Why Nigeria Must Avoid a Replica of Sri Lanka, by Dr Abubakar Sani

Why Nigeria Must Avoid a Replica of Sri Lanka, by Dr Abubakar Sani

Editor's note: Dr Abubakar Sani is the national patron of Nigeria's political support and socio-economic advocacy group, Fusion 774. A public affairs commentator and a prolific writer. In this piece, he navigates towards the pressing security challenges in Nigeria and why the government must salvage the situation and end on a high note.

Nigerians now unanimously agree on one thing, that there is insecurity in the land. Insecurity occurs when a government, faced with conflict and violence (be it political, social, economic, or generated by organized crime), cannot or will not ensure the protection of its citizens, organisations and institutions against threats to their well-being and prosperity of their communities.

What Nigerians disagree with is the fallacious notion that President Muhammadu Buhari is aiding the bandits to maim, extort and kill, and tacitly supporting terrorists to Islamize Nigeria.

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Babagana Monguno is the national security adviser of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. A position he has held since 2015. Photo: Aso Rock Villa
Source: Twitter

The President in all honesty is not a happy man; there is no way he will be comfortable seeing his citizens petrified like the way they are being terrorized by criminal elements.

My disappointment is with those lucky officials the President appointed to help him to govern this country. The President knows that the provision of security is the paramount responsibility of his government and that's why the National Security Adviser (NSA) and the erstwhile Service Chiefs were among the first set of people he appointed in 2015.

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To be fair to President Buhari, the security situation of Nigeria was better in his first administration than his second coming. And because of this rise in attacks in his second term, a vocal minority pressurised him to sack the then Service Chiefs. He refused to do that despite the pressure mounted on him because he believed in their competence.

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However, the Service Chiefs voluntary resigned and new ones were appointed. Instead of things to get better, we have gone seven years backwards. The NSA, although not re- appointed (his tenure ended on 28th May 2019) to the best of my knowledge is still the one advising the President and coordinating counter terrorism operations.

What we are witnessing today is frequent prison breaks and escape of high profile terrorists, kidnap of women and school children and undergraduates, and a steady flow of money from innocent Nigerians to the coffers of terrorists and bandits in the name of ransom payments. It is because of this deplorable security situation that I am asking for the whereabouts of the National Security Adviser (NSA). Do we really have an NSA?

I heard that someone by the name Rear Admiral YEM Musa is the Coordinator of the so-called Counter Terrorism Centre domiciled in the ONSA. I do not need to tell the NSA that Nigerians do not know about this paper tiger called Counter Terrorism Centre or the Admiral in charge of it, and as far as I am concerned it is another prestige project to create job for the boys and waste tax payers’ money. The ONSA from all its indications have all the necessary apparatus and policy documents and laws to advice the government and coordinate matters of security in Nigeria but alas it either lacks the will or the requisite leadership to make any positive impact in Nigeria.

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Despite the Terrorism Prevention and Prohibition Act 2022 and all the grandstanding that the NSA is fond of making on national television whenever the opportunity for him to talk arises, more Nigerians including women and children were abducted by terrorists and bandits under the watch of this government more than any other administration in the history of Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

Under this NSA, Nigeria has broken the record of being the country with the highest rate of kidnappings and ransom payments. Between June 2019 and the end of March 2021, at least $10 million has been paid to kidnappers as ransom.

Also, under this same NSA, youth unemployment which is a major factor responsible for the growth of kidnap cases rose from 8.22 percent in the third quarter of 2015 to 40 percent in the second quarter of 2022 according to Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina who aptly said that the youths are discouraged, angry and restless, as they look at a future that does not give them hope.

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As far as the issues of terrorism and related matters are concerned, the Terrorism Prohibition and Prevention Act, 2022 said that the NSA shall,

“ (a) formulate policies for the effective implementation of concerted counter-terrorism and terrorism financing efforts ; (b) ensure the effective formulation and implementation of a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy in Nigeria ; (c) provide support to all relevant security, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies, and military services to prevent and combat acts of terrorism and terrorism financing in Nigeria ; (d) build capacity for the effective perform of functions under any law or regulation ; (e) subject to the approval of the President, establish a National Counter Terrorism Centre for effective coordination of relevant agencies under this Act ; and(f ) perform such other functions that the President may deem necessary or the effective implementation of counter-terrorism measures under this Act.”

The NSA is also responsible for analyzing security issues, assessing expected trends and prioritizing activities; playing an advisory role, and making recommendations to the President.

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The Act designates the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) as the Coordinating Office for Nigeria’s Counter terrorism efforts. The Act also gives ONSA the mandates to “ensure the formulation and implementation of a comprehensive Counter Terrorism Strategy and build capacity for the effective discharge of the functions of relevant security, intelligence, law enforcement and military services.” In line with the foregoing, the Counter Terrorism Centre (CTC) was established in 2012, and is located in the Office of the National Security Adviser.

Things are not going well with the economy. There is high inflation in the land and the cost of necessities has risen. This high cost of living amidst abject poverty and lack of opportunities has pushed many Nigerians to the embrace of criminals and terrorists. There is an economic desk in the ONSA because those who created the ONSA knew that security is tied to the economy. Yet, ONSA is unable to help the government to formulate sound economic policies. Today the Dollar is exchanging at the rate of 1 Dollar= 650.

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I understand the kind of difficult position that the government is in and I am not advocating for the use of force or encouraging the payment of ransom either. All I want to say is that this nonsense has to stop; the NSA must come with a winning solution for the President to nip this menace in the bud before his tenure ends or else this government will go down as one of the most unpopular government in the history of Nigeria.

In any case, we are all witness to what happened in Sri Lanka a couple of days ago. I am scared for Nigeria because I can see similarities between what is happening in Nigeria and what transpired in Sri Lanka before the Prime Minister’s residence was set ablaze. Rising costs of supplies, epileptic power supply, high cost of fuel, sickening and monumental corruption, ostentatious lifestyle by the corrupt few and collapse of the educational sector. Ours is even worse because we have a serious case of insecurity in the land. Now is the time for NSA Munguno to wake and begin to act.

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