As CDS Moves to End Security Agencies’ Rivalry
In recent years, security agencies in the country have always competed to emerge as masses’ favourite, or better still, the ones that are most effective, in terms of discharging their responsibilities.
They battle each other to assert superiority and dominance. The ones that war-war, instead of jaw-jaw, do so with the sole intent of not allowing their efforts to be undermined by rival security agencies.
But one of the main factors limiting the ability of security agencies to effectively tackle the current insecurity in the country is unhealthy interagency rivalry.
The inspector-general of police, Usman Baba, at a forum last year, said that unhealthy inter-agency rivalry was a major factor limiting the capacity of Nigeria’s armed forces to effectively contain the insecurity bedeviling the nation.
The IGP, who spoke at a three-day annual ministerial retreat with a theme, “Strengthening Inter-Agency Collaboration and Organisation Efficiency,” said: “This trend has been of concern to a cross section of Nigerians over the years. This trend, I must say, is not peculiar to Nigeria alone.
“In the United States, for example, weak inter-agency cooperation and collaboration, which manifested in the failure of strategic security institutions to share intelligence and work together to advance the national security interests of the country, accounted for the 9/11 terror attack which has been described as the worst but most preventable attack on their homeland security since the Second World War.
“In essence, the challenge of inter-agency rivalry must be seen and acknowledged as a global challenge which haunts internal security of modern states. Be that as it may, certain facts remain sacrosanct. Firstly, inter-agency friction constitutes a major threat to internal security and national cohesion.
“Second, it accounts for budgetary wastage, duplication of functions, mutual suspicion, and encroachment on each other’s legal and operational space by competing agencies.
“Thirdly, it exposes security agencies to public ridicule and possible loss of public confidence in the ability of such agencies to perform their statutory functions.”
To understand how dysfunctional interagency coordination could be even in developed societies, the March 2009 essay titled “America’s Broken Interagency” by Thomas A. Schweich who was U.S. Ambassador for Counternarcotics and Justice Reform in Afghanistan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, and Chief of Staff of the U.S. mission to the United Nations, will be a better guide.
In the essay, Schweich, painted a rather interesting perspective of interagency failings in Europe, Afghanistan and the US based on first-hand experience.
However, what is peculiar to Nigeria is a situation where senior officials of these critical agencies constitutionally responsible for protecting us would not only openly trade blames and damaging accusations, but would indeed seek to discredit one another in the media in a bid to score cheap advantage.
Globally, security experts and political scientists have long been concerned about the tension between institutional fragmentation and policy coordination in and among security agencies of many countries.
Cut to the bone, this situation translates essentially to the challenges of inter-agency co-ordination. To be blunt, much of this challenge stems from inter-agency non-cooperation.
Like other well-meaning organisations, and individuals, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Lucky Irabor, has also fingered rivalry among security agencies in the country as the cause of unabated insecurity in the country.
The CDS, who spoke at a summit organised by the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) for government security agencies, tagged: “Strengthening inter-agency co-operation for sustainable national security,” said the DHQ, in conjunction with the services and other security agencies, had been involved in several internal security operations, which are ongoing virtually in all the geo-political zones of the country.
According to him, the operations are aimed at combating contemporary security challenges, such as insurgency, armed banditry, kidnapping, cattle rustling, farmer/herder conflicts, ethno-religious conflicts, secessionist agitations, oil theft and pipeline vandalism, among others.
There is need to point out that at the pace at which the campaign of violence and deaths is spreading across some states in the North has exposed the gap in the relationship among the various agencies.
Events in recent years, have shown that there is an urgent need to fix that gap. The absence of effective interagency cooperation has not only led to the death of hundreds of civilians in the hands of armed bandits, it has also claimed lives of scores of military, intelligence, immigration, customs, police and prisons service personnel.
This shows that it is not only in the interest of the nation that an enhanced interagency cooperation is needed, but also in the interest of each of these agencies and their operatives.
“From the NIA, which monitors issues of national security from outside the shores of Nigeria; the SSS which is saddled with gathering intelligence internally; the military which is tasked with protecting the territorial integrity of our nation and assisting in maintaining internal peace when needed; the police tasked with the responsibility of detection and prevention of crime; the Customs charged with preventing the flow of contraband, illegal arms and ammunition across our border posts; the immigration whose responsibility it is to ensure that suspected terrorists do not cross into our territory; the prisons mandated to ensure that detained suspects do not escape and convicted terrorists serve their terms; the FRSC that quickly indentify unmarked vehicles which may have been rigged with explosives; to the civil defence corps whose operatives quickly pass information to the appropriate agencies when unusual things are noticed around the country, the importance of enhancing interagency cooperation cannot be overemphasized,” this was the submission of Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, a former presidential spokesperson, at a lecture event, with the subject matter of this piece as the theme.
But as for this writer: “Inter-agency coordination can only be effective in an environment where each agency’s responsibilities are clarified; modalities for the sharing of information are provided and the operational guidelines that would ensure the realisation of the stated objectives are clearly defined.”
Mahmud Abdulsalam is Assistant Editor PRNigeria
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