INTERVIEW: To Win War On Insecurity, State Govts Must Recruit, Train 10,000 JTF -Abdullahi

Muhammad Abdullahi.

The Immediate past Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, (NSCDC), Muhammad Gana Abdullahi tells TheFact Nigeria that for government to win the war on insecurity in the country, States must be allowed to recruit not less than 10,000 young men as grassroots security outfits who would be trained by the conventional security outfits, as with the Civilian JTF in Borno. He advises the National Assembly against scrapping the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) but rather advocates that the scheme be converted to a two year military training as is done in Israel. Excerpts:

How are you adjusting to life in retirement?

So far so good, its okay. At least I can sleep well now. For the past six years, I don’t think to have slept for 12 hours. I am resting well now.

Was there any decision you took as C-G that you are now regretting?

I have no regret and I take responsibility for whatever happened during my time.

What would you say are some of the legacies you left behind as C-G?

First, when I came on board, promotion was done once in 10 years but on my resumption, it became an annual thing. Every year, I made sure those who deserved it were promoted. We also didn’t have a single Command but today, as I talk  to you, I was able to build 15 state Commands. We have structures on ground with armoury and everything. Then Agro- rangers which is my Baby. When you talk of food security, it means producing good and nutritious food that will be available to everyone.  With insurgency and other challenges, I thought of ways to help and protect farmers so the nation can avoid famine. I came up with the idea of Agro- rangers. It became so successful that today, farmers in places like Borno now farm. The rangers escort them to the farms as early as 6am, wait for them by protecting them while they farm and accompany them back home at 6pm. We do this in collaboration with farmers. It is a form of community policing. We started this in 2018 and the significant improvement we had was amazing.  Staff welfare was also an issue I tried to deal with. I made sure staff in States had accommodation. We also had problems of manpower. As our mandate increase and expand, we needed more Personnel. Almost every sector now wants Civil Defence to protect them. So I requested for 10,000 staff but because of funds, it was scaled down to 5,000.

How true are reports that some of the staff you promoted were demoted by the current C-G?

I want to say that issues of promotion and upgrading is unique at Civil Defence. From level eight upward, this promotion was the sole responsibility of the Civil Defence, Prison and Immigration Board. We only recommend. It is only from level three to seven that we do in the office. I have not heard any report of demotion. Maybe when next we meet with the CG, then I will find out.

Now that you mentioned the C-G, how true are reports that you are at logger heads with the current C-G?

No, we are not at logger heads. The current C-G served under me as Director of Procurement. He was my Command for five years. Once I gave him the slot that is given to us once in a while for leadership course at NIPSS at Jos. He was surprised but I told him that, one day, he will understand why I sent him there and I am sure, that was one of the things that qualified him to be appointed as C-G.

Does that mean that you have a cordial relationship with  new C-G?

No, there is  no misunderstanding between me and him.

What can you say about the reports of him criticising your leadership and some of the actions you took as C-G?

Civil Defence is a disciplined organization and for the six years I was in the saddle, I never criticized or berated my superior, so I won’t join issues with people. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t believe the C-G will say anything negative about me because he is a disciplined Officer.

Coming back to the State of the Nation, are you worried about the spate of killings and kidnapping across Nigeria especially your state, Niger?

We foresaw these things about four years ago and we adviced on the need to complement the conventional security outfit.  The UN standard ratio of police to populace is 400-1 policeman. In Nigeria, we are over 200 million and we have less than four hundred thousand policemen. The military is also not enough, Civil Defence is less than 60,000 and that is why we requested for more personnel. Security is not only the duty of security men  but everyone. My advice is that States be allowed to recruit not less than 10,000 young men to become grassroots security outfits. Let the conventional security outfit train them just like we are doing with civilian JTF in Borno. These bandits don’t fall from the sky. They live among us and people know them. So if you  want to stop it, you must use indigenes, train them and let them assist the conventional security. Even though there are some foreign elements which is yet to be confirmed, those foreign elements do not know the nook and crannies of our communities. If this is done, it will reduce the banditry and criminality. The government must also equip the conventional security agencies. If we allow this to continue in the next two years, it will be a calamity for the nation.

Don’t you think that the increase in these criminal acts is a sign that the Federal Government has failed in its Constitutional role of securing the lives and property of Nigerians?

If you look at the bold steps taken by the Federal Government when they came in 2015, you will agree that they put in their beat. I must commend this government because all that was needed for security was granted.

The National Assembly is on another round of Constitutional amendment. Are there laws that need to be amended that will help the country’s security situation?

Well, I will advice that areas of procurement of security equipment needs to be looked at. If you see the weapons these criminals carry, you will know that something needs to be done urgently for our agencies to meet this problem. If you think security is expensive, try insecurity. We must also try and meet up the United Nations police standard. It is very important. I will advice that NYSC be converted to two years military training Instead of scrapping it as some are advocating just like Israel is doing.

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