Security Mess: 12 Issues To Ponder By Sam Nda-Isaiah
At every opportunity, I have said that solving Nigeria’s current internal security mess is not rocket science. Every discerning person ought to see why things have become quite clumsy in the country. Here are a dozen issues for President Jonathan to ponder if he is really serious about solving the problem:
1. Nigerian soldiers and policemen have once been adjudged as some of the best in the world and they have acquitted themselves accordingly in the several peace-keeping missions they have been involved in since independence. So what went wrong? What is the difference between then and today?
2. The nature of crime has changed; have we changed accordingly? Or are we still using ancient methods to fight today’s crimes? There was a time that the dane gun was thought to be the smartest warfare invention. Do we still use the dane gun today to fight wars? That is the same reason we cannot continue to use yesterday’s methods for today’s crimes. Today’s crimes are defined by technology. According to a report by CNN yesterday, ISIS, the Al-Qaeda affiliate threatening to overrun Iraq, has become savvy at using IT and social media both as recruitment and fundraising tools. The technologies and equipment to defeat the criminals are there on the shelf to be picked.
3. Since Jonathan became president, there has been no year that the police received up to 20 per cent of their budgets. Why? Has oil stopped selling for more than $100 per barrel? Does this give an indication of our president’s seriousness regarding this war?
4. Due to extreme corruption, state governments now receive only about half of their allocations. The state governors have gone to court too many times on this and they are now tired. State governors who used to discharge their security responsibility to their states by generously funding their state police commands, even though there is no law that compels them to do so, have now had to drastically cut down the support they usually give the state police commands. So the security position has now become clumsy. Is there any intelligent reason why state governments no longer receive their allocations in full? Why has the National Assembly been derelict on this? Is it not part of their duty to know why?
5. A country’s first line of defence when dealing with terrorism are the country’s borders. The territory called Nigeria has probably the most porous borders in the world. Nigeria has 84 official entry points into the country but there are 1,499 identified illegal entry points. In Adamawa State alone, there are 25 illegal entry points through Cameroon. The natural question to ask would be, if 1,499 illegal entry points have been identified, what is stopping the government from tackling them? Lack of fund caused by corruption?
6. Because of this scandalous border porosity, illegal arms, some of them quite heavy, from neighbouring Cameroun, Chad and Niger Republic flood Nigeria virtually with nothing stopping them. It is estimated that more than 70 per cent of the illegal arms in West Africa are in Nigeria. Concomitant to this is the fact that Nigeria is surrounded by neighbours that have been at war for decades and we have not been diligent enough to know that there will be inevitable fallouts. There have been wars in Chad, Niger, Sudan and even Libya. After the fall of Muammar Ghadaffi, for instance, several high-calibre weapons found their way into Nigeria very easily. Shouldn’t we have envisaged this?
7. For decades, Nigeria has maintained a police force of 370,000 personnel. This is shameful for a country of 173 million people. For a start, we must immediately increase the nation’s police strength to a minimum of 1,000,000 personnel. Ultimately, Nigeria will need 4,000,000 well-trained and well-armed police officers. And these we must recruit from Nigeria’s teeming unemployed graduates. Why is it difficult to do this?
8. Countries like Nigeria that have this level of terrorist challenges always establish special forces with recruits from among the best within the services. Why are we not doing this?
9. What is happening in Nigeria is an emergency; so, the president must be the one in the emergency room. He cannot outsource his security responsibility to anyone else at a time like this. This can be likened to a hospital situation. In normal times, the doctor can delegate responsibility and give instruction to nurses and other auxiliary staff. But in a hospital emergency situation, the doctor himself enters the surgical theatre and takes the surgery knife personally. This is the time for the commander-in-chief of Nigeria’s armed forces to enter the surgical theatre himself. He cannot delegate this responsibility. The buck must now stop on his desk. Does he understand this?
10. Why is it that not a single Boko Haram operative and sundry kidnappers in the southern states have been compelled to face the law? Indeed, why are all the trials in secret? What is the government afraid of? Is this how to run a nation?
11. In 1969, at the height of the civil war, Nigeria, with a population of 56.1 million, had 250,000 soldiers; we remember that the soldiers were well armed and well motivated. The nation did not seek any loan to prosecute the war and we did not receive support — apart from moral support — from any world power. Today in 2014, with a population of 173 million, in a war against Boko Haram that President Jonathan has declared to be worse than the Nigerian civil war, Nigeria has 100,000 soldiers with no modern weaponry to prosecute the war. Unlike the civil war days, Nigeria is now begging for foreign assistance. Ghana has “graciously” pledged to send troops to assist Nigeria. Ghana? What is wrong with us?
12. What is the remuneration for our police and soldiers? What is the total compensation for a policeman or soldier’s family in the event that he gets killed in the war? Indeed, how have we treated the numerous soldiers and policemen’s families whose breadwinners lost their lives in the hands of Boko Haram and Ombatse cultists? Do we sincerely think that, in Jonathan’s Nigeria, there is any reason a sane soldier or policeman should want to die for the country? So far, what has dominated our discussion is amnesty for criminals and not compensation for security agents that lose their lives in the fight against these murderers. Why?
These are some of the issues that we should all be discussing at this point that our internal security is a shambles. Nobody should play politics with any of these issues. Too many Nigerians are dying daily and those with the responsibility of protecting the people are totally clueless about what to do to stem the tide.
The President Is Too Far Gone
Last week, this column highlighted how Jonathan commits the crime of taking advantage of his office for personal gains. I reminded him that what he does is an impeachable offence. I also reminded him of President Richard Nixon of the United States. But I was wasting my time, as usual. It appears that our president is too far gone. In order to impeach Governor Murtala Nyako who belongs to the opposition APC, so as to give himself a rigging advantage in Adamawa State in the 2015 presidential election, he has given instructions to soldiers to surround the Adamawa chief judge’s residence as part of the intimidation to force his hand. Forget the governor’s political statement exonerating the president. We hear that two very senior military officers have already gone to threaten the chief judge to fall in line with the president’s wishes. Apart from “impunity”, another word that the president will need to study is “nemesis”. If there’s anyone who should be impeached and removed from office, it is the president himself.
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