As Buhari Launches National Security Roadmap, NSA Insists Almajiri System Must Go

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Muhammadu Buhari

Kingsley Nwezeh and Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

As part of his commitment to enhance the security of the country, President Muhammadu Buhari wednesday launched the National Security Strategy (NSS) 2019, his roadmap to a more secured environment for Nigerians.

The security roadmap was launched at the State House, Abuja a day after the president unveiled the first Made-in-Nigeria Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles at the opening ceremony of the 2019 Chief of Army Staff Annual Conference in Kaduna.

THISDAYhad on Tuesday exclusively reported that the president had received the NSS document from National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), and was ready to swing into action with it.

Seizing the opportunity of the launch, Monguno reiterated his position that the federal government must phase out the Almajiri system. “If the alms-seeking practice is not phased out, it will come back to bite us big time,” he said.

He said the Almajiri system, which was linked to illiteracy, could no longer be swept under the carpet in view of its far reaching implications on national security and wellbeing of the nation.

“The issue of illiteracy is directly linked to the issue of children not going to school, this Almajiri phenomenon, which we have been talking about, we cannot continue to push it under the carpet because what? Eventually, it will come back to bite us in the butt big time, we need to deal with this issue and it is the responsibility of all of us to try and take care of this issue without any inhibition,” the NSA said.

Monguno explained: “Fundamentally, if we are going to take care of these problems, we need to try and safeguard the fast-growing young population of Nigeria and guess what? We need to look at issues of poverty eradication and illiteracy. I will tell you one thing.

“The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in its pursuit for greater and enhanced security will not allow itself to be blackmailed or handcuffed by the disarming philosophy of compliance with certain aspects that are socio-cultural in nature, which people tend to be averse to dealing. We must grab the bull by the horn and deal with these issues.”

He also affirmed that insecurity in the country was tied to international influence, adding that both internal and external factors have combined to result in a complex constellation of threat and risk to Nigerians.

He said the revised strategy is designed to tackle the root causes of insecurity, education and healthcare challenges.

“The issue of insurgency in the North-east is directly linked to the issue of terrorism in the Sahel, which is an increasingly volatile neighbourhood and the situation is also derived from what is happening in Libya, which in turn is affected by the lack of security in Syria, which derived its own situation ultimately from Iraq,” he said.

Speaking earlier at the formal launch of the roadmap, Buhari expressed happiness that the National Security Strategy 2019 is a product of painstaking and rigorous deliberations by relevant stakeholders committed to the task of safeguarding the nation from internal and external threats.

He noted that the plethora of security challenges confronting the nation had made it expedient to come up with articulated, comprehensive and coordinated response that involves all segments of the society and all elements of the national power.

The president said the strategy represented a thoughtful, strategic and practical expression of the resolve to make Nigeria safe for development, investment, growth and prosperity for everybody.

He said: “As we continue to work towards completely ending insurgency in the North-east, and laying the foundation of sustainable peace and development in the region, we are also addressing conflicts between farmers and herders, banditry and various forms of security challenges.

“In addition to security, economic diversification and fighting corruption, our administration priorities for the second term include pursuing improvements in education, healthcare and agriculture.”

Buhari stated that these priorities reflected his administration’s commitment to enhancing the social security of Nigerians as a means of improving their physical security.

“I’m happy to observe that the National Security Strategy reflects this thinking with emphasis on overall human security,” the president said, adding: “I’m pleased also to know that the strategy emerged after a long time consultative and participatory process that elicited contributions primarily from our security, intelligence, law enforcement agencies and the armed forces”.

Other stakeholders such as ministries, department and agencies and the civil society were also contributory to this strategy.

“As such, this strategy will inform government wide and society wide measures designed to promote the public safety and the national security.” Buhari said.

He described security as a bottom to top operation, saying failure at any level will lead to serious lapse in overall security.

He called on all stakeholders from heads of MDAs to see themselves and as stakeholders and partners in the onerous task of securing “our people and to demonstrate unity of purpose in implementing this strategy.”

The president commended the NSA and his team for delivering on the document.

He added that the urgent task before the country was how to execute the strategy and achieve a safer and more secured nation, saying it was a task to which his administration remained fully and unreservedly committed to.

On his part, the NSA described the national security strategy 2019 as a cornerstone document that enshrined the deep abiding commitment of the president to ensuring that Nigeria was a secure, peaceful and prosperous nation.

He said the core philosophy of this strategy was human security, which was a shift from the state-centric orientation to a new paradigm where the safety and wellbeing of the individual citizens were the primary bases for all national security measures.

According to him, the review of the national security strategy that was first was published in 2014 was necessitated by evolving trends in the security environment that gave rise to new and more complex challenges.

The NSA noted that the document had addressed the current threats faced by the nation as well as those threats that were anticipated to emerge in the near future.

According to him, “We have also proffered appropriate strategy to address these threats, which demand a whole of government approach in combination with a whole of nation to achieve a whole of societal approach in dealing with these challenges.

“This is critical because the perceptible trend in the national security landscape is that the traditional clear cut issues of internal and external security as it affects us today in the globalised world without borders are no longer the sole requirement for categorizing national security risk. Therefore, in the context of today, there is a vigorous interaction between internal and external threats thereby creating a complex constellation of threat and risk to all of us.”

He noted that the farmers and pastoralists conflict was linked to the influx of armed groups and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons across porous borders from the volatile Sahel region and Libya, which had become politically fragile since the uprising that led to the death of Muammer Ghaddafi over a decade ago.

He said the national security strategy aimed to mitigate adverse national security indicators in its desire to achieve the delivery of positive governance outcome for all the people of Nigeria, adding that the document took a comprehensive look at how to enhance the capacity of security agencies and how they need to collaborate with each other.

Speaking further on the NSS, the NSA maintained: “What the strategy does is to look at our national security objectives and align these objectives with this administration’s goals in fighting corruption, giving access to improved education, taking care of the healthcare problems as well as increased productivity in the agriculture sector. But rooted in the strategy are issues that may not be visible to the necked eyes, but issues that have tended to be malignant to cause a lot of greater problems to this society.”

He said the revised strategy placed emphasis on human security as against state-centric orientation.

“It addresses the current threats faced by the Nigerian nation as well as those threats that are anticipated to emerge in the near future. We have also proffered appropriate strategy to address these threats, which demand a whole of government approach in combination with a whole of nation to achieve a whole of societal approach in dealing with these challenges,” he said.

Monguno concluded: “The core philosophy of this strategy is human security. This is a shift from the state-centric orientation we have been used to, to a new paradigm in which the safety and wellbeing of the individual citizens are the primary bases for all national security measures. And this is what I call the Muhammadu Buhari approach to national security.”