The escalating insecurity in the country got to a worrisome point, with massive killings taking place on a daily basis, particularly in the Middle Belt region of the country. There are also skirmishes of the killings and scaring levels of violence in the Southern states of Nigeria.
These violent activities are largely blamed on rampaging Fulani herdsmen, who are fingered to be attacking communities in their drive to dispossess inhabitants of their ancestral lands for the primary purpose of grazing their animals. This is also in addition to the terrorist activities of the Boko Haram insurgents in the North-East geo-political zone, as well as the menacing violent activities of purported armed bandits in Zamfara State, which have left hundreds of the inhabitants of the affected areas dead.
This mammoth of aggravating security challenges appears to have overwhelmed the nation’s security system, as the security agencies seem not to have immediate and long term solutions for the problem, as they demonstrate obvious incapacity to secure the lives and property of Nigerians, which is the primary objective of government. Consequently, the Senate mandated its Ad hoc Committee on the Review of the current security infrastructure in Nigeria to organise a national security summit in Abuja, where the heads of security agencies and other stakeholders across the land would convoke to deliberate on the matter.
Following this mandate, the Senate held a two-day security summit to comprehensively brainstorm on the issue, in order to proffer short term, medium term and long term solutions to the security challenges already attracting international attention.
The summit took place on February 8 and 12, 2018, following the adoption of the report of the Senate Ad hoc Committee on Review of the Security Infrastructure in Nigeria, consequent upon three motions of urgent public importance and the concerns raised by the Senate on the increasing spate, dimension and intensity of insecurity in many parts of the country.
Having received the report on the summit before embarking on its last Sallah recess, the Senate, last Wednesday, considered and adopted the report, which contained 20 resolutions on how to improve on the nation’s security system to be able to effectively end security challenges in the country.
The consideration and adoption of the report was coming five months after the apex legislative chamber held the summit in the nation’s political capital, Abuja; where the security chiefs and other relevant participants critically examined the state of the nation, with particular focus on security.
The report was presented by the Chairman of the Ad hoc Committee and Leader of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan (APC, Yobe North), who noted that the summit holistically discussed the security problems in the country, with far reaching suggestions that informed the recommendations of the Committee.
While adopting the recommendations, the Senate called on the Federal Government to comprehensively overhaul and strengthen the country’s security infrastructure, stressing that the nation’s political structure should form a major factor in the review, so as to get a security system that could effectively face the contemporary challenges.
To this effect, the apex chamber, observed that managing national security required an enlightened and constructive approach involving all arms and levels of government, as well as major inputs of key political influences across the nation.
It recommended that there was the need to isolate current security challenges from political partisanship, narrow political interests and ethno-religious sentiments, warning political office holders and all sources of influence to restrain tendencies to further complicate and worsen the nation’s current challenges.
It also urged non-governmental organisations, civil society and socio-cultural groups to explore avenues to engineer wider and substantial national consensus around reducing tensions and stresses, particularly with the advent of actively political/electoral activities. It recommended that the basic structure in the management of national security should be revisited by the Presidency to address weaknesses in coordination, collaboration and synergy, noting that clear lines of authority should be identified, and officers and persons trusted with responsibility for national security should be held accountable.
The Senate frowned at what it described as unhealthy rivalry and competition between key security agencies and officers, urging heads of the agencies to ensure that the ugly situation was eliminated as quickly as possible. Observing that all the nation’s security assets were dangerously over-stretched by the current security challenges in the country, the Senate recommended that there was the dire need to increase the size of the Nigeria Police, the military and other para-military agencies.
It suggested that recruitment, training and deployment must be strictly governed by suitability and other professional considerations while stressing that funding of the nation’s security assets be improved, and levels of accountability on the part of the military, police and other agencies should be strictly enforced.
The Upper Chamber also asked the Federal Government to provide low-interest loans for herders in the country to enable them establish their private ranches for their cattle, to reduce to the barest minimum the frequent conflicts between them and the farmers across the country.
Furthermore, the lawmakers called on the Federal Government to integrate the almajiris system into the country’s education system so that they could be transformed and by extension to eliminate the security dangers they posed to the country. Other recommendations read: “collaboration between Federal Security and law and order agencies and sub-national outfits needs to be reexamined in the context of demands for improved security, and the imperatives of, reducing exposure of citizens to extra-legal influences; There is a need for closer collaboration with outfits that satisfy requirements of the law, while sensitive issues such as bearing of arms and crime management should be more closely monitored by government agencies.
“Technology should be built into the core of national security architecture and management, and an informed investment strategy into relevant technology in areas of intelligence and data collection should be adopted and implemented without delay. “The nation’s dependence on import of basic security requirements should be reduced. Our research and development capacities should be developed to meet most of the basic needs of national security.
“The judiciary-must operate on the basis of the highest standards of justice. Perception of weakness and corruption in the judiciary erode its legitimacy and loyalty of citizen as well as confidence of the Nigerian state to do justice to all citizens and interests.
“The nation should examine options to the use of force alone as responses to threats to national security. Strategies which improve chances of resolution of conflicts without recourse to force should be utilized. The nation’s stock of knowledge and skills, as well as requisite political will behind utilization of options on conflicts resolution, peace-building and managing community relations need to be strengthened.
“The international community has shown its willingness to support Nigeria in the fight against violent groups and in providing relief to victims of violence and facilitating long term rehabilitation. Nigeria should improve areas which inhibit useful support, particularly in the areas of human rights, accountability and transparency, as well increased spending on its citizens by the Nigerian state.
“The existence of millions of internally-displaced persons in the North-East and millions of young people who have had no education or strong social links represents potent threats to the present and future security of the nation. Policy and other initiatives which address sustained reconstruction, rehabilitation and development in the North-East must be more vigorously provided. Education of young people in the North-East should be accorded the highest priority, as well as the relocation of IDPs into their communities in environments that guarantee sustained livelihoods and security. “Corruption and waste are threats to national security, and they must be resisted by strong political will, good and effective policy and improvements in the efficiency and efficiency of institutions.
“Poverty is a constant threat to national security, and the entire focus of all governments must target its reduction. Current policies and initiatives should be dispassionately re-evaluated to establish their efficacy. Nigeria’s growing population will challenge antipoverty strategies to a point where national security will be severely compromised unless the economy is radically improved at this stages and in the future.
“Continuous substantial investments in education, health and basic social and economic infrastructure to support a selfreliant, productive population and sustainable national development.
“The rise in production, importation and consumption of illicit drugs in the nation represents a major threat to national security. There is the need to generate a strong political will to improve policy, legislation and regulatory and enforcement capacities to reduce the damage of illicit drugs in the population and on the economy.
Senators who spoke before the report was adopted commended the Committee for good and comprehensive work done, stressing that Senate should follow up the recommendations to ensure its implementation. In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who presided over the session, said that he expected the executive arm to judiciously implement the document to tackle the security problems in the country.