NSA Monguno Restates Resilience in face of persistent, emerging threats to national security
Recently, Nigeria’s National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, spoke about the complex and unpredictable threat environment security challenges are turning the African continent into.
The NSA, in his address to the Nigeria International Partnership Forum held in Paris, warned that global security challenges have the potential to undermine national security and by implication national development.
The forum, organised by African Business Roundtable and the Millennium Club, was held on the sidelines of the Paris Peace Forum and attended by President Muhammadu Buhari. The aim was to draw attention to Nigeria’s trade and investment opportunities.
Being the biggest threat to trade and investment, it is understandable why issues around insecurity took centre stage at the forum. And although many national news outlets reported Monguno’s speech at the event from the angle of government’s consideration to set up a border security outfit, the NSA actually touched on other fundamental subjects, including what constitute persistent and emerging threats to national security in Nigeria, the implication of global security threats to national security and development, as well as efforts being made to combat those threats.
For instance, the NSA identified rapid population growth, heightened perception of inequality, religious and ethnic-driven ideological extremism, and climate change as some of the global concerns which could trigger violence.
“The African continent is not immune to these global security concerns. This is because most of our contemporary security problems are influenced or heightened by external threat factors in the global environment. All these global security challenges have the potential to undermine national security and by implication national development,” he said.
Monguno also listed persistent and emerging threats to Nigeria’s security to include: Terrorism and violent extremism, transnational organized crime, climate change, cyber threats, public health challenges, porous borders, piracy and sea robbery, fake news and hate speech as well as separatist agitations.
On efforts being made to combat those threats, the NSA mentioned how Nigeria’s National Counterterrorism Strategy (NACTEST) 2016 and the Policy Framework and Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (PCVE) 2017 serve as policy documents which guide the country’s counter terrorism efforts. He said the combination of kinetic and non-kinetic measures in countering violent extremism has led to a wave of surrender by violent extremists in the ranks of Boko Haram and the splitter Islamic State West Africa Province.
Indeed, the security challenges facing Nigeria and Africa are immense.
However, progress is gradually and assuredly being made and the resilience shown in combating these threats continues to increase hope for lasting peace and security required for growth and development.
One of the shining examples of progress is in the area of piracy and sea robbery. Before now, the Gulf of Guinea was notorious for being a dangerous sea route for merchant oil tankers and fishing vessels due to the threat of piracy. The frequency of piracy and sea robbery resulted in a negative global assessment of the maritime environment, so much that The Economist, in a recent report, referred to piracy on the West African coast as “primarily a Nigerian problem”, saying criminals and maritime terrorists function mostly “out of the labyrinthine waterways in the Niger Delta”.
However, in June, the federal government commissioned a state-of-the-art Falcon Eye Maritime Intelligence Facility at the Naval Headquarters in Abuja, as part of efforts to boost Nigeria’s overall maritime security architecture, in accordance with the National Security Strategy (NSS).
NSA Monguno said at the event that the Falcon Eye surveillance facility project was necessitated by the many security challenges, such as kidnapping of oil workers, sea robbery/piracy, incessant problems of crude oil theft, illegal bunkering, hostage-taking, maritime terrorism, facing the maritime sector.
On the 24th of June 2019, the president also assented to the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences (POMO) Bill. By the POMO Act, Nigeria became the first country in the West and Central African sub-regions to promulgate a stand-alone law against piracy.
Through inter-agency collaboration spearheaded by Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), these efforts are yielding results, as there was no case of piracy or sea robbery all through the Third Quarter (Q3) of 2021; down from the three pirate attacks and one robbery incident reported in the Second Quarter (Q2). In its Global Piracy Report of 14 July 2021, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) pointed to this feat as the lowest number of piracy and sea robbery incidents against ships in 27 years.
Admittedly, Nigeria faces persistent and emerging security threats, especially with conflicts in the Sahel heightened by globalisation. However, as rightly mentioned by the NSA, the country has shown resilience and a capacity to address its challenges by itself and also for its neighbours and region.
For Nigeria’s kinetic and non-kinetic measures to further yield results in the fight against insecurity, more room should be created for inclusion. Typically, those left out in combating persistent and emerging threats to national security are the most vulnerable populations and those who have less of a voice. Inclusion is therefore an essential component in resilience and peace building in the face of threats to national security.
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