Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Eyo Ekpo bears mind on 'national security'... Read details here

L-R: Mr Eyo Ekpo and President Muhammadu Buhari 
9 April 2019 

Mr Eyo Ekpo the former gubernatorial candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP in Cross River State in the just concluded general elections has bore his mind on the notion and practice of national security especially at the wake of news on national dailies on the seeming erosion of the Nigeria's security infrastructure. 

Summarily, for Eyo the challenge with our national security lies in the misconception of the term and the regrettable re-prioritisation of the security of the political class especially the presidency and his very important allies against the people. Eyo aired his mind recently via his social media handles. Excerpt:

'How difficult is it to keep Nigeria safe? Apparently, the answer is: "it is impossible". It was driven home graphically last Friday when a Nigerian Army 2-star drove up to Idu Rail Station with his escort to take the train to Kaduna...because of the very high risk of being kidnapped on the Abuja-Kaduna road.

'The DSS has officers stationed in EVERY LGA. The Police has a Division Station in EVERY LGA. The Nigerian Civil Defence and Security has officers in EVERY LGA. The Nigerian Armed Forces has officers and other ranks of at least 2 of its 3 Services (a good number have all 3) stationed in EACH STATE. All these ARMED organizations have intelligence units with both training and capability. The Navy, Air Force and Police have air assets. All the States are said to pay heavily to these FGN entities for the internal security work they (FGN) are supposed to do. Many States too are now setting up outfits and systems focused on internal security. 

'With all these physical and financial resources on the ground and expended, why is it impossible to travel frequently on the highways around Abuja, the Federal Capital and not be kidnapped or even killed? Why is it impossible for the National Security Adviser and/or the IGP and/or the Chief of Defence Staff to plan and coordinate a joint intelligence gathering exercise to identify criminal gangs and their supporting ecosystems and eradicate them all in a matter of months and terminate their careers on cattle-rustling, highway robbery and kidnapping, oil bunkering, sea piracy (though the Navy seems to have got a handle on these last two). 

'I think the basic problem lies in how we define "national security". The assassination of General Murtala Mohammed led directly to the excision of the highly-effective Nigeria Police 'E' Branch (intelligence) into a new entity called the Nigeria Security Organisation (NSO). The focus of this entity shifted from the safety of the country to the personal safety of the Head of State and his regime. Each successive military coup only served to reinforce the overwhelming priority of this "regime security" mission. 

'The result is that today our definition of "national security" has nothing in practice to do with what it should entail — the well-being of the citizen. It is first and last about the regime, its leader, his family, its high-ranking personnel and their personal wellbeing and safety. The citizen does not factor in this equation and may even sometimes the problem to be managed or dealt with. This is why I cannot drove from PH to Yenagoa after 6pm and not be robbed, I cannot take a boat from Ikang on the Cross River mainland to Dayspring in the Bakassi Peninsular or drive around Usumutong in Abi LGA Or through Odukpani LGA both of Cross River without a strong military escort. This is why I must keep my car at home and take a train from Abuja to Kaduna. The examples are endless. 

'This morning I'm reading Daily Trust and it's just amazing. The FGN has shut down mining operations in Zamfara and ordered all foreigners (some with valid licenses paid for in FX) to leave the State within 48 hrs. The first 6 of 7 pages and the back page of the paper are all about crime and internal security. Glaring from these pages of woe comes the great paradox of Mr. President going to Dubai to attend an "investment meeting"...but saying that dealing with banditry remains a priority. A foreigner reading today's Daily Trust and listening to the President inviting investors will be forgiven for taking a pass. 

'Our governments —Federal and State —no longer have time for policy debates, for strategizing, for sitting to define what we are and what our priorities should be. Just knee-jerk responses or even no responses at all to internal security challenges that those tasked with the job should have seen coming from a long way off. 

'What is a Nigerian government if it cannot maintain its monopoly on, and keep organised and controlled, all instruments of violence and at least maintain the perception that the country and its people are reasonably secure? It is a government that has no clue what "national security" truly means.'

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