Nigeria Only Has 190,000 Personnel In Army, Navy, Air Force Fighting Insecurity, Doing Police Work—Former Chief Of Staff
Lt Gen Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd.), a former Chief of Army Staff, has blamed some of the internal security challenges in Nigeria on the failures of the government with regards to human security issues.
These, he said, include but are not limited to poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and environmental degradation.
He noted this while speaking on the topic, “Nigeria’s Overstretched Military: Priorities for Improving the Military’s Capability to Tackle the Country’s Security Challenges” during a Nigeria in the World Seminar Series organised by Harvard Weatherhead Center for International Affairs in collaboration with the Center for Peace, Democracy, and Development (CPDD), UMass Boston.
According to the former General, the contemporary security threats in the country are mostly internally related and fuelled by citizens. He cited the agitations for Biafra in the South-East, Yoruba Nation in the South-West and the farmer-herders conflict in many parts of the country.
He noted that the Nigerian military is overstretched, performing the roles of both law enforcement agencies and its primary functions thereby affecting its effectiveness.
The retired military officer also stressed the lack of adequate resources as one of the factors affecting the military.
Preferring solutions, Dambazau suggested that the Nigeria Police Force needs to be reformed to perform its primary roles effectively, adding that there is a need to upgrade the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to be an immediate intervention force should the police be unable to handle any crisis situation.
He said, “The way the military operates, it may not be as effective as it should be and such situations could have far-reaching consequences in the overall successes of the operations.
“How do we know that the military operates beyond limits? I can identify three areas we can interpret this: one, when it operates beyond legal or constitutional limits. The military plays both its traditional military role and the role of law enforcement agencies.
“From all indications, the greater percentage of the task provided for all the armed forces as in section 217 of the constitution are being handled by the military yet there is no corresponding increase in resources. There are just about 190, 000 personnel for the three services – army, navy and air force.
“I think one of the first things that are needed is to lift the burden of routine law enforcement or policing duties of the military to enable it to concentrate on its primary responsibilities. The police need to be reformed because as it is today, it cannot handle those responsibilities.
“There is a need to upgrade NSCDC to a level equivalent to the United States National Guard to be an immediate intervention force rather than the military if the police are unable to handle any crisis situation.
“The military should have more training on crisis management and conflict resolution mechanisms and this is based on the fact that most of the contemporary threats are internal involving non-state actors, mostly also citizens of the country.
“Very important here is that the root of most internal security challenges in Nigeria is governance-related issues on human security such as poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, environmental degradation.
Don’t forget that as a result of climate change, this environmental degradation has a lot to do with herders-farmers conflict; firearms proliferation, drug abuse, tackling these issues will require good governance, not military force.
“Once you tackle these issues, many of these issues will disappear. Contemporary security situations require the use of appropriate technology to monitor likely conflict hotspots and these can be achieved by the establishment of operations and/ or the use of solution centres.
“Furthermore, the capacity to monitor activities must be accompanied by the capacity for a timely response. Create a balance between the capability to monitor events and to respond.”