By Oludayo Tade
HOW can inter-agency collaboration enhance Nigeria’s security? Promoting inter-agency collaboration and conflict resolution among personnel of security agencies in North West Nigeria was the theme of a workshop put together by the Konrad Adenuer Stiftung, KAS, a German foundation inspired to foster inter-agency collaboration with a view to engendering conflict resolution and enhancing human security.
KAS has been working with Nigerian partners to facilitate democratic dialogue and capacity building for different arms of government at national, regional and state levels.
Sensitive to the insecurity in the Northwest Nigeria, KAS assembled about 100 personnel from security agencies’ (Department of State Service, Army, the Police, Immigration, Customs, Federal Road Safety Commission, and Correction Service) departments of operations, conflict resolution and intelligence in Kano between August 11 and 14, 2021 to train and empower them on how to be sensitive to social context, conduct security analysis, utilise early warning systems, build trust with communities and collaborate with sister agencies to enhance national security.
In her welcome address, resident representative of KAS, Dr. Vladimir Kreck, represented by Senior Programme Manager, Security Sector Reform, KAS, Julcit Stolpe, explained that KAS reviewed statutes of the various security agencies in Nigeria and found that “interagency rivalry was mainly being caused by the overlapping or conflicting mandates of these agencies”.
To solve this problem Kreck said: “We have commenced strategic engagement with the relevant institutions and stakeholders to push for reform of these laws to ensure clarity of function.
“We have also been organising capacity building workshops for members of different committees in the National Assembly and also for State Houses of Assembly to strengthen knowledge and practice of effective legislation and oversight. We have to embed the culture of good civil-military relations, intelligence and information sharing between security agencies and civilian citizens through our seminars at national and geo-political zones of Nigeria.”
Available evidence indicates that poor inter-agency collaboration among Nigeria’s security institutions is one of the major factors militating against effective conflict resolution and security management in Nigeria.
The consequences of not working effectively together culminate in increasing fear of insecurity and diminished trust in the capabilities of the security system to protect the lives and property of civilian populations across Nigeria in general and terror zones in particular.
The 2020 Global Terrorism Index, GTI, places Nigeria as the third country worst hit by the negative outcomes of terrorists activities.
From Boko Haram in the Northeast, banditry and criminal kidnapping in the Northwest, secessionist agitations in the Southeast and Southwest, the security system in Nigeria is practically overstretched.
In this situation, only the working together of the units that make up Nigeria’s security system will de-escalate conflict and neutralise security threats through complementary operations and credible intelligence sharing among others.
KAS has since its founding in Nigeria in 2001 continued to work with Nigerian partners to facilitate human capacity development of security agencies to deliver on their mandates.
To check problems of overlapping mandates, there is need for necessary reforms to be in place so that extant laws which overlap mandates can be amended. It is important that security agencies deliver on their specific mandates to actualise peace and development in Nigeria.
Banditry in the Northwest has exposed how unmanned or poorly manned border zones can compromise national security. The widespread smuggling and use of illicit drugs by criminals has also been implicated as a contributor to growing security and its unfolding dynamism.
The use of drugs by bandits, Boko Haram terrorists, kidnappers and armed robbers is no longer a secret. As at 2017, 14.3 million Nigerians between 15 and 64 years old used hard drugs such as Cannabis, Tramadol, Codeine or Morphine, and this affects the nature of criminality and conflict in Nigeria.
That the use of these drugs continues to proliferate implies that the National Drug Law enforcement Agency, NDLEA, cannot do it alone without effectively collaborating with other security agencies. If other security agencies do not work with NDLEA, for instance, those who get high on drugs will deploy it to do banditry and kidnapping which will then become a problem for the police, army and NSCDC.
Security agencies in Nigeria must close ranks and eliminate rivalry. Security is arrived at when every part of the security system (police, army, NSCDC, NDLEA, Immigration, Customs and others) discharges its roles efficiently and balance its weaknesses with the strength of other security agencies. Inferiority complex and superiority battles between and among security agencies only aggravate the insecurity of everyone and deepens national insecurity.
The successes recorded in a joint operation must be collectively owned and its failure must be shared as well. The insecurity of welfare of security personnel can also hamper their commitment to protect lives and properties. They need better welfare both in service and when out of service. Nigerian governments need to ensure that the causes of insecurity which are external to the security system are tackled.
These include a depreciating economy, widespread poverty, comatose electricity and unemployment. If these triggers of insecurity are addressed, security agencies will have little to do. While the workshop by the Konrad Adenuer Stiftung takes the conversation about the necessity of inter-agency collaboration to another level by bringing actors to sit in the same venue and share ideas, it is important that heads of security agencies in Nigeria buy into this initiative and work to harmonise inter-agency differences that hamper security operations.
Dr .Tade, a criminologist and security expert wrote via [email protected]