Bi-Partisan Meeting On Security, Good Step But…

Editorial

For about the first time, President Goodluck Jonathan, governors of the 36 states of the federation and all members of the National Security Council, NSC, met behind closed doors in Abuja last week over the worsening state of insecurity in the country. It was heartwarming to Nigerians that the leaders agreed to put aside their usually acerbic political exchanges to embrace meaningful dialogue for the sake of national security.

They agreed to close ranks to fight not just Boko Haram, the nightmare threatening the very fabric of the nation’s wellbeing, but also resolved to tackle other serious security challenges plaguing the country.

The meeting was convened on the spur of the kidnap of at least 234 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State, just after the Nyanya bombing in Abuja about three weeks ago. Indeed, the action of the President and other members of the nation’s highest decision-making body is a clear demonstration of a patriotic zeal to free the country from the stranglehold of the sect as well as that of kidnappers, herdsmen and other groups whose deadly attacks have piled tremendous pressure on the nation’s security agencies.

We don’t just applaud the decisions taken at the meeting because they have any immediate gains or reversal of the nation’s security challenges. We acknowledge the courage of the politicians to sit down in one room to deliberate despite the foul air circulating in the country, occasioned by their toxic political campaigns and turgid approach to collective decision-making.

Now that President Jonathan and the state governors appear to have found a common ground for seeking a panacea to the security challenges, we expect them to act with utmost dispatch and precision to bring the challenges to an end. It is definitely not enough to talk about grazing plans for herdsmen and strengthening the armed forces to combat criminals when the whereabouts of those innocent schoolgirls remain a mystery.

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Although they spoke about measures to free them, Nigerians will only take those far-reaching resolutions seriously when the girls are freed immediately and the bombs stop exploding in the Northeast and other parts of the country.

On the long term, we expect a proper national security marshal plan that will safeguard Nigerians and their property wherever they reside in the country. The borders, the airspace and territorial waters must be safeguarded. Importantly, national intelligence, which has headlined this administration’s security failure must be reworked and updated with utmost dispatch.

There are chances that strategic pieces of advice offered here maybe dissed by those in leadership and command positions. But this is exactly what drove us as a nation to this horrible cul de sac. Boko Haram and other groups operating in the country didn’t gain so much ground overnight. It’s the neglect of intelligence reports, and in some cases, the malfunctioning of the intelligence network that led to this state of anomie.

The Council of States meeting that now appears like a presidential gutsy below-the-belt counter-strategy against Boko Haram has been long overdue. Glad enough, it finally came and some applaudable decisions were taken. The way to make amends for the previous failure is by acting radically in the face of the Boko Haram impudence, to make sure that this does not become another empty talk or wetting of the ground for 2015.