Friday, 22nd September 2023

CISLAC seeks strengthening of mechanisms for reformed defence, security sector

By Waliat Musa 
26 May 2023   |   3:14 am
Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has stressed the need to strengthen mechanisms for a reformed defence and security sector.

CISLAC one-day workshop on defense and security sector reforms.

Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has stressed the need to strengthen mechanisms for a reformed defence and security sector.

Making the call at a one-day workshop on “Reforming the Nigerian defence and security sector through strengthening mechanisms fundamental for effective oversight functions,” organised by CISLAC/Transparency International in Nigeria  (TI-Nigeria) in collaboration with TI- Defence and Security Project (TI-DSP), CISLAC Executive Director, Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), regretted that pervasive corruption was compounding existing security challenges.

He noted that the opaque and classified nature of the sector, justified by “national security reasons” hinders effective oversight, peace, security, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Added to the threats, according to him, are persistent violent conflicts from traditional and non-traditional sources.

“Despite substantial public resources invested in the defence and security sector since return of democratic governance in 1999, the impact of these investments remains questionable, with ongoing threats to peace and security,” he added.

The communiqué, signed by Rafsanjani at the end of the workshop, stated that a stable and peaceful Nigeria is crucial for development, effective and efficient defence and security institutions.

It reads: “Enhancing the effectiveness and professionalism of the sector requires effective oversight mechanisms, transparency and accountability.

“The disparity between the resources expended since 1999, surpassing the expenditure during the civil war, and the tangible results on the ground was highlighted.

“The challenges faced by the police in dealing with security issues have led to deployment of the military across the country, yet there are increases in loss of lives and extensive resources allocation.”

It noted that the defence and security sector extends beyond uniformed institutions and personnel, as well as encompasses civilian oversight institutions, specialised intelligence and security institutions, public oversight bodies, justice and rule of law institutions, civil emergency units and non-state security bodies.

The workshop observed that existing oversight mechanisms for the defence and security sector often fail due to incompetence, lack of capacity, moral shortcomings and collusion among state officials and political office holders.

The presence of officials and politicians with corruption cases and questionable character within the system, they pointed out, further impedes effective oversight.

It was noted that the primary challenge lies in the sector’s general lack of capacity in fund management, budgeting, implementation and inherent political nature.

CISLAC said combating corruption requires addressing welfare concerns and improving the economy to provide security and stability, adding that the menace is persisting despite existence of oversight agencies such as the National Assembly, judiciary, Auditor-General’s Office, civil society and Ombudsman because the elite are yet to fully embrace the fight against corruption.

Also, stakeholders called on the military to reverse the trend of destabilisation and insecurity, prioritising the nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

They emphasised the necessity of external institutions overseeing the defence and security sector in line with democratic principles, noting that effective oversight would promote efficiency, and professionalism, and ultimately, enhance security in the country.

CISLAC urged oversight institutions to enhance their proficiency, expertise and foster synergy in fulfilling their mandates.

At the gathering, several commitments were made by the National Assembly, Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), as well as Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in ensuring transparency and accountability.

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