The appointment of Malam Nuhu Ribaduas the National Security Adviser (NSA) signifies a new dawn when a person outside military circle would occupy the critical position since reemergence of democracy in Nigeria in 1999.
Though there were retired and serving military and security officers that were touted to occupy the of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in his wisdom decided the retired police chief and pioneer Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
With this development, it was expected that the debate of who will be next on the line to replace the outgoing National Security Adviser (NSA) Babagana Monguno, a retired Major General is over.
Malam Nuhu Ribadu has over the years acquired all the requisite skills needed to anchor security matters in order to achieve and enhance formidable security at national, state and local levels.
In fact, his appointment has been adjudged by many pundits as a ’round peg in a round hole’, which is courtesy of the track records of past achievements in various capacities.
While in the recent past, the office of the NSA has been occupied by retired Military Generals, however, high ranking police officers have also been appointed and performed remarkably in that capacity.
National security goes beyond protection of lives and properties. It is multidimensional in nature and thus involves ensuring the safety of citizens as regards to basic necessities of life including heath, education, transportation, socio-economic and political development, infrastructures, culture, religion etc.
Therefore, the occupant of the office should not be restricted to only those with military backgrounds but also other relevant professions as being observed in the United States and other developed nations.
All over the world technocrats and strategists are mostly behind drafted coherent security and defence policies, while the implementation of such documents [policies] rests on the shoulders of Military and other security architectures.
The primary mandate of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, AFN, is safeguarding the country’s territorial integrity against any external threats or aggression while at the same time ensuring protection of lives and properties of the citizens. They may also be deployed to maintain internal security and order in a situation where police are overwhelmed.
Recall that, the National Defence Policy involved all the resources and human personnel put in place in order for a country to defend itself against both internal and external attack or danger. Thus, the policy is dynamic and constantly being modified in order to respond to the emerging security threats.
At one time, Nigeria was not under threat from either insurgents or terrorists activities until when the
Boko Haram ideology started gaining momentum in the Northeastern part of the country especially the trio BAY states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe respectively.
These challenges of terrorism as faced by Nigeria forced the country to revisit the Defence Policy by enacting the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011, as amended in 2013, and signed into law by former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
The Act designates the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) as the coordinating body for all the security and enforcement agencies of the government. This Act also gives the ONSA the mandates to “support and ensure the formulation and implementation of a comprehensive Counter Terrorism Strategy and build capacity for the effective discharge of the functions of relevant security, intelligence, law enforcement and military services.”
Owing to his pedigree in dealing ruthlessly with financial crimes and the perpetrators, many Nigerians will look up to Ribadu to break the jinx in neutralizing security challenges disturbing Nigeria. In fact, Ribadu should know that his job has already been cut out for him- thus, what remains is only the implementation phase.
For example, security experts have since identified terrorism financing as the main source of breathing oxygen for the terrorists, bandits and kidnappers as well as insurgents that are busy wrecking havoc on Nigerians.
Investigations have revealed that some highly placed Nigerians, especially politicians and businessmen are involved in terrorism financing.
The Federal Government last year disclosed that foreign Non-Governmental Organizations, banks, financial technology firms and Point of Sale terminal operators had been linked to terrorism financing in the country.
Specifically, the existence of about 96 secret financiers of terrorism across the country was announced by the immediate past administration in early February 2022. The financiers were behind activities of Boko Haram and the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP). The discovery by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) also indicted 123 companies and 33 bureau de change operators.
Apart from the sponsorship, the terrorists also engaged in illicit activities through which they get money in financing their devilish acts, especially procurement of sophisticated arms.
SBM Intelligence estimates that at least $18.34 million was paid to kidnappers in Nigeria between 2011 and 2020 and ₦653.7 million ($1.47 million) between June 2021 and June 2022.
Drug trafficking is another major source of revenue, especially for Boko Haram, which smuggles Tramadol, an often abused prescription opioid, outside the country.
It is necessary that the new NSA should work relentlessly with all the available apparatus within his capacity to cut off this oxygen supply for the terrorists which is a requisite step towards addressing their ugly trend.
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In the long run, any identified sponsor of kidnapping, banditry or whatever form of terrorism should be made to face the wrath of the law in order to serve as deterrence to others.
The ONSA should deepen military capacity and other security institutions in various ways to communicate with residents on identifying those culprits who mostly blend within the civilian population while on the other hand scheming their evil plans.
Furthermore, another important agenda that NSA Ribadu should channel much effort in entrenching is the non-kinetic or soft approach towards containing insecurity. It has been identified that social insecurity is one of the major causes of our security challenges. Sometimes, grievances and ideological differences were found to summon insecurity in a given geographical location.
As such, there is a need for security institutions to collaborate with stakeholders in the community including religious and traditional leaders, community-based associations, pressure groups, civil society organizations, media, scholars and others in addressing security issues.
For the past years, ONSA was known for adopting a soft approach in surmounting security challenges. The strategy operates on the basis of de-radicalization of criminals followed by rehabilitation and reintegration back to the society.
This method has influenced more than 50,000 thousand Boko Haram fighters to lay down their arms and call it a quit in the Northeastern region of Nigeria.
Notwithstanding, healthy and robust inter-agency collaboration among military and other security agencies is another very important issue that the new Sheriff at ONSA should look up to and enhance greatly.
Inadequate synergy and unhealthy relationship among Nigeria’s security outfits have in some cases made it difficult to achieve the desired overall national security goal and objectives.
With his decades of experience, Ribadu is expected to coordinate and anchor all their [security architectures] activities by setting formidable agendas once the ball starts rolling in his court.
I also strongly urge the new NSA to reactivate the Centre for Crisis Communication (CCC), the secretariat of the Forum of Spokespersons for Security and Response Agencies (FOSSRA) to ensure and maintain synergy among all the infrastructures on timely and responsible information management.
Courtesy of his global experiences and antecedents , it is hoped that, with Ribadu as National Security Adviser, Nigerians will soon begin to bid farewell to persistent security challenges within a foreseeable moment.