On May 29, 2023, Sen. Bola Tinubu will ascend the mantle of leadership in Nigeria, the most populous African nation—a nation beleaguered by systemic corruption, economic hardship, and grave security issues. Nigeria finds itself engaged in a battle on two fronts: the security front, where victory would mean emancipation from fear, and the economic and social front, where success represents liberation from want. Achieving victory on these two fronts holds the potential to bestow lasting peace on Nigeria.
The most pressing priority for the incoming government is crafting a robust National Security agenda that can address these crises head-on. National security, a matter of paramount importance to every nation, encompasses various aspects, including military, economic, social, and political security. As a nation, we must develop a comprehensive agenda addressing all these sectors to ensure the safety and well-being of Nigeria and its inhabitants. Such agenda-setting is critical in shaping the national security strategy and streamlining the allocation of resources toward the realization of the strategy's objectives.
To this end, it is crucial that Sen. Bola Tinubu assemble his national security team within his first 30 days in office and conceive a transformative National Security strategy that transmutes the nation's security challenges into opportunities for innovation.
The security landscape in Nigeria is riddled with challenges. A nearly two-decade-long battle with Boko Haram and ISWAP shows no sign of conclusion. Kidnapping for ransom has become worryingly frequent across all regions of the country. Southern Nigeria is witnessing a surge in ritual killings and unrest, while banditry continues unabated in Northern Nigeria, claiming the lives of many children through drug addiction. It is important to commend Dr. Buba Marwa for his extraordinary efforts in combating drug trafficking. Cybercrime, growing at an alarming rate, has blemished Nigeria's image both nationally and internationally. This grim situation is leading to the loss of our most valuable strategic assets, such as engineers, medical doctors, nurses, and professors, thereby contributing to a significant brain drain.
The absence of security is the absence of peace and stability, and in such a volatile environment, foreign investors will naturally be reluctant. Therefore, the following action plan is proposed:
1. Appoint an experienced National Security Advisor and equip them with the constitutional power required to coordinate intelligence and national security assets.
2. Refrain from appointing retired military personnel from previous administrations who may be more interested in preserving the status quo.
3. Advocate for interagency collaboration and the depoliticization of Nigerian security issues.
4. Foster collaborations with the academic community. Academics and research institutions can offer vital evaluations of existing policies, strategies, and practices, allowing for data-driven decision-making and fresh perspectives in defense and security.
The path towards a stable, secure, and prosperous Nigeria may indeed be a long and challenging one. It demands a blend of strong leadership, international collaboration, and innovative solutions. Sen. Bola Tinubu and his administration can set Nigeria on a better future by prioritizing national security and striving to turn challenges into opportunities.
Oludare Ogunlana, Ph.D., a national security intelligence professor, writes from Texas, USA.