KUDOS to Mr. President for restating his resolve to end the carnage sprouting up around the country. To match words with deeds in a democracy is a delicate balancing act. Nevertheless, it has to be done, for the present situation comes with excruciating costs.
In the first place, we cannot continue allowing an atmosphere being created in which people are terrified of sending their children to schools when we already have too many children out of school.
Furthermore, the present situation is giving out an image detrimental to the country’s prospects on a broad front.
What is to be done? A starting point should be a forensic audit of the funds provided in the past, some of which preceded the present administration, donated by foreign governments including Britain and France towards the Safe Schools initiative.
The next is to seek emergency appropriation for a comprehensive safe schools initiative starting with securing the acknowledged trouble spots.
The policy must be nationwide as the criminals are relying on elements of surprise in their nefarious activities, meaning that nowhere is safe.
Structural issues have to be confronted. The country’s security apparatus is stretched and there are not enough boots on the ground.
This is due to decades of defective planning or lack of it. Egypt, for example, has 1.7 million police officers for half of Nigeria’s population. Nigeria clearly does not have 400,000 police officers.
With a myriad of flashpoints and the necessity of securing the schools, immediate, short and medium term strategies backed up with Executive Orders must be deployed to beef up numbers.
Another structural encumbrance is the over centralisation of the internal security apparatus. Even in normal times, this is problematic. In the context of the present crises, it is self-defeating.
This is the time for a reboot, as necessity becomes the mother of problem solving invention. The elite in Nigeria have long been aware that the educational institutions their offspring attend overseas have internal security frameworks and complimentary policing systems. It is high time we adapted these to our own pressing needs.
Although securing thousands of schools is a daunting task. Nevertheless, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.
Overall, a clear strategic imperative must be developed now with the federal, state and local governments in coordinated partnership. We have very little time and this must be given the highest priority.
For the South-West, there is an immediate, looming danger. The fiends operate on a framework based on the efficacy of an element of surprise. The zone is therefore fresh territory. It becomes a strategic imperative for the South-West to urgently incorporate formal and informal security mechanisms such as Amotekun, vigilantes, hunters, community intelligence agencies as a pro-active defence shield coordinated across the region. This must be done immediately.
Such a regional defence shield incorporating the use of technology is a necessity to forestall attempts to recreate the Zamfara, Niger states scenarios in the South-West. A regional coordinating standing committee with a decentralised but interwoven command structure must be set up under the purview of the governors now. There is no other feasible alternative. This means that all the resource persons veered in security operations, including retired members of the security forces across the South-West must be incorporated into the regional security coordinating framework.