Monday 9 January 2012

Attacking and Defeating Terrorism in Nigeria; Effective Leadership is the First Strategy.

President Jonathan and Sen. Hillary Clinton
Nigeria is passing through a phase in the history because the “homegrown” terrorist risk is on the rise, but the Aso Rock has been slower to respond to the threats. Also, the leaderships of the appropriate agencies responsible for public safety are still struggling to provide answers in the last two years. Effective political and public safety leadership is the first compulsory requirement for a successful counterterrorism operations strategy to attack and defeat terrorism.

Of course, the real danger lies not with what the terrorist can do to us but what we can do to offer essential leadership and do our best to improve our ability to weather the age of terrorism and disasters. Therefore, the country needs political leadership that will inspire people and take them out of the turmoil.
Nigerians are cognizance of the fact that President Goodluck Jonathan inherited these problems from the past administrations, including inept law enforcement agencies and the highly politicized Nigerian military.

Nevertheless, it is natural for people to look up for a way out in a time of crisis. Every crisis always produces leadership that may come in the form of individual or organization to give hope to people in the midst of their trouble and inspire them to triumph over their problems. President George W. Bush did not create the problem that led to the tragedy of 9/11 but he provided needed leadership. He never blamed Muslims because the suicide bombers were Muslims by name but accused al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden and declared war against them.  Winston Churchill did not create the problem of the WWII but one of his major contributions that eventually led his country to victory was the ability to inspire the British people to greater effort by making public broadcasts on significant occasions. A brilliant orator, he was a tireless source of strength to people experiencing the sufferings of the Blitz.

President Jonathan must personally engage Nigerians through constant media broadcast to educate citizens that the ongoing war is neither a religious nor struggle between the South and the North.
Hence, below are “to do” lists for President Jonathan’s consideration in 2012:

First, presidency must set up a terrorism advisory system that effectively communicates information about terrorist threats by providing timely, detailed information to the public, and government agencies. The government would have minimized the casualties of Christmas day bombing if there are NTAS in place to warn people about the threat level.

Second, the president should rejuvenate the security agencies by retaining the performing leaders and remove the incompetent officers and replace them with dynamic, competent and effective leaders.
The president should remove the National Security Adviser and replace him with a capable person from the North.
General Andrew Owoeye Azazi, is no doubt a competent and one of the best security experts in Nigeria today. However, three things are presently working against him:
1.      Nigerians have lost faith in his leadership as a security coordinator; people will no longer appreciate his effort no matter how he tries.
2.      He is a Christian from the South. The terrorists are already using it as propaganda that the Christian South is waging war against the Muslim North.  When the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003; the choice of Gen. John Abizaid, a senior military officer of direct Arab descent, born in the United States of a Lebanese family was a strategy by the U.S. government to appease the Muslims world that the war on terror is not war against Muslims.
3.      Gen. Azazi’s military approach to repress terrorists without options for diplomacy is a minus for the war. While terrorism will be our enemies’ tactics of choice, it does not automatically follow that we need to rely primarily on traditional offense-based military forces to fight back. Government should adopt open-ended policies beginning with visionary leadership for our public safety, military, intelligence, law enforcement, and emergency services agencies.

In addition, the Nigerian police will perform better if government inspire, train, equip and motivate them to work under a command of an experienced, well-educated and dynamic inspector general of police. President Jonathan must look for a new IGP as soon as possible. This may not be a popular advice but we may see the gain of effective leadership if the president recalls Nuhu Ribadu and give him the position of the IGP. Ribadu is qualified to assume the position as a retired Assistant Inspector General of police. Plus his youthfulness, experience, bravery, and doggedness are assets for the office of IGP. 

Nigeria is presently operating in the blind because Nigerian intelligence agencies are not firing from all cylinders. It may require another 10-year to develop the type of human intelligence capabilities needed to support the ongoing counterterrorism operations if there are no major changes or reforms.

In conclusion, we cannot attack and defeat terrorism by using same old styles of leadership that brought us to where we are today. Leaders are accountable to the public. The public expects and deserves top-notch, ethical service conducted in an objective manner. When service is not delivered or is of poor quality, it is ultimately the leader's responsibility. The public may or may not put pressure on the leader to correct the situation. However, if the public perceives that no correction is taking place, pressure will be applied for that leader to either make suitable changes or to resign. Where this becomes difficult for the leader is when there is a difference between what the leader's legitimate course of action is and what the public desires.

Oludare Ogunlana is a security analyst and member of the International Association for Counterterrorism & Security Professionals. (IASCP)


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