From Fred Itua, Abuja
Ethnicity and religious biases have been blamed for the growing insecurity in the country.
According to the Director General of National Assembly’s National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), Professor Abubakar Suleiman, the distrust among the various ethnic and religious groups as well as refusal to have a common position on issues about security are affecting the country.
Suleiman, who served as minister of National Planning during President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, said a national conference on security was needed while calling for a complete overhaul of the security architecture of the country.
The former DG, who spoke during a capacity building workshop for clerks and deputy clerks of security committees in the two chambers of the National Assembly, called for an end to ethnic profiling, insisting that no tribe, region or religion was insulated from the nationwide security challenges.
He said it was important for the National Assembly, through the various committees on security to articulate policies of government that would serve as blueprint in tackling the challenges.
“The security architecture itself is outdated and not fit-for-purpose. Whereas security challenges have evolved and become more sophisticated, the security infrastructure has not kept pace with these trends. This is despite substantial funding to the sector and efforts by the Federal Government to improve the performance and effectiveness sector.
“A study in 2020 also showed significant overlaps in the mandates of the various security agencies which can, sometimes, lead to confusion, inefficiency and occasionally outright conflict. These further undermine the capacity of security agencies to respond effectively and decisively.
“These and other issues have been at the centre of our engagement with security-based committees in the House of Representatives in 2020. Through frank and honest interaction with legislators and representatives of security and other executive agencies, we reached a consensus that reform of the security sector in Nigeria is long overdue.
“Security sector reform must account for the overall security context and address the fundamentals as well as the specifics. Effective management, transparency and accountability of the security sector is just as necessary as with any other part of the public sector.
“Some of the areas of reform identified so far include review of legislations to reduce ambiguity and establish clear procedures and guidelines for collaboration and coordination in managing public safety and public order, internal security, terrorism and terrorism financing, protection of national infrastructure, customs and excise, immigration and financial crimes.
“Other areas of reform do not necessarily require legislative action and include the promotion of ‘informal’ collaborative structures and mechanisms between security agencies, strengthening the capacity of the National Assembly and its Committees to effectively conduct oversight of security budgets and activities and improving transparency and accountability through greater citizen participation and engagement with CSOs.”