NISS: Driving Change Agenda in Security Agencies
By Afakriya Gadzama
One of the major achievements of the President Muhammadu Buhari Government is upgrading of the National Institute for Security Studies (NISS) to enhance its role in enhancing inter-agency cooperation, building the capacity of security organizations and eliminating practices that are incompatible with the rights of the citizenry. The decision was apparently informed by glaring inadequacies and rivalry among security organizations that undermined collective efforts to have seamless cooperation and effective coordination between stakeholders in the national security system. It was very critical to have an Institute where the intelligence, security, military and paramilitary organizations could interface and share ideas towards common operational culture.
The National Institute for Security Studies was also to address the diverse and often conflicting doctrines, approaches and understanding in security practice by providing a medium for interaction and forging better formal and informal understanding in handling security and related challenges. When the Institute came on board through the 2019 Establishment Act, inadequacies and anomalies in the security architecture and practices could subvert a unified approach for tackling security challenges in the country. It was considered imperative to have an institutional framework that will bridge the gaps and divergent positions on dealing with common security challenges. There could not have been a better time to have such an Institute than now when the country faces myriads of security challenges.
The need to have an institute that will address lack of capacity among those being prepared to hold command appointments was a matter of urgency. The core mandates of the Institute include addressing perceived leadership inadequacies among those holding command appointments. A major inadequacy in the security, defense, law enforcement and paramilitary organizations in the security sector is lack of sufficient grooming of those aspiring to hold command appointments.
The National Institute for Security Studies was charged with addressing leadership inadequacies and ineptitude in those heading security and related organizations. The Institute was without doubt a child of necessity with responsibilities similar to those of the National Defense College and the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru Jos.
The NISS is also charged with preparing commanders and directors to fit leadership models suitable for effective response to contemporary security challenges.
The upgrade of the Institute for Security Studies to a National Institute was informed by the importance of a well-informed perspective, mindset and knowledge supportive of the nation’s nascent democracy and operational effectiveness in emerging security commanders. After a long period of military rule, it was necessary to initiate significant changes in security management that are in consonance with democratic practices.
The Institute promoted a new orientation and best practices in security management by continuously urging participants to avoid attitudes and practices of the past in order to fit into the change agenda and discard the use of unbridled force, abuse of human rights and corruption. The NISS has been a major driving force in the change and democratization processes in the country by adopting re-orientation of mindset of security operatives and related professionals as core areas of study.
The NISS also inculcates in course participants the importance of intelligence, integrity and civility in security and crime management by exposing them to best practices in security and intelligence management, drawing extensively from the experiences of other countries and this has been valuable in the change process promoted in the Institute. The Institute also enhances the knowledge of course participants by taking them on foreign studies tours and giving them lectures in comparative studies.
The NISS has dedicated lecturers who are very determined to take it to world class level and this has worked in its favour, although much still needs to be done to recruit experienced scholars conversant with contemporary security practice. The vision of the management of the Institute is to draw from the knowledge and experiences of experienced academia and security intelligence officers especially those who have held top positions.
Ministers, governors and heads of government agencies and departments who are interrogated on challenges undermining efforts to address security and development challenges deliver lectures at the NISS. Studies by course participants and interactions with governors have drawn attention to nagging security and development challenges. The Institute focuses on challenges of governance as core areas of study and participants and their study tour coordinators make recommendations to state governments and organizations. The Institute is emerging as a source of valuable contributions in policy decisions that could help stabilize the polity and achieve development objectives.
The NISS also conducts research into topical security challenges facing the country and the sub-region during which participants get lectures and conduct research into major security challenges and why they persist at national and global levels. The research covers challenges of poor leadership, governance and extremism in the country, complemented with studies on institutional and leadership failures. Lectures and research papers also cover proliferation of dangerous weapons, drug addiction, illegal migration, sub-regional challenges and threats that undermine development and change.
The Institute provides avenues for exchange of ideas on harmonization of divergent operational approaches in managing security threats and critical intelligence in security practice, avoiding intelligence failures in crises and failure to appreciate intelligence in conflicts. Terrorism, armed banditry, militancy and religious extremism are other important areas of research in view of prevailing situations in the country, as well as sabotage and attempts to delegitimize leadership and governance interest, negative consequences of sectionalism, religious bigotry and promotion of sundry parochial interests and sentiments.
The Institute has recently hosted seminars and lectures on challenges of governance, leadership, and support for the country’s quest for stable democracy. It has also been at the forefront of promoting a paradigm shift predicated on the centrality of respect for human rights and good governance because effective security is only obtainable where the interests of the citizenry and those who lead are in harmony. The perspective of security as the aggregation of all interests is given prominence in lectures and the shift in emphasis from regime protection and preference for the use of force to meeting the aspirations of the citizenry are considered fundamental in understanding critical components of national security. In addition, the Institute frowns at the incursion of deception, playing to the gallery and sycophancy in security practice. Participants are encouraged to cultivate the culture of being frank, truthful and honest to those in the position of authority.
The challenges of elections and democracy in a changing environment with emphasis on attitudes, factors and tendencies that undermine the growth of democracy and development also come under focus in the Institute’s concerns for stable democracy, credible election processes and patriotic leadership. Major stakeholders in the conduct of elections including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the security organizations and political parties are invited to deliver lectures. The Institute has facilitated exchange of ideas on corruption in recognition of the fact that corruption has socio-economic and political implications on and national growth and progress.
The mandate of the National Institute for Security Studies is well thought out to meet security, development and leadership demands and overcome challenges of our time with particular focus on reorientation, remodeling and changing the mindset of personnel especially those holding Command appointments. Going by its achievements so far, the Institute remains on course despite disruptions of its programme by the Covid-19 pandemic and lack of funds for the successful take-off of some of its programmes and qualified manpower.
Afakriya .A. GADZAMA OFR, mni
Chairman, Governing Board of the National Institute for Security Studies.