By Collins Amadi
Nigeria is regarded as one of the most dangerous places to live in. The 2020 Global Terrorism Index identified it specifically as the third most affected by terrorism.
Also, the Nigeria Security Tracker documented 2,769 violent deaths recorded between February 2020 and February 2021 in just one northern state.
Virtually all parts of Nigeria are currently battling one form of insecurity or the other, with various crimes going on largely unabated.
Despite attempts by previous administrations to curb rising criminalities and killings across the country, the nation’s security apparatus appears to be overwhelmed, with criminals having a field day killing, maiming and extorting money from their victims.
The police, poorly funded and motivated, and the military, which is fighting a decade-long insurgency in the North East and parts of the North West, appear to be at the end of their wits on how to curtail the downward spiral in security.
Swathes of the North West have virtually been taken over by rampaging bandits who kidnap for ransom and kill victims who cannot pay for their freedom.
The North-Central is not free from the deadly assaults by these bandits and kidnap gangs who now operate freely in parts of Niger, Kogi and Nasarawa states and are making inroads into the Federal Capital Territory.
The North East is yet to experience peace as Boko Haram insurgents and ISWAP are in a deadly battle of supremacy among themselves, while the nation’s military remains unable to wipe them out.
Whether we examine the ineffectiveness of military solutions to our national security challenges or the allegations of corruption prevalent within the military establishment, it is evident that Nigeria finds itself in an extraordinary security circumstance that demands unconventional measures. It requires a highly experienced and versatile individual from outside the military to rescue the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) from internal conspiracies.
Nigerians are desirous of a President who will show workable solutions in fighting and winning the war against insecurity, knowing that the nation’s biggest threats are not external aggression. Sadly, Nigerians are currently at the mercy of an internal security collapse that requires much more than bigger guns to dispel. The country needs a fresh approach with contemporary expertise that can drive sustainable solutions.
The choice of an NSA should show the realities of a country, and it makes sense to settle for one with an understanding of the socio-cultural and political determinants of conflict in countries undermined by internal security. An NSA does not need to be a combatant. The power of the appointee is the ability to analyse trends and intelligence to predict the state of security in a nation, and this requires intellectual and sociological sophistication to achieve.
Indeed, the Nigerian military has been stretched thin and forced to assume the role of the police, particularly in addressing internal security issues. This mindset needs to change, if we are to effectively allocate our military and paramilitary resources. Fortunately, the current leaders of Nigeria, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Senator Kashim Shettima, are both civilians who have successfully implemented security interventions during their time as governors in their respective states.
As earlier stated, the position of NSA is not a position that requires going to war, it is a position that has to do with security intelligence-gathering and providing the President with the right advice. The current approach of appointing ex-military officers has proved ineffective and the time to rethink this key aspect of our national life is now.
It is then not out of place to look the way of a police officer to occupy such a position, since the police have a unique strength in internal security management. Academia also has an overabundance of persons with emotional intelligence and cognate attributes to take charge of Nigeria’s security architecture.
The position requires more management skills, especially the ability to harness and exercise due diligence and respect in treating briefs from every member of the intelligence community and to respond to their needs with equal attention.
The police interface more with the public, even at the community level, and appointment from the police echelon will further enhance policing and prevention of crime at the community level. Nigeria, like other countries across the globe, does not lack relevant outfits tasked with providing intelligence. Thankfully, the Nigerian Police have the Force Criminal Investigations Department (FCID) and the Federal Investigations and Intelligence Bureau (FIIB).
The FCID conducts investigations and prosecutes complex crimes within and outside the nation. The FIIB carries out intelligence gathering and surveillance to aid other police units.
This is a wake-up call for President Bola Tinubu to take that bold step of hitting the ground running as he promised during the campaigns, by ensuring that right and competent people are allowed to provide robust intelligence that can help nip crime in the bud once and for all so that the citizenry can experience the much-anticipated respite.
•Amadi, a graduate of Criminology, wrote from Awka, Anambra State