By Abubakar Yunusa, Abuja
Experts in the security sector and stakeholders have identified institutional accountability alongside responsible citizenship as a panacea for the recurring problems of insecurity in the country.
They stated this at the conference “Intersection of National Security and the Civic Space in Nigeria” organised by the White ink Institute for Strategy Education and Research (WISER) in collaboration with the Nigerian Army Resource Centre (NARC), and with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) held in Abuja, yesterday.
The President WISER, Major General Saleh Bala (Rtd.) said the purpose of the conference was to provide additional ways to improve interaction, understanding and knowledge of the culture of the critical sectors of the society, whose common concern is all about the safety, security, dignity and protection of justice, freedom, happiness to the fullest expression of the legitimate desires and aspirations of citizens.
Senior fellow at the Centre for Democracy and Development,(CDD) Dr. Jibrin Ibrahim, noted that the security crises facing the country have largely broken the social pact between citizens and the state. Adding that in rebuilding, the state must take a new approach based on good governance where there is effective, transparent and accountable use of public resources to provide public services for citizens.
“The armed forces must be rebuilt. As the State recovers, our traditional and religious institutions as well as civil society have a huge role to play in the war against ongoing insurgencies”.
Major-General Godwin Omelo frowned at the number of military operations across the country, noting the negative image the Armed Forces hold amongst citizens.
“Too much familiarity breeds contempt over time.Very soon, the military will be doing the work of the police. If the military loses that aura, there will be a problem. I don’t support military operations in 34 states out of the 36 states,” he said.
Another Panellist Maj.Gen.E.G Ode (Rtd), Senior Research Fellow, Nigerian Army Resource Centre, while acknowledging the need to properly define national security said “democracy is responsible for developing peace and progress.
He said democracy offers citizens the opportunity to choose their political leaders, as well as hold them accountable. For them to do this, the government must also be able to live up to the responsibility of the social contract.
Professor Christopher Ogbogbo, who also moderate the event said mobile police officers be withdrawn from escort duties, retrained and engaged as a replacement for the military in internal security operations.”
Country Representative for OSIWA, Mr Jude Ilo, said a strategic exchange of ideas between the military and the civil society is critical to peace building. “The military and the civil society, as partners, need an avenue for honest and constructive conversations to advance the principles of democracy and security of the nation.
Adding that one of the things that often come to the fore is the difference between national security and regime security, because certain actions of public officers, that are inconsistent with the laws, have been misinterpreted as national security. This inconsistency is responsible for the friction between the military and the civil space.