Defence Minister, Gen. Bashir Salihi Magashi (rtd), has assured that the Federal Government is determined to stem the myriad of threats currently bedeviling the country.
Magashi spoke at the Defence Advisers/Attachés annual conference organised by the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) in Abuja, and themed, “Advancing Counter Terrorism Efforts Through Enhanced Inter-Agency Cooperation: A Whole of Government Approach.”
TheFact Nigeria reports that the conference, conducted by the Defence Intelligence Agency, DIA, and the first in the annals of the Agency, is organised to examine and reappraise Nigeria’s Defence Advisers/Attachés and foreign defence relations, as well as assisting to articulate new strategies in intelligence gathering.
Magashi expressed concern over the rise in secession agitations in the Southeast and Southwest, insurgency in the Northeast, banditry and armed herders/militia in the Northwest and Northcentral as well as militancy and oil bunkering in the Southsouth. He however, assured that the Federal Government was determined to stem the threats as it had already recruited 17,000 personnel for the Armed Forces and is about to hire 10,000 policemen and officers annually over the next six years.
The minister added that “the government is also exploring dialogue and mediation techniques in tackling other emerging threats such as the agitations by some ethnic nationalities and groups.”
Magashi said that a look at the security challenges in Nigeria today revealed new dimensions with increasing agitations for secession, one of which is food security.
”Food security has been adversely affected with the attendant rise in the prices of foodstuff across the country which portends a new dimension of threat”, he said.
Speaking on other dimensions of threats to the nation’s security, the minister said attacks by Boko Haram Terrorists and the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) in the Northeast continue to pose serious security challenges.
In the Northwest and Northcentral, Magashi went on, the activities of armed bandits, armed herders/militia attacks, and kidnappers are prevalent, while “the littoral states in the Southsouth are plagued with illegal oil bunkering, piracy, and militancy”.
The Southeast is not left out as the region is challenged with secessionist activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
”The Southwest is equally faced with secessionist inclinations driven by ethnic agitators as well as occasional tension between herders and farmers.
According to the minister, distinguishing the threats Nigeria is currently facing, and understanding their socio-geographic context is pivotal for adapting appropriate and lasting counter-measures.
”Regrettably, the prevalence of these threats has continued to endanger not only national security and economic growth but food security as well”.
The minister, therefore, challenged security agencies to “explore all avenues within their respective systems to come up with innovative ways of identifying and confronting the challenges facing us as a nation”.
He further enjoined the security agencies “to continue to collaborate to tackle these threats in order to create an enabling atmosphere for economic activities to thrive and to attract Foreign Direct Investment”.
Magashi expressed joy that the government’s war against insurgency was yielding results in “the Northeast where14,000 terrorists had surrendered.”
The minister added that the launch of the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, otherwise known as the Deep Blue Project, constitutes paper of “visible efforts in confronting the myriad of security challenges that we have.”
He added that the Nigerian Armed Forces’ recruitment of over 17,000 personnel, and President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval of the recruitment of 10,000 police officers annually by the Nigeria Police Force over the next six years, are efforts which “underscore the government’s political will to confront Nigeria’s numerous challenges”.
While describing the conference as a vital mechanism through which the Defence Intelligence Agency evaluates, formulates, and reviews strategic policies, Magashi stressed that the defence diplomats have ”crucial roles to play in this regard by forging understanding and cooperation with the security and defence architectures in their respective countries of accreditation.”
National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), in his keynote address, observed that Defence Attachés are “valuable envoys”.
Monguno, who was represented by the Nigerian Army’s Chief of Training, Maj. Gen. Abubakar Ndalolo, said that “Nigeria has been adopting both kinetic and non-kinetic approaches in dealing with these security challenges.”