The Minister of Defence, Dr Bello Mohammed, has advocated for an effective community-based intelligence gathering strategy to address some of the security challenges in the country.
Mohammed made the suggestion, while responding to questions from newsmen at the ongoing ministerial platform at the National Press Centre in Abuja on Thursday.
He said, ``There is a limit to the intervention of the security agencies; only well coordinated community surveillance can completely end the violence in parts of the country.''
He added that members of the various communities had important roles to play in arresting the situation in their respective communities by being vigilant and reporting suspicious activities to security agencies.
The minister, however, noted that the efforts of the security agencies had been instrumental to the relative peace enjoyed in parts of the country.
On the gridlock caused by security checkpoints in parts of the country, Mohammed said ``checkpoints are not the concern of the military but the responsibility of the police.
``The checkpoints are interim measures to check the challenge of insecurity in volatile parts of the country.''
The minister said such checkpoints would be dismantled when relative peace returned to those areas experiencing violence.
On the capability of the country’s armed forces to contain any threat to national security, Mohammed said that the different arms of the armed forces were adequately equipped to defend the nation.
He added that recent acquisitions by the Nigeria Navy, the Nigeria Army and the Air Force put the country’s military in a position to address some of the challenges of insecurity.
``The various military training institutions have also been repositioned to address some of the contemporary challenges.''
The minister, who commended the state of the various command and staff colleges in the country, noted that the colleges were beginning to serve as regional centres for other countries.
He said that the resuscitation of the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) was part of measures adopted to reposition the military to be self reliant in the area of manufacture of military hardware.
The production of small arms and ammunition and military kits for the armed forces had resumed at the new DICON factory in Kaduna, he added.
Mohammed said that the Kaduna-based company had commenced the production of flat jackets through one of its resuscitated factories and urged other security agencies to patronise the company.
On the transformation of the armed forces, Mohammed said it was being done in consonance with the other sectors of the economy.
He, however, said that the new harmonised conditions of service for Nigeria’s armed forces would be the basis on which the transformation of the military would be achieved.
The morale of officers and personnel, which is critical to the actualisation of the transformation, would be greatly enhanced by the new harmonised conditions of service.
He said that a new set of proposals aimed at improving the welfare of members of the armed forces was captured in the yet-to-be approved document.
Another major issue that would be addressed during the transformation era would be that of barracks accommodation, the minister said.
He added that the present administration recently embarked on the construction and refurbishing of 18 military barracks across the country.
``Our military hospitals have also been improved and furnished with state-of-the-art equipment to address the health needs of the officers.''
He said that the proposed package included retired military officers in the National Health Insurance Scheme.
The minister said that the new harmonised conditions of service for members of the armed forces would soon be submitted to the Armed Forces Council for approval.
He stressed that ``by 2015, the impact of the military’s full transformation would have begun to manifest in their different ramifications.''