Amidst worsening insecurity across the country and separate resolutions by the National Assembly demanding the sack of military chiefs, President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said he is convinced the security chiefs are ‘doing their best’ to address the challenges.
The president said this at the National Security Council meeting held at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Details of the meeting were announced by the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, who addressed journalists after the meeting.
“The President said to the Service Chiefs, ‘you are doing your best as far as I am concerned but there is still a lot more to be done. I am more concerned about the promise we made to the larger Nigerian society and I am ordering an immediate re-engineering of the entire security apparatus,’” Mr Monguno said.
The NSA said President Buhari, however, ordered the security chiefs to reorganise their strategies.
“He has also directed that we must rejig our strategies both in terms of operations and intelligence. We must rejig our strategy to prevent further catastrophe; that we must bear in mind that we owe a duty that elected his government and at the end of the day, without securing the nation, all other things like revamping the economy and fighting corruption cannot be addressed.”
Mr Monguno said the defence minister, Bashir Magashi, is currently working on a strategy that will help resolve the security challenges across the country.
“Based on the marching orders given to us by the president form the last time till now, basically, these are operational matters that are best dealt with by the Minister of Defence.
“I know there is something he is working on which has led to this meeting being delayed slightly because it was actually supposed to take place before the sallah break but I think one or two things have come up which I don’t want to disclose but I want Nigerians to be comfortable that something is being done since the last marching order,” he said.
The NSA also spoke on the use of hard drugs across Nigeria. He said there was a connection between drug use and the increase in crime rate. He said Nigeria’s security agencies shut 17 factories producing dangerous drugs between 2011 and 2019.
“This is the third National Security Council meeting we have had this year and today’s meeting focused on the problem of drug trafficking and drug addiction in Nigeria, as contained in two memos that I presented to the council,” he said.
“We considered the widespread use of these substances and their dangerous impact on our socio-economic situation. I also briefed on the security situation in the North-West and North-Central, looking at kidnapping and banditry in killing of innocent people. The Service Chiefs and Inspector General of Police also gave their various synopsis on what their outfits are doing on the matter.
“For the issue of drug trafficking and abuse of same, I told the council that this has taken a worrisome dimension because Nigeria’s perception in the drug trafficking index has changed from the status of a transit hub to a production centre,” he said.
“There is hardly any violent crime today in Nigeria that is not propelled by the use of these hard substances, which have been coming in form all nooks and crannies.
“What is worrisome is that the reports we received form the Chairman of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency NDLEA shows that the numbers keep increasing and despite the closure of orders, we are still having to contend with the influx of these drugs.
“The problem here is that the reckless use of these substances is directly linked to the insecurity we are confronted with.”
Premium Times earlier reported that Tuesday’s meeting, chaired by Mr Buhari, was attended by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Chief of Staff to the President Ibrahim Gambari, National Security Adviser Babagana Monguno and some ministers.
The heads of the army, navy, air force, police, State Security Service, and Directorate of Military Intelligence also attended the meeting.
The meeting held about a week after armed persons attacked the convoy of the Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, in Baga, Borno State, where he had gone to distribute materials to internally displaced persons.
Mr Zulum has since said he believes the attack was carried out by soldiers.
The NSA gave no indication that the attack on Mr Zulum was discussed at the security council meeting.
Apart from the Boko Haram insurgency in Borno and its neighbouring states, armed bandits are also attacking northwestern states randomly, killing and kidnapping dozens of people every month.
Many people have also been killed in renewed violence in Southern Kaduna, Kaduna State.
Amidst the worsening security situation, the Senate (twice) and the House of Representatives have demanded the sack of the service chiefs, who should have retired from the military based on military rules. President Buhari has repeatedly rejected the lawmakers’ resolutions.