Security For Public Good, The WISER Way



Nigeria is in transition, and interplay of issues is rearing their heads. Expectedly, security is top on the list, and reviewing past issues and setting an agenda for the incoming government is appropriate. This and more are what Whiteink Institute for Strategy Education and Research Nigeria (WISER) set out to do on April 13, 2023, when it brought together active players in security intelligentsia and civil society to deliberate on the future of security in Nigeria.

Tagged Introspection into a Decade of Security Sector Governance for Nigeria, the intervention began the “2023 Nigerian political transition policy-level advisory conversation on defence, law enforcement, intelligence, and human themes”, as reeled out by its convener. This set the tone for a high level gathering of thespians in the sector put together by the private institution (WISER) which objective include capacity building in “effective security sector governance” and engaging in “world-class independent and bespoke research into critical domestic and international security challenges”.

The think-tank civil society institution was hosted by its President and Founder, Brigadier-General Saleh Bala (Rtd), and is the 2nd in the series of WISER Speaker’s Forum. And to live up to its billing as a research institute, the organization gathered intellectuals and scholars in the sector to share their perspectives on security sector governance in a lecture delivered by a military intellectual giant, author and politician, Lt. General Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau PhD, whose career spans over 40 years. He has been around the corridors of power in the last 15 years, having been appointed by President Umaru Yar’Adua as Chief of Army Staff in 2008; was Minister of Interior during President Muhammadu’s first term and is primed to play a major role in the next dispensation.

The general gave the event his depth of knowledge in this respect. In reviewing the gains and failures (he calls it losses) of the last decade and opportunities ahead to be able to attain a more peaceful and stable nation, “within a complex domestic, regional, and global security ecosystem, as we transit into a new government”, Dambazau focused on governance within the security sector and the propriety of meeting the security needs of all the people in a society within the context of efficient and sustainable management of available resources.

He encapsulated  the Nigerian security environment between 2012 to 2022 as one characterised by threats from non-state actors such as Boko Haram terrorism and insurgency leading to destruction of communities and infrastructure; killings and displacement of persons, increased population of widows, orphans, out-of-school children; threats to food security, cattle rustling, deserted communities; women being converted to sex slaves, banditry and kidnapping and herders-farmers conflicts leading to ethnic and religious tension.

He noted that even IPOB/ESN has now been recognised as the 10th most deadly terrorist group in the world even as their violent attacks on Northerners/Muslims caused apprehensions across the country; attacks on oil platforms in the South South, piracy, illegal fishing and sea robbery, arms and drug trafficking, and maritime security threat generally in the Gulf of Guinea; all conspired to give Nigerians sleepless nights in the last ten years or more.

In all these, General Dambazau said ordinary Nigerians are victims of the overwhelming violence. Despite recognising that the capacity of security to contain these threats is low, and admitted that Kuje prison attack and Kaduna train bombing exposed security’s inability to collaborate, coordinate cooperate for timely response to emergencies, the General refused to admit failure in security governance. Instead he said that the military did well to contain, degrade and decimate criminal tormentors in whatever guise, informing further that death from Boko Haram insurgence reduced from 2,131 in 2015 to 448 in 2022.

The guest speaker said introspecting into the future as far as security governance is concerned is about “having a democratically governed security sector, institutions, and professional forces rooted in the rule of law, and held accountable to civilian oversight” as well as “effective management of resources, parliamentary oversight, system accountability, observance of rule of law, transparent processes and respect for human rights”.

He emphasized on the need for the next administration to give serious consideration to the constitutional provision enshrined in Section 14 (2) (b) in Chapter II of the Nigeria Constitution (1999) which states that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”. Dambazau observed that the scope of the concept of security is now based on two clichés: “freedom from fear” and “freedom from want”.

However, from anecdotal evidences and situation reports of the security environment in all the geopolitical zones in Nigeria, “it is apparent that both freedoms have been threatened and violated in the last decade. The responsibility to protect the citizens; ensure law and order and guarantee peace and stability rests on the shoulders of the security actors, who are agents of government”, he pointed out.

Going forward, General Dambazau gave a peep into president-elect, Bola Tinubu’s security blueprint as the panacea and effective means for efficient security governance system. He quoted copiously from that document as excerpted below:

“The in-coming administration of Tinubu/Shettima has prepared “Renewed Hope 2024 Action Plan for a Better Nigeria” which provides a 7-point security agenda. The mission, according to the President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is to “…establish a bold and assertive policy that will create the strong yet adaptive national security architecture and action to obliterate terror, kidnapping, banditry, and all other forms of violent extremism…”

The 7-point agenda are: bolster Nigeria’s security forces; redefine military doctrine and practice; secure critical national infrastructure; aim at peaceful communities; secure borders and safe forests; provide for integrated identity database; promote international collaboration; and reposition the police. Actions to accompany the 7-point agenda include accelerated reforms of the security sector that would build a more robust, re-energized armed forces; and reforms that would ensure a security sector that functions with maximum cooperation, collaboration and coordination among security agencies and related MDAs.

“To bolster the security forces the administration would recruit, train, and better equip the military, police, paramilitary and intelligence services. The police and other internal security agencies would be repositioned to boost public confidence; and police personnel will be freed from extraneous duties, such as VIP protection.

“The Action Plan reaffirms that national security is the bedrock of a prosperous and democratic society; and that the fundamental responsibility of government is to protect lives and property of its citizens. To carry out this responsibility, the new government intends to:

  • Mobilize the totality of Nigeria’s national security assets to protect the citizens from danger and from fear of danger.
  • Expand and improve upon the use of technology, enhance recruitment of personnel, and bolster existing agencies and systems to achieve fundamental national security goal.
  • Pursue a proactive and intelligence driven approach to national security.

“The Tinubu/Shettima strategy is meant to strengthen and improve the security sector is a wholistic and comprehensive manner, focusing on the security and welfare of the citizens in line with Chapter II of the Constitution. Governance would be people-centric…”

“Finally, to have a more effective and efficient security sector governance in the next decade, the new Tinubu administration intends to strengthen supervision and oversight of the security… Civilian or democratic control of the military and “other armed forces” become necessary for several reasons, but most importantly is the fact that the military must be subordinated to civilian authorities, as a fundamental principle of security sector governance in democracy, and it provides for effective and efficient security sector. The new administration will also welcome increased active participation of civil society organizations and the media”.

It remains to be seen whether the next administration will prioritise security for public good and make a marked difference from the past.

2023 election: The Adamawa state drama and Rivers state rigging machine

But for the timely intervention from INEC headquarters in Abuja, Adamawa state would probably have been in crisis. The Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr Hudu Yunusa Ari announced a fake result of the Adamawa state supplementary election last Sunday. There are concerns over the conduct and brazen impunity and criminality of INEC adhoc staff lately. The Adamawa REC breached the law when he announced results without figures, ahead of the returning officer, who by law has the responsibility to announce results, to the shock and amazement of CSOs, the media and general public.

What could be the REC’s motives? Why was such a partisan man appointed in the first instance by government? Here is a man from the legal profession, who should conduct himself creditably and who should be a model of integrity. Well, it remains to be seen if he will be prosecuted in the law court. Unfortunately, the APC candidate, Aisha Binani who was so hastily declared also goofed by reading out a victory speech. Binani’s demonstration of desperation is unfeminine and embarrassing, to say the least.

Elsewhere in Rivers state, a news report published by Premium Times has shown how the candidates’ scores in the last presidential election were swapped in Obio/Akpor. The result as earlier declared by INEC gave 80,239 to Tinubu and 3,829 to Peter Obi. In the paper’s investigative report, it was discovered that as at March 19, the uploaded results of 1,116 polling units on IReV portal showed the APC got 17,158 votes while the LP got 73,311 after the results were tweaked here and there. For example, “the result from Rumuorluoji Open Space II polling unit in Oro-Igwe ward, showed that APC originally scored 17 but the number, ‘2’ was added to the figure to read ‘217.’ For the LP, 227 was recorded, but the ‘2’ was erased and altered to read ‘027.’ The same alterations took place in other PUs, and helped to boost APC victory in the state. How much of this kind of rigging happened in other parts of the country? The judiciary already has its job cut out for it in the days ahead.

…Zainab Suleiman Okino is chairman, Editorial Board of Blueprint Newspaper and Fellow of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (FNGE). She can be reached via:

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