13th September, 2011
The statement by the National Security Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, retired General Owoye Azazi that suicide bombings introduced by the Islamic fundamentalist group, Boko Haram, in Nigeria caught security agencies napping must be seen as a sincere and open admission of the countryâ€™s unpreparedness to tackle terror in the magnitude introduced by the Islamic sect.
For his frankness and sincerity, Gen. Azazi must be commended. As the NSA, the security of the nation rests on his shoulders. His job includes advising the president on security challenges in the country and proffering solutions to them. For a retired general that he is, and the former Chief of Defence Staff, to have admitted shortly after a council of states meeting that the success recorded by the Boko Haram was due to the fact that the nationâ€™s security agencies were not used to the new tactics of suicide bombing adopted by members of the sect shows that we have been deluding ourselves about our security.
His admission which came shortly after the bombing of the UN House in Abuja by the Boko Haram should serve as an eye opener that we have left our doors open for too long and the enemies have moved in. Disgruntled Nigerians have imbibed negative foreign cultures and have been indoctrinated to wreak havoc on their fatherland.
According to Azazi, â€œWe do not want the people of the country to feel so unsafe. These problems of religious sects and all that could have started over 15 years ago and they have escalated up to this point. The problem is that we are not prepared as a nation for this new level of terrorism. The buildings and public facilities we have were not prepared for that.â€
With this exposure of our lax security by no less a person than the man saddled with our collective security, it is hoped that the Federal Government will go back to the drawing board to fashion out comprehensive security measures to protect the nation from both internal and external aggression.
When suicide bombers struck in the United States on September 11, 2001 and brought down the famous twin towers in New York and the horrendous bombings in London, we watched the drama on our television and read the horrendous attacks in our newspapers and magazines, and told ourselves that it cannot happen here. How short-sighted we were. Now, the suicide bombers have arrived and they are wreaking havoc all over the place, killing and maiming innocent people and destroying public infrastructure.
As a first measure, security at the countryâ€™s borders should be tightened and all illegal routes through which undesirable elements infiltrate the country should be blocked. Secondly, all illegal aliens, especially those from our neighbouring countries which have borders with Libya, formerly controlled by Muamar Gaddafi and are sympathetic to his cause, should be placed under close watch. Identified fanatics among them should be rounded up and deported.
Security should be beefed up in all public buildings while access to them should be restricted. Government workers should also be enlightened on security measures to protect government properties. The Federal Government should also embark on an enlightenment campaign to educate the populace on the need to be security conscious and report any suspicious movement to the security agencies.
Security agencies should urgently mop up illegal arms now in possession of criminals. There seems to be an upsurge in violent crimes such as armed robbery and kidnapping due to the proliferation of small weapons after the April general elections. This has to be curbed.