The Interview I had with HAULAT AFOLABI of the thepointng newspaper. Excerpts below..
Kidnapping and other crimes are on the rise in the country. What is your advice to security agencies?
There should be zero tolerance to kidnapping and government should pass into law zero tolerance bills against kidnapping and payment of ransom. Kidnapping is the seizure of a man by another man without his consent; I do tell some people that those involved in the inhuman act think someone can’t kidnap them too. Of course, they can also be kidnapped; it is the application of criminal tendencies that differ. Government should place severe consequences on this and the cashless policy should be activated so that flow of cash can be mitigated. Government should also start placing surveillance cameras on our roads and streets. It is achievable; let’s start that process. We should have environmental crime prevention strategies in our nation. If Kenya can monitor their cities from a control room, almighty Nigeria can do it.
There was riot during the APC campaign in Lagos recently; how can we ensure that such does not happen again?
It is regrettable to imagine the level of violence at political campaign grounds. I want to seize this opportunity to address our youth on politically motivated violence. They must first recognise that their lives are more precious than anybody’s political ambition; they too can be great. We need more sensitisation on electoral violence for our youth. Most times, they believe the little cash given to them is worth their lives. Our politicians also must front their children and loved ones in a political campaign if truly they mean well for our youths. On the APC Lagos violence, our security agencies should, at all times, train their personnel on crowd dispersal and control. They must be able to quickly identify the differences between speculative crowd, expressive crowd, hostile crowd, acquisitive crowd, and escape crowd. The police and military should establish a crowd dispersal unit, which I believe they have. That unit should be the special team to be deployed in the case of campaign and concerts so they can use their professionalism and necessary non-harmful weapons to contain such incidents without loss of lives.
On the recent issue concerning Nigerian soldiers, where a lot of lives were lost; how exactly do you think Nigeria can curb insurgency?
May God bless our gallant military. These guys put their lives on the line for our survival. The Baga issue actually was first denied by our government and a lot of people were complaining. The truth is that, deception is part of a war game; let’s take that into consideration. The military not accepting losing Baga town is a deceptive pronouncement to keep the fight on. Nigeria is at war; we must accept that. However, our military must, at all times, be on the offensive and not defensive. We suffer more casualties when we are on the defensive. Let’s take a football match for instance, no matter how powerful a team is, for instance, if Chelsea FC are on the defensive against Katsina United, they will be defeated. Secondly, the government should, as a matter of urgency, establish an Army Aviation wing for the army so we don’t get into risk when the heat is on. The risk exposure allowance being paid to troops in the frontline must be addressed. Our fallen heroes’ children must be given scholarship and the government should also be looking at insurance cover for all service personnel, so the supreme prize they paid for their fatherland will not be in vain.
As a security expert, do you think forensic approach would help our country to conquer the insurgency in Nigeria?
Forensic approach is basically identifying who the enemy is by a person or identifying the enemies’ organisation or network through forensic examination. If we must achieve this, we must have a national database of all Nigerians with a social control number. It is time-consuming but we can start the process. The best time to be prepared is peace time, which we never did and the enemies dealt with us greatly.
Criminologists, over time, have argued that security challenges are best tackled with sociological approach; what is your view on this?
This is a great debate and what it implies is the effective interaction between the security agencies and the society. It is a critical approach. What does the society understand by security? What are the merits and barriers of security for the society? These are sociological questions. The behavioural mechanism must synergise the society and the security through effective sensitisation. There are two ways to counter insurgency. That is the military approach, which is the stick operation in eliminating insurgents, known as kinetic component of governments response to guerrilla warfare, and the second is aid approach, which strictly relies on carrot operations in persuading civilians or Non-Governmental Organisations to encourage government’s efforts by sensitising the youth and criminal elements.
So, what, in your opinion, are the major causes of insecurity in Nigeria?
The causes of insecurity, in my own opinion, never started today. The abandonment of border security is a major root cause of insecurity. Nigeria, owing to geographical design, is a nation under threat. From the East, we are bordered by Cameroon; from the North, we are bordered by Niger Republic; from the North East, we are bordered by Chad; from the West, we are bordered by Benin Republic; and from the South, the Coast of Guinea. These four nations are all francophone countries, which by default, is a big security risk and threat to our nation because we are an anglophone country. The Federal Government should see border security as being paramount to its survival. There is no country without effective border protection; the Nigerian government must see our border security as a matter of urgency. Another factor is the conflict of interest; we must address our religious differences, state of unemployment, sensitisation of the youth and social development.
The Federal Government recently projected N3 billion for security infrastructure for 104 unity schools. Can this be effective with the spate of kidnapping?
That was a great move and excellent achievement by the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu. It is a highly welcome development, which implies that the government is investing on our children. The ideology is all about insurance cover and tightening of security infrastructure of the state for students and 104 unity colleges in the event of any disaster, either man-made or natural. Students are expected to pay N5, 000 only per session. On the insurance scheme, the idea is to secure the child’s educational future upon admittance, and in a situation whereby the child suffers parental absenteeism, or loses his parents or guardian, the student will be paid per session a sum of N500,000 to a total maximum pay off of N2.5million, while in the case of a dead student, the parents get a payoff of N500,000. This development, when fully implemented, would make Nigeria a great nation, safe and secure for educational success.