NIGERIA STEPS UP SECURITY TIES WITH NEIGHBOURS TO CHECK TERRORISM

Colonel(rtd)Sambo Dasuki

Colonel(rtd)Sambo Dasuki, Nigeria’s National Security Adviser

THE GUARDIAN
6 January, 2014

EXCEPT sub-regional security is
strengthened in a sustainable manner
in 2014, arms and ammunition would
continue to pour into the country and
weaken the Federal Government’s
resolve to combat terrorism and the ravenous insurgency in parts of the
country.

Also, lack of sensible action in this
regard would gravely jeopardise the
realisation of the economic gains
projected for Nigeria by major international institutions, because
these can largely be realised when there is a safer domestic environment to do business.

And in realisation of this, the Nigerian
government is stepping up current collaborative efforts with immediate
neighbours as a necessary response to trans-border crimes and illegal
movement of weapons in the sub-
region with the ultimate aim of tackling the security challenge the country is currently facing.

Sources revealed to The Guardian at the weekend that the move by the Federal Government has become “the most open option” in the face of growing concerns over the perceived lukewarm attitude of some of Nigeria’s neighbours toward
terrorism-related partnership with
Nigeria.

According to the sources at both the
Presidency and the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, the Nigerian Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPPS), Kuru, near Jos is one major national security agency that has now been given the task of collating newly identified areas of security collaboration with Nigeria’s
neighbours in order to get “sufficient local response once the diplomatic
pressure we are mounting on these
countries starts yielding the kind of
fruits that we envisage. And the signals are already here.”

The pillars of sub-regional security disclosed to The Guardian include Trans-border Security Cooperation Agreement with Cameroon, Joint Security Patrol Agreement with Benin Republic as well as the Multi-National Joint Task Force Agreement comprising Nigeria, Niger, Cameroun and Chad.

This is also without prejudice to the existing collaborative platform with Niger, the country with the longest border stretch with Nigeria.

Intelligence reports have continued to
point the way of Nigeria’s neighbours as places harbouring cells linked with
distant terrorist organisations whose
trans-national modus operandi makes a peer review of collaborative efforts by countries affected by their activities, imperative.

Nigeria has long, poorly demarcated and porous borders with its immediate neighbours: Benin Republic (773 kilometres), Niger Republic (1,500 kilometres), Chad (87 km) and Cameroon (1,700 kilometers).

To compound the problem, well established ethnic and religious affinities between Nigeria and these neighbours tend to make the war on terror even more difficult, as nondescript nationalities suitably claim to be Nigerian citizens, move back and forth along these common international frontiers freely.

Since the terror waves hit Nigeria
adversely over four years ago, the
Federal Government has reached some level of understanding with supposed outsiders – its development partners like the United States (U.S.), European Union (EU) and recently the state of Israel, to step-up the war against terror.

But diplomatic watchers now fear that by playing possum, Nigeria’s neighbours are yet to put a big foot forward. The Guardian’s source also responded to concerns about the need to change Nigeria’s grand strategy including a rework of its neighbourhood diplomacy.

He said: “As nations operate in changing times, characterised by a
constantly dynamic environment in
which the interests and priorities of
nations continue to mutate,
governments, including ours, must
embark on policy reform and transformation schemes to remain
relevant. We accept that the specific
interests, priorities and emphasis of
Nigeria’s foreign policy must continue
to change and evolve in the context of
changing domestic and international environment.”

The source spoke further: “It is also a
well known dictum that sustainable
development cannot be attained in the absence of peace and stability. The peace and security of our neighbours, the ECOWAS sub-region, Africa and the world at large have direct bearing on Nigeria’s peace and security, which are indispensable to the pursuit of the government’s Transformation Agenda. This explains why the current administration has remained seized with local and international developments capable of consolidating peace and security, particularly in our sub-region.”

Security architecture also features prominently in the new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) being signed now by the Federal Government as well as some others being reviewed and renegotiated for optimal beneficial outcomes in aid of the corporate existence of Nigeria.

Examples include the Bi-National Commissions with the United States of America, Germany, Canada and South Africa. According to our source, “there is no point in the misguided denials on the link of secured borders with the current effort at consolidating and building on the country’s relations with key emerging markets like China.

United Nations World Investment Report for 2012 already puts Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows into Nigeria at about $8.9 billion, far higher than in previous years.”

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