President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday warned security chiefs that he is not prepared to exit office as a failure and he is prepared to make fresh changes if necessary to turn things around in the various theatres of operation in the ongoing war against insecurity. The president gave this assurance today after the National Council on Security meeting with heads of security agencies after receiving briefs on security operations.
Speaking through the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (retd) at a briefing with State House Correspondents at the end of the meeting, the NSA disclosed that the president also expressed his readiness to make more changes in the security architecture of the country is necessary.
He revealed that all the issues brought before the president centered mainly on the successes recorded in the operations in the north east. According to him, large numbers of Boko Haram are surrendering in the north east, noting, “never had such large numbers leave the terrorist camp, owing to the relentless activity of the security agencies.”
The NSA, who stated that there is good cooperation, synergy and intelligence-sharing among the armed forces, said President Buhari was happy with the briefs he received. Monguno said: “The last National Security Council meeting, we had was on the 8th of June. ‘’From that time till now, a lot has happened within the security domain. Mr. President called for this meeting. And it was actually supposed to be for next week, but he drew it back for today, for obvious reasons.
“The meeting briefed, Mr. President, on the current security situation in the country. Well, I’ll say from the last time we met till now, and all the issues that were brought before the president, were mainly issues arising from the successes recorded in the theatre of operations throughout the North East.
“It is evident that a lot of successes have been recorded. Large numbers of people are surrendering in the north east as a consequence of the relentless efforts of the Armed Forces, intelligence and security agencies. This is very, very evident. We’ve never had such large numbers of people defecting from the other side, back to the Nigerian side, mainly, as a result of many issues within the theatre, issues of infighting among the various factions of the terrorist groups.
“But the new drive of the Armed Forces, the police, the intelligence agencies, there’s been greatest cooperation, greater synergy intelligence sharing, as well as our partners in the regional intelligence fusion unit. “So the President was briefed, the President is quite happy that there’s been tremendous success, especially with the advent of the new service chiefs and Inspector General of Police.
‘’And he’s also made it very, very clear that he’s not ready to exit government as a failure. He is not going to tolerate failure and that he’s made changes and is ready to make further changes if he is not satisfied. He is completely determined to ensure that there’s a turnaround in the fortunes in the theatre of operations. “We also address the issue of the prevailing situation, which is widespread, you know, issues of hunger. The President is not oblivious to the pains of the people, and is working with the Vice President and other members of council, is going to employ the relevant ministries, departments and agencies of government to address this issue.
He continued: ‘’As far as it’s concerned, it’s also an emergency situation that people should not be left to wallow in hunger, and in despair, this is something that he’s also going to look into. And he’s going to use all the necessary relevant tools at his disposal to address the issue of widespread hunger. “And then also the issue of insecurity in the northwest, which is still, even though for those of us who are within the security system, we have seen a significant drop in the number of incidents of kidnapping and banditry, nevertheless, a lot has to be done. Because like I’ve always said in the past, as far as the people are concerned, there shouldn’t be any incident of kidnapping, banditry, and other incidents of insecurity.
“So the President is also aware of that and he has also made certain assertions which I am not willing to say right now, till he’s made the final decision on those things. But generally, the atmosphere is improving, especially in the north eastern part of the country. The President is very, very happy with the drive in that part of the country. “We also addressed the issue in plateau the recent killings and the President has given certain directives to address that, he is also expressed confidence in the efforts of the Governor of Plateau.
Asked if there are plans for those who are surrendering, the NSA said: “Yes, there are plans. But I don’t want to immediately divulge what has been decided on those plans till the President takes a firm decision on the plans. But definitely that is one of the things that he intends to address, the number of people coming. And it’s not just in Nigeria, even in northern Cameroon, you have equally large numbers of people, surrendering to the bona-fide agencies of government. But that is all as a consequence of the regional cooperation between the various countries and the agencies of those countries.”
On what to expect going forward from the national security architecture, Monguno said: “Well, what I expect is for the Nigerian people also to forge a sense of oneness, unity, let’s put aside whatever suspicions, apprehensions or agitations that exists, because in the context of the 21st century, you can’t deal with these emerging crisis in a cut and dried manner. We have to use everything at our disposal, all the elements of national power, including the population, the wider community needs to work with the security agencies to deal with these problems.
“Responses have to be fast. We can’t act on stale intelligence. And that is why as things are happening, right from the grassroots level going all the way up, the local government, the state governments, and then of course, the federal government has its own parts to play. People should not cover for those who they have identified, unscrupulous, undesirable people, it is very, very important that we share because in today’s context, the highest value intelligence doesn’t necessarily need to come from the agencies of government. It could come from any other tangential organisation, institution or group.”