DHQ organised summit harps on synergy to tackle security challenges

Group photograph of participants at the National Defence and Security Summit, organised by the Defence Headquarters in Abuja recently.

CHUKS OYEMA-AZIKEN writes that participants at the recent one-day National Defence and Security Summit advocated synergy to end the security challenges in the country.

On assumption of office, the Chief of Defence Staff, General LEO Irabor, advocated buy-in, support and collaboration of relevant stakeholders and key players in quelling the security challenges in the country.

Across the country, insecurity has taken stage with cases of Fulani Herdsmen/farmers clashes, kidnapping and banditry etc.

This prompted Nigerians to demand a change of service chiefs.

Nigerians said the former service chiefs had exhausted tactics at their disposal. This call was heeded by President Muhammadu Buhari after some hesitation.

With the leadership of the Armed Forces of Nigeria passed on to him, Gen. Irabor quickly put together the National Defence and Security Summit with attendance drawn from various segments of the society.

The summit with theme “Promoting Kinetic Operations as a major Plank for Counter Terrorism and Counter Insurgency in Nigeria” organized by the Defence Headquarters (DHQ)was attended by the Executive Governor of Delta State, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Godswill Akpabio, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj Gen Babagana Monguno (rtd), and Chairman House Committee on Defence. Honourable Benson Babajimi.

Also in attendance were the incumbent and former service chiefs, former Chiefs of Defence Staff, representative of Chief of Staff to the President, former Chairman of Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Attahiru Jega, traditional rulers, the academia, diplomats and media executives.

A virtual audience included the Chairman of Governors’ forum, Mr Kayode Fayemi and other major stakeholders.

A former national chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Attahiru Jega, was one of the discussants during the panel session at the summit

In his remarks, the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd) lamented that the current security challenges is threatening the foundations of the country.

He therefore urged stakeholders and the general public to support and collaborate with the Armed Forces and security agencies in the task of ensuring national security.

Maj Gen Magashi noted that the current security situation required the understanding, buy-in, support and collaboration of relevant stakeholders and key players in this strategic option and national task.

The CDS in his speech said that the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) is already working assiduously to urgently stabilize the security situation in line with Presidential directives.
He said “Our strategic objectives are manifold and imbued to neutralise non-state-actors and other agents of violence in our communities, forests and countryside to stabilise the security situation across the nation, to facilitate law and order; and lastly to provide the enabling environment for peace and development.“These presuppose that the military would need support from other security agencies during the operations and would be required to give support to others at different stages of the internal security effort.

“The mandate shall be delivered; fear and despair shall be extinguished from our land. Nigeria will have peace again.

He pointed out that the security summit was aimed at sensitizing and galvanising support among critical stakeholders and the general public for AFN kinetic campaigns. Speaking on Non kinetic perspective of AFN operations, the CDS averred that it is crucial to promote viable Civil-Military Relations structures in support of the kinetic operations.

He enjoined all stakeholders and the public to support the drive. He also called for more synergy between the AFN and other security agencies.

The only lecture at the summit titled “Kinetic Operations as a Major Plank for Counter Terrorism and Counter-Insurgency in Nigeria: Issues, challenges and Prospects was delivered by Ambassador Abdullahi Omaki who was the guest speaker at the event.

Omaki who is the Director General, Savannah Centre for Diplomacy and development, said it was time for the military to engage in full kinetic approach in tackling insurgency and banditry, adding that public engagement and enlightenment was needed for the kinetic operations to be successful.

He said that the country had the capacity to end the multiple challenges of insecurity, saying it must start with the comment of all stakeholders.

The gathering agreed on need for synergy as a way out.

This was aptly captured by Major General Obi Umahi(retd.), who in a recent interview noted that the previous service chiefs didn’t exactly work together.

According to him “In the last dispensation, it was not a joint operation: the Army carried on; the Air Force also carried on and each of them sought relevance and publicity. I think this set of service chiefs will not do that. There shouldn’t be competition among the service chiefs to achieve a mandate given by the President. The presidential mandate is to bring to an end the insecurity in the North-East and North-West. 

“There should be a joint operation; one for the North-West Command and another joint operation for the North-East Command and each of them would have joint commanders.

Also, the service chiefs should come under the Chief of Defence Staff. The service chiefs should give their full support. They have to ensure that each of the joint operations, under the CDS, achieves the presidential mandate. We need a different approach. It is not an ego trip. 

It is therefore a welcome development, comment by the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and other sister Services have agreed to subordinate themselves to the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) under the able leadership of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Irabor.

The CAS said “This is the new line the Service Chiefs have all agreed to tow as efforts are on to bring the various security challenges to an end.

According to him, “When we say we are members of the AFN, we mean the 3 Services represent a single entity. When we accept the fact that we the members of the AFN constitute a united entity, the need for rivalry will not arise.

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