Why insecurity persists in Nigeria, by experts

  • Rivalry, corruption oiling crises
  • N2.022trn budgeted for defence in 5yrs

There is “a systemic problem” afflicting Nigeria’s security architecture beyond the funding of the military, police and other para-military institutions, which the three arms of government must work in synergy to find a lasting solution to, security experts have said.

Insiders within the military and other security experts who spoke to Daily Trust on the rising spate of criminal activities in the country also called for a review of the mandates of the police, DSS, immigration, customs, civil defence, and other agencies in relation to national security.

Speaking against the backdrop of recent cases such as terrorism, banditry, kidnapping that led to the deaths of many people, some experts noted that the military, whose sole responsibility is protecting the sovereignty of Nigeria and quelling internal insurrection, is now involved in almost all issues which should be handled by the police or civil defence.

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, on Wednesday, October 2, 2019, during a debate on the spate of insecurity along the Abuja-Kaduna Highway, said the lawmakers must be told how the security agencies utilised funds received by them over the years.


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Lawan said, “We need to go back to the report on the ad hoc committee on security infrastructure. We could go by way of public hearing to review security infrastructure. The way they (security operatives) are, we are not getting the best out of them.”

In the aftermath of Lawan’s speech, there have been several security breaches occasioned by kidnapping for ransom in parts of the country, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Daily Trust reports that besides the issue of kidnapping which the senate president made reference to, security operatives are also battling to contain banditry, farmers/herders’ conflicts, communal clashes, militancy in the Niger Delta, and most importantly, the Boko Haram/ISWAP menace in the North East.

A security expert and ex-army officer who spoke to one of our reporters said there was also the problem of manpower.

He said, “The saddest part is that the combined strength of the military is less than 150,000 personnel. It is practically impossible for them to give their best considering the issues at stake.”

Although the website of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) does not show the total number of its personnel, other sources indicate that there are less than 400,000 police officers and men. The customs, immigration and civil defence have far less numbers.

The population of Nigeria is 202,363,773, based on Worldometers elaboration of the latest United Nations (UN) data. This means there is roughly one policeman to more than 500 people.

Rivalry, corruption hampering operations

Another ex-military operative with interest in recent happenings, said rivalry among security agencies had destroyed the spirit of fighting the common enemy.

He said, “The rivalry does not stop with the armed forces, it has destroyed the fabrics of other services like the police, DSS and civil defence.

“Each agency is trying to outdo the other even in the areas not covered in their statutory roles. You see different services addressing different press conferences in the same theatre of operation.

“Significantly, services hoard information from one another to deny them success. If there was coordination, the air force would not have bombed RANN (in northern Borno) with the army troops on ground.

“If there is collaboration, the army will not be asking for air helicopters which the air force is now operating within the same theatre. Severally, the army accused the air force of failing them, while the air force also accused the army of not providing (the right) information.”

The retired military officer equally said it was rivalry that prompted the impasse between the Police Service Commission (PSC) and the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) which stalled recruitment of 10,000 constables with a view to addressing the lingering insecurity in the country.

President Muhammadu Buhari had in December, 2018, ordered for the recruitment, but disagreement between PSC and NPF on which of them should handle the recruitment is now a subject of litigation.

Speaking when he appeared before the senate for screening before his confirmation as minister, Major General Bashir Salihi Magashi (Rtd) said the creation of the of office of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) laid the foundation for the rivalry and disagreement between service chiefs.

Gen. Magashi stated this while responding to a question by Sen. Orji Uzor Kalu (APC, Abia) on the infighting among the service chiefs.

Magashi said, “But as you rightly said, the operation between the service chiefs is not very cordial…The relationship has been in existence since the creation of the office of the CDS.

“In the process, all of our operations that would have been conducted internally and externally are governed by the principles of the hierarchy of command.

“Today, as you rightly said, which I think is common knowledge, the service chiefs are trying to express their capabilities to the people who don’t know the operations.”

On corruption in the security circle, another source said, “It is a factor, but at strategic level. Money is only transacted between the government and the security top shots; where the corruption takes place.

“Troops at the operational level work with what gets to them. At the field, all the troops require are the right platforms, reasonable welfare and the right motivation (leadership). But the strategic level denies them all these.”

The source added that misappropriation of funds meant to fight insecurity remained a major problem, and cited example with the recent arrest and ongoing court martial of the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 8 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Hakeem Otiki.

Mj. Gen. Otiki is being court-martialled to explain how millions of naira allegedly belonging to the division was being transported out of his Area of Responsibility (AOR) by soldiers under his command who eventually stole the money.

Also, the ongoing trial of a former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki, and the trial of a late former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, among others, are clear examples of alleged misappropriation of security funds.

Situations in other climes

Sources say military and other security agencies are overstretched, especially when compared with countries like Sudan and Egypt that do not have Nigeria’s population but have larger numbers of military personnel.

The current population of Sudan is 43,099,318, based on Worldometers elaboration of the latest UN data.

But the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), which is a British research institute in the area of international affairs, said the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), Al-Quwwat al-Musallaha as-Sudaniyah, stood at 109,300 personnel. Sudan also has a total of an estimated 17,500 paramilitary forces and 85,000 reserve personnel.

According to a data obtained from CNN’s website, Egypt’s army, navy, air force and air defence force have a combined strength of about 450,000. The army, with about 320,000 troops, represents more than two-thirds of that figure, according to an estimate by the Federation of American Scientists.

According to Wikipedia, Egyptian National Police (ENP) has employee strength of about 500,000.

South Africa has a population of 58,558,270, according to UN data, and the South African National Defence Force had active personnel of 78,707 (as at 2014) ; and reserve personnel totalling 15,107 during the same period.

Asked why the apparent confusion in handling security issues in Nigeria, a retired military officer said, “The major problem is intellectual insincerity for the sole aim of remaining in power and the selfish interest of those in charge.”

He further said, “They (service chiefs) are afraid of telling the political leaders the truth so that they will not be removed. And the saddest thing is that all the budget being released is merely for overhead cost and few capital spending.

“Besides, the military as an institution has its problems. How can the military in a time of war be building university in Biu and the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) planning to establish one in Bauchi? What is the work of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA)?

“They should use the little resources they are getting for core military matters; not army ranch. They should buy hardware which they lack? All these structures; schools and hospitals, are not strategically located and not meant for the military, but to gain political relevance/favours.”

He added that, “The military should get mines clearing equipment, MRAPs, they are the most suited equipment to confront and clear the enemies of Nigeria; be they Boko Haram, herdsmen or whatever. The military should get armaments and not Hilux trucks; they also need adequate/effective air platforms for night vision. The little money they are getting is being misapplied.”

Will senate’s probe yield results?

The recent complaint by the senate president was not the first time the Red Chamber attempted to look at why insecurity persists.

On July 16, 2019, the senate passed a resolution to organise a national summit to address the rising insecurity challenges facing the country.

The Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, announced this while speaking during a debate on a motion sponsored by Sen. Ayo Akinyelure (PDP, Ondo) on the state of insecurity and murder of Mrs. Funke Olakunrin, the daughter of Pa Reuben Fasoranti, leader of Afenifere.

Sen. Lawan said, “The security situation in the country is perverse, and every part of the country has one story or another to tell. It will be the duty of this senate to hold an all-inclusive national summit on security, including the executive arm of government, because we have to work together with them to ensure that we address these challenges.”

Also, our correspondent reports that the upper chamber had 17 months ago organised a similar event on insecurity and 20 recommendations were made at the summit.

Held between February 8 and 12, 2018, the ad hoc committee that organised the summit was chaired by Lawan who was then the senate leader.

Speaking on whether funding is the major problem of security agencies, another source said, “The funds for the armed forces and paramilitary establishments are not usually approved in whole, a development that exacerbates insecurity in the country.

“So, I think what the senate should do is to probe the non-release of the budgeted funds or the poor handling of the little released over the years.”

Asked if the military would avail the senate an insight into the utilisation of security funds received so far, Defence Spokesman, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, said, “I am sure there is a procedure for that.”

Col. Nwachukwu added that there existed a procedure through which the military hierarchy made details of the utilisation of military funds available to the political leadership of the country.

He added that, “I am sure those that are in government are aware of this procedure of budget allocation and acquisition.”

Transparency International Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index had pushed for an end to the military tradition of alleged secrecy in its budget allocations, particularly its procurement processes.

It noted that the argument that defence budgets were kept secret for national security concerns did not hold water.

Previous provisions

Records show that in the last five years, a lot of money had been budgeted for defence, but our reporters did not succeed in finding how much was released. The budgeted funds were also far less than the trillions released during the time of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.

In 2015, N388.46bn was budgeted for defence; in 2016, it was N429.12bn. In 2017, it was N467.12bn; in 2018, it was N580.14bn and in 2019, N158.11bn was budgeted; all for the Ministry of Defence.

A retired colonel with knowledge of military finances said, “It’s very easy to know the budget of the military and the releases. They are there on paper; both from the approved budget and from the accountant general’s office, and added that “but they will not release it to anyone; they will say it is classified document.”

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