`Rethinking The National Security Architecture II

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In the first part of the article, I argued that the current security architecture of the country needs rethinking in the face of new realities. The last overhaul of the security system in 1986 by the Babangida administration reflected the challenges of that time and the pressing need for regime protection. Today, the security needs of the country are vastly different from past challenges and needs rethinking across legal, institutional, manpower and operational dimensions.

Since the 1986 reform of the security system organisations like the Federal Road Safety Commission, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Maritime and Port security and Airport security systems have become part of our security network. The Nigeria Police, Custom, Immigration and Prisons have all grown astronomically though not keeping pace with the growth of population and crime. The State Security Services, National Intelligence Agency, Defence Intelligence Agency and the various intelligence units of the armed forces remain the fulcrum of our security architecture.

The Jonathan administration came up with a new national security policy that sought to identify key issues and proffer new pathways for mitigation, management and resolution. The policy is embodied in three documents namely National Security Strategy, Counter Terrorism Strategy and Cyber Security Plan and Strategy.  According to the former National Security Adviser Col Sambo Dasuki “the document recognised that while the country would continue to focus on the persistent and evolving terrorists’ threat, it must at the same time address the full range of potential catastrophic event including man-made and natural disasters, due to their implications for national security.

“The purpose of the strategy, according to him, was to guide, organize and harmonize the nation’s security policies and efforts. The strategy provides a common framework on which the entire nation should focus its efforts. He said the strategy was required to maintain the survival of the nation through the use of economic power, diplomacy, military and political power.

“The National Counter Terrorism Strategy, NACTEST, is organized around five work steams, each with its key objectives and success indicators within the period of 2014 to 2016.They include forestall – which prevents people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorists; secure -which strengthens protection capacity against terror attacks; identify- pre-emption through detection, early warning and during that terrorist acts are properly investigated; prepare – to mitigate the impact of terrorists attacks by building resilience and redundancies to ensure continuity of business; and implement – a framework for the mobilization of coordinated cross-governmental efforts.

“The National CyberSecurity Policy and Strategy sets out the strategic intent of government in mitigating the country’s cyber risk exposure by prioritizing our needs while focusing on key areas, curtailing escalation of cyber threat that are inimical to the national security posture and the Nigerian economic wellbeing.”

The National security Strategy was a carefully thought out document and definitely a step in the right direction. The range of stakeholders including foreign institutions, consulted was wide and the outcome a useful document that can guide action. However, as a former head of a paramilitary agency I still think that the rethinking and reimagining of our national security architecture needs to happen at a more local and primary level.

The first big question should be what went wrong with our security system? Why the growing incapacity in the face of competent criminal and terror group? What lessons have been learnt from the Jos crisis, Niger Delta militancy, Boko Haram, Kidnapping and other forms of criminality?

My first step would be a thorough evaluation of the recruitment, promotion and discipline standards of all security agencies. The most important failure in our security system is the clandestine, nepotistic and low quality recruiting strategy. A quick adoption of the Military recruitment process where public advertisement is made, examination dates set and names of successful candidates and reserves published should be adopted system-wide. A further tweak will include allowing JAMB to conduct a single examination for all applicants to any security organisation for a particular year.

Based on each organisation’s cut off point applicant can then apply to the service of their choice and after the interview process names of successful applicants and score should be published. For the secret services they should submit their successful list to the office of National Security Adviser for approval. Organisations must indicate if successful candidates are related to any serving officer of the service to reduce the current nepotism plaguing the security services. Recruitment should reflect federal character but promotion in the services should be by merit subject to publication of list of successful candidates and their scores, again with JAMB and WAEC conducting the written exams for the agencies.

The next step would be  review of the coordination crisis in our current security setup. The SSS, NIA and DIA report to the National Security Adviser with the SSS granted direct access to the President. The Police vacillates from the Ministry of Police Affairs to Ministry of Internal Affairs. Customs report to the Ministry of Finance. Immigration, Prisons and Civil Defence Corps report to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Attempts to resolve coordination issues through the Joint Intelligence Board and the Intelligence Community Committee does not deal with the core issues of coordination. There is an urgent need for a one-stop shop for security agencies.Rethinking our security system along the lines of intelligence, enforcement, adjudication, correction and rehabilitation would change perception and meaning of security.

The State Security Services should be unbundled to remove the VIP protection unit as a separate body saddled with protecting our ever increasing number of dignitaries past and present. The new VIP protection wing will make it possible for security details with primary training for VIP and regime protection to develop stronger capabilities in that area while ensuring that no Detail spend more than two years at any beat to maintain professionalism.

The Intelligence arm should be a pure intelligence gathering organisation with a paramilitary wing to engage in targeted mission above the capabilities of Police. The new Service divested of its regime protection role would focus on coordinating and enhancing the data collection capabilities of data producing agencies like the National Identity Management Commission, Immigration  passport and travel data, Custom import and export data, Tax information, vehicle and drivers license data, police criminal and suspect database and convicts. These data sources exist in various formats and will require an inexpensive data integration process to achieve result.


Next week I will continue with the review of our national security architecture.

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