Does National Security Expire?
The anarchy brewing in Nigeria is near complete. Noting the security problem in Nigeria is dire is not news. It has become a daily and worsening fact. Wear is Nigeria’s national security? No one is safe from violence in the country any longer. Not even the military academies and barracks, high security prisons, nor police stations. And not the Presidential Guard or the President himself. What does the President, Buhari care? Moreover, the Government of Nigeria (GON) has no effective response to the failing state of security in the country. None. None from above and none from below. Video clips of bandits, terrorists, and criminals hold one key reason for this sorry state in plain sight.
Accordingly, the fabric of Nigerian society and culture is today determined by the insecurity. Both rural and urban areas are just as unsafe as each other. The roads are now highways to hell. It is that bad.
You may have seen several video clips of insurgents assaulting soldiers, barracks, or prisons, you will notice the exchanges of fire are the same. The insurgents who always appear to have the upper hand shoot bullets without reserve. For example, one insurgent shoots a fleeing soldier in the head, who then falls dead. The insurgent will further shoot the dead soldier’s head ten times and chest six times. Then, he may shoot several times into the air. That is, he can squander twenty to thirty bullets when three had done the job.
Such a display of bullet squandering by insurgents may be a message of intimidation to Nigerian security personnel. But how is that so?
The Nigerian authorities issue security personnel with rations of bullets. They give a corporal in the police or private in the army a small ration of, say, fourteen bullets to fight insurgents. And they must recount the use of the bullets, if used. The insurgents know this. Thus, shooting countless rounds of bullets into the air or the walls that shield soldiers and police, intimidates them. There is only one outcome in such exchanges of fire. It is only with help and extreme desperation the security forces can gain the upper hand in battle. Such is not sustainable in a war of attrition. What should be routine routing of the insurgents has become the exception.
President Buhari is the man who is responsible for the permissiveness towards terrorism in Nigeria. His attitude has deep roots in religion and ethnicity. How about his priority in national security? Wiser leaders know that rots, when they take hold, spread. Tears.
We agree the embargo of sales of weapons to Nigeria ties the GON’s hands. But it has itself to blame for misusing the weapons. Some may question the grounds to deny Nigeria weapons of security in desperate times but that is another discussion. However, the engineering and perpetuation of corruption by the government is further to blame. The GON have found it expedient to pay civil servants’ small salaries. The logic behind such a policy is cost avoidance. As such, the GON encourages civil servants to make up for the shortfall in their salaries by taking bribes from the public.
Hence, deep in the Nigerian psyche are the persuasions, “No one relies on salary alone,” and “Where a person works, he chops.” Or “There is nothing wrong with chopping but chop small.” Some security personnel claim they too must chop and enjoy.
Thus, the professionalism of security personnel suffers because of corruption. The corruption that denies them what the need to be professional.The public must bear the brunt of such a crucial inadequacy in society. Insecurity, thus, prevails. Remarkably, traditional hunters the have the ability to deal with all manner of insurgents. Are hunters more competent than the Nigerian army in warfare? Bianimikaley!
The Security Personnel
Now, imagine giving guns and bullets to uniformed personnel who the government underpays by a large margin and live in squalid quarters. What an eyesore to see mobile police and soldiers at checkpoints with guns but wearing plastic flip-flops. And collecting bribes from any commercial vehicle or bike that approaches them. That is the fate of junior security personnel. The personnel must account for the fourteen bullet rations we mentioned above for, if used. Why? Military and police personnel are notorious for selling arms and bullets to criminals. Audits of arms recovered from insurgents and criminals often expose this. Security personnel even engage in violent crime for money’s sake.
Nevertheless, is the tight rationing of bullets against even insurgents a rational answer to the problem? Notwithstanding, the Nigerian security personnel would rather use those bullets to get themselves to safety than fight to the death. Let’s be real. The security personnel are not to blame, though.
The wives of NCO soldiers often warn their husbands before they go on security operations. “Do not fight and kill yourself for the suffer we live. The petty trade I do will not survive me and the children,” the wives warn. Who can criticise them for saying such? If a soldier dies, his salary continues for 90 more days, then it ceases. The widow and children have 90 days to leave the military living quarters. It is a common and tearful occurrence.
Still, the GON cut training budgets yearly. If The GON votes allocations of funds for military training and equipment, ministers of defence, national security advisers, top brass military officers steal the money. The military remains most deficient despite a change of government led by a retired general for over seven years.
So, we must take the poverty of low incomes, non-existent posthumous compensation, and low morale of security personnel and a better equipped enemy into consideration. Security personnel in Nigeria, NCOs most of all, no longer see security as their duty. They must survive and even prosper by other means though keep their jobs.
Soldiering and policing is very serious business. Without strong national security, security personnel are handicapped. Only proper funding, proper insurance, good, pay, and sufficient newest equipment, and better training security personnel can provide Nigeria and Nigerians live with peace, order and security. But why has the GON been stealing from the security forces to the point of ruin? Do they think their greed is a sufficient reason to let national security expire? Ask them.