Issues and Challenges of National Security, Bukar Usman, Klamidas Communications, Abuja, 2017, pp. 95
For every kidnapping that takes place in the country; for every bomb that kills or maims Nigerians; for every life wasted in communal clashes, there are implications for national security. Bukar Usman’s Issues and Challenges of National Security unfurls important steps we need to take to overcome national security challenges.
This handy book was developed from a paper presented by the author in 2011 at an induction workshop for members-elect of the National Assembly in Yola, Adamawa State. Seven years later, the issues raised are still germane to national discourse.
As he usually does in his presentations, Usman begins with definition of terms: security, public safety, and national security. For instance, national security “is essentially concerned with the continuing safety of the country, its peoples, infrastructure and institutions on a sustainable basis” (p.3).
The book tutors us on measures taken by several nations to ensure their individual and national security, which include using diplomacy to rally allies and isolate threats; marshalling economic power to facilitate or compel cooperation; maintaining effective armed forces; using counter intelligence services or secret police to protect the nation from internal threats, etcetera.
Usman’s book also examines the role of the legislature in the country’s national security, some of which include lawmaking for good governance, allocating resources required to finance the activities or measures that are necessary for national security, and creating specialised committees to support security agencies to provide adequate services to the citizenry.
X-raying contemporary upheavals in the country, the author affirms that a few of the social upheavals have arisen as a result of perceived and, in some cases, real injustice and neglect. Besides: “Democratic institutions and social security systems which are strong and effective in discharging their security-enhancing obligations to the citizens elsewhere in the world, are non-existent, weak or misused in Nigeria…” (p.16).
One indubitable argument advanced in this book is that some of the social upheavals facing Nigeria today have their origins in past upheavals, yet the country doesn’t seem to have drawn any lessons from the past, especially preventing them from recurring. To this end, the author asks: Where are the reports of the various administrative and judicial panels set up to investigate those occurrences? What happened to the recommendations? What steps were taken to address the key immediate and remote causes identified in those reports?
Without peace, Usman avers, Nigeria cannot develop as a nation or attract any form of foreign investment. Thus, he enjoins the National Assembly to step up its oversight function in this area and “persistently pressurise the executive to act boldly and forthrightly by squarely dealing with the not-so-secret factors igniting these upheavals” (p. 19).
“The point I am making is very simple: we cannot successfully manage current security challenges or prevent similar ones in the future if we lack the political will to resolutely deal with the causes of past and recurrent challenges,” he writes on page 20.
Contrary to what some of us think, Usman says that the expression Boko Haram is not a new phenomenon that started with the so-called Boko Haram group in Maiduguri to whom it was attributed. Rather, it is a longstanding expression by a section of the Muslims in the North who feared that the colonial administration brought Western education in order to stop Islamic education.
Part of the solutions to the Boko Haram issue, he tells us, lies in honestly and objectively studying the factors that led to its emergence and redressing those factors in a manner that is intended to end it. Contrary to the common belief that the group abhors Western education wholesale, the author echoes that it has been found that what they really detest are the excesses and bad influences which subvert some cherished values and culture.
Issues and Challenges of National Security also revisits the amnesty programme designed for the Niger Delta militants. Though he approves of the programme, he is of the view that the feelings of others should be considered, while suggesting for the same programme for elements of Boko Haram.
Not left out in this compelling read are the essence of collaborating with other countries on security, cybercrime, discreet handling of the budget of security intelligence, and, above all, the origin and usefulness of security vote. Issues and Challenges of National Security is an eye-opener on national security.