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‘The biggest challenge for security in Nigeria is the ‘Nigerian mind’


Captain Aliyu Umar Babangida (rtd) is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Goldwater and Riversand. He is a National Security Resource and Solutions Consultant. In this interview with SAMSON EZEA, he spoke about the recent call by Theophilus Danjuma asking Nigerians to resort to self-help in securing their lives, the increasing insecurity across the country, among others

What is your reaction to TY Danjuma’s recent outburst, accusing military of colluding with herdsmen to kill Nigerians and urging Nigerians to pick up arms and defend themselves?
The statement as was made by the Former Defence Minister is quite unfortunate. While there is no gain saying that ours is a Nation in dire insecurity straits, we must also begin to worry about the nature and forms of our “security threats” and “security-threat-multipliers” as it were.

We must also seek to balance our worries with robust, and dispassionate appraisals of the situations at hand, regardless of their numbers or frequencies, proponents or locations.

TY Danjuma is not new to the “inner workings” of government in Nigeria; every nation has its “inner workings” as far as governance is concerned. These inner workings here refer to certain rare privileges as are extended to holders of particular public office designations. They include, but are not limited to access to classified information that may not be divulged to the public for national security purposes. These privileges are, almost always open to a select few either by the nature of the offices they hold or have held, or by association with holders of these offices in no less privileged scenario-situations.


Our former Minister of Defence and subject of my response to your question, fits smugly into the above-mentioned compliances, to wit, be privy and party to the “inner-workings” of governance and government in Nigeria.

Having been in government and active in Nigeria’s political history in the last four decades, I refuse to believe the tenets and requirements of national security as it behoves office holders in Nigeria, (past, present and future), their conducts and pronouncements in and post office, are not well known to the Former Minister; I dare say he is well-honed in these matters.

His pronouncement is thus startling and worrisome.
Having said this, I must also be curious enough to think aloud and wonder why one who has access to, and reckoning within the nation’s highest echelons, would resort to the form, style and context of his pronouncements?

I am also tempted to think aloud that, given Nigeria’s National-Security-Threats Profile, particularly as they concern our diverse ethnic nationalities, there is indeed a glitch, where sons of our Nation, who were good enough to rise through the ranks of the Armed Forces, and Governance regardless of their ethnic denomination, suddenly begin to join issues with the institutions within which they rose and help build. This is an indicator that all is not well indeed!

Historically, I cite two unfortunate examples of outstanding sons of our Nation: Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu and Zamani Lekwot.

These products of our own Armed Forces, found themselves at loggerheads with their professional constituencies, the results of which were avoidable and painful, and still haunt us to date. While the nature of communicating grouses and misgivings must be acceptable and civil as it were, parties to a dispute or conflict, particularly the weaker, must not be made to feel they are on their own. This is what brings about the emergence of what we have witnessed with our Former Defence Minister.

The point here is, Danjuma made his point outrageously, and even accused the Armed Forces unfairly. For a man of his clout and antecedent, would it be out of place if our agencies, (particularly the intelligence community), borrowed TY Danjuma’s “eyes”, “mind”, and “position, with a view to seeing, thinking, and feeling what it is that ails him. Shall we not begin to draw from lessons learnt in Biafra and Zangon Kataf?

Shall we not draw from past National-Security-Threat incidents, as Process Assets, from which we could learn to do things a bit differently, particularly areas of alternative dispute resolution, lest we go the same old way Security Threat Incidences have always taken us? My thoughts of course.

Are you not worried that this is coming from a personality like Danjuma?
While I am startled, I’m not worried. This may be as a result of what I know given my professional background and inclinations. That the General said what he said, does not worry me one bit. What worries me is the handling and managing of the situation as it is.

Don’t you think that the increasing insecurity in North, especially as it concerns Boko Haram abduction of schoolgirls, is a threat to girl-child education in the region?
Truth be told, Girl Child Education in the north has always been threatened by default. Put another way, have you really heard any politicians’ campaign promises in the north that include girl child education? Why do you think that is so? The word “default” as I used it earlier explains it.

Boko Haram is only just exploiting the status quo to their own advantage, too. While such is not acceptable, we must not push the problem to them per se. The group is simply exploiting what is already there to further their own endeavours.

What do you think is the best way to secure Nigeria in the face of increasing security challenges everywhere?
The biggest challenge for security in Nigeria is the “Nigerian Mind”. If you want to understand how the Nigerian mind works, sit on any social media platform for at least 15 minutes daily. Next, try to speak to the man on the street. Subtle as this sounds, much is there to learn in these two information avenues I have mentioned.

At my consults, we connect with the Nigeria-Mind quickly by these two means, so does the world e.g. media brands and detractors.

Now to the solution as you asked. In my opinion, a fast track approach to securing Nigeria is to first assess the Nigerian Mind…particularly the subconscious. That can be achieved in simple, but highly specialised ways that are already very much with us but are hidden in plain sight.

Our law enforcement Agencies and their Intelligence agencies are also inane to these skill sets I speak of, which unfortunately one cannot begin to extrapolate here, for our sakes and safety as a people.

Any other way may take years to achieve; given our policy summersaults propensity and other politically-induced nuances, a solution that can be initiated and installed within one political tenure, really remains the option of entering and occupying the subconscious Nigerian Mind. Whether our leaders and security chieftains understand my drift here, is left to be seen.

Is the Nigerian Military not being overstretched by getting them too much involved in all the security challenges across the country?
Of course she is. A nation’s Army cannot be trivialized as we seem to be doing today, by deploying them everywhere and anywhere. The Army is now the Police, National Guard, Expeditionary Force and whatever else shall arise that requires security as the days unfold, and she does it all concurrently.

This does not only overstretch the Armed Forces, it takes them off grid, from their traditional role as it were. Ironically, no one is thinking of a Second Army for our nation, even with a largely unemployed youth population of about 102 Million. No National Guard, No Coast Guard, no expeditionary forces.

Ironically, we have a proliferation of so many paramilitary brands that do not really complement the efforts of the Armed Forces, else the military should certainly not be overstretched now, or should they?


In the midst of opportunity and proactive options aplenty, we shy away from deploying our imagination-ability, metacognition and innovation-ability, and would rather opt for the easier stereo-typical solutions as have been written by others either in the past, or from other climes. Fact is, those who we copy actually rose to meet necessity with invention and innovation, to create that which we quickly adopt from them, but do not adapt to suit our situations.

What are the likely implications of the security personnel like military and police colluding with insurgents and killer herdsmen?
I shall not speak for the Police; as for the military, it remains difficult for soldiers as in troops to collude with insurgents. It also is no less difficult for troop commanders to collude with adversaries that have rendered many of them dead.

While I dare say there are bad eggs (recall the general who colluded with some politicians pre- 2015 to rig votes, and the young officer who was courageous enough to expose the plot as it was hatched in a hotel room). The solution here remains to hold leaders, political and military, to results, results, results. No sentiments, no shenanigans, just results.

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