President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said that the focus of his administration was the strengthening of the nation’s intelligence gathering capacity in order to rout insurgency and other violent crimes.
Mr. Buhari stated this while addressing the 8th National Security Seminar 2018 of the Alumni Association of the National Defence College (NDC) in Abuja.
The theme of the seminar is “Fighting Tomorrow’s warfare Today’’, and the president was represented by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.
“One current focus is the strengthening of Nigeria’s intelligence gathering capacity. For this to happen intelligence gathering must not be seen as solely a task for law enforcement agencies. It is a task that must involve every citizen, every community.
“And at the level of the military and intelligence agencies, intelligence-sharing must become the rule and not the exception,’’ he stated.
The President also said that it was important to recognise that there was a limit to what the armed forces could achieve by conventional means of establishing barracks and bases.
According to him, the scope of the battle against insurgency is broadened by the vast land mass in the North-east.
“Land mass on that scale is unquestionably a delight for terrorists and their unconventional tactics.
“The primary advantage that the Government should have over them is in intelligence gathering; the ability to expertly assemble the pieces of various puzzles together in order to be able to progressively contain and limit terrorism.’’
He noted that without investing in intelligence gathering there would be very little hope for the country at the mercy of large swathes of ungoverned spaces and feeble borders.
“This necessity of robust intelligence gathering underlies every one of our security challenges in Nigeria, not just terrorism but also clashes between herdsmen and farmers, cattle rustling, armed banditry, cultism and militancy.
“In the herdsmen, farmer crisis we have seen that herdsmen attackers have included armed confederate from neighbouring North African countries, especially Libya which has in the past few years been a repository of small arms.
“We must significantly upgrade our capacity to collect intelligence, as well as build a culture of sharing it amongst our military and law enforcement agencies in a timely manner.
“We must also increasingly depend on cutting-edge technology to make this task easier.
“Cutting-edge technology will allow you to better anticipate and predict the antics of terrorists, increase your capacity to surprise them before they surprise us.
“And it will make it far less likely that tragic recent events like Dapchi and Rann will ever happen again,’’ the President noted.
Mr. Buhari said that government was aware that Boko Haram was being inspired by ISIS in the Middle East and had quickly learned that a terrorist group could benefit much from its media operations as from its armed warriors.
Consequently, he gave three ways by which terror war could be won, namely:
“It is first to win the minds of young men and women fed with the false ideologies that promote terrorism.
“Second is to continuously address the material conditions that make it attractive for some young men and women to take up arms against innocent people as an option for economic survival.
“Third is to rebuild and secure the communities destroyed by terrorist acts; the President has asked me to Chair an inter-ministerial team to plan and implement the physical and social rebuilding of such communities.’’
The president commended members of the Nigerian Armed Forces for striving in the face of unimaginable odds, to keep Nigerians safe from terrorists, bandits and criminals of all shades.
“You have displayed remarkable bravery and professionalism and we are immensely proud of your sacrifice and all that you have achieved on our behalf,’’ he stated.
According to him, the nation has for nine years been confronted with the menace of Boko Haram insurgency but as of the end of 2016, Boko Haram as a fighting force has been effectively degraded.
He said that with the use of cyberspace and technology by terror and criminal gangs the armed forces should re-strategise by making technology an important tool of warfare.