The Minister of Defence, Major General Salihi Magashi (rtd), has raised the alarm over the prevailing security challenges in the country, saying it pose a threat to food security.
Magashi stated this at the Defence Advisers/Attachés annual conference organised by the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) in Abuja.
He said that food security has been adversely affected by the attendant rise in the prices of foodstuff across the country which portends a new dimension of threat.
Magashi said the ride of food prices makes it imperative for the various security agencies to continue to collaborate to tackle these menaces.
This according to him will create an enabling atmosphere for economic activities to thrive and to attract Foreign Direct Investment.
According to him, “A look at the security challenges in Nigeria today reveals new dimensions with increasing agitations for secession. In the North-East, attacks by Boko Haram Terrorists (BH) and the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) continue to pose serious security threats in Nigeria. In the North-West and North-Central Zones, the activities of armed bandits, armed herders/militia attacks and kidnappers are prevalent.
“The littoral states in the South-South region are plagued with illegal oil bunkering, piracy, and militancy while the South-East is challenged with secessionist activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
“The South-West region is equally faced with secessionist inclination driven by ethnic agitators as well as occasional tension between herders and farmers. Distinguishing the threats Nigeria is currently facing and understanding their socio-geographic context is pivotal for adapting appropriate and lasting counter-measures.”
Regrettably, he said the prevalence of these threats has continued to endanger not only national security and economic growth but food security as well.
In particular, Magashi said it also means that the security agencies must explore all avenues within their respective systems to come up with innovative ways of identifying and confronting the challenges facing us as a nation.
Speaking further, he said: “I am aware that the Defence Advisers and Attachés Conference is a vital mechanism through which the Defence Intelligence Agency evaluates, formulates, and reviews strategic policies.
“I am therefore elated to be in your midst for this year’s Conference. The Conference, no doubt creates an avenue for performance evaluation and the improvement of our Defence Advisers/Attaché’s system globally.
“I must say here that this Conference is novel because it will dovetail to the Agency’s Retreat which is the first of its kind. I will also commend the Defence Attachés/Advisers who have worked relentlessly in building a framework for a peaceful and prosperous Nigeria through rigorous defence networking with other countries of accreditation in these challenging times.”
He also noted that Defence Advisers/Attachés system has crucial roles to play in this regard to forge the cooperation with the security and defence architectures in their respective countries of accreditation.
He continued: “It is for this reason that | find the theme of the 2021 Defence Advisers/Attachés Annual Conference which is ‘Advancing Counterterrorism Efforts through Enhanced Inter-Agency Cooperation: A Whole of Government Approach’ as timely and very apt.
“This Conference provides participants the opportunity to | appraise the shared vision of stemming the tide of insecurity through the integrated efforts of all government entities which is the objective of the whole of government approach.
“It is therefore imperative that you take advantage of the opportunities provided by your vantage positions to harness the potentials of the Defence Attaché System in order to effectively contribute to the country’s security efforts.”
He stressed that the concept of Defence Attaché System has come a long way in the annals of Nigeria’s history.
“Today, we cover over 90 countries and four international organizations. The scope of your responsibilities has also increased from mere liaison with friendly nations to being the progenitors of contemporary defence diplomacy.
“No doubt many countries including Nigeria have continued to devise new strategies for improved defence and security systems in order to meet up with ever evolving security challenges.
“The recent achievements of the military and security agencies by taking the fight from all angles to the doorsteps of the adversaries is reassuring. Already, in the North East region alone, over 14,000 Boko Haram Terrorists have surrendered. Meanwhile, to support the country’s surge approach to fighting banditry, the Nigerian Armed Forces have recruited over 17,000 personnel.
“Furthermore, Mr President has also approved the recruitment of 10,000 police officers annually by the Nigeria Police Force over the next 6 years. The launch of the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, the Deep Blue Project are also visible efforts in confronting the myriad of security challenges that we have. All these efforts underscore the Government’s_ political will to confront Nigeria’s numerous challenges.
“The Government is also exploring dialogue and mediation techniques in tackling other emerging threats such as the agitations by some ethnic nationalities and groups. This is also in tandem with the policy of this administration to entrench all-inclusiveness and good governance as part of democratic ideals.”
Speaking earlier, the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), observed that Defence Attachés are “valuable envoys”.
He said, “The concept of Defence Attaché System, which emerged in the Seventeenth Century enables countries to establish Defence representation with their allies. This gives the Attaches a key role in National Defence Diplomacy.
“From your reports, it is obvious that you have all been performing this role critically, especially as it relates to burning areas like defence and security sector reforms, complex peace support and civil emergency operations as well as counterinsurgency and counter-terrorism operations.
“Invariably, this is the reason why the country considers you all as critical stakeholders in surmounting the myriad of security challenges facing us.”
Monguno who was represented by Major General Abubakar Ndalolo, added, “it is pertinent to mention that Nigeria has been adopting both kinetic and non-kinetic approaches in dealing with these security challenges. These approaches have been yielding results.
“The federal government also lays emphasis on the integrated approach, which recognizes the roles of ministries, departments and agencies as well as the entire society in tackling our security challenges. This involves participation of critical stakeholders from different sectors of the society, such as religious actors, youths, teachers, women, civil society, media, law enforcement as well as the security and intelligence agencies.
“This collaboration is essential for building networks of peace that can create safe and resilient communities across Nigeria. It is for this reason that I find the theme of the 2021 Defence Attachés/Advisers Annual Conference, which is ‘Advancing Counter Terrorism Efforts Through Enhanced Inter-Agency Cooperation: A Whole of Government Approach’, very apt. There is no doubt that the communique that will be reached at the end of this conference would enhance Government’s effort towards strengthening of institutions, enhancing access to justice, observance of the rule of law and human rights, and employing strategic communication during counter terrorism operations”.
In his welcome address, the Chief of Defence Intelligence, Major General SA Adebayo, explained that “the Defence Advisers and Attachés Conference is an annual event which affords the Agency a good medium to assiduously review the activities of all its Defence Sections. The Conference is also an avenue to identify new lessons and challenges, discuss modalities for overcoming such challenges as well as restrategize for the future.”
He stated that the conference comes at a time when the nation is facing unusual daunting security challenges characterised by a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment.
“It is therefore in this regard that I urge the participants of this Conference to address the issues squarely and deliberate with open minds to ensure that the objectives of the Conference are achieved,” he added.