses of our armed forces, security, and intelligence agencies. Nonetheless, this National Security Strategy has decided to embark on a comprehensive and multi-dimensional approach to solving these challenges”.
Monguno also said the core philosophy of this new strategy is anchored on human security, noting that it was a shift from the state-centric orientation we have been used to, to a new paradigm in which the safety and wellbeing of the individual citizens are the primary bases for all national security measures.
“Our national security strategy tries to mitigate adverse national security indicators in its desire to achieve the delivery of positive governance outcome for all the people of Nigeria. In so doing, this document takes a comprehensive look at how to enhance the capacity of security agencies and how they need to collaborate with each other. As we consolidate on the successes of nation-building in the Northeast and Niger Delta, the clear lesson for all of us here is that the key to sustainable peace and development is to guarantee security both in terms and social status for everybody”.
Almajiri System of Education Archaic, Must Give Way
The NSA also warned that the dire consequences of the Almajiri system of education which is prevalent in the northern part of the country, may come back to hunt the nation to its very foundation if it does not give way.
According to him, stakeholders at various levels must take the bull by the horn to expunge it from our country.
Monguno’s assertion however ran contrary to earlier postulation from the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu who argued that the Almajiri education system which has its root in the traditional northern society cannot be expunged in one full swoop.
He said, “What the strategy does is to look at our national security objectives and align these objectives with this administration’s goals in fighting corruption, giving access to improved education, taking care of the healthcare problems as well as increased productivity in the agriculture sector.
“But rooted in the strategy are issues that may not be visible to the naked eyes, but issues that have tended to be malignant to cause a lot of greater problems to this society. Fundamentally, if we are going to take care of these problems, we need to try and safeguard the fast-growing young population of Nigeria and guess what? We need to look at issues of poverty eradication and illiteracy.
“The issue of illiteracy is directly linked to the issue of children not going to school, this Almajiri phenomenon which we have been talking about, we cannot continue to push it under the carpet because what? Eventually, it will come back to bite us in the burd big time, we need to deal with this issue and it is the responsibility of all of us to try and take care of this issue without any inhibition. I will tell you one thing.
“The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in its pursuit for greater and enhanced security will not allow itself to be blackmailed or handcuffed by the disarming philosophy of compliance with certain aspects that are socio-cultural in nature which people tend to be adverse to dealing. We must grab the bull by the horn and deal with these issues.
“Now, let’s look at the composition of this committee I set up, Fundamentally, it is a demonstration of our commitment to participatory policymaking in the security sphere. So, what we have done is to try as much as possible to engage all security agencies to deal with these issues in a collaboratory manner. That is for the security agencies.
“Secondly, for all of us working in government, there is a need for us to enhance collaboration at the regional, global and continental levels because of the very transnational nature of insecurity in the globe today.
“This National Security Strategy has also taken a look at the various aspects of individual MDAs and therefore, there is a need for all of us to work not just the security agencies. As the old adage goes, security is everybody’s business. This national security document is an executive document which will serve as the broad construct for departments and agencies of government so that they understand the intention of executive leadership of the country in delivering to the people what it promised pre-election period.
“It should be seen as a strategic communication tool for both the domestic and foreign audience. This strategy in essence is the national document bearing the collective seal of ownership and public confidence of the entire citizenry of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.