•Ndume: Nigerian Army is Ill-equipped, Underfunded to Fight Insurgents
•Govs meet today over insecurity
By Omololu Ogunmade and Chuks Okocha
Nigeria’s top security apparatchiks, including the service chiefs, yesterday got a presidential marching order to re-engineer the nation’s security architecture and evolve new strategies of arresting the deteriorating insecurity in the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari, at a meeting with the security chiefs in Abuja, restated his displeasure with their inability to safeguard lives and property.
He, however, implored Nigerians to be patient and await the fruits of the re-engineering process, assuring them that the situation is redeemable.
The nation’s worsening insecurity will also engage the attention of the 36 states’ governors today as they meet to discuss the matter as it affects the states.
THISDAY, however, gathered that contrary to expectations that the president might bow to the growing clamour to remove the service chiefs, the remit of the impending overhauling of the security system does not involve replacing them, despite the widespread disenchantment with their perceived inability to tame the escalating security crisis rocking the country.
Briefing journalists yesterday after a National Security Council meeting presided over by the president and attended by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd.), said the president reaffirmed his position at the last June 18 meeting that the security chiefs were not doing enough and hence should do more.
“What he 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,” he stated.
According to him, the president ordered the service chiefs and heads of security agencies to overhaul their security strategies, bearing in mind that the federal government owes the citizenry a duty to guarantee lives and property.
Against this background, he urged Nigerians to collaborate with security agencies in the efforts to contain violent crimes, adding that the Office of the NSA will work out the blueprint to address the matter.
“The Office of the National Security Adviser in conjunction with other security agencies will work out a blueprint in a short, medium and long term to address this matter.
“Of course, there are also other issues of fully equipping the security agencies.
“Finally, Mr. President has also directed we must rejig 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 said.
Monguno, who said he knew how everybody felt about insecurity issues ravaging the country, added that the president also knows that securing the nation is a primary responsibility of the government.
“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 fulfill the legitimate expectations of the larger Nigerian society,” he stated.
On what the council is doing about the escalated killings in Southern Kaduna, Monguno described the huge level of insecurity in the area as a political matter.
He explained that the Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, had been discussing with the president over the matter.
But he added that he is not privy to details of the discussion between the governor and the president.
“Kaduna is again a political matter and I think the governor of Kaduna State has been talking with Mr. President and I’m not privy to the final outcome,” he added.
On the security crisis in the North-west, the NSA said findings had shown that illegal miners had been working with bandits to unleash mayhem on the people of the zone, threatening that the security system would get to the root of kidnapping and banditry in the region.
“The second issue, of course, is also tied intrinsically to that situation of banditry in the North-west 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,” he said.
The NSA said he presented a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to the council on the twin issues of drug consumption and drug trafficking, which have assumed a dangerous and worrisome dimension.
According to him, the situation is so worrisome because the engagement in drug matters in Nigeria has moved from the hitherto state of being a traffic hub to a production centre.
He said between 2011 and 2019, for instance, no fewer than 17 manufacturing laboratories of methamphetamine were discovered and destroyed, identifying promoters of the menace as some drug farmers who planted cannabis and employ militants to protect the farms.
Monguno said drug issues were destructive to both the social and economic fabrics of the nation because they were prevalent in the country.
The NSA said the Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Col. Muhammad Abdallah, was invited to brief the meeting on the situation.
He explained that the NDLEA boss affirmed the increasing trend of drug trafficking and consumption.
According to him, the NDLEA boss described the situation as reckless, adding that it requires collective efforts to address the menace through the deployment of both the entire societal and governmental approach to curb it.
He classified those involved in the menace into three- drug peddlers, drug consumers and some security agents or government officials entrusted with the responsibility of denying people access to the substance but opt to compromise their duties and rather promote it.
However, the NSA said the council had decided that it was high time the menace was fought because it had been a factor fuelling criminality such as banditry, kidnapping and terrorism.
He added that given the level of abnormality and inhumanity involved in killing and wasting lives, only people who consume drugs could engage in such mindless acts.
He listed brands of the drugs as codeine, Tramadol, cocaine, opium, among others, noting that Tramadol is the most popular and most easily acquired by terrorists, kidnappers and bandits.
He said: “You have a minimum of three parties operating at the same time – the drug peddler (the supper fly), the consumer (the junkie) and that person in the centre who has been entrusted with denying these drugs access into the country. It is important to note that if there is a compromise then things become tedious and problematic.
“So, what we did was to invite the Chairman of NDLEA based on his report that all security agencies are studying, the president has resolved that we must wrestle this problem. This problem is directly linked.
“If you look at the criminality, the colouration of each crime, especially kidnapping, banditry and terrorism, it is not the killing of the people but the way people are killed, goes to show one thing. It is extremely abnormal, inhuman and these acts can only be perpetrated by people who are out of their minds.
“One thing we in the security and intelligence arm have been able to trace, is that there are certain drugs of choice that have saturated the entire landscape of the country.”
He also spoke on the attack on the convoy of the Governor of Borno State, Prof. Babagana Zulum, last week, saying he has no details of the episode.
“My namesake has already told me that he’s coming for the meeting (governors meeting with president yesterday). 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,” he said.
Ndume: Nigerian Army is Ill-equipped, Underfunded to Fight Insurgents
Meanwhile, the Chairman of Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, has said although the Armed Forces have tried their best to push back the insurgency in the North-east, their efforts have been hampered by inadequate equipment and underfunding.
“If you go and see the environment and the equipment that the Nigerian Armed Forces are operating with, you will know that they are inadequate to address this issue,” he told ARISE News Channel, the broadcast arm of THISDAY Newspapers, last night.
He added: “You can’t believe that in this war, ammunitions are not enough…they are even rationed. They don’t have RPGs, armoured tanks.”
Ndume, who said he believed that the war could be won, explained that apart from the challenge of inadequate equipment, he agreed that internal saboutage was also a contributory factor to the elongation of the war against insurgency.
“People are deriving economic benefits from the elongation of this war,” he said in agreement with the Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, who attributed a recent attack on his convoy at Baga to saboutage by some elements in the military.
Govs Meet Today over Security Challenges
Governors of the 36 states of the federation have summoned a meeting today to discuss the worsening state of insecurity as it affects the states.
THISDAY gathered that the meeting will be a follow-up to the one billed for yesterday to review the meeting of the National Economic Committee (NEC) sub-committee on security.
One of the governors told THISDAY that today’s meeting of the governors under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), would be preparatory to their proposed meeting with the president soon.
When asked whether the governors will be demanding the sack of the service chiefs as the National Assembly did, the governor said: “Let’s not pre-empt the meeting. Let us meet first as a body of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.
“The level of insecurity in the country is real. This is not partisan politics. Whatever decision that is taken would be in the national interest.”
NGF’s planned meeting was also confirmed in a statement issued yesterday by NGF’s Head of Media and Information, Mr. Mohammed Barkindo, who said that the governors would be holding their 14th teleconference today.
He confirmed that one of the major items to be discussed at the virtual conference would be the degenerating security in the country.
According to the statement, “The rapidly degenerating security situation in the country will feature very prominently when governors meet tomorrow (today) for their 14th NGF teleconference meeting, according to the invitation sent out to governors by the Director-General of the NGF, Mr. Asishana Bayo Okauru.”
The statement added: “Not unexpectedly, in line with the security and policing swamp that the country has found itself, the attack on Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, will be tabled for discussion.
“Just as the state governors will also preview a webinar which comes up on August 11, driven through a partnership of the Nigeria Governors Forum and the Centre for Value in Leadership (CVL), led by Professor Pat Utomi.”
It said one such webinar had taken place last month where the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, x-rayed insecurity and the challenges of governance and leadership in the new normal, as it affects his state, adding: “That too will come under the governors’ searchlight.”
The NGF listed other items on the agenda of the meeting to include discussion on the launch of the distribution of palliatives by the Coalition Against COVID19 (CACOVID), led by Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Access Bank, along with other well-meaning philanthropists.
The governors will address the issue of yet-to-be accessed funds at Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), and review the resumption of schools and its roll-out plan.
According to the statement, “Apart from security and education, the permanent items on the teleconferences since the pandemic, health and the economy will also make it to the table.”
It said the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa Committee, which interfaces with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 would brief the governors on the progress so far before the governors discuss the economy.
Under this item, it said that the progress on the States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability programme SFTAS would be discussed.
It added that there will also be an update on the restructuring of states’ loans.