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Will Dasuki Sambo live up to expectations?

By The Citizen
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In the summer of 2012, President Goodluck Jonathan unceremoniously fired his National Security Adviser, the late Gen. Andrew Owoye Azazi. He also fired his Defence Minister, Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed. While the NSA was immediately replaced, the President has yet to find a replacement for the sacked Minister of Defence, and is not in any hurry too to find any the dire security situation the country finds itself now notwithstanding. Except perhaps for a few people within the President's inner chamber, no one seems to know why it is taking him this long to appoint a replacement. Frankly, it is risky not to have a defence minister - especially when one considers the importance of a defence minister (and his ministry) to the nation's Armed Forces and to the security of government. The time to name a new Defence Minister is, therefore, now!

Now, it is almost seven months since President Jonathan appointed Dasuki as his NSA. In the intervening period, not much seems to have changed vis-à-vis the bedlam and anarchy that are gradually becoming a part of our country's landscape. Dasuki, from all indications, is a fine, skilful and competent administrator. However, the security fault lines are so deep and so wide and so porous that no amount of change in personnel will make a difference. Our national security paradigm is at odds with the realities of the 21 Century. If Jonathan does not want to hear this, I hope Sambo listens.

What Nigeria needs and what will make a difference is a new approach to governance: a fundamental restructuring of the economic, political, and governing systems. In an atmosphere of chaos and personalisation of the rule of law, you cannot expect the masses to bow before the law. In an atmosphere of unbridled waste and theft by the ruling and economic elites, you cannot expect the people to be diligent and cooperative. In an atmosphere of severe deficit in the provision of basic human needs, you do not expect the populace to be patriotic. No matter how poor and uneducated the electorate may be, they do not lack the good sense to understand what injustice is.For more than 40 years, injustice is what the Nigerian state has been known with.

Under such a system, many people don't care if and when laws are broken. Under such an unfair system, many will not care if an invading army is approaching the Nigerian border. Under such a vile and corrupting arrangement, many - especially the young - will not care if the country is burning. The Nigerian system has made it attractive for the young and impressionable minds to join cults and gangs. The lavish lifestyle of politicians and well-placed civil servants discourages hard work and encourages theft. What do you expect of the educated when the system handsomely rewards mediocrities and the half-literates? This is one-half of the story of Nigeria: A story that makes durable peace and security unachievable.

The other half of the story revolves around what many have termed 'the mistake of 1914.' Assuming it is a mistake, it is not an intolerable mistake. It can be fixed. It can be made whole. But ill-advisedly, successive governments and their agents have refused to genuinely address 'what is wrong with Nigeria.' In essence, if the question of nationhood is not properly addressed and fixed, peace and security and economic prosperity will continue to elude us.

Nigeria, as events of the last couple of years have proved, is a fertile ground for secessionist and separatist movements. Yesterday, it was the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra and the Oodua Peoples Congress; and then the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta. But today, Boko Haram holds sway. What other group or groups will come out of the woods tomorrow and the day after? What other unanswered questions tell us is that Nigeria will never enjoy sustained periods of peace and tranquility. At least ,not within our current mindset.

Nigeria's national security policy in the last three decades cannot be considered security policy in the real sense of the word. What we've had - charitably speaking - can be considered reactionary, irrational and senseless. National security is not an abstract idea. It is not something you wish for, but something you work at in a very comprehensive manner. In an environment where you have economic, social, cultural, human and political violence, you cannot achieve any measure of peace and security. There is no magic wand and no voodoo to national security. First thing first: Take care of the people and the people will take care of their government and leaders.

Dasuki Sambo, as with every other National Security Adviser before him, will simply 'come and go.' Nothing will change! Millions and millions of dollars would be spent domestically or otherwise; but in the end, nothing tangible will come out of it. Absolutely nothing! You see, the Israelis thought that by killing the leaders of Hamas and other groups they designated 'terrorists,' peace would come quickly. It hasn't! And the Nigerian government thinks that by killing the leaders of Boko Haram and jailing many others, peace and security would reign. Well, they are mistaken. How many leaders and supporters of the various non-state actors can the Nigerian government jail and or kill?

Insecurity in Nigeria is fast approaching the tipping point. And so as I think about Sambo, I cannot but feel empathy for him. He is determined to live up to the President's expectations, but he will fail. He is determined to live up to the nation's expectations, but he will not succeed. This is a man who seems determined to leave his mark, but alas he will find that he travels on shifting sands. That is Nigeria. In spite of what I have said, Sambo and Jonathan may declare 'success' if and when Boko Haram comes to the bargaining table. Or, if its leadership is annihilated. In my own estimation, such actions will still not qualify as success (because) there are a dozen or more other groups waiting in the wings and waiting to be reckoned with, waiting to do damage to the country. How do you discourage such groups? By Sabella Abidde