Need for Nigerian Cross-Cultural Council on Security
The first priority of any government is to protect the safety and security of its citizens both at home and abroad. The Federal Government of Nigeria is constitutionally charged with protecting Nigerians and their communities, businesses and interests. The Federal Government is also responsible for developing policies and providing the necessary institutions, procedures, and strategies for ensuring public safety and emergency preparedness.
The preservation of national security is a multi-faceted endeavour that requires cooperation across a diverse range of initiatives and programmes. The Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) is responsible for coordinating work in counter-terrorism, critical infrastructure, cyber security and transportation security. The NSA is also envisaged to engage with Nigerian citizens to ensure that our country’s national security efforts reflect and benefit the interests of all communities.
Protecting our communities from the threat of terrorism is of the utmost importance to the Federal Government of Nigeria. Guided by Nigeria’s counter-terrorism strategy, the Office of the National Security Adviser coordinates efforts to align government activities according to the four elements that underpin the strategy aimed at preventing, detecting, denying and responding to terrorism.
The success of our counter-terrorism efforts depends on collaboration with all levels of government, including State and Local Governments, law enforcement agencies and civil society organizations. The renewed agitations among the various ethnic groups, proliferation of arms, inflow of illegal aliens, existence of small cells of terrorist groups, dwindling economy coupled with rising army of unemployed youth spell grave danger for the country.
In fact, one of the toughest jobs facing our national security agencies today is routing out Boko Haram and ISISL cells that may already be in place in several cities and towns of Nigeria. Evidence abound that Boko Haram and ISISL are making frantic efforts to affiliate and spread their tentacles across religious and cultural boundaries to destabilize nations and implement a radical form of Muslim Fundamentalism. They believe that they are on a mission from God to war against the infidels. Towards this end, these Islamic terrorist groups need not be underestimated; they can do anything, including procuring and supplying weapon of mass destruction (WMD), especially as they consider Nigeria their enemy. Be it known that they will continue their religious jihad against us as long as there is a breath of life in their bodies. Therefore, it would be foolish for Nigerians not to be extra vigilant and be prepared to response appropriately to any coordinated terrorist attacks against our nation.
It is therefore time for the Office of the National Security Adviser to create a Nigerian Cross-Cultural Council on Security (NCCS) in order to engage Nigerian community leaders on matters related to national security. The group should be designed to provide advice and perspectives to the relevant security agencies, focusing on emerging developments in national security and their impact on Nigeria’s diverse and pluralistic society.
The Federal Government of Nigeria should as a matter of urgency counter the spread – or proliferation – of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) weapons by preventing the acquisition of related goods and technologies, advanced knowledge and expertise and financial support by illegal CBRN weapons proliferators. This advice is also necessary now in the face of rising agitations for autonomy by diverse groups.
Efforts must be intensified to prevent disruptions of critical infrastructure which could result in catastrophic loss of life or adverse economic effects, and significantly undermine the safety and wellbeing of Nigerian communities. The Federal Government of Nigeria must work with partners to strengthen the resilience of Nigeria’s vital assets and systems such as our electricity grids, transportation, communications and public safety systems.
In order to embrace the full advantages of cyberspace, Nigeria must guard against those who would attack our digital infrastructure to undermine our national security, economic prosperity and quality of life. Towards this end, the Federal Government of Nigeria must work closely with domestic and international partners as part of the global effort to protect critical assets and information and combat cyber crime.
The Federal Government of Nigeria has created a clear authority for government institutions to share national security-relevant information with other designated ministries, departments and agencies that have national security responsibilities. This must be made more functional and effective to allow for faster access to critical information when swift action is required, while respecting Nigerians’ security and privacy.
A system of alerting the citizenry of possible risk of terrorist attacks must be put in place. That is, a dedicated functional communication and information disseminated advisory structure is needed now to inform Nigerians of the levels of risk of terrorist attacks at any point in time, as is obtainable in the US.