The spate of wanton insecurity in Nigeria is to say the least, very worrisome and unpredictable. The remote and immediate causes of insecurity, terrorism/insurgency and instability are intertwined. Experts and Stakeholders agree that a multifaceted, not a piecemeal approach that treats the symptom of the disease or postponing the evil day as is often the case in Nigeria, will go a long way in taming this quagmire. Galvanized by passion, patriotism and disenchantment with the prevailing situation in Nigeria, I set out to brainstorm socio-political, economic, technological, tactical/operational strategies, solutions that will curtail the aforementioned challenges stifling Nigeria. This list is not absolute nor is it omniscient, please feel free to augment my contributions. Perhaps "ogas-at-the-top" (apologies) and relevant authorities, will glean nuggets of information from our humble contributions. In no particular order:
1. Comprehensive restructuring of the status quo political system of government in Nigeria. Over concentration of political power at the centre (Aso Rock), the States and the kamikaze quest for it by unscrupulous politicians profoundly contributes to the status quo. 'True Federalism' or 'Devolution' of political power as practiced in the United Kingdom will go a long way. National Conference take note.
2. Urgent need to articulate an all-embracing and coherent counterterrorism policy/strategy as against the penchant for setting up Paper-Tiger committees.
3. Ongoing Sporadic vulnerability assessment/audit of critical public infrastructures, public places (schools, churches, mosques etc) to ascertain potential security threats.
4. Deploying a cobweb of intelligence/surveillance network across Nigeria by exploiting the human element of security.
5. Effective border control, stopping arms proliferation. Deploying avantgarde technologies such as "Unattended Land/Ground Sensors", unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) etc across our vast borders will help. The Nigerian Air Force must play more active role by carrying out intermittent reconnaissance patrol of these hotbeds.
6. Very Stringent regulation and sales of chemicals such as TNT, Acetone and even fertilizers (precursors) to production of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED's).
7. Deploying efficient access control and 'SENSITIVE' explosives/metal detectors in public places- motor parks, schools, banks, offices etc.
8. Installing FUNCTIONAL and probably, solar powered Internet-Protocol (IP) enabled CCTV Cameras in the aforementioned public places. CCTV Cameras was instrumental in unmasking masterminds of the Boston marathon bombing.
9. Provision of a countrywide, preferably a memorable and unique 3-digit National Emergency Phone number for reporting incidents.
10. The government must partner with stakeholders, NGO's, faith-based organizations to ramp up public enlightenment campaigns aimed at de-radicalization and reawakening the security consciousness of Nigerians. Nigerians must imbibe a resilience attitude.
11. Using Social Media, not necessarily the overzealous NSA type, to filter information, trends, events that are potential security threats. Thankfully the bad guys also use Social Media for their propaganda/Press Releases. They will likely leave IP forensic fingerprints behind.
12. Discouraging tribal jingoism, irredentism and whittling down radicalization by run-of-the-mill religious bigots, clerics.
13. Recruitment into military and para military agencies: Army, Navy, Air Force, National Intelligence Agency, SSS, Immigration amongst others, must be transparent, merit-based and for those that are passionate to serve. Merit must never be sacrificed in the altar of godfatherism or 'namu ne' (Hausa word for nepotism). Let's make use of the best and brightest. Government Agencies must not charge fees for employment application.
14. Decentralization of the Nigerian police will reduce Byzantine bureaucracy and improve efficiency. Please revisit, revive 'community policing'. With a population of 160 million people and plausibly 370,000 police staff strength, Nigeria is profoundly under policed. This falls short of UN recommended police-to-people ratio of 1:450. Imagine the plethora of police officers attached to serving and former Presidents, Governors, Ministers, Presidential aids, National Assembly members, Commissioners in all the States, 774 LGA Chairmen, their families/concubines, other VIPs, religious leaders, celebrities. Don't forget that all the bank branches, embassies, telecommunication, multinational firms, hotels, posh real estates, some churches, mosques in Nigeria have 3-5 or more police officers attached to them. Do the math, how many are left on the streets?
15. A concerted effort to tackle abysmal poverty, unprecedented unemployment in Nigeria through capacity building, scholarship opportunities, trickling down wealth. Some form of Social Security (safety net), a variant of the 'amnesty largesse' extended to ex Niger Delta militants, should be extended to unemployed youths across Nigeria.
16. Whittling down a growing culture of impunity, arrogance of power by "ogas-at-the-top".
17. Waging a serious fight against corruption and unprecedented profligacy. Poverty is stifling Nigerians, dying of hunger, whereas Nigerian politicians wallow in luxury. Mr. President is reported to have about a dozen Presidential jets at his disposal and his Ministers globetrot on Private jets. Take a cue from the UK where the Prime Minister is not entitled to a single 'Presidential' jet; he flies British Airways first class. Take a cue from the former Premier of the Canadian Province of Alberta who recently resigned over an expenses scandal of $45,000, a paltry 'chicken change' to a dilettante Nigerian public official. She did not wait to be impeached or convicted before quitting. Public office holders cannot be rubbing in their ill-gotten wealth and expect tranquility, sanity and reason to reign. Similarly, terrorism, insurgency basks on proceeds of corruption. Politicians must justify and judiciously use the 'Security Votes' accruable to them. Same applies to relevant government agencies.
18. Stifling access to funds, finance and other resources to terrorists. Relentlessly go after their sponsors.
19. Dissuading rivalry and encouraging inter-agency synergy and information sharing amongst Nigeria's Security Agencies.
20. Provision of State-of-the-art national forensic laboratory and database of ex felons accessible in REAL TIME across Nigeria by the Security Agencies.
21. Use of satellite-based technology. NigeriaSat-1, NigComSat, NX Nigeria must be deployed towards tracking vestiges of insecurity, terrorism and insurgency in Nigeria.
22. Setting up counterterrorism, first responder and victim support centres across Nigeria, especially in the hotbeds of terrorism/insurgency.
23. Upholding the rule of law, reforming, strengthening the judiciary to dispense justice as quickly as possible. President Obama once said that, "Africa needs strong institutions, not strong men". A popular dictum goes thus, 'justice delayed is justices denied'.
24. Resolving the state-of-origin ("settler" and "indigene") syndrome in Nigeria and resolving the Fulani herdsmen and cattle rustlers wahala. This contributes to the intermittent communal crises/violence in North central Nigeria (Plateau, Taraba, Benue states.
25. Our so-called politicians, must be patriotic, put Nigeria before their inordinate ambitions. They should take a cue from American politicians who put America first.
26. Partnering and sharing intelligence with the security agencies of neighboring countries.
27. Military, para-military Personnel deserve all the motivation they can get. Prompt payment of their salaries, hazard allowances, life assurance, decent accommodation and provision of needed equipments, tools will definitely boost their morale.
28. Good perimeter fencing and deployment of military, para military personnel to guard schools round the clock especially in North Eastern part of the country.
29. Infiltrate terrorist cells, their chain of command and plant 'moles' amongst them.
30. Been proactive, preemptive by taking the battle to their doorstep not waiting until they strike then everybody starts running helter skelter. Not forgetting winning hearts and minds of the local populace.
31. Rein in extra judicial killing of felons, terrorism suspects. Recall how the erstwhile leader (Yusuf) of Boko Haram was summarily killed in broad daylight. A while ago, the State Security Service (SSS) extenuated the killing of some suspected terrorists in its Abuja detention facility on the guise of jail break. SSS is currently struggling to wriggle free from an indictment for indiscriminately killing 8 people on Friday 20/09/2013 in an uncompleted building in Apo, Abuja. Killing suspects without extracting nuggets of sensitive information from them is counter productive.
32. Military and paramilitary formations must weed out dismissed personnel and bad eggs from the barracks. More often than not, wrongfully dismissed folks have an axe to grind with the system and may resort to passing sensitive information to terrorists.
33. The Security Agencies must desist from deploying native-born personnel's to lead or be part of operations in their place of origin because such folks may have divided loyalty and be sympathetic to their kin.
Don Okereke is a lover of mankind, a Writer, Security Consultant with over 17 years combined Industrial Security, Military (Air Force), entrepreneurial experience gleaned from within and outside Nigeria. Disenchanted with the unprecedented insecurity situation bedeviling Nigeria, Don brainstormed a spirited campaign: 'SAY NO TO INSECURITY & TERRORISM'