A civil society group, the Network for Democracy and Development (NDD), has advocated the fashioning of a comprehensive national security strategy to prevent security outfits created by states and local governments from being counterproductive.
The group stated this in its maiden press conference on the state of the nation, which was held virtually at the weekend.
The national coordinator of the group, Mr Tajudeen Alabede, who addressed the conference, argued that a pragmatic national security strategy would ensure devolution of more responsibilities to states, strengthen community policing and help achieve greater national security in a well-regulated environment.
“NDD notes that increased criminal activities across the country have led to a proliferation of security outfits. Many state governments and local communities have set up security outfits to complement the effort of federal agencies.
“While the precarious situation demands that all hands must be on deck, the proliferation, without adequate coordination, could be counter-productive in the long run.
“Government should also invest more in intelligence gathering, motivation and proper welfare for security personnel and ensure that the equipment needed to properly combat the nation’s multi-faceted security challenges are provided,” the group said.
The NDD also decried the decision by educational institutions across the country to resume academic activities without adequate safety measures to contain the devastating impacts of the second wave of COVID-19.
The group said it was discomforting that many governments had not gone beyond merely issuing statements encouraging schools to observe COVID-19 protocols as adequate safety measures had not been put in place by the federal and state governments to contain the spread of the disease.
It noted that instead of a general resumption, there could have been a well-coordinated phased resumption in a way that would prevent overcrowding in the institutions.
Alabede noted that the education sector embraces the largest percentage of citizens – from kindergarten to postgraduate classes – and is a sector that is most affected by the coronavirus pandemic, warning that the consequences of poorly regulated resumption plans amidst the rising cases of COVID-19 might be catastrophic.
According to him, for almost a year that the country has been battling with COVID-19, the nation seems not to have learnt many lessons as it has yet to overhaul affected sectors, especially education, health and agriculture, with a view to bringing them in compliance with new realities brought about by the pandemic.
He said Nigeria had witnessed a devastating impact of the second wave of COVID-19, including the death of some high-profile citizens in the past few weeks and the NDD was, therefore, alarmed by the decision of educational institutions across the country to resume academic activities without adequate safety measures.
He said: “NDD considers this inappropriate as the primary duty of any government is the security and wellbeing of the citizens.
“It is an irony that, while the plan for schools to resume is moving at a high speed, the same governments are vigorously campaigning against large gatherings. That this is taking place against the background of insecurity across the country makes it all the more indefensible.
“What NDD expects is for the government at all levels to regard COVID-19 as a national emergency which would demand that affected sectors are provided with all the necessary support that they need to cope with the impact of the pandemic.
“In the minimum, the government should consider providing facilities for virtual classes, deploying health and security personnel to schools to handle emergencies, providing hand sanitisers and masks to students and staff, providing testing facilities for compulsory testing of all students and staff and setting up isolation centres in all local governments.”
NDD warns against counterproductive national security strategy