Governor Mua’zu Babangida Aliyu
Increasing insecurity was the highpoint of a lecture organised in Lagos at the weekend by Obafemi Awolowo Institute of Government and Public Policy (OAIGPP). But speakers who took turns at the event viewed the menace from a completely different perspective. Omololu Ogunmade reports
At a recent public discourse on national security organised in Lagos by Obafemi Awolowo Institute of Government and Public Policy (OAIGPP), participants brainstormed deeply on the possible way out of the menace. Beyond the belief that the way out of the security crisis is the use of arms and other sophisticated weapons coupled with equipped security personnel, speakers at the event offered fresh insight into the menace.
Instead, they were of the view that the way out of the menace is the institutionalisation of policy framework that is deliberately tailored towards meeting the needs and yearnings of the citizenry. Guest speaker, Governor Mua’zu Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, started by submitting that the devolution of powers, entrenchment of true federalism, social justice and internal security mechanism would put paid to the myriad of security crises threatening the nation.
In his paper entitled: “The Search for National Security in Nigeria: Retrospect, Precepts and Prospects,” the governor gave insight into the volume of security apparati possessed by the nation. These apparati, he said, revealed the poor degree of preparedness towards national security, much as the composition of each of the security organs of the nation. According to him, Nigeria Police comprises only 371,000 personnel; Army, 130,000; Air Force, 15,000; Navy, 18,000 and National Security for Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), 50,000.
“These figures speak for themselves,” he said, wondering how each of the categories of these security personnel is expected to provide adequate security for a nation of 160 million population.
Against this background, he insisted that the underlying factor behind the defence policies of varying nations are predicated “on their national interests and by extension their security interests.”
He also reasoned that “recruitments, funding, equipment purchase for the defence of institutions and law enforcement agencies and other related determinants should therefore be in ratio to the population.” Aliyu, however, regretted that Nigeria has a poor sense of data collection, which according to him “makes it difficult to get relevant current data to adequately analyse the trends in this direction.”
The Niger Governor, who said his lecture would not focuse on activities of Boko Haram or any other ethnic militia, disclosed that suicide bombers who claim to be fighting for Islam would end up in hell, arguing that in Islam, anyone who commits suicide would ultimately roast in eternal lake of fire.
According to him, security crisis will continue to ravage the nation unless robust policies deliberately designed to affect the lives of the citizenry are put in place, explaining that such policies that will boost internal security must be aimed at fighting poverty, reducing unemployment, eradicating corruption, guaranteeing qualitative education, affordable housing, health, good roads and as well engender equity, fairness and justice.
He also added that such policies must provide succour for “economically disadvantaged states” through the support of “economically vibrant states,” adding: “We should take a cue from German principle of federalism which promotes even development that devolves enormous responsibilities and resources to the lower tiers of government where the majority of people live.”
“The biggest issues in the prospects for national security however, remain the fight against corruption and realisation of effective leadership that Nigerians will trust and rely upon,” he said, noting that “we must resist and defeat corruption under whatever guise; expose the corrupt and reward those who live above board.
“We need to have pro-poor policies that address the fundamental social problems directly affecting the people – free education at all levels, free healthcare, agricultural subsidies and abolition of food importation to boost local food production, affordable housing for all citizens, good roads, stable electricity to boost small businesses, among others.
“Similarly, we should strengthen the economic fortunes of the people by strengthening
institutions that will provide them with access to micro-credit facilities – micro-finance institutions, SMEs and co-operatives to enhance their economic security. We must also call for comprehensive economic plan similar to the American Marshall Plan to address endemic poverty in the country. This plan should be comprehensive enough to encompass all facets and strata of the society so that components, acceptability and implementation could be made easier and harmonious.
“In the same vein, we should entrench equity and fairness and justice in our relationships at personal, inter-governmental and societal levels as the absence of social justice is invitation to chaos and violence, which threatens national security. Closely related is the imperative for us to have mutual respect for one another regardless of our religious, ethnic and cultural differences, to engender peace, unity and harmony.
“We should institutionalise policies and programmes that foster national integration and citizenship and avoid pitfalls that undermine our unity and patriotism as Nigerians. Every Nigerian should find a home anywhere they live and enjoy the full rights and privileges of citizenship as well as the responsibilities thereto without discrimination,” Aliyu submitted.
His Ekiti State counterpart, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who chaired the occasion, supported Aliyu’s position on ways of resolving the current security threat in the nation. He said Nigeria was mainly facing internal security challenges which propelled the deployment of military men originally trained to provide external security for the maintenance of internal security. The trend, he said, is an expression of inadequacies and incompetence of those elected to protect the lives and property of the people.
While reiterating the call for state police, Fayemi who cited states such as India, United States, among other ountries practising federalism with preponderance of police at various levels, said: “I don’t know of any federation in the world that has only one police.”
He argued that if the security and safety of Nigerians were the pre-occupation of elected representatives, then, the creation of state police shouldn’t be a subject of contention. He regretted that in Nigeria today, states do not possess the power to manage or curtail violence.
Earlier, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of OAIGPP, Chief Bisi Akande, who was represented at the occasion by Mrs. Francesca Emmanuel, Nigeria’s first female Permanent Secretary, recalled the words of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in his lecture delivered at Conway Hall, London, on September 3, 1961.
Akande’s submission, which complemented Aliyu’s presentation, harped essentially on government’s responsibility to preserve the corporate existence of the state against both internal anarchy and external aggression and as well, foster the welfare and happiness of citizens. He recalled how Awolowo preached social justice, equity, provision of basic necessities of life and promotion of good neighbourliness as recipes for national security.
Quoting Awolowo, he said: “The general wellbeing of the citizen depends on the objective and subjective factors. He needs a healthy body which can be reared on good food, adequate shelter, decent clothing, a reasonable measure of comfort and luxury, and a wholesome environment. He needs a sound and cultivated mind which is free to know and meditate upon the things of choice. He has natural, conventional and legal rights which must be protected and upheld, with impartiality and inflexible justice, mainly by the appropriate organs of government and partly by the society in which he lives.
“But of course, the citizen owes enormous duties to the state and to his fellow citizens, which are regulated and enjoined by customary usages and the laws of the land. No government, however, can hope to discharge its duties to the state and to the citizens satisfactorily or effectively, unless it is, or at the very least, strives continually to be in good terms with its immediate neighbours and rest of the world.
“At the same time, it must ensure at home as near a state of equilibrium as possible among all citizens, in their legitimate demand for equitable shares of the national products. In other words, the internal affairs of a state must be ordered by the government in such a manner as to guarantee social justice and personal security to all, and the external affairs conducted in such a manner as to promote world peace and undiscriminating respects for human dignity in all parts of the world,” he espoused.
With the submissions coming from the trio of Aliyu, Fayemi and Akande and each emphasising the wellbeing of citizens via the provisions of basic human needs as well as infrastructural developments, it is evident that the issue of national security should ordinarily be a walkover if only government lives up to its responsibility of harnessing the nation’s resources to meeting the yearnings of its citizenry.