In the third part of the series on rethinking our national security architecture I discussed the Nigeria Police and called for a federal owned but state managed Police force to enable better funding of the Police, create better supervision and outcome responsibility. Today I will discuss the need to make our security system agile, responsive and people-centred. The growth of specialised security agencies like Customs, Immigration, Federal Road Safety Corps and National Civil Defence Corps added new dimensions to the national security architecture that requires clarity of roles, defined coordination framework and clear reporting requirements.
Role clarity is a major issue in the creation and evolution of security agencies. In this regard the National Assembly appears to pay little attention to the functions it gives to new agencies or to the amendments to existing organisations. As our society evolves and the dynamics rapidly changes there is an ever-present need to periodically review the functions of agencies and bring them in line with new realities. All these organisations should report the security aspects to the new revamped State Security Service that is now a pure intelligence agency without regime protection role.
In 2003 The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps was created with a cacophony of functions that blurred role clarity and paved the way for friction with other agencies, at inception. The National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) major functions in the 2007 amendment include: “Assist in the maintenance of peace and order and in the protection and rescuing of the Civil population during the period of emergency. Recommend to the Minister the registration of private guard companies. From time to time, inspect the premises of private guard companies, their training facilities and approve same if it is up to standard. Supervise and monitor the activities of all private guard companies and keep a register for that purpose.”
The NSCDC has grown to a 50,000-member organisation largely fuelled by political inspired recruitment. Major challenges afflicting the organisation today includes poor funding, lack of role clarity and absence of a leadership that can reimagine the organisation to contribute more meaningfully to national security. The main function of the Corps, registration of private guard companies has been done without imagination or innovation and yet that function may yet turn out to be a cornerstone of our national security architecture.
In Nigeria, today, the growth of private security outfits has been phenomenal and its use widespread. Even if it has not wiped out the “Gateman” and “Mai Guard”, its adoption and use have been widespread and growing. There are 1035 Private Security Guard companies registered with the NSCDC according to their website. The number of private security guards in Nigeria is not reported but a back of the envelope calculation of an average of 100 guards per company gives us an idea of the likely scale of redundant capacity that can be activated and used.
The recruitment, training and profiling of these security guards have been treated with levity as our idea of security still revolves around wielding guns. In my Estate, guarded by a private security company, I make a point of chatting them up sometimes and I am always amazed at how much they know of about all the residents and nearby neighbours. They are useful source of information on the residents of estate and happenings nearby. They know the real owners of all the houses in the neighbourhood and the movement pattern of most residents
It will be a major forward step if we integrate them into the national security architecture. How do we do that? I propose that the NSCDC should set up Private security training school where all intending private guards must go for training before applying to any security company for employment. This will make the NSCDC a trainer and regulator of the private security sector. At the training, information about the trainee will be collected including academic qualifications and search with JAMB and WAEC to ascertain if any history of examination malpractice exists. Police records searched to ensure no criminal records and all government issued ID like passport, drivers license, voters card owned by trainee verified to ensure history of process compliance. National identity card should be mandatory and issued if not possessed.
The idea is to have a database of private security guards in the country, create visibility on their activities and utilise this capacity for information gathering. The NSCDC should develop apps working on smart phones which allows trained private security guards to check in to their work locations, snap pictures of suspicious acts, report suspicious activities and seek for police support in the event of violent attacks. Using the geo location tool to map the presence of the private security guards on duty and have a view of how much of any given territory is covered by the guards. The daily reports of guards on duty across the country will be a trove of information that any intelligence agency will kill for.
I also believe that the NSCDC should work with the Police in training the various Vigilante groups in the country who operate mainly in the rural areas. Basic training of the vigilante groups will also introduce a new reporting segment that can create visibility about criminality and the morphology of crime in our rural areas. A full documentation of the vigilante groups with biometric details will enable tracking of the members of these groups and allow for the study of the evolution of these groups.
Our security architecture must become dynamic, agile and responsive to the emerging threats, technological advancement and morphology of crime. The absence of the private security guards as an integral part of our national security architecture is a major failure on the part of our security managers. The time to reimagine the NSCDC is now; more so when an intelligent Military officer with requisite academic credentials, and the philosophical mindset is the supervisor,
INEC and Election Dates
On January 15 I wrote a piece on this page titled “Lessons From the American Presidential Transition” where I wrote inter alia “The first thing we should deal with in building our electoral tradition is making our election date sacrosanct and removing the wide discretion that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) currently have as it pertains to election dates. American Presidential election was conducted on November 8, a date cast in stone and known to all. After four election cycles, INEC should grow up and stop shifting dates for elections. I think time has come for the National Assembly to fix the dates for elections and stop the vague not more than 60 days’ provision of the electoral Act.”
Happy to note that INEC has decided to fix third Saturday of February of election year as the date for Presidential elections. The statement from INEC read “Our democracy is maturing and the Commission believes that there should be certainty with regard to the timetable for elections. For instance, in the United States, general elections always hold on the second Tuesday of November in the election year.
“In Nigeria, the constitution provides for elections to hold not earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days to the end of the incumbent’s tenure. In order to ensure certainty in our dates for elections, and to allow for proper planning by the Commission, political parties, security agencies, candidates and all stakeholders, the Commission has decided to fix the date for the National Elections for the third Saturday in February of the election year, followed by State elections two weeks later”.
Guess People are listening……