…Says food insecurity causing unrest as hunger, anger prevail
By Dapo Akinrefon
CHIEF Olabode George retired as a Commodore from the Nigerian Navy. He was a former Military Administrator of old Ondo State and also a Director at the Nigerian National War College, NWC.
In this interview, George revealed that some security agents have been compromised adding that this poses a great danger to Nigeria’s internal security. Besides, he called on President Muhammadu Buhari to tackle the hunger in the country saying what is causing the present unrest in the country is also about food insecurity. Excerpts:
What is your take on President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to rejig the security apparatus in the country?
Sadly, we are looking at the issue of security mainly from the physical perspective. I was trained by the United States Naval War College where they taught us about national security. Also, I was taught at the Nigeria War College, so I am going to talk as a military personnel who knows about security.
First, we need to realise that so many aspects of our lives involve security and so, we need to think beyond the physical security of buying arms, ammunition, and fighter jets among others.
There are different types of security such as food security, public health security, transportation security and then physical security. The one that is causing present unrest in the country is food security.
People are hungry and therefore, they are angry. The bandits we are seeing are pushed into it by something. In a situation whereby no job, no guarantee on feeding, no housing, they are just existing and when they are invited to any cultism or anything to survive, they will participate.
What is paramount now is food security and job creation. If you look at the mode of the distribution of palliatives, who are those people that benefitted from them? Where is the record to show how it was distributed? What happened to those billions they released? What is important is employment creation, which will solve the current insecurity.
Whoever is hungry, there is nothing he will not do to survive. The issue at hand goes beyond politics, we need to sit down, forget party politics and wake up to reality to solve this problem because the Nigeria of 1914 is not that of 2020.
When the British came, they set up the Nigeria Police and as at that time, the population was small, they used native authority for effective control, because policing is local. We have unintentionally or deliberately left that system, what we are practicing is not working and it can never work. We are now over 200 million people in the population and you have 100,000 people as policemen. It is ineffective and can never work.
The United States, which is about 240 million people, has something like local government police, they have state police and for national, they have the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI. Imagine if they had only FBI, what are they going to cover?
So, let us be frank with ourselves. If we feel that a person is appointed and he sits in Abuja to control the whole country, it will never work.
The only solution to the series of problems of this country is to restructure Nigeria in a manner whereby every state will have the authority to carry out a lot of issues that the federal is doing. It is not a joke, if we don’t do that; we can’t attain the position of the giant of Africa.
The recommendations of the national conference must be reopened, let us look at them because we are completely at the verge of collapse. We should not deceive ourselves.
The president recently asked where are insurgencies getting arms from, can you provide an answer?
Are you saying Nigeria is free of external hatred? Where does ISIS among others get arms from? Are you saying we are completely free of enemies? That should be the responsibility of the National Security Adviser; it’s not difficult to get arms. It’s the job of intelligent officers to track them.
But don’t you believe there are moles in security agencies that supply those arms?
It is possible. That should be part of intelligence gathering, security personnel need to be committed to the people otherwise, they will compromise. If you go against the rule of protecting your nation, why are we afraid to deal with it, if we work together where there are justice and equity? This country is beautiful.
We need to do away with tribalism, don’t let us deceive ourselves. Forget about politics, it’s about the entity called Nigeria.
How do you see state governors call for security bailout?
You can request whatever support you need from the government but that is why I said restructuring is the answer. The United States of Nigeria that is what we should be called, each state will have its responsibility and get resources from there states and use it optimally for the benefit of the people.
Also, part of what you make, you send to federal to maintain the federal, there will be general purse called security purse which we all contribute to every month based on your earnings and income.
The federal will now be in a position to assist every state. When the need arises, a substantial part of the money we have goes to federal.
We can’t micro-manage Nigeria because it is massive, the same thing with the police. Let us have the state and federal police whereby each will take care of its own. This nation is growing but we are still sitting as if we are back in 1914.
It has not worked, is not working and it can never work out this way.
The only thing constant in life is change, let us revisit the structure and then amend accordingly so that everybody will have a sense of belonging.
There is nothing wrong with restructuring.