By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
Former Presidents of the country have expressed concern on the quality of intelligence available to the security agencies in a recent virtual meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
They were of the opinion that with adequate intelligence, some of the recent happenings in the country, especially the recent #EndSARS protests would have been nipped in the bud.
For about two weeks, the country witnessed violent unrest, ignited by what began as legitimate protests against police brutality, code-named #EndSARS.
The former Presidents including General Yakubu Gowon, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, Chief Ernest Shonekan, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, stated this when they held a virtual meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Senior Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, revealed this in his weekly column, titled: “Inside the Villa”.
Speaking, Gowon commended the President for accepting to host the meeting, saying what had started peacefully, and now taken over by “organized miscreants in Lagos and other parts of the country “ was of great concern to them.
“Peace and genuine protests by youths have been hijacked,” he lamented, and wished the youths had stood down after their initial requests had been granted by government.”
On his part, Obasanjo said the activities of hoodlums who hijacked the protests should be condemned.
According to him, “You made points that I believe need to be commended. You said peaceful protests were part of democratic practice. You also indicated that the demands of the genuine protesters had been accepted, and you were working on implementation”.
On the job and economic situation in the country, Obasanjo said the interventions being made were good, but not far-reaching enough for a population of 200 million people.
He added, “We need heavy local and international investments to make the impact we need to make. Our Foreign Direct Investment is inadequate. And we need to get better results in security, so that the investments can come, “ he submitted.
On his part, IBB condoled with the families of those who died in the protests and riots, and also expressed concern on the quality of intelligence available to the security agencies.
He stated, “With adequate intelligence, some of these things can be nipped in the bud,” he stated, adding: “I commend the government for the efforts so far, to end the protests.”
Also, Shonekan advised that peventive actions were to be considered for the future, rather than curative.
He added: “Please call us for more of these meetings. We need to frequently discuss very important national issues.”
Abubakar also talked about the need for intelligence gathering and synergy among the security agencies, whom he says should avoid “multiple mandates.”
He canvassed more interaction with the international community, so that they can adequately understand what is going on in Nigeria.
Abubakar said, “Funding of security agencies should also be looked into, while the media should be adequately engaged.”
In his contribution, Jonathan commended the broadcast of Buhari on #EndSARS.
“The pertinent questions: what led to the crisis? How do we stop such in future, even after the Buhari administration?,” he said.
He said the root cause of the crisis had been with us far before the advent of the current administration, and that it may last into future governments, except some immediate steps were taken.