By Jide Ajani
Capt Aliyu “Blade’ Umar, a security expert, is the chief executive officer of Goldwatetr & RiverSand Consults, an organisation that offers consultancy and oversight advisory services on a broad range of national security issues. In this interview, he examines Nigeria’s security architecture and advises that politics, religion and ethnicity should stay out of security issues
WHAT did we miss?
The security situation in the country vis-a-vis the “change” as expected is not about “what we missed” per se, but more like “what we have refused” to do. We in the context of which I have used it here refers to the security sector (if there is even any at the moment) and its actors, particularly public and government stakeholders as it were. I have heard of oil and gas, agricultural, education and so many other sectors. I don’t think there is a “formal” security sector. I stand to be corrected, though.
What didn’t we do?
First and foremost we have always failed to stay security out of politics, religion and ethnicity. Having to mix security with these factors of our national existence is the first don’t and bane of our nationhood. Put another way, security or insecurity has no religion, party affiliation, or ethnic identity.
Crime, murder, brigandage, militancy, treasury looting or any other allied vices as they proliferate today are acts, (regardless the persona or dramatis personae behind them).
Appointment of security chieftains
When we mix politics, religion and ethnicity with security, we begin to focus on the frills and miss the skirt. As a result criminals do abominable things (crime/act) and walk away under some political, ethnic or religious clout.
Today we consider religion, party affiliation and ethnicity as parameters for appointing security chieftains, hence our security chieftains come ab-initio with preconceived loyalties and no go areas and by extension, weaknesses. Crime and its proponents simply exploit these and other like shenanigans to flourish and plunder. Summarily, the moral of my short story is: stay politics and sentiments out of the business of national security and security operations at all levels; focus on results results results. A threat to any one or any part of our nationhood is a threat to all.
What could have been done?
In one word: Results! At its inception the present political dispensation should have angled for results. Alas! Security chieftains should have been given timelines and milestones for performance. Alas! Those who do not measure up made to understand they would have to step aside for the one who can deliver. Alas!
Office holders particularly politicians should also be made to understand they are to steer clear of security operations…all they need do is weigh results, as in security or the lack of it within their domains. Alas! What we see are politicians who think security is politics, and security chieftains who think politics is security. That in itself evolves a “yes man” syndrome amongst state security machinery chieftains, where security men and chieftains become tools in the hands of security-illiterate politicians, with horrible out comes. While that persists, crime and impunity have a field day at the bizarre expense of the citizenry.
What can be done and done the right way?
To change the situation at hand, some hard choices must be swallowed. For a start our citizens must understand that “ who wants change” and “who wants to change” are two different things. Our citizens here spans the President, down to the last Nigerian citizen. I believe we all wanted change, as at 2015 elections; but not all of us want to change. (#Who wants Change; #Who Wants to Change). Put modestly, while we all want change, we are selectively ignorant about “wanting to change”.
Our security chieftains no less; their corollaries in the Legislature and Judiciary no less; the opposition party no less; the ruling party no less; there is a propensity of so many and most likely the majority of our people being who are deliberately selective when it comes to wanting to change. They want change, but only want to change as it suits their personal whims and interests.
Only security chieftains with the courage and audacity to hold fast and work for the greater good of one and all, can bring about the security stability levels this nation so direly needs. I doubt if we have such chieftains presently. Incidentally, and ironically, the last one I saw was not even a security chieftain. She was a food and drugs chieftain of blessed memory who had conviction, drive and courage to fight the monstrous threat of fake drugs in Nigeria to a standstill, regardless whose ox was gored, regardless threats to her own life. Outside the Military and Customs today I cannot say I see one with her attributes just yet.
Any other suggestions that would help the process
Security is invisible, at best it can only be felt; Insecurity is visible, it also festers and becomes lethal. Any seasoned security chieftain or politicians should see right through what I have just said. Sadly I cannot extrapolate because criminals and masterminds of mayhem read newspapers too. Let whosoever requires a decomposition of the foregoing reach me freely. ONE NIGERIA.