By Adewale Kupoluyi

RECENTLY, I listened to a radio commentary on the relevance or otherwise of the intention of the Federal Government to bring back the no-nonsense security apparatus known as the War Against Indiscipline,WAI. Since the announcement of the re-introduction was made, many Nigerians have been reacting to the moves either positively or otherwise. But the question is : Do we really need the WAI Brigade?

According to the Director-General, National Orientation Agency, NOA, Dr. Garba Abari, the decision for the return of the officials was born out of an increase in the spate of insecurity, violence, kidnapping and other forms of social vices pervading the land.  Abari stated further that in this era of lawlessness plaguing the nation’s life, the role of the WAI Brigade in civil intelligence gathering cannot be over-emphasised, adding that the government believes that WAI Brigade members across the country would be encouraged to redouble their vigilance in the various wards, local governments and villages, to stem the ugly tide and by that, contribute their quota to national security.

The WAI Brigade, which was established during the Buhari-Idiagbon administration, spearheaded the nationwide protest against social disorder and indiscipline during the 1980s. In 1989, the WAI Brigade was transferred to the Mass Mobilisation for Self-Reliance, Social Justice and Economic Recovery, MAMSER, and in 1993, WAI Brigade was transferred to NOA. In 1994, WAI was ‘reborn’ as the War Against Indiscipline and Corruption, WAIC, and in 1999, it took new form as the National Rebirth Campaign while in May 2013, the Goodluck Jonathan administration re-launched the WAI Brigade as the Community Support Brigade.

The government had said the WAI Brigade, would also be known as Community Support Brigade, CSB. It is now being re-positioned by the NOA to bring about ethical and value reorientation, and to be the volunteer corps of first choice in Nigeria. Following the decision by government to re-introduce WAI few months ago, more than 172,000 people across the country have reportedly volunteered to join, which is domiciled with the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture.

Ordinarily, what people would want to say are; why the sudden prominence being given to WAI at this time? Is this not a duplication of responsibilities with the existing security agencies? A quick answer to these questions for me is to ask another question; could the impunity, decadence and indiscipline pervading our country have happened 30 years ago? The answer is certainly, no. Unfortunately, our law enforcement agencies appear to be incapable of maintaining sanity in our society due to inadequate work tools, corruption, low morale, apathy by citizens to community security and porous/ineffective punitive mechanism due to our legal system.

The importance of security to the life of any nation cannot be over-emphasised. When there is adequate security, the people are well-off. Productivity is boosted in terms of the enthronement of stable and conducive atmosphere for business to thrive and blossom. Not only that, it attracts investment by preventing capital flight. Life expectancy of the people is enhanced and the Gross Domestic Product indices become favourable to development. The reverse is the case for a nation that is bedeviled by insecurity.

It is an open secret that people drive recklessly without consideration for other road-users. It is a common feature in many public places that people have jettisoned the habit of queuing up at the banks, post-offices, motor-parks, automated teller machine locations, filling stations and even hospitals, among others. The problem is simply that lawlessness has come to stay. We always strive to do the wrong things. We are always in a hurry. We rush to do all things even when what is simply needed at a particular time is some form of orderliness. Gradually, this pattern of impunity has remained with us till date. There is the need for a change of attitude, reorientation and reawakening on the part of the citizenry for them to agree that nothing good comes in a disorderly and lawless society. Hence, concerted effort is needed to make this transformation a reality.

Apart from impatience, the endemic level of corruption in public bureaucracy is a big problem for the nation. The prevalence of graft, infraction and looting of treasury has become endemic and killing us. Resources that should be used for the provision of goods and services for the generality of the people are diverted into private pockets. That is why the WAI Brigade should come in at this critical point to argument the services of other security agencies in maintaining orderliness as well as securing lives and property of the citizenry.

However, the security outfit should avoid being over-zealous and arbitrary in carrying out its duties. Appropriate supervision should be given to the operations of the new outfit, to douse the apprehension by critics.

that a reenactment of the perceived abuse of the WAI Brigade in the military era was in the making. To achieve this, the government needs to enlighten the people the more in order to erase the wrong perception and let them realise WAI would make a big difference without necessarily becoming a monster. Not only that, the enabling legislative framework should be put in place to make the outfit effective, efficient and outstanding.

However, despite the advantages derivable from the initiative – such as the provision of employment opportunities for youths and young persons – the Federal Government should be made to know that necessary caution should be taken such that WAI is not executed or seen to be implemented with the latitude afforded by military fiat and command. Under civil rule and democratic rule, anti-corruption crusade cannot be championed by fiat per se.

Rather, the tempo is bound to be influenced and regulated by fair play, rule of law, due process and constitutionalism. It is wrong, illegal and totally unacceptable to just arraign accused persons before a tribunal where jail terms are meted-out to them summarily. That is not why WAI Brigade is being re-introduced, as a weapon to intimidate opposition and those perceived not to be in good books of any government in power. These are pending issues that should be clearly resolved before the government fully re-introduces WAI Brigade into the country.

Kupoluyi writes from Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), [email protected],@AdewaleKupoluyi

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