FG Yet to Implement National Security Strategy on Ungoverned Spaces Two Years After – THISDAY Newspapers
Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
Two years after the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and other stakeholders launched the National Security Strategy 2019 document, the federal government has yet to fully implement the aspect of the document that dwell on addressing insecurity stemming from ungoverned spaces.
Terrorists and armed bandits had operated largely from forests across the country, notably Sambisa Forest in Borno State, spanning many states in the North-east and neighbouring countries, Rigachiku Forest, Kaduna, Kankara Forest in Katsina and Gundumi Forest in Zamfara States, among others in the Southwest and Southeast.
The 2019 NSS document was reviewed every five years, the last being 2014.
Although there are ongoing military offensives in the North East and North West, which led to the surrender of thousands of insurgents and a similar operation in the North West, leading to the shutting of telecommunication networks, other aspects of the NSS document have not been implemented as there are also no specific timelines for measures outlined in the document.
The document states that, “Ungoverned spaces especially, around our international boundaries, forests and game reserves provide opportunities for criminal networks to fester and generally promote crime.”
Criminal herdsmen had used forest areas in the Southwest and Southeast to stage kidnappings for ransom, invasion of villages, killing of farmers notably in Benue, Ebonyi, Ondo, Delta and Enugu among other states.
Terror groups, Boko Haram, ISWAP and armed bandits also operated from forests as depicted in recent kidnappings of school children in Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna, and Niger States.
The NSS further stated that ungoverned spaces “constitute critical fragility in Nigeria’s national security and are antithetical to the nation’s security system”.
In his forward to the document, the National Security Adviser, Maj Gen Babagana Monguno (rtd), said, “The implementation of all the principles and ideas expressed in this document is crucial to our national security and general wellbeing. Concerted efforts will therefore be made to implement the National Security Strategy 2019.
“The implementation will be driven systematically, transparently and accountably to ensure that all Ministries, Departments and Agencies key into it and deliver expected measurable outcomes designed to enhance our resilience, stability and national strategy.”
He said the process would involve ministries, departments, agencies, civil society organisations and development partners, while others included the armed forces, police, security and paramilitary organisations as well the general public.
On securing ungoverned spaces, the NSS document posited: “In order to dominate and protect these ungoverned spaces along our international boundaries, we will ensure effective presence of governance in such areas.
“In particular, we will ensure the state monopoly of force in border and frontier communities by establishing more military units to provide credible presence to support border security operations by other statutory agencies.”
The NSS also stated that the Nigeria Police Force would be enabled to strengthen their presence in border communities in conjunction with other statutory security agencies to consolidate law and order.
“We will ensure that forests and national game reserves are closely monitored by forest guards to prevent them from becoming safe havens for criminal gangs.
“In terms of development, we will ensure and facilitate basic infrastructural penetration by both public institutions and corporate organisations. We will also influence the development of licit and viable local economies by facilitating Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs) and lastly, promote actions to influence favourable local demographics,” it said.