President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, and Security Chiefs at the State House, Abuja, FCT

Insecurity: Nigerian leaders call for mutual strategy to end conflicts

*President Buhari, State Governors acknowledge poverty, youth unemployment at the root of Nigeria’s security challenges

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

In underscoring the ultimate significance of the primary responsibility of a worthwhile leadership in protecting lives and property of the citizenry, President Muhammadu Buhari and State Governors have called for a joint strategy to bring various conflicts to an end within time limits in Nigeria.

Malam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Buhari in a statement in Abuja, FCT, said Buhari and governors expressed their feelings known at the end of the virtual meeting coordinated from the State House, Abuja.

They also called on field commanders to take measures to protect civilian communities as a confidence-building mechanism between the military and those communities.

The President and the governors believed that “when the trust that has been lost between both parties is re-established, there would be improved cooperation in intelligence-gathering and sharing.”

Malam Shehu stated that the meeting also focused on the country’s security policies and approaches in tackling the internal security challenges with a charge that intelligence-gathering and sharing must be optimised.

“The President used the opportunity to dispel commonly held assumptions that the terrorists in the North-East had far more weapons and money than the government.”

“What is left of them are ‘mere scavengers desperate for food, raiding shops and markets, and killing innocent persons in the process,’ ” he said.

The presidential aide revealed that the meeting also agreed that poverty and youth unemployment were at the root of the nationwide security challenges, and needed to be addressed with greater vigour by all tiers of government.

Buhari also expressed concern that in spite of the fact that borders with neighbouring countries had been shut, bandits and terrorists continued to have access to small weapons.

The President told the security and intelligence chiefs that “these terrorists are in the localities. How is it that they are not short of small arms?

“We have said enough on the need for them to rejig their operations. I am glad that there is better synergy and cooperation which are very important.

“I have directed the Service Chiefs to meet among themselves in-between the National Security Council meetings.

“The services have resources; yes, they need more, and mobility, and are doing their best, but there is a need for better gathering and interpretation of intelligence. Our intelligence-gathering must be improved.”

The President informed the governors of the imminent shipment of military weapons and aircraft from Jordan, China and the United States.

He, therefore, asked for patience on the part of the public because the new weapons and aircraft must be manned by trained fighters and pilots who must first receive appropriate training.

Buhari also expressed satisfaction with the level of support from neighbouring countries in the war against terrorism.

“They are cooperating with us. On Boko Haram, we are making progress with Benin, Niger, Chad and Cameroon,” Buhari added.

He noted, however, that intelligence-gathering must be improved to be able to track small arms in the North-East, North Central and North-East states in the country.

Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum, and Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno, highlighted the problems of poverty, unemployment, trust deficit between the military and civilian populations and the inflow of small arms into the country.

The governors also pointed to the problem of coordination among military and security chiefs and played up their own security roles which included one billion Dollars they allowed the President to withdraw from the Excess Crude Account for weapons procurement two years ago.

They, therefore, urged the President to consider a “bail out” for security for the States in view of the enormity of the resources they now expend in support of the military and the police.

Vice-President (Prof.) Yemi Osinbajo, heads of defence, security and intelligence agencies, and members of the Security Committee of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum represented by a governor from each of the six geo-political zones.

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