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Beyond the Abuja summit on security

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Buhari. Photo/facebook/FMICNigeria

If the summit on national security held the other day in Abuja did not achieve any other thing, it at the least served to present the truth to many highly placed public officers who participated in the talk shop. One of the lessons they can take away from the summit is that government and its officials have failed to implement the numerous recommendations they made, in the recent past, to resolve security issues after the problems had been duly identified. The result is that the country is fast sliding away from order into a national calamity. All public officers having anything to do with security ought to bury their heads in shame.

But as the country remains highly unsettled and against the background of the alarm raised by President Muhammadu Buhari about insecurity rocking Nigeria’s foundation, it is expected that both the president and all others saddled with ensuring the security of the nation will now take their duties more seriously and work in synergy to save the nation.

Buhari’s statement at the security summit organised by the House of Representatives is an admission of the grave security situation which hitherto has been glossed over in the name of politics and inadequate attention bordering on failure of government. Indeed, the Presidency had labelled those raising the alarm as “wailing wailers” who did not wish the administration well and therefore, exaggerated the situation. Now that Buhari has seemingly joined the ‘‘wailing wailers,’’ will concerted efforts be made to stem the slide to a state of anomie? So far, Nigerians are still waiting for positive signs from government to that effect.

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The Special Summit on National Security was organised by the Special Committee of the House on National Security with the theme, “Strengthening National Security: Comprehensive Assessment and Generating Innovative All-encompassing Solutions.” The President was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.

“Insecurity as you are aware, impacts on the citizens and the economy and the governance machinery without regard to political, religious, ethnic or other affiliations. It challenges the foundation of our nationhood and stands in the way of our achieving our highest ambitions for Nigeria,” Mustapha said. Perhaps, there is nothing new in this statement except the seeming realisation of the fact that without solving security challenges of the nation, all other efforts at development will come to naught.

At the summit also was the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar who reminded the conferees and the nation that things are really bad in the polity and the need to stop being deceptive about it. But the greatest contribution of the Sultan was the need to move from rhetoric to action: “We know the problems. I’ll not say anything here that I’ve not said in the last seven years… We can’t just continue to talk and not implement, come back maybe four months later for another summit to talk again because we do not implement whatever comes out from such forum.”

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, said the nation must confront the realisation that our previous and current approaches to address the challenges have not yielded the desired results.

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We support the call by the Sultan for action rather than mere talks as we have done for decades. The problem of Nigeria has been dissected at various fora and recommendations have been made but successive administrations have failed to implement such recommendations. The country can no longer continue on that path and Buhari must step out and show that the buck really stops on his table. This is very necessary as the body language and actions of the President will dictate how and if others carry out their functions. The Chief of Defence Staff, Lt Gen Lucky Irabor would seem to realise this when he said at the summit that the leadership of the security agencies was mindful of the concerns being expressed across the country and pledged that in line with the president’s directive, “we will take every measure necessary to bring peace to our fatherland.”

This summit could only be said to have achieved its aim if the conferees walk the talk. The problem with Nigeria now is not whether there is a big problem but how to take concrete steps in resolving same. The political will has always been lacking and Nigerians will continue to task the leadership at the very top to be more proactive in this direction. More specifically, Buhari having admitted the mounting security challenges must lead the charge and urgently, too.

Every administration would like to be remembered for great achievements but mere wishful thinking will not guarantee that. In the present circumstance of the nation, if urgent steps are not taken, the very existence of the entity called Nigeria may be called to question. In a failed state, the President, other political leaders and the elite across board will have nothing to superintend upon. For this reason, a greater burden is placed on the leadership. After all, the safety of lives and property of the citizen is the primary duty of government. This duty is sacrosanct.

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