The Federal Government’s resolve to seek the assistance of the California National Guard of the United States (US) in tackling the herdsmen attacks and kidnappings across the country is commendable. The Minister of Interior, Lt-Gen. Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau (retd), made the disclosure when the American military team led by Maj-Gen. David Baldwin visited him in Abuja.
Dambazau also revealed that the US National Guard would train the Agro Rangers Squad of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and other agencies under the ministry in disaster management. It is believed that the Agro Rangers Squad will curb the incessant clashes between herders and farmers in some parts of the country.
It is gratifying that the assistance from the US National Guard would not be limited to the menace of kidnappings and herdsmen alone. Some agencies of the Ministry of Internal Affairs such as the Prisons, Immigration and the Fire Service are also expected to benefit from this collaboration which will prioritise training and deployment of ICT for the security challenges and disaster response capability.
The planned collaboration between the US and Nigeria is a welcome development considering the enormous security challenges in the country. There is no doubt that our security agencies, especially those in charge of internal security need such collaboration. For the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies to grapple with the rising security challenges, they should be adequately trained and equipped. The challenges of armed robbery, pipeline vandalism, communal clashes, kidnappings, banditry and herdsmen menace are daunting and require stringent measures. It is equally good that the military will benefit from the training assistance. The training will enable members of the armed forces to defeat the insurgents in the North-East region.
We, therefore, support the idea of seeking assistance from the US National Guard provided that it will help us to overcome some of our security problems. It will be recalled that some Nigerians, including the Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, have recently called for this kind of collaboration. No doubt, we really need new ideas and techniques to check the rising insecurity in the country. Even though the Federal Government has repeatedly claimed that the Boko Haram sect has been ‘technically’ defeated, many Nigerians are aware that the insurgency is not yet over. The ability of the sect to attack soft targets has not been reduced. However, we advise that the government must be mindful of our national security and our national pride while seeking for assistance to tackle the security problems. We must never mortgage our freedom and our future. The welfare and training of our armed forces and support services must be emphasised.
The government should also train other security agencies’ personnel. This is why the collaboration with the US National Guard is welcome. The US agency is reputed for managing disasters and sundry crimes. We believe that the collaboration would help our security personnel to curb the security challenges. Since security is a sine qua non for development, government must demonstrate enough will to overcome the nation’s security challenges.
The International Crisis Group (ICG) recently noted that the farmers/herders conflict has become the nation’s gravest security challenge. Since January 2018, over 1,300 Nigerians had been killed in the conflicts between herdsmen and farmers in the country.
It is also estimated that Nigeria loses $13.7 billion annually as a result of farmers/herdsmen conflicts in Benue, Kaduna, Nasarawa and Plateau states. Not less than 62,000 people were reportedly displaced in Kaduna, Benue and Plateau states between January 2015 and February 2016 in farmers/herdsmen conflicts while 2,500 died nationwide due to such conflicts.