Posted by News Express | 21 February 2017 | 1,977 times
The internal peace and security of any nation is core to development, and it is the bedrock against external assault. For any external aggression to succeed, the internal harmony and security must have to be over-run. That is why in some developed countries, the Minister of Interior is the most powerful, after the figurehead of the states. And any security matter that hits the ministry has reached the supreme point. Therefore, the Minister of Interior, General Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd.), is one of the ministers in the present administration admired by Nigerians of diverse cultural and ethno-religious affiliations. He has proved competence and the reason is clear.
When Dambazau was appointed to head this very sensitive ministry, it was against the popular views of many who thought he was best for the Ministry of Defence. But apart from fate, President Muhammadu Buhari knew who he was and his capacity in security matters. A man whose loyalty to his superiors, and particularly to the President, is boundless can only display it in words and in actions. No wonder he remained loyal to the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, even when crucial security apparatuses in the country were ready to betray him during his sick period before death. Luckily, I had the opportunity to be close to a one-time Interior minister during the regime of former president Olusegun Obasanjo.
One acceptable reason to ascribe intellectual sagacity cum humility in national service to Dambazau is the progressive subdual of internal crises that have been threatening the fabric of Nigeria’s existence. Many Nigerians, including this writer, are still wondering what would have happened to Nigeria as an entity if there had been no change in the government of Nigeria. Based on reality, there have been result-oriented thrust and civil-military actions against the Boko Haram terrorists, the Niger Delta insurgents and Biafra agitators. Wonderfully, the way these three forces against national interests are being handled calls for praise and support for the Nigerian security apparatuses largely overseen by the Interior Minister in conjunction with few other government ministries and agencies.
However, the Boko Haram terrorists, the Niger Delta insurgents and Biafra agitators are not the only threats to Nigeria. Contraband goods, including foods, drugs and substandard materials and equipment; influx of expatriates, some of who are questionable; immorality in the security organs, fire disasters as well as unnoticed or ignored corruption in the system are dangers that are often neglected or undermined. These menaces have been systematically tackled under Dambazau’s watch. I want to applaud these achievements within one year and commend the synergy amongst the security chiefs: National Security Adviser, the Minister of Defence, the Minister of Interior and the Director-General of Department of State Security (DSS). With these men on board, Nigeria’s safety has been guaranteed, while the nation has been positioned for greatness.
Another thing that has impressed the citizenry about the minister is his way in handling other internal crisis. He does not rush in making statements and conclusions without proper, thorough and independent investigations. Look at the recent herdsmen/farmers killings across the country. The minister urges refrain from giving religious interpretations to the crisis or making comments that could heighten them. In a statement by his press secretary, Ehisienmen Osaigbovo, the minister tasked Nigerians to live amicably as a people with common destiny. He cited communities in Zamfara, Katsina, Taraba, Enugu, Lagos and Niger as examples where attacks have been carried out by violent criminals. “A criminal should be treated as such, whether he is involved in armed robbery, drug trafficking, homicide or cattle rustling.”
Changes are being seen in the security organs. The civil defense corps is highly proactive in security matters nowadays. The Federal Road Safety Corps is becoming professionally productive. Customs have tightened the borders against smuggling in such wise that foods that are harmful to human beings as well as contrabands are refused entry into the country. Revenues are generated for the government from genuine imports. While it is laudable, the land-border closure for car importation, there is need for a careful re-examination in such manner that would allow cars already at the borders to be cleared. The prisons have improved performance, but congestion and feeding are two areas of concern; the reoccurrence of jailbreaks is irritating. The immigration has so far intensified efforts at monitoring foreigners in the land according to international standards. The police and other paramilitary organs have mounted swift actions in protecting and rescuing the citizens.
Particularly, the police force is gradually being pulled out of its moral deficiency. The recruitment of about 10,000 men and women to boost the civil security outfit is commendable. But two critical observations have baffled many feelers. How did it happen that in the whole South-east there is no single Muslim recruit? Investigations revealed insiders quoting that in two states of the zone, the police commissioners blatantly refused to agree that the Muslim citizens who applied for the job were from the states. This is after stigmatisation and outright frustration meted against them during the interviews. This is typical of federal recruitments carried out at the state levels. Secondly, it is worrisome that the Chaplain/Imam unit of the force has been abandoned for so long a time that most police posts across the country are lacking qualified spiritual leaders, especially as it relates to the efforts in building morality in the force. In some of the police formations, it is nothing to write home about the expectations from their spiritual leaderships.
The yet-to-be Peace Corps is a good initiative. Already, there are claims that huge sums of money are being collected from unsuspecting Nigerians wishing to join the corps, after final approval and formalisation processes. This is a huge allegation that should be looked into. The Fire Service seems to be a neglected agency. Fire has rendered some citizens worthless in Kano, Lagos, Kebbi, Port Harcourt, Benin and other major cities of the country. Go to Fire Service offices in some states and see that tippers and other unimaginable mobile things are used as fire vehicles. When he led a delegation to Anambra State to commiserate with them on the Nnewi gas plant fire outbreak, the minister expressed the Federal Government’s resolve to professionalise the nation’s Fire Service for effective and efficient service delivery.
But let us take in good faith the good news of Federal Government’s resolve to procure fire-fighting equipment for the service, as the minister revealed that the last time equipment was procured for the service was sometime in 1985 and 1996. That was reflected in the 2016 budget. Hopefully, the 2017 budget will avail the opportunity to procure more for the service. Accordingly, ministries and states have been intimated to carry out preventive measures by ensuring that every building in the metropolis has the necessary fire equipment.
However, there are also claims that confirmation and promotion of officers in the fire service are sluggish. Despite the great efforts in fighting corruption, as in some other organs of governments, claims of secret corrupt practices are still heard. Training, hazards, housing, and uniform allowances, amongst others, are hardly easily paid to squads. There are claims that payments of such allowances from 2011 to 2016 to squads are lacking.
As one highly respected Niger Delta chieftain said during one of my official visits to Government House, Yenagoa, “Dambazau is a diehard nationalist who is loyal to a fault. He defended Umaru Yar’Adua.” The chieftain noted that when there were tensions over the leadership and attempts to take over the presidency during Yar’Adua’s protracted sickness, Dambazau rejected all inducement and huge offers made to him and insisted that the national interest is paramount. “They even traced him abroad for consultations knowing his capabilities in the Nigerian military and security intelligence. This man believes in Nigeria and he is loyal and humble.”
On this note, we applaud Dambazau for thinking Nigeria first at all times. He must not rest on his oars in the hard course of maintaining the Nigerian internal peace and security, reinvigorating the Nigerian security mechanism and boosting the moral and morale of security personnel. Areas that demand immediately attention should be tackled, while payments to security officers must be timely. Let him look into allegations of corruption in the police who are still collecting money from law-abiding citizens on the Nigerian roads, as well as non-payment of allowances to staff and trainees, and use of obsolete equipment at the fire service. We hail the vibrant and working minister. And we urge support and prayers for him and our security chiefs.
•Muhammad Ajah is an advocate of humanity, peace and good governance in Abuja. E-mail email@example.com.
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