SINCE the eruption of the murderous attacks of the terrorist Boko Haram insurgents in North East Nigeria in 2009, internal security has become a major challenge in the most populous African nation, Nigeria.
While the nation’s military forces battled to permanently subdue the Boko Haram mindless killers, the Niger Delta Avengers erupted from the creeks, unleashing debilitating blows on the nation’s oil installations with grave socio-economic consequences.
As if those are not enough national malaise, secessionist agitators for Biafra are baring their own fangs in the South East.
The attendant human and material casualties and dislocations arising from these insurgency-induced internal security breaches have inflicted mortal wounds on the national economy.
Nigeria, hitherto the peace haven for many West African refugees, thus suddenly became a nation of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, wholly dependent on food hand-outs in emergency resettlement camps set up in many areas of the North East/West geo-political zones and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
Available statistics from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, IDMC, a Geneva-based non-governmental and humanitarian organisation, showed that there were 2,152,000 IDPs in Nigeria as at December 31, 2015.
Officials of Nigeria’s Interior Ministry, at a recent media forum in Abuja, said that there are currently more than 300,000 Nigerian refugees in Cameroon and an additional 80,000 in Niger.
Those are just official figures. There are certainly more, given our very porous borders and velocity of Boko Haram attacks until last year.
The escalation of Boko Haram violence in 2014 (when 10,849 killings were recorded) and the superior fire power of the Nigerian military forces drove many of the Jihadist terrorists into neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republics where their violent actions were effectively curtailed by the Multi-national Joint Task Force of Nigeria and those countries.
Since the inception of the Buhari administration, however, the free-wheeling territorial aggression of the Islamist insurgents has been undoubtedly check-mated, making peace restoration possible in many communities earlier overran by the terrorists’ ‘’army’’.
While the military forces are winning the war against Boko Haram, the Ministry of Interior under the leadership of retired Lt-Gen. Abdulrahman Danbazau, is spiritedly struggling to win the peace in the troubled zones, using the police, National Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC and the Immigration Service.
At a recent media chat in Abuja, the Interior Minister said that more than 3,000 policemen and 2,000 Civil Defence operatives had been deployed to the communities freed from the grips of Boko Haram in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
Gen. Dambazau, an acclaimed criminologist and former Chief of Army Staff (2008 – 2010), said that there is need for greater capacity building in the Interior Ministry and all its agencies – Police, Immigration, Civil Defence and Prison services — if they must live up to their billings.
He lamented that many officers in the aforementioned services had not undergone any professional career training in the last 20 years.
‘’This does not help the intelligence gathering aspect of modern internal security operations,’’ Danbazau said.
He said that total transformation of the various agencies remained top on his card and assured that all obstacles in the course of achieving that goal will be dismantled.
Perhaps what the Minister should not leave out of his priority list is the total re-orientation of the internal security agencies, especially the Nigeria Police Force, where professional ethics are observed largely in the breach.
There is also an urgent need for a radical change in the retirement age policies of the armed forces and the police.
A security service crying of low human capital cannot continue to throw scores of its top brass into forced retirement at every appointment of a new service chief.
The Nigerian Army and the Police today probably have more retired able-bodied Generals and Assistant/Deputy Inspector-Generals respectively than serving ones. It’s a monumental waste of scarce human resources.
The recent strikes of the terrorists in the North East and threats of their onslaught on key Southern states underscore the need for both the military and all internal security agencies to strategically harness their human and material resources to give Nigerians their most desired protection.
Until the poor peasant farmers in Gwoza, Biu, Bama, Nguru and Michika are able to bend their backs on their farms without trepidation, no peace can genuinely be claimed to have been restored in their areas and local economy revived.
Danbazau surely has all it takes, professionally and academically, to make our internal security agencies walk their talk.