KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY THE MINISTER OF INTERIOR, OGBENI RAUF ADESOJI AREGBESOLA, AT THE STRATEGY RETREAT FOR TOP MANAGEMENT STAFF OF THE MINISTRY OF INTERIOR AND ITS PARA-MILITARY AGENCIES HOLDING AT ZENABABE HOTELS AND RESORT, ILESHA, STATE OF OSUN,FROM 10 -11 JANUARY, 2020
DRIVING PERFORMANCE IN ACHIEVING THE PRESIDENTIAL MANDATE ON NIGERIA’S INTERNAL SECURITY
I am indeed very delighted to address you all at this very important Ministerial Strategy Retreat holding in this historic and ancient city of Ilesa, State of Osun. The theme of the Retreat “Driving Performance in Achieving the Presidential Mandate on Nigeria’s Internal Security” is indeed very apt considering President Muhammadu Buhari’s priority ranking of this sector in the light of security threats being witnessed in different parts of the country. Nigerians wake up daily to gory stories of armed banditry, kidnapping for ransom, militancy, terrorism, insurgency, ethno-religious crises, farmers-herders clashes, vandalization of national assets, cultism, ritual killings, among others.
2. The focus of this Administration since coming to power in 2015, has rested on the tripod of addressing insecurity in the country, revitalizing and growing the economy, while tackling corruption. The onus therefore, rests on the Ministry of Interior as the organ of Government responsible for fostering and ensuring the maintenance of internal security, public safety and citizenship integrity, to deliver on its mandate, in order to validate the raison d’etre of government which is the security and welfare of the people of Nigeria.
3. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, you are gathered here today as top management staff of both the Ministry and its agencies responsible for formulating and implementing sectoral policies and programmes as mandated by the Administration. The purpose of this Strategy Retreat is to provide a congenial environment for you to brainstorm on the ways and means of upscaling the strategic actions necessary to ensure the internal security and public safety of the citizenry and guaranteeing citizens integrity, while driving our performance to achieve the strategic objectives we have been mandated by Mr. President. We certainly have the daunting task and onerous responsibility of forging the path towards effective compliance with Mr. President’s charge on Nigeria’s internal security, public safety and citizens’ integrity.
4. As you all may be aware, one of the major factors that contributed to security challenges in the country had been the issue of the nation’s porous borders. This situation significantly led to the twin problem of proliferation of small arms and ammunition in the country as well as the free entry of illegal immigrants many of whom constituted security threats to the nation.
5. The recent implementation of the policy of partial closure of the nation’s land borders, you will agree, has greatly contributed to the current level of peace and security being experienced in the country. We however, still need to do more. This Retreat therefore, provides the necessary platform to brainstorm and articulate other policies, programmes and strategies that would further address the problem of insecurity in the country.
6. Distinguished participants, with the enormous task ahead of us, we must all put on our thinking caps and articulate strategies that would promote collaboration and create the necessary synergy that would guarantee our safety and security in our country. The task demands clear and deeper understanding of the mandates of the Ministry and its Para-military Agencies as well as the Board. Our understanding and appreciation of these responsibilities will to a very large extent determine how far and how well we deliver on our individual mandates which all contribute to internal security and safety in the country.
7. For instance, a thorough analysis of an aspect of the Ministry’s mandate that deals with promoting citizenship integrity would widen and deepen our understanding of our responsibility to the citizens and foreign nationals resident in our great country. Citizenship has been described as a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. The sanctity of this relationship between the two parties is its integrity. Integrity requires citizens to obey the laws of the land, pay tax, be loyal and, if need be, stand up for the nation’s defence. The most important status of an individual to the government is of a citizen. The government is under obligation to defend the citizens and confer certain rights on him or her and defend these rights with all resources at its disposal. The whole gamut of government services and indeed its raison d’etre, is in the service of the integrity of citizenship. Security of lives and property is at the heart of government’s obligations to the citizens. Promoting citizens’ integrity therefore has a bearing on efficiency, high ethical and moral conduct, responsiveness, commitment, patriotism, compliance with rules and regulations and pro-activeness, tomention but a few in the discharge of our duties. Promoting citizenship integrity also means treating them with dignity and respecting their essential humanity. You will all agree that the demand of enhancing citizenship integrity cuts across our duties in the Ministry and the Agencies. On a global spectrum, the countries that respect, enhance and promote the integrity and dignity of their citizens have the most loyal and proud citizens and are the leading nations of the world. This is so important that it will be a good idea for the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to dedicate a department to it. This would have gone beyond mere sloganeering to making real a fine idea. Therefore, this Strategy Retreat affords us the opportunity to deeply reflect on our individual mandates for a clearer understanding of the demands on us to render effective service delivery. This is the necessary starting point.
8. Let me at this juncture commend my predecessors in office, the current leadership in the Ministry, the Board and the Para-military Agencies as well as the staff and personnel for the achievements attained over the years in delivering on the mandates of the Ministry and its Agencies. Some of the remarkable achievements and efforts are:
• On-line application and processing of Business Permit, Expatriate Quota Positions and Citizenship related facilities.
•The Enactment of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act,2019
• The deployment of technology in border control and immigration management including Migration Information and Data Analysis System (MIDAS) in some airports, land and sea borders.
• The establishment of Agro-Rangers Unit and protection of critical national assets.
• The acquisition of modern firefighting equipment and establishment of additional fire stations across the nation
• The successful recruitment of more personnel for the Services, management of their career progression as well as promoting discipline in the Services.
9. Mr. President had during the Ministers’ designate Retreat stressed that Ministers would be responsible for the development and implementation of policies, programmes and projects of their various MDAs in line with government priorities. This position was further communicated to MDAs by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation who highlighted nine main priority areas of the present Administration, a critical component of which is the provision of security for all citizens. To enable MDAs deliver on the priorities, a list of identified projects and deliverables were forwarded which had been circulated to all Agencies and Departments for action. As you all are aware, Ministers are expected to report on progress in implementation to the Federal Executive Council periodically.
10. In order to achieve Mr President’s mandate, there is an urgent need to put in place well thought-out policies and programmes that would ensure effectiveness and efficiency toward improving internal security. There is need to determine where we are on the delivery of internal security, the challenges and the limitations. These would enable us develop plans and strategies with timelines for effective service delivery. As Ministry and Agencies, we must work towards improving on the following, amongst others:
• Ensuring and maintaining relative public safety and security of all Nigerians and foreign nationals resident in the country.
• Timely processing of applications for Business Permit and Expatriate Quota Positions in a manner that would promote transfer of skills to Nigerians and create employment while enhancing internal security.
• Prompt processing of all citizenship related applications and encouragement of wider spread of Marriage Registries nationwide.
• Continuously equip and strengthen the capacity of the para-military Services for efficient service delivery.
• Institute measures that would ensure the timely implementation of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act to reposition the Service for proper rehabilitation, treatment and reformation of Custodial inmates.
• The re-enforcement of the integrity of Nigeria’s international borders against violence, or illegal entry of fire arms, weapons and illegal entry of aliens.
• Improving the capacity of the newly established Agro-Rangers including effective tackling and or prevention of the farmers-herders’ clashes.
• Ensuring the continuous and effective protection of strategic National Assets and Critical Infrastructure which include Power, Telecommunications, Oil and Gas, Railway, etc.
• Putting in place measures to establish a functional National Criminal Records Registry to strengthen the capacity to provide security at national and sub-national levels.
• Articulation of National Policy on Public Safety and Security in collaboration with all stakeholders to ensure that the activities in the internal security sector are guided in a predictable and efficient manner.
• Development of security sector reforms and strategy with stakeholders and partners in order to improve internal security administration and enhance the capacity to address threats.
• Strengthening of civil authority and the maintenance of law and order in the areas that have been liberated by the security agencies in the North East.
• Ensuring the functionality of the established multi-Agency Situation Room which has provided a necessary platform for collaboration among the National Joint Intelligence Institutions.
• Develop and operationalize security governance initiatives for the Ministry.
• Articulate an Early Warning Intelligence System that would ensure that potential crises and conflicts are nipped in the bud.
• Ensuring efficient processing and acquisition of travel documents.
• Adopting technology in our processes in order to limit to the barest minimum human contacts to eliminate corruption.
• Open up opportunities for concessions in our operations to provide opportunities for employment of our youth.
11. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the measures I have highlighted are by no means exhaustive, they are to steer our minds as to what is expected of us at this retreat. This retreat affords us the opportunity to develop programmes, projects, activities and policies as well as the timelines for their implementation in the short, medium and long term. We are also to prioritize these activities and programmes in view of limited resources and competing demands for funds available to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
12. Let me at this juncture also note the importance of technology and innovation in driving national development efforts. It has undoubtedly, become imperative to think outside the box in our efforts at ensuring internal security and public safety of Nigerian citizens. May I therefore, call on every participant here today to be creative in developing new ways and means of entrenching technology and innovation in the way we do things so as to achieve Mr. President’s Agenda as it relates to our mandate. As we are gathered here today, we must be mindful of the fact that the plans developed at this Retreat should be geared towards providing an environment of peace and tranquillity that this nation needs to achieve real growth and development. You will all agree with me that without peace and security, there cannot be growth and development of any nation.
13. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, let me conclude by urging, you all to properly dwell on the presentations that would be made in the course of this Retreat and come up with useful plans, strategies and recommendations for the achievement of goals and objectives of the Ministry. Let me also reiterate that you should develop timelines for the achievement of each planned activity including the responsible officer(s)/Department to enable the effective monitoring and tracking of the activity. We also have to continuously conduct research on internal security and public safety matters, keep relevant data and statistics as well as ensure effective management of information. The need to institute an early warning system that would illuminate threats of potential conflicts is paramount in dealing with insecurity in the country.
14. It is of paramount importance to critically and honestly examine the reputation and public perception of all the agencies in the Ministry integrity-wise. What is the public perception on efficiency, ease of doing business and corruption, especially extortion, inflation and overpricing? To what extent can the public rely on us for obtaining justice? We should come up with sound ideas on how to tailor our operations in such a way that public confidence in our ministry and its agencies will steeply rise and perception will be on the positive upward swing.
15. May I also use this opportunity to express my profound gratitude to Governor Gboyega Oyetola and the good people of the State of Osun, for the warm reception accorded us and for being an excellent host of the Ministry at this Retreat. Let me also in particular thank the Permanent Secretary, Dame Georgina E. Ehuriah, MON, the CGs of the para-military Services and management staff of the Ministry and its Agencies as well as Philips Consulting Limited for the tireless efforts put in place to ensure the success of this Retreat.
16. As experts in your various fields of endeavour, I am positive that very useful implementable recommendations will emanate from this retreat. I enjoin the Ministry and its Agencies to collaborate and work together as an effective team, exchange innovative ideas and communications that would create the synergy that is needed to deliver on the Ministry’s mandate.
17. I wish us all fruitful deliberations.
Thank you and God bless the efforts