By VICTORIA OJEME
Nigeria’s substantial investments and critical infrastructure are under threat of the actions of terrorists, vandals and saboteurs, President Goodluck Jonathan has said.
Jonathan expressed the concern, yesterday, in Abuja while declaring open a two-day stakeholders’ forum on the protection of Critical National Assets and Infrastructure, CNAI.
The President, who was represented by Vice President Namadi Sambo, ordered the nation’s security agencies to review existing strategies for effective intelligence sharing towards ensuring greater protection of such national assets and critical infrastructure.
He said the stakeholders’ forum was necessary to ensure synergy in the activities of the security agencies.
The President said: “The substantial investments we have made in maintaining existing infrastructure and establishing new ones are under threat by the actions of terrorists, vandals and saboteurs.
“These groups and individuals deliberately and mindlessly, target our infrastructure for their own economic, political, or sadistic gains.
“In recent times, piracy, sabotage of oil and gas pipelines, maritime robbery in our coastal waters and Exclusive Economic Zones, EEZ, have become major threats to our economy and environment.”
Jonathan said that with the increase use of advanced weapons, technologies and methods by these criminals, the security agencies must continue to review their strategies, to decrease response times, and increase deterrent and combative capacity.
Advocates cooperation among security agencies
He stressed the need for greater cooperation between the security agencies, adding that such cooperation would ensure timely identification of risks and potential threats to critical infrastructure and better coordination in the deployment of allied action.
He said: “The primary responsibility for the protection of our critical national assets rests on the shoulders of our security agencies.
“It is their task to take all necessary measures to secure our vital facilities by minimising their vulnerabilities and degrading the capability of terrorists, vandals and saboteurs.
“I am happy to note that our security agencies have continued to discharge this responsibility creditably and have covered much ground against hitherto unfamiliar challenges, in so short a time.
“I commend their professionalism and commitment and enjoin them to keep up the good work.“
According to him, the development of national infrastructure remains a core element of the Federal Government’s Transformation Agenda.
Penalties for offenders
He also called for stiffer penalties for those found culpable in the destruction or vandalism of public utilities.
He said: “There is need for heightened cooperation of other stakeholders, with the security agencies, to protect, more effectively, our critical national assets and infrastructure.
“For instance, there is need for quicker resolution of court cases and the imposition of stiffer penalties on offenders.
“We must send a clear message that, henceforth, there is a huge price to pay for the theft of resources and the destruction of critical infrastructure.“
The President called on the private sector and other stakeholders to update their internal security policies and systems and urged them to collaborate with security agencies to ensure the security of critical infrastructure under their management.
David, Tambuwal speak
Senate President, David Mark, who was represented by Chairman, Senate Committee on Intelligence, Muha-mmed Maigoro, said those saddled with the responsibility of safeguarding the nation must be held accountable for how far they have discharged their mandate.
He said those in government must first ensure the safety of all Nigerians before contributing troops to other international peace-keeping ventures.
Mark said: “We must be able to strengthen our internal security and be accountable for our roles before ensuring the security of other people outside the country.”
Also, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, announced that the House had been advised to move for a legislation that will fully empower the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, as the only security agency backed by law to protect national assets.