President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has exhorted Nigeria’s security organizations to work together as a core to success in the fight against terrorism and other crimes ravaging the country. After meetings with the heads of the agencies, he reportedly advised them not to cross-work and conflict with each other. He added: “There can be no dissonance in the orchestra; [therefore] We have to focus on one tunnel, coordinate, share information, share intelligence and work harder. “The president is absolutely right. A security system where ‘the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing’ is doomed to fail. But worse, it is dangerous to the country, as evident in the Buhari administration.”
Still, it’s no surprise that Tinnub has shown firmness on national security issues. First, according to Section 14(20(b)) of the Constitution, the “principal purpose” of his government, and that of any other government in this polity, is the raison d’être, “the safety and welfare of the people”…” Second, In the 80-page “Renewing Hope 2023: An Action Plan for Building a Better Nigeria,” the president could rightly serve as his administration’s working document, and in his inaugural address he underscored the urgent need, on his watch , to defend the country. National security, the “foundation of a prosperous and democratic society,” occupies the first five pages of the document’s first chapter.
The new government pledged to “mobilize the full assets of our national security, military and law enforcement agencies to protect all Nigerians from danger and the fear of danger. …[and we] The use of technology will be expanded and improved, personnel recruited, and existing institutions and systems strengthened to achieve this fundamental national security objective.
With specific reference to security intelligence, Tinubu commits to adopting a proactive and intelligence-driven approach to security to adequately address national security threats…’. A six-point strategy for ‘redefining military doctrine and practice’ is also heavily articulated. This includes Pay and benefits to fight terrorism and other crimes and equipment upgrades, as well as “heart and heart” measures [of ] Neighborhoods plagued by terrorists and other violent groups. ”In addition, ‘a well-trained and disciplined anti-terrorist battalion (ABATT) with special forces or units…’ was proposed. The intent to improve the welfare of men and women in the security sector is noteworthy and laudable. We all know that weapons alone don’t win battles; only aggressive fighters do. Therefore, this particular commitment should be implemented without delay, even if phased in as national resources allow.
Third, on May 29th, the President reiterated his commitment when he said that “security should be the first priority of our government because in the midst of insecurity and violence neither prosperity nor justice can prevail.” Again he was right . He went on to promise to reform the “doctrine” and “architecture” of national security, “to invest more in our security personnel . . .[and] Provide better training, equipment, salaries and firepower.
These well-meaning statements are cited to show that, indeed, Mr. Tinnub appears to have a reasonable understanding of the concept of national security, and he is not unprepared. Moreover, Nigerians will “firmly hold us accountable,” as he has demanded, constantly evaluating his government against his promises.
The lack of synergy among Nigerian security forces limits their effectiveness both individually and collectively; it is also a reason for public concerns expressed by senior public officials. In response to this critical gap in security architecture and operational efficiency and its devastating consequences for life and property, the federal government reportedly established an “intelligence fusion center” in Maiduguri in November 2017 to collect and share intelligence among the security forces. Apparently, there is little to prove.
A few months later, in February 2018, then-President Buhari had reason to exhort all law enforcement agencies to take intelligence gathering and sharing “more seriously.” He specifically asked the police and DSS to “increase their efforts and capabilities in this regard”. The Nigerian Police Force is a key element in intelligence gathering. As the front line of domestic civil security, the police are closest to the community. Therefore, the organization is well placed to collect security information.
In July 2022, Buhari reiterated his dismay at the poor performance of the intelligence system during a visit to the Kuje medium-security detention center in Abuja, where the terrorists released some 600 prisoners, asking aloud: “The terrorists How to organize, have weapons, attack a secure facility and escape it? Even his convoy was attacked in his home state of Katsina.
The sole purpose of the Nigerian Police Force, the Federal Armed Forces and any other security agencies is to protect life and property and territorial integrity within Nigeria, individually or jointly, within the law. To this end, information sharing and operational collaboration are, of course, necessary to their individual and collective success—in keeping with their individual mandates, but also for their countries.
This inevitably proves the well-worn thesis of decentralization, including local policing at the state and local government levels. But that alone is not enough. In a sense, the appointment of a “round peg in a square hole” cannot form a result-oriented security principle, architecture or equipment. Merit, not who knows who, but who knows what, why and how must define security force leadership appointments. Especially in the past eight years, but occasionally before that, incompetent people have been entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the lives and property of Nigerians. They failed miserably. Tinubu’s record supports the expectation that he will do what is best for his country — and his own good name.
There is no reason why Tinubu should not put his firm instructions to the security agencies into practice. In fact, according to Michael Chandler (2001), cited in a November 2018 research paper by Oladayo Bolawole Olajuwon, cooperation, communication, coordination, and information sharing are critical to the effectiveness of security agencies.
It must also be noted that although security is primarily the responsibility of professionally trained security agencies, useful information to assist them is the responsibility of each individual and society, including the National Assembly, which has oversight functions over security agencies, non-state Actors such as civil society “articulate public needs for safety and security”. The media, policy analysts, professional and special interest groups who regularly interact with the population are “an integral part of the security sector[who]have a huge influence on how (citizens) perceive and experience security,” the academic argues.
Regardless of the clarity of speeches and position papers on security, the quality of leadership will define and determine how well Tinubu performs on this primary objective of his government. To that end, political will, personal engagement, and constant monitoring of compliance with his directives will make a big difference.