A special security event convoked by the leadership and members of the National Association of Online Security Reporters (NAOSRE) on December 11 in Lagos, 2020, brought new light on the insecurity bedeviling Nigeria.
The brainstorming event––NAOSRE’s maiden Dinner Night and Discourse–– was organized by the body’s new executives that took over the helm of affairs barely two months ago, specifically on October 29.
NAOSRE’s members comprised professional journalists with strong media credentials who have worked with the conventional media and are now reporting on digital platforms, some of them, Nigeria’s finest hands in security reportage.
Established with the main objective to provide accuracy, transparency in relaying security news, the association also stands as the long-expected information bridge between citizens and security agents.
To this end, it has successfully established a sustainable working relationship with key security players in the corporate world and security agencies in Nigeria, including but not limited to the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air Force, Nigeria Police Force, and Nigeria Customs Service as well as Federal Road Safety Corps.
Without a doubt, NAOSRE’s clout in Nigeria’s security stratosphere was displayed by the event of December 11, which, as it were, has passed into history as a watershed in the annals of security discourse in the country.
The Dinner Night and Discourse drew participants, guests, and speakers from the safety and security agencies, the legislative arm of government, traditional leadership and corporate organizations, and of course, the media––both traditional and the digital media.
Interestingly, the evening of intelligent discourse with a theme: “2021 Nigeria Security: Issues, Funding, and Prospect,” unlocked a plethora of security solutions and ideas.
Expectedly, the convergence of key players in the security circle opened the windows set of suggestions that would embellish 2021 security policy formulation and implementations in a manner that Nigeria would be one of the secured countries on the continent.
Femi Oyewale, NAOSRE’s President, in his welcome address, set the tone for the event:
“Today’s security discourse was birthed out of the need to address the security issues in Nigeria, bearing in mind that 2020 has been a very tough year for citizens, businesses, and indeed, the security sector.”
Oyewale’s remark was, unmistakably, the needed bullet that hit the bull’s eye, considering the various security challenges that reared up in the course of the year, culminating in the catharsis of the #ENDSARS protest.
It provided room for elaborate sharing of ideas and offered a 360-degree view of Nigeria’s security apparatus. Each security apparatus spoke on the unique challenges confronting their efficiency on the job, as well as also informed the public about the gains and the good strides that have been achieved by their respective organizations.
From the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, came to a detailed analysis of the use of hi-tech speed sensors to check the recklessness of drivers on Nigerian roads and thus secure road transportation in the country.
Superintendent Route Commander, SRC, E. Olasehinde who represented Bisi Kazeem, the spokesman for the Commission, elaborated the professional working abilities of Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi. He disclosed that the Corps has “Embraced technology in all its operations.”
He hinted that a drivers’ license issued by FRSC in Nigeria can validate a user’s driving permission across many countries in the world. He however sued for strict adherence to driving rules and codes by road users to mitigate the growing list of disasters on Nigerian roads.
The National Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Deputy Comptroller Joseph Attah, gave a wide-angle view of the new developments. “We are not relenting. We continue to do our best to drastically reduce smuggling to the barest minimum,” he assured.
Represented by Uche Ejesieme, PRO Tin Can Island Port, the Customs Service elaborated its deployment of intelligence in the discharge of its duties at all the country’s points of entry.
The Customs particularly advocated for synergy among security agents in view of the multifaceted dimensions of border security.
Superintendent Adebisi Adewunmi, who represented Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command, Hakeem Odumosu, highlighted: “There is need to spend money and there is need to inject more funds in the security apparatus from military to the Police.”Speaking further, he said: “In Lagos, Policemen work 24/7. They are overstretched. But with proper funding, everyone will sleep with their eyes closed.”
Adewunmi, however, noted that the work of the police is further made difficult by online mischief-makers who created unnecessary panic. “Please join hands with the police, tell us our wrongs, but don’t encourage sensational journalism that can further breach the peace in society,” he appealed to NAOSRE.
Adewunmi acknowledged the positive development arising from the fallout of the #ENDSARS protest: “We have been promised an improved salary and retirement package.”
Major Osoba Olaniyi, who represented Brigadier General Sagir Musa, Acting Director, Army Public Relations, disclosed that “Nigerian Army is conducting internal security operations in 34 states.”
Major Olaniyi, Acting Deputy Director, 81 Division Army Public Relations, explained: “We accept criticism because we are a professional institution. However, what we don’t want is casting aspersion on us, because it has the tendency to weaken the resolve of those still fighting and dishonor the memories of our fallen heroes; it also has the tendency to undermine national unity.”
Olaniyi, responding to concerns raised about members of Police and Army impunity when dealing with civilians affirmed: “Irrespective of whatever uniform we wear, we still share the same humanity with members of society. And we shall try to remain humane with you.”
He nonetheless advised the public to report cases of infractions to 81 Division and 9th Brigade, stressing that Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff, has zero-tolerance for indiscipline among officers and men especially in relating with the general public.
Corroborating Major Osoba’s submission, Superintendent Adewunmi added that: “There will always be Judas among people. The same applies to the Nigeria Police. But be assured that we are doing all we can to train our men on how to relate with the public.”
He gave the anecdote of how some communities rose to protect Police officers and prevented attacks on police stations located in their neighborhood. “Citizens should imbibe the spirit of supporting security agents at all times,” he requested.
Various speakers from the non-security sector further expanded the evening discourse.
Dr. Tony Akposheri, veteran Nollywood actor, who represented Prince Honourable Ned Nwoko, Grand Patron, NAOSRE, pointed out that the public has roles to play in the security of our society.
“We cannot leave everything to the government,” he noted and further submitted: “Nigerian security discourse is timely at this time of our nation, not the issue of sacking service chiefs; if they are sacked and the right things are not in place the situation will not improve.”
Dr. Akposheri noted further that: “Our security personnel is not adequately well taken care of and the number of security operatives in this country is not adequate,” he said, pointing out other deficits including working with obsolete tools and technology.
In his view, “Children of security agents should enjoy free education from primary school to university.” This, he averred, would boost the morale of security operatives.
“We are not happy with the state of the Nigerian Police. They are not well remunerated. There should be transparency in what goes to them as earnings and allowances,” Akposheri declared
Barrister Yinka Oguntimehin who represented Aare Ona-Kakanfo of Yoruba land, Otunba Gani Adams, dwelt on how the police institution has decayed over time. He recounted the heart-breaking revelations on a recent radio program about the poor salary of policemen.
The highly respected Oba, who was accompanied to the event by Chief Lateef S. Saminu, Olisa Egbin, supported his suggestion with a story of a man who once secured and safeguarded a bank in Ibadan without being physically present.
Nollywood star, Paul Obazele reflected on the trauma of the recent protest and called for more citizens’ co-operation with security agents.