• Monday, July 15, 2024
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A clarion call for revamp National Security Strategy

Nigeria’s local decisions are affecting its national security

Ten days after 9/11, President George W Bush of the United States of America saw and understood that the current defense posture and security architecture were insufficient to combat present and future threats to the country.

There were rumours that many agencies working at ground zero during the attack worked in silos. There was zero interconnectedness and interdependencies among the agencies. There was also no fusion cell to synchronise information. He recognised the need for improved information sharing among law enforcement agencies.

As a result, he pushed to “make Americans safer” by securing borders and infrastructure, coordinating communications between government agencies about security threats, managing and training emergency responders, and synthesizing intelligence.”

He executed this by setting up the Department of Homeland Security. I cited this example because although a lot has happened beyond 9/11, it is fair to say that the department works for what it was intended.

The recent events in the Nigerian geopolitical landscape have caused serious concern. Banditry and different shades of terrorism are currently deep-rooted in Nigeria. There is an urgent need for the government to rethink the structure of its present security architecture. The current gaps and vulnerability in the Nigerian landscape require rethinking and pivoting from the old paradigm. The security structure and posture are inadequate and beyond retooling. The current framework in Nigeria cannot meet the immediate and future challenges of the country.

The enemy understands the terrain, the geopolitical structure, and all other uniqueness that present and mask itself as vulnerability. By global standards, we also know that the current security structure of the security institutions, their capabilities, and their capacity is inadequate.

The caste system, where the military is deemed higher than the police in the current security infrastructure is among the institutionalised domains that need to change.

In an ideal society, the police should be empowered enough to handle internal security, whatever the gravity, while the military focuses on fighting wars outside the country. This helps to encourage equal respect amongst both agencies.

The ratio of police to citizens, the overlapping responsibilities with state and local governments, the jurisdictional issues, centralization of security institutions, and more require constitutional review and change.

George Bush created the Department of Homeland Security because, through the 9/11 terrorist action, he saw that the US needed a new agency to address its homeland security issues, knowing fully well that the current template was disjointed and siloed.

I believe the Nigerian government also needs to regroup when it comes to the security infrastructure of the country. The enemy understands its vulnerability. The way the enemy fights is different from how Nigeria is structured.

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For example, in recent times, critical Nigerian infrastructure has been under siege. Critical infrastructure “are assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, considered so vital to the country that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on national security, economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof.”

When we talk of critical infrastructure, we are referring to our refineries, communication sector, dams, commercial facilities, and defense bases. Let’s not forget the financial sectors, food and agricultural sector, health and public health, water, and water waste system, and the transportation system. If there is a synchronised attack on any of these, it can paralyse Nigeria’s operations, economy, and natural security. What happened in Kaduna hampered operations and is a prototype of what is possible if nothing is done. Supply chain, business, and trade cannot thrive if the critical infrastructure is not protected.

I recommend that Nigeria restructures its Ministry of Interior since it houses agencies responsible for Nigeria’s security. The other viable option is to create a new ministry solely responsible for internal security. This agency will see to all areas of Nigerian Homeland security, especially the critical infrastructure.

The Nigerian Homeland security will become the coordinating effort for all the agencies- the Police, DSS, Immigration and Border Control, Customs, and the Military. This coordination is crucial because law enforcement agencies have an intelligence role to play in combating security threats and collaboration, which entails information sharing and analysis of threat information is the key to successfully fulfilling that role.

Nigeria is structured symmetrically, and its enemies are fighting asymmetrically. It must consolidate at the centre using a ministry but disperse asymmetrically. With a coordinating ministry, you can disrupt their supply chain, their weapons proliferation into the country, and even their movement of funds. When you start handicapping these things, you start taking the life out of them.

We may also need to add more ministries and take away others. I understand that many may not receive some of these unorthodox strategies well. Yet, if we want a progressive society, we need to have these conversations. Can the future fit into the current disposition? It is a question we all need to answer.

If insecurity is taken care of, and the revamping is done, many other things in the country will fall in place. Chief among them is stakeholders from different parts of the world coming to invest in the country. This is a clarion call.

Adeleke, a supply chain and security expert, writes from the diaspora