By Job Osazuwa
In the last one decade, Nigeria has been beset with inexplicable security challenges. Many Nigerians have been maimed and killed; millions internally displaced, in addition to the attendant socio-political uncertainties.
It might not be an exaggeration to say that the country has been bleeding for years, even as the economy has suffered in no small measure. Unarguably, insecurity has worsened in recent years and that has remained a major setback to achieving development.
This increasing level of insecurity in the land, particularly in the areas of insurgency, marauding herdsmen and banditry, has catapulted the military and other security agencies to the centre of focus. Consequently, everyone looks up to the service chiefs and other officers at the helm of the Nigerian armed forces to win the war without losing innocent Nigerians.
Many pundits, including security experts, have for long clamoured for the replacement of the security heads. There were other analysts who believed that changing the service chiefs was not the solution needed to tame the insecurity ravaging the length and breadth of Nigeria.
The Federal Government has repeatedly scored itself high, claiming that the Nigerian military has decimated the Boko Haram terror group, but many Nigerians disagreed. Those with opposing views argued that there was no evidence in sight to corroborate claims of progress to quell the insurgency in the North-East. Instead, there has also been a significant rise in insecurity across then North in states like Sokoto, Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina and Borno, among others.
The call for the sack of Nigeria’s top military leaders resonated in every part of Nigeria at frequent intervals. In a motion sponsored by Senator Ali Ndume at the Senate on July 21, 2020, the Senate passed a resolution calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to fire the service chiefs.
President Buhari relieved the erstwhile service chiefs of their appointments and appointed new ones. The new ones are Major-General Lucky E.O. Irabor, as Chief of Defence Staff; Major-General I. Attahiru, Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral A.Z. Gambo, Chief of Naval Staff; and Air Vice-Marshal I.O. Amao, Chief of Air Staff. They replaced the former Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.
Not a few Nigerians would agree that insecurity is perhaps the most critical issue facing the country today. Therefore, those who spoke to Daily Sun stated that the chiefs must hit the ground running to restore the people’s confidence.
Topping the list of what Nigerians expect from the new men in charge is the need for them to work on the morale of officers that are on the battlefield, so that they would continue to give their best to the fatherland.
Nigerians are full of expectations and not ready for more excuses. Many residents have called on the new men in charge to quickly work on restoring peace, order, and national unity that have suffered setbacks in recent times.
A cyber security and project management expert based in Abuja, Mr. Desmond Ogudu, told the reporter on the telephone that all countries are globally connected. He stressed that security was a top priority for many businesses and organisations.
“Corporations are not only working to protect facilities and staff from a variety of hazards and criminal threats but are also concerned about the integrity of their information systems. Many businesses now employ high-level executives known as chief security officers to see to their security needs.
“Chief security officers are not only responsible for their countries’ physical security needs but also their digital or electronic security requirements, including computer networks. They are persons most responsible for information technology security. Information technology is now considered to be an area of vulnerability for countries’ cyber security threats.
“How detailed are the newly appointed security chiefs on cyber security? This is one area that needs to be considered. Has Nigeria as a country invested in cyberspace security architecture? I expect the new chiefs to explore technology in combating our security challenges,” he said.
Ogudu, who is also a researcher, writer and content strategist, submitted that it would be wise to navigate the cyberspace security techniques in battling against Boko Haram insurgency in the North.
He called on the Federal Government and the military bosses to massively invest in cyberspace security architecture. He tasked the authorities to look in the direction of purchasing high-tech drones, as well as training and retraining officers and non-officers who are technocrats on cyber security to address the surging criminality in the land.
“We cannot continue to tolerate these insurgents, bandits, kidnappers and killer herdsmen, who have been terrorising Nigerians for years,” he said.
Lending his voice to the discourse, a media consultant and editor-in-chief, Acres Africa magazine, Mr. Dennis Onwuegbu, stated that intelligence gathering was at the base of effective security services.
His words: “I expect that this would be intensified in combating the multiple security issues confronting the nation. And to achieve this, collaboration is critical among the various arms of the security apparatus in the country.
“Moreover, technology is an enabler in various human endeavours and security cannot depend less on this. As has been suggested severally in the past, it seems that there is a need to overhaul the security architecture of the country. The lapses have become embarrassing and some drastic measures need to be taken. Indeed, I don’t envy these men, but we live in peculiar times.”
On his part, a Lagos-based businessman, Mr. John Obanya, said having a bill to support whistle-blowing policy would protect whistle blowers to supply the military useful information needed to flush out criminal elements.
“I believe that the military collaborating with the indigenous hunters will be of great help in dealing with many of our security challenges. Boko Haram onslaught has to end now because they have taken so many precious souls and portrayed the country in bad light.
“It will not be a bad idea if the new service chiefs make history and write their names in gold,” Obanya said.
In his contribution, an Islamic scholar, Abdul Kabeer Raji, said: “We are looking for people who are conscious of God, loyal to the unity of our country and ready to serve. The service chiefs must be firm and be accountable to the people. They must focus on securing life and property of the masses without compromising.”
Also reacting to the appointments was the immediate past director-general of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside. He said: “It would be overly simplistic and naive to believe that a mere change of the military hierarchy would mark a turning point in the fight against criminality or suddenly decapitate Boko Haram overnight. The insurgency threat in Nigeria is complex and multifaceted and would require deeper intelligence, analytical thinking, strategic planning, immense professional expertise, consistency of purpose, and time to be overcome.
“However, there is a famous adage that you cannot continue doing the same thing repeatedly and expect a different outcome. When things are not working out, when there is stagnation or when a situation continues to deteriorate, there is usually a need to do a diagnostic review, change the old guard and bring new faces with fresh ideas and perspectives. Sometimes, the mere fact that there is a change at the top has motivated the rank and file to put more effort into their duties for better results.
“It is expected that a new injection into the security architecture will lead to fresh strategies, new leadership ethos and fresh perspectives. They should carefully analyse their predecessors’ shortcomings and ensure that noted gaps in the previous leadership are filled for better results. Nigerians are weary of the security situation and need to be served hope, based on concrete plans.
“A prolonged war makes combatants weary and demoralised. Our new leaders must think outside the box to get new solutions to motivate the forces and create a new incentive system that will make them give their best.
“Wars in the 21st century are intersections between technology, politics, and psychology. I doubt if our military has taken advantage of technology enough to fight insurgency and other criminal activities plaguing our country. It is time to scale up the use of technology both for intelligence gathering and warfare proper.
“It is time to infuse strategies from outside the military and apply them inside the military. This is an unconventional war that needs a different approach. No one method is best for defeating insurgents. It is time to listen to other perspectives and collaborate with anyone who has anything to offer. No military establishment or organisation can win this war alone. We need all the intelligence and security outfits and civilians who have anything to contribute to get involved.
“Because of our current security challenge’s transnational nature, we need to talk to our neighbours and collaborate with them. We need to involve global powers like the United States of America and Russia to defeat Boko Haram.
“It is high time the executive and legislative arms of government gave the military more support in resources to scale up infrastructure, technology, and human capacity to confront this monster once and for all.”