ON Monday, Senate President Ahmad Lawan lent his voice to the call for a review of the current security architecture in the country. Addressing the media ahead of the resumption of federal lawmakers from the Christmas and New Year break, Senator Lawan declared that the Senate under him was going to work with the executive arm of government and engage with the security agencies to find out why security was deteriorating across the country. According to him, the escalation of insecurity had made it mandatory for the government to have a definite position because it could not play politics with security issues, with lives at stake.
In a submission that no one familiar with the security situation in the country could possibly fault, Lawan said: “We believe that the security architecture should be restructured. The present system does not appear to give us the type of outcome that we need. Whether it is the federal, state or local government, even the traditional rulers or others—the most important thing is to secure the lives and property of Nigerians and we would do that. Presently, the story is not good in many areas. You have so much happening, that is, destabilisation and killing of people, and we owe Nigerians the responsibility to intervene and work together with other tiers of government to ensure that we change the way we approach security matters in this country.”
Truth be told, members of the National Assembly have been speaking out on the dire security situation in the country. By way of contrast, the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Executive Council (FEC) has tended to downplay the situation, saying that it is effectively in charge and reiterating the lie that the Boko Haram terror group has been technically defeated. Prior to assuming office, Buhari had pledged that he would, as Commander-in-Chief, lead from the front and not behind in the comfort and security of Aso Rock to boost the morale of fighting forces and the generality of all Nigerians. He also promised to give especial attention to the welfare of our armed forces and their families, lost heroes and their families and the victims of insurgency, and boost the morale of the men and women in the field by public recognition of their efforts through memorabilia, stamps, statues, regular rotation, regular payment of allowances, regular communication between the men and officers of security agencies, provision of best health care and housing for families of deceased comrades.
In addition, he promised to present a marshal plan to the nation that would combat insurgency, ethnic and religious violence, kidnapping and rural banditry, provide the best and appropriate military and other materials the country needs to combat insurgency, ethnic and religious violence, kidnapping and rural banditry; establish personal relationship with governors of the affected states by insurgency, with leaders of the countries in the region and with leaders around the world to coordinate efforts to combat insurgency, oil theft, piracy and criminality; restore confidence in the bilateral and multilateral partnerships in addressing insurgency including procurements and, finally, activate regular meetings of the National Police Council to ensure the discharge of its true constitutional role in a transparent and accountable way. As it turned out, however, those promises were a ruse. Rather than deteriorating, the security situation has worsened, and Nigeria is in fact currently the third most terrorised country in the world, going by the Global Terrorism Index.
Sadly, however, the legislature which Lawan heads is yet to go the whole hog in addressing the issues that its members have lucidly articulated at various times. Truth be told, there is no avoiding the restructuring imperative. As even Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has admitted, there is no way a country like Nigeria can be successfully policed centrally. Therefore, if Senator Lawan is actually serious about “working together with other tiers of government to ensure that we change the way we approach security matters in this country,” he should liaise with his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, and spearhead the move to create state police without delay. A country such as Nigeria requires federal, state and local government police, as well as regional arrangements like Amotekun which is currently being opposed by apologists of the status quo who do not mean well for the country. As he himself has noted, the present system does not give us the type of outcome that we need. The time to act is now.