• Wednesday, June 19, 2024
businessday logo


Resilience [forging ahead] – Fixing insecurity


On 5th August 2020, virtually all the major newspapers devoted their front-page to the Audit Report/Forensic Audit Report delivered at the State House, Aso Rock, Abuja, by the National Security Adviser to the President, Major-General Babagana Monguno (Rtd). The common thread was (and remains) the deplorable security situation in the country.

According to “The Nation” newspaper:

Headline: “Buhari orders security rejig as C.A.N, sultan raise the alarm”

“A rejig of the nation’s security operations has commenced in response to the growing insecurity in many parts of the country.

National Security Adviser (NSA), Major. Gen. Babagana Monguno, stated this on Tuesday after the National Security Council meeting at the State House in Abuja.

According to the NSA, President Muhammadu Buhari, who presided over yesterday’s meeting, gave the directive, adding that he is “working on something” with Minister of Defence Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi in that regard.

Gen. Monguno told reporters after the meeting that the President directed a “rejig of our strategy, both in terms of operations and intelligence, to further prevent catastrophes. We must bear in mind that we owe a duty to the people that elected this government and at the end of the day, without securing the nation, all other things such as revamping the economy and fighting corruption cannot be addressed.

He added: “I know it has not been easy, there has been a gradual loss of confidence over the years and the president is determined to restore confidence. Equipping the security agencies.

Speaking specifically on what transpired at yesterday’s meeting, the NSA said: “What the President said today was 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.

“The office of the National Security Adviser, in conjunction with other security agencies, will work on a blueprint in a short, medium and a long term to address this matter”.

Asked about President Buhari’s earlier marching orders to service chiefs to shape up and live up to their task, Monguno said: “basically, these are operational matters that are best dealt with by the Minister of Defense.

“I know that there’s something that he’s working on, which has led to this meeting being delayed slightly, this meeting was actually supposed to take place before the Sallah holiday, but I think one or two things have come up that I don’t think I can explain, but I want you to be comfortable that something is being done, following that marching order”, he said.

On the clash between Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum, and the military, the NSA said he would get a better briefing after the meeting of the National Security Council with the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF).

“Just like you have seen things on the social media here, again I don’t know the final details of what happened, but I know that the governor will meet with Mr President to discuss whatever led to the incident and the debacle. What I know, however, is that in another 30 minutes from now (yesterday), we are going to have a virtual meeting with the Governors’ Forum.

“My name sake has already told me that he’s coming for the meeting, it’s only after that meeting that I can really be able to understand the nitty gritty of what happened, but like you said, it’s unfortunate and I believe we’ll get over this issue”.

What has gone viral is the emphatic declaration by the National Security Adviser [NSA] that security is the number one item on the agenda; and without security virtually everything else – from the economy to education, health, banking, industry and agriculture etc. would collapse

Gen. Monguno accused criminals of being driven by drugs: “These drugs basically are codeine, opium, cocaine, tramadol and amphetamines and of course cannabis sativa. The popular drug of choice is tramadol, it is easily acquired. Tramadol has been the drug of choice for terrorists, bandits and kidnappers. And if we don’t tackle this we are going to be immersed in a great problem by virtue of the fact that he who resides in the town, urban or rural area must be able to collaborate with agents of government in revealing these abnormalities.

“The second issue of course is also tied intrinsically to that situation of banditry in the northwest and north central zones, where you have a lot of illegal aliens working just like what you see in the mining sector, illegal miners working with bandits and kidnappers. Of course, there are also other issues of fully equipping the security agencies” he explained.

What has gone viral is the emphatic declaration by the National Security Adviser [NSA] that security is the number one item on the agenda; and without security virtually everything else – from the economy to education, health, banking, industry and agriculture etc. would collapse.

That cannot be the end of the debate. Unless Professor Gambari has discarded liberal socialism, which was drilled into him at the London School of Economics, we are entitled to expect a robust discussion with the National Security Adviser with a view to shifting utmost primacy from security to the ECONOMY. Perhaps it is an oversimplification to argue that if the economy is thriving, security would find its own level. Of course, the correct answer may be something in-between.

This is somewhat akin to John Maynard Keynes’s vigorous advocacy of liberal socialism and the imperative to borrow money to fund public services. According to Keynes, in pursuing liberal socialism the solution lies neither with nationalisation nor unregulated private competition. It lies in a variety of experiments, of attempts to get the best of both worlds.

In essence, the fate of Nigeria hangs in the hands of two ex-Payne’s House (“KCOBs”) – Professor Ibrahim Gambari, Chief of Staff to the President and Major-General Babagana Monguno (Rtd), the National Security Adviser. The critical issue is whether the final decision will favour Security (Monguno) or Economy (Gambari). Both of them cannot be right. That leaves room for Harman’s House to insist that both of them are wrong!!

The precarious situation is somewhat akin to what prevailed during the Nigerian Civil War (1967 to 1970). Somewhere in the archives is an iconic photograph of the two warring parties at a peace-making meeting (which was eventually aborted).

On the Biafran side were General Emeka Odimegwu Ojukwu (leader) accompanied by his Chief Justice Sir Louis Mbafeno and on the Nigerian side were Alhaji Femi Okunnu (Minister of Works); Chief Anthony Enahoro (Minister of Information), Chief Wenike Briggs (Minister of Education) and two Permanent Secretaries – Chief Allison Ayida and Chief Phillip C. Asiodu. All of them were old boys of King’s College!!