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THE SSS AND LAW ENFORCEMENT IN NIGERIA – Its Origin, Excesses & Possible Solutions

The activities of the State Security Service (SSS) is now a daily news headline in Nigeria. This is a shame because a security outfit, setup to be most discreet is now itself in the news every week. This fact already goes to show the SSS is no longer fit for purpose as presently constituted. I will like to give some background information to contextualise my thesis.

This post is not about PMB as the excesses of the SSS predated the PMB administration. Although the style and body language of a President can shape the attitude of the SSS as history has shown. This thread is also not about SSS-Bashing per se; but a critical examination of how its current setup promotes abuse, lack of accountability and potential lawlessness.

IT’S ORIGIN
The Nigeria police had an Intelligence wing named the Special Branch.  Prior to the 1976 coup, internal security and intelligence was handled by the police Special Branch, a Secret Police, while external intelligence was conducted by the Research Department DSS-operatives(RD), a unit of the External Affairs ministry. The Special Branch was the intelligence brain-box of the NPF. First after its failure to intercept any information about the coup against Gowon the military head of state was losing confidence in the Special Branch and the RD. But after the coup that killed Murtala Mohammed (few months later); the Military Junta could no longer trust the Military intelligence operations, Special Branch or the RD; so they decided to create a new Civilian Intelligence outfit exclusively reporting to the Head of State. MD Yussuf the IGP at the time looked on helplessly.

So; the Special Branch was carved out of the Police and formed into a new outfit under the direct control of the Head of State. This new outfit was named the Nigerian Security Organization (NSO). The NSO was created by Decree number 27 of 1976 by the military regime of Gen. Obasanjo, after the failed Dimka coup which claimed the life of Gen. Murtala Mohammed. The NSO was given a mandate of co-ordinating Internal Security, Foreign Intelligence and counterintelligence activities. It was charged with the detection and prevention of any crime against the security of the state, with the protection of classified materials, and with carrying out any other security missions assigned by the president. The main focus of the NSO was Regime Preservation. At inception; the NSO, was staffed by a mix of military intelligence officers, some fresh recruits, officers of the RD and former police Special Branch officers.

During the time of the military regime, and continuing through the Second Republic, the NSO was accused of carrying out systematic and widespread human rights abuses, especially of those seen to be critical of the government. So, the abuses are not new.

In June 1986, Gen. IBB issued Decree Number 19, dissolving the NSO and re-structuring Nigeria’s security services into THREE separate entities. The State Security Service (SSS) was made responsible for domestic intelligence, with Director General Ismaila Gwarzo. The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) controlled external intelligence and counterintelligence. The Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) was tasked with military-related intelligence outside and inside Nigeria. So, the SSS became the primary domestic intelligence agency of Nigeria. It is primarily responsible for intelligence gathering within the country and for the protection of senior government officials, particularly the President and state governors.

CORE DUTIES
The legal name of the outfit is SSS. They decided to nick name themselves as the DSS (based on a document called Instrument No1 signed by Gen Abubakar few days to the end of his tenure in 1999). DSS is not an entity known to law in Nigeria. That is why in all legal proceedings they are always referred to as the SSS (their Legal name). When focusing on its main duty of Intelligence, gathering, the SSS have actually recorded many successes to their credit. Aside from the basic duties to secure the leading politicians, the SSS has recorded some successes some of which are:

1) The agency in its early day was credited with the arrest of the Egyptian bomber Omar Mohammed Ali Rezaq in 1993 while he was trying to enter Nigeria through the Nigeria–Benin border.

2) In October 2010, the SSS intercepted a large cache of arms and ammunition originating from Iran at the Apapa port in Lagos; this in spite of a UN arms embargo on Iran.

3) Due to the SSS undercover work; In September 2001, six Pakistani proselyters invited by the Lagos-based Tabliq, a Muslim NGO were arrested in Benue State on suspicion of immigration violations and they were subsequently deported on November 18. This spared the nation needless religious tension.

Despite these and many other successes; the SSS have sadly become a personal tool of oppression in the hands of the Presidency and those it favours in all governments.

EQUIPMENT
From 2010 onwards, the standard issue assault rifles used by SSS Operatives are the IMI Tavor Tar-21 assault rifle produced by Israeli Military Industries and the FN P90 personal protection weapon, FN F2000 assault rifle, both manufactured by FN Herstal; these rifles replace the Uzi as the primary assault weapon of the SSS. Operatives also use various side arms and pistols from a number of manufacturers including Glock, and Browning. These operatives are better equipped and trained than their NPF counterparts. Hence, the NPF will be no match for them if there is any confrontation. It is interesting to see how well and better trained and equipped the SSS is (who secures the VIPs) compared to the poorly trained and badly equipped Nigeria Police Force who are supposed to secure the masses.

The SSS also have IMSI number catchers and signal direction finders have can be deployed for intercepting and tracking GSM and satellite phone communications. They have capacity to intercept ALL telephone communications in Nigeria. With so much power also comes abuses as we have seen.

THEIR EXCESSES
Now to the excesses and abuses as well as impunity of the SSS. Given its origin, the SSS (and its predecessor NSO) have always considered themselves as the Untouchables. They are the personal security army of the sitting President. Under the law setting up the SSS, in addition to its stated duties; there is one last line that is the root cause of all its abuses. That portion of the Act states that the SSS will perform such other duties as prescribed by the President. This catch-all phrase is the basis of all abuses by the SSS. It is also the basis upon which they cannot refuse the order to perform “any other duties” as directed by the President. This is the basis of their impunity and disregard for any other authority but that of the President.

The SSS is always the President’s scarecrow, and are used to do any job the law restricts other agencies from doing. They hide under ‘classified’ operations. Even the SSS Budget and Manpower is classified. We all can remembered recently when the EFCC was physically restrained from arresting a former DG SSS fingered in massive corruption. The SSS are considered untouchable by the Police. Sources in the police told me unanimously that the NPF cannot effect an arrest against SSS wishes; even with a court order to do so. One officer told me that will be a “Suicide mission”. Their former DG, Daura did the unimaginable and told the VP Osinbajo he wasn’t answerable to him even when the VP was the acting President. The VP fired him. Since then, many rumoured that PMB has never hand over to the VP when traveling. So SSS loyalty seems to be to the PERSON who is the President and not just to the OFFICE.

So as presently operated; the SSS feels it is only answerable to Mr President, (PMB) and nobody else; not even to the courts. This is an UNLAWFUL stance; but who will enforce a court order against the SSS? Definitely not the NPF. This reality is an added basis for Impunity by the SSS.

In the case of Sowore; several credible sources told me the SSS is under instruction not to release him. If this is true; then it seems like sheer wickedness and vindictiveness and that the government are bent on teaching him a lesson. This is wrong. So, dozens of court orders will not change the position of the outfit; until the Presidency says otherwise. They will dither and obfuscate and play all manner of tricks to avoid releasing Sowore it seems. This posture of the SSS is unlawful and unconstitutional. But they are emboldened by the fact that no other security agency can force them to comply with the orders of the court. In SSS, we have a Rouge Agency who sees itself as untouchable; whose activities are shrouded in secrecy and who answers only to one man. This is a danger to democracy anywhere.

POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS!
So, what can be done to bring SSS back to its main focus on national Intelligence Gathering? I accept there is a need for a domestic Intelligence agency in Nigeria; but its role should strictly be Intelligence Gathering. The National Security Agencies Act, Decree 19 of June 5, 1986, established the SSS; so the NA can amend this act as follows:

1) Make SSS only an Intelligence Gathering agency only and remove all enforcement duties from it. That should be the duties of the Nigerian Police.

2) The SSS duties must be made solely covert in nature. No more hooded men in Vans terrorising citizens. The SSS should also be removed from checking passports at our Airports. The Immigration Service can access their database and effect arrests as necessary. No more should we be made to produce our passports to two separate people at airports. The SSS presence at the airports should become purely covert and invisible.

3) The Nigerian Police Special Protection Unit (SPU) should be trained and empowered to take over the other duties of current SSS that involves securing safety of top politicians and their families.

4) The operations of the SSS should be brought under the oversight of a Senate Intelligence Committee; who will have power to sanction them and dismiss their boss. Although operationally, the President can remain in charge of directing the priorities of the SSS.

5) It must be made clear that the most dominant civil security agency in Nigeria is the NPF. They must be better equipped, trained and supported. The NPF MUST be able to enforce an order of the court against any other security agency (and their senior officials) in Nigeria.

6) The overall budget and manpower of the SSS, must be published and made available to all Nigerians. Breakdown can be classified for security reasons; but its overall allocation and expenditure MUST be published.

7) The NA should commission an annual report on the state of our security services in Nigeria. This will provide democratic review of their activities, budget and recommend improvements on an annual basis.

The relevant Senate Committee should be given more powers over the SSS other than basic advisory scrutiny. The focus must be the strengthening of the Nigerian Police. The relegation of the role of our police promoted by the Military has yet to be reversed. This must now be done as a priority. The Police must be strengthened and empowered.

In the dying days of his government in 1999, Gen Abubakar signed what was known as Instrument 1, which is a document dictating how SSS will operate and be directed by him, the Head of State. To the SSS, this document is their Bible and not Nigerian Constitution. This should not be so.

As stated in this article; the SSS have achieved major security victories for the nation when they focus on their core duties. But when they choose to become errand boys to any politician; then do a disservice to the valiant men and women amongst them who do us proud daily. Accountability is seldom voluntary. Instruments have to be put in place to demand it and enforce it. That is what the SSS need.

This article does not pretend to provide a perfect solution or a full story about the SSS, but a starting point for a national debate of how we can reform the SSS and our security sector as a whole. I hope these ideas can be mixed with others to move our nation forward. We all have a part to play.

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EMERGENCY SECURITY ACTION FOR NIGERIA

The dire state of the Security services in Nigeria in no longer sustainable. Things can only get worse unless the govt act quickly to fix the situation. The first thing the govt need to accept is that there is no purely security solution to our insecurity. There also has to be Socio-Economic measures put in place to block the pipeline of new criminality we now see in Nigeria. But to establish a coherent policy; an Emergency Security Summit (ESS) should be organised by the President as a matter of urgency. This will bring together experts from within govt and outside of govt along with other key stake holders to design a solution to our increasing insecurity. The govt’s approach seems ad-hoc, disjointed, reactive and not Intelligence-Led.  00340825_3ec9962f652bb1d6c5fc7dbc8d53071c_arc614x376_w1200

The ESS must last no longer than a week and practical measures must be produced to address the sliding chaos in the nation. Why is an ESS necessary, you may ask? There are a few reasons:

1. The President current lives in a bubble and as such experiences selective narrative of what is going on and what is possible. Leaders if not careful surrounds themselves with those that affirms their blind spot rather than those that challenge it to bring broader perspectives. I am certain, PMB is being fed a narrowed perspective which has excluded many workable solutions. An ESS will enable him to see the entire spectrum of possibilities beyond his current narrow diet.

2. If you want to get something you have never got; you need to do something you have never done. An ESS will be a new action that will naturally produce new ideas the govt has never had before. It will allow fresh thinking and outside perspectives that can upturn the narrow fixation of those currently managing our security.

3. An ESS, will demonstrate the willingness of govt to indeed do ALL THAT IS NECESSARY to secure the nation. They have nothing to lose but everything to gain.

4. Nigeria has a lot of talent in the security field that are not being utilised. Many retired officers exist that now possess additional skill and insight that will help the nation. ESS will allow their input to be secured as additional perspectives.

Service-chiefs-Nigeria-military5. An ESS will create a Joined-Up solution instead of the agency-led silo activities that current exemplify our security responses. Too many disparate activities by the various agencies create waste. Nigeria has 21 agencies & ministries that relates to Security. There is no joined up platform for them or any strategic operational glue that binds them together. An ESS will force cooperation on them as tactical steps will have to be joined-up as they will all be present on the table.

6. If nothing else; an ESS will validate (through external experts) the actions of current security services, if indeed they have been doing the correct things. This will help build public support for them as they are currently viewed as incompetent and corrupt.

7. An ESS, will be a good platform to launch a new tactical and strategic operational security activities as the new Presidential term begins. Simply doing more of what has not worked in the past for years will not produce a different outcome.

So Mr President, we need an urgent Emergency Security Summit (ESS) to breath new life into this dead swamp of outdated and incoherent security operations. We must do ALL that is necessary when it comes to securing the nation. As I have stated before; there is no prosperous but insecure nation on earth. Security is the fundamental prerequisite for economic growth and democratic advancement. Enough of business as usual.

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ACHIEVING A DEVOLVED POLICE WITH  A NATIONAL NPF – A Quick Solution for Effective State Policing

State Police will be inevitable once there is full fiscal federalism in Nigeria. But state police without the fiscal firepower will be a disaster for most states. You don’t want unpaid armed police roaming the states. They will not act as peacefully as the civil servants have done in most states. But , the current centralised police force which has emasculated State Governors and turn them to mere observers in their own states is untenable. So what can we do in the interim? In the meantime; what can we do to create some devolved policing within a centralised command that the NPF has? Given the division caused by the call for state police, I believe I may have a compromise solution.

Section 215 (4) of the 1999 Constitution as Amended states:  Nigerian-police-1

“Subject   to   the   provisions   of   this   section, the   Governor   of   a   state   or   such Commissioner of the Government state as he may authorise in that behalf, MAY give  to  the  Commissioner  of  Police  of  that  state  such  lawful  directions  with respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order within the  state  as  he  may  consider  necessary,  and  the  Commissioner  of  Police  shall comply with those directions or cause them to be complied with:

Provided  that  before  carrying  out  any  such  directions  under  the  foregoing provisions  of  this  subsection  the  Commissioner  of  Police  MAY  request  that  the matter  be  referred  to  the  President  or  such  minister  of  the  Government  of  the Federation   as   may   be   authorised   in   that   behalf   by   the   President   for   his directions”

This is the clause commissioners have used to ignore or disobey the instructions of Governors since 1999. The word MAY is the problem. The Governor May give lawful direction to the CP and the CP May refer such direction to Abuja before obeying it. This constitutional May; has become a MUST in relational to CPs having to check with Abuja before obeying any order from the Governors. So an amendment to the constitution will be needed.

A simple constitutional amendment should seek two things:

  1. Every state must be required to produce a 5yr State Security Strategy. This strategy will be submitted for approval by National Police Council or Police Service Commission. Once approved; this becomes the security blueprint for the state.
  2. Section 215 should replace the word MAY with the word WILL as long as the instruction from the state Governor is in line with the approved State Security Strategy.

With this small change; the NPF remains a national force and the deployments of Commissioners remains unchanged. But a Governor will gain the right to instruct the commissioner as long as that is in line with the federally approved, State Security Strategy. This will create greater accountability as Governors will now have the legal force to deliver on their security plan with the backing of the police command in their state.

The security priorities of each state will be different. Also the current ad-hoc responses of Governors to security challenges must also stop. They need to have a multi-year security strategy for their states. Once this strategy is approved; the CP can be instructed by the Governor to deliver based on it.

Full State Policing can then be put into the pot of devolved functions as part of a wholesome restructuring that include fiscal devolution. Until then, this small change in the constitution can be a test of the Governor’s capacity to manage security. Some use inability to direct the CP as excuse to hide their incompetence. With this small change in the constitution; the Governors will have no hiding place or be able to blame anyone else for insecurity in their states.

Of course a few other procedural and protocol related issues will need to be fine-tuned; but this is doable and it can be done very quickly. It is also not controversial, hence stands the opportunity to win universal support.

This may not be what some wants, but it will move us closer to Governors taking more responsibilities for their states & a strategy will ensure some forward thinking as well as planning in advance. This can only be good compared to d reactive paralysis we have now. So help us God.

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Misplaced FOCUS on Executive Power in Nigeria

Over the past weeks; I have complained about the many vagueness, lacunas and mischiefs present in Nigerian 1999 Constitution as amended. This has led to many confusion, executive and legislative overreach as well as as judicial shenanigans since 1999. To make matters worse; all the military decrees in force as at 1999, were all absorbed as Acts of NA and remain valid till today except if specifically repealed by the NA. Hence, we have many Acts that conflicts with the Constitution and the confusion becomes even more confusing. 

This constitutional self mutilation has therefore given many judges the latitude to make judgements that stretches the sensibilities of the constitution. Lack of judicial fidelity to the texts of the constitution either due to corruption, ignorance or sheer laziness has hampered the development of our jurisprudence in a very bad way. The NA is the most important body in a democracy, because it is the custodian of the self-adaptive lifeline that keeps democracy responsive to the wishes and needs of the people.

A pro-active & effective NA will be so adept at updating our laws that the courts will have no opportunity for judicial activism. Sadly, most Nigerians focus too much on the Executive Arm and who occupies them that the Legislature has been more or less ignored. Most Nigerians bother more who is the Governor or President that who occupies the SoA or NA. This is sad.

Consequence of the citizens abdication of their democratic intelligence has given the crooked political elite the opportunity to fill the Legislature with the illiterate, immature, compliant, unintelligent, lazy, greedy and corrupt army of human robots who represents the worst of us. This is particularly the case in the SHoAs across Nigeria. We are supposed to be getting better as a Nation but our legislature are getting worse.  Seal_of_the_Senate_of_Nigeria.svg

13 yrs ago the Senate during screening; interviewed some candidates for two hrs, asking real and cogent questions….but today, they simply ask them to Bow and go after 5mins mostly. How is that progress. Hillary Clinton; an ex First Lady and ex Senator, was screened for 16hrs before becoming the American Secretary of State. That is a Legislature that knows their duty and have competent hands to carry it out. With half of them asleep or on a frolic of their own, our Senator so far, do not paint themselves in good colour in this 9th Assembly. Where is the intellectual rigour? When is the Check and balance function.

One of the final rule passed by the 8th Senate was that the President must submit the names of his nominees with portfolio to make screening more meaningful. The first thing Sen Lawan did as Senate President of the 9th NA was to abolish that rule and give the Executive liberty to avoid real scrutiny. If we are to develop as a proper democracy; we must beef up the calibre of people in the Legislature. That was my criticism of the many Youth who all wanted to be President in the last election. Many would have stood a better chance in the Legislative elections.

To build Nigeria, we must have an effective, intelligent, proactive, bold and transformational Legislature at all levels. Until we see an effective legislature, we will never see an effective Executive. What is the incentive to do the right things when there is nobody to hold you accountable in a meaningful way. As we plan for the next general election; all the Nigerian youth should come together; and invade the Legislature by standing as candidates and voting for new law makers. Until this is done; any attempt at Executive change or good governance will fail. This is a predictable outcome from the lessons of our history.

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Reforming the Security Sector in Nigeria

Security Sector Reform (SSR) is a task has has not been completed successfully by any African nation that has initiated it. Even in Burundi, which is commended for its SSR initiative, there is still a long way to go. There is however a common factor in all these failed attempts at SSR in Africa. This is a factor Western nations learned much earlier in their evolution of policing and security

This key factor is “Policing by Consent”. No nation can afford to recruit police officers to match its population numbers as that will become too expensive and unaffordable. The basis of Policing by consent is that majority of citizens support the police and what they do and cooperates with it. This fact will enable the police to focus on the tiny minority of the population that break the law. Focusing on the small number of law breakers allows the police to focus its resources for maximum impact.police-recruit

But what do you do when majority of citizens do not like the police and the way they operate? This question reflects what is happening in Nigeria as well as many African nations. The lack of trust in security forces caused by historical abuses and misconducts is having a devastating impact on police-public relationships across the continent. This is not helped by the apparent focus of security on Regime Preservation instead of civil protection of ordinary citizens.

In parts of Africa, the public harbours a strong resentment of the security sector, especially the police, whom many perceive as agents of repression. This lack of confidence in the security sector has resulted in a willingness to resort to vigilantism or “mob justice.” Perpetrators of such violence have justified the need to take the law into their own hands on the basis of police corruption, incompetence, and favouritism.

A safe and secure environment requires sound governance of the security and justice sectors. Countries where governance of the security and justice sectors has been suboptimal have tended to experience higher rates of impunity by security and justice sector actors.

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In many countries, there is still a strong preference within security assistance programs for a traditional “train and equip” approach that is very light on the governance aspects of SSR. There are good reasons to provide operational support, but if not also linked to improving governance; operational support alone risks bolstering the repressive capability of unaccountable security forces.

The best example in Africa (although not perfect by any means) was the SSR programme in Burundi. The SSR program was established in April 2009 with the signing of an 8-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the governments of Burundi and the Netherlands.

 Strategic Objectives of the Burundi-Netherlands SSD Program:

  • Affirmation of the principles of partnership between the two governments through political dialogue
  • Accountability of the security services to civil authorities
  • Adherence of the security services to national and international law
  • Adherence of the security services to the general principles of public expenditure
  • Impartiality on the part of the security services
  • Professionalism of the security services

Source: Mémorandum d’Entente, 2009, Annex B.

A major lesson being learnt from the Burundi experience is that “politicisation of the change programme”. is a major obstacle to delivery of effective change in the security sector. In a country like Nigeria; this is even worse, as everything is politicised. This is typically highly nontransparent and is generally intended to control the change process and often to blunt its impact by those keen to maintain the dysfunction represented by the status quo.

Back to Nigeria; to reform our security sector; there has to be focus on FOUR key areas.

1. POLITICS HAS TO BE PUT AT CENTERSTAGE. Denying the fact the politics is a big player in our security architecture is living a lie. Governments of all types and key political players see control of the security sector as an existential necessity. Hence, change initiatives are designed to fail in order to perpetuate their control. Standards are weakened and rules and not enforced. The success of SSR programs depends heavily on the ability to address politically sensitive issues.

This ability is particularly important for addressing the governance aspects of SSR. So, the politics of Security Sector Management and Operation has to be confronted and placed on the table for discussion. Denial of its existence is guaranteed to make any SSR initiative dead on arrival. So we have to confront the politics. Politicians in the past have created silos of security agencies that do not cooperate and have no system interoperability in any shape whatsoever. They will resist any change especially if it will lead to a consolidation of the fractured security landscape that currently exist. This is why we must frontally address the politics of security management.

2. DEVELOP AN INCREMENTAL APPROACH TO REFORM RATHER THAN A QUICK BLAST. Reforming what has taken decades to develop cannot be done successfully overnight. So SSR has to be seen as an incremental undertaking that will adapt as it goes on to prevailing political realities. This has to be an evolutionary rather than revolutionary initiative. This will allow trust to be built along the way as the fears of key players are successfully addressed. The understandable impatience of the weary citizenry must not be allowed to derail a project that should take time to bed in take shape.

3. NEED FOR A POWERFUL EXTERNAL FACILITATOR BUT LOCAL OWNERSHIP MUST BE PROMOTED. SSR tend to work better when there is an external but influential body or nation partnering with the country. They will serve as honest brokers amongst the competing interests but will also have enough leverage to force politicians to come to the table and compromise as needed. Alongside this; local ownership of the process must be promoted. A good SSR cannot be seen as externally managed or imposed. Local ownership is essential.

A key goal of a SSR programme is to make clear to all players that security had multiple dimensions beyond a purely military orientation, or use of force. This principle allows for a more citizen friendly ethos to be cultivated amongst the security forces. Security must be seen as “everybody’s responsibility.

4. A REALISTIC TIMEFRAME MUST BE ALLOCATED AND THIS MUST INVOLVE MORE THAN ONE POLITICAL TERM. An SSR initiative cannot be started and completed in four years. In a national like Nigeria, I will suggest Eight years at the least. This has to be made clear from the beginning. Thus, the SSR initiative should not become part of the political game that accompany a re-election campaign.

Time is also ended to change attitudes and perceptions. Security sector governance issues (transparent budget management, legal framework of the security sector, internal control and independent complaints mechanism etc) take time to change. Many of the players are ignorant of the bigger picture and why these changes are necessary; hence time will be needed to educate and convince them.

It is therefore my recommendation that the government of Nigeria set up a Steering Board, made of key Ministers, and political Stakeholders but chaired by Mr President himself. A second Body of Experts (BoE) should also be established made of security sector experts and current players in this sector from all the security services.

This Body of Experts will serve as the Implementation body that reports directly to the Steering Board. An external change partner should be invited to help referee this process. This can be an AU or UN body or a friendly but influential nation like the UK or USA. External support will help provide easy access to global resources needed to midwife the reform of the security sector in Nigeria.

The structure of how they will operate and how they will go about doing their duties will be a matter for another writeup.

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Nigeria on the Edge of an Economic Precipice in 2019

The expansionist left-leaning of APC amounts to BIG govt. In the 2019 budget proposal, the total Revenue is approx N6Trillion. But the Recurrent (4T) & Debt servicing (2T) is also N6Trillion. So the Capital expenditure proposed is mostly out of new Borrowing. Unaffordable budgets usually fail.kollaps

The govt should first reduce its borrowing…so no more debt. Drive efficiency out of its bloated structures and bring down the Recurrent expenditure. Privatize to get more Revenue. This current trajectory is unsustainable. Entire Revenue in 2019 budget as proposed is consumed by Recurrent expenses & Debt Servicing. We are in trouble economically as a nation if Borrowing becomes the only way to fund capital projects. This is not about APC/PDP; it is about an economy heading in the wrong direction if changes are not made.

This also explains why the government chose an unrealistic 2.3Million BPD output for 2019 when this year we averaged only 1.8Million bpd and OPEC just yesterday announced a cut in production that will require us to limit production to 1.6Million BPD. Govt also base the 2019 oil price at $60 per barrel when it is currently in mid-50s. These are unrealistic assumptions. So the budget as currently proposed cannot be funded.

bad.jpgWhen faced with such difficulties a government has only TWO reasonable OPTIONS.

First, you increase your Revenue or secondly, you reduce your expenditure. Debt servicing is Fixed at N2Trillion at the moment; so the Recurrent expenditure has to be reduced from its current high of N4Trillion. (This is without the new Minimum wage being taken into account). Or the government has to increase its revenue. This will require a SMALL Govt mentality, where privatization (done properly) will raise Billions for the government and allow the private sector to drive the growth of the economy.

We simply cannot borrow our way to economic growth. The current financial health of the country is precarious and we all need to take off our partisan binoculars and campaign for what is needed to save this nation from financial collapse. Our focus should be on:

– Smaller government.

– More efficient Public Sector.

– Reduce Recurrent spending.

– Increase Revenue generation.

– Reduce borrowing (thus reducing debt servicing cost)

– Privatisation to Raise Revenue for government

– Deregulation of centralised sectors such as Power. The government needs to do less and allow the private sector to drive growth needed.

I see trouble ahead whoever wins in 2019. We need to see the cliff ahead of us.

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My Top TEN Problems with President Buhari

It is not a secret that I supported PMB in the 2015 Presidential election. I was a big fan and supporter of the President. While I became disappointed earlier on in this administration, but I felt maybe things will change with a bit more time. However, I grew increasingly disillusioned by the direction of the government and its self-mutilating tendencies. So, I have not seen any reason to support PMB re-election ambition at the moment, although that may change. I will need to see a few changes in approach and tone to be convinced things will be any different if re-elected in 2019.

My main concerns with PMB and his government are:buhari-2

1. Inadequate communication of the context of what the government has been doing. Lack of a central Policy Team to harmonise policy decisions on a unified basis. Lai Mohammed is a good political spokesman but a terrible Minister for Information. The President’s spokesmen also seem to make matters worse with their style of communication. We all know communication is not PMB’s best asset, hence we expected he would appoint the best people with the gift of the gab and knowledge of public relations, not just media relations.

2. Simply blaming the previous administration for everything. It began to sound like excuses after a while. No acceptance of responsibility for its own actions. The more focus is given to what the previous government did, the less we see and know what this government is doing. Change the narrative.

3. Not acknowledging the mistakes of the current PMB administration. We do not expect perfection, but without acknowledging errors, the government loses the power to convince us they can fix the issues. You cannot fix a problem you have refused to accept exists. There are lots of people who wish this government well, but are shocked that there has been no admission of errors or unmet Manifesto promises. How can we be assured you will do better if you do not acknowledge what you did not do too well in.

4. Not accepting there is a problem with the slow pace of this government in comparison to the urgent actions expected by Nigerians. The government did not behave like it has a Four year mandate. Six months to appoint Ministers in an economy on a downward spiral is negligence and unexplainable. One can be forgiven to think this government was voted in for a ten year term given the crawling pace of every decision taken. Things have been done at too slow pace. This is made contrastingly obvious by the energy and responsiveness we see from the Vice President anytime he acts as President. It shows what is possible.

5. The government has failed to score some obvious quick wins of low hanging fruits of policies that will generate support and goodwill from Nigerians. Yes there has been a lot of good work done by this government; but to an average citizen, things have got from bad to worse in their daily experiences. They are not getting the acknowledgement of their suffering from the government.

6. The President has not been seen as being able or willing to hold any of his team to account. No queries, no sacking, no consequence for bad behaviour or disobedience to his orders, no new thinking or innovation, etc. The president just appears to be stuck in the past and removed from reality.

7. No overarching Vision for the country has been given by the President. Where are we going as a nation? What is the big picture? Stumbling along will score some successes, but that is no replacement for an overarching plan.

8. Over-Politicisation of issues. Corruption for instance is a PDP and APC problem. It is a Nigerian problem. Making corruption look like simply a PDP issue is wrong and insulting our intelligence. This erodes credibility when we all know the thieves that have joined APC from PDP being shielded and made to look like saints. Some of the biggest looters of the last two decades are now in APC and many of the current ones are the staunchest supporters of the President. Balance need to be brought to this fight against corruption; but most importantly, its root causes need to be addressed.

9. We know the President cannot do everything, how about his team. His inability to assemble the best brains in Nigeria is a concern. Recycling the same old and tired politicians is not building confidence in his ability to bring a good team together in the interest of Nigeria. We need to be innovative and strategic. This is the only we can leverage the advances in science and technology to grow rapidly. More educated and creative hands are needed in government. These same political dinosaurs will not deliver the change needed for our nation.

10. Imperviousness to common sense Public concern about perceived nepotistic tendency and behaviour. Even if it is not true, the President could have taken steps to reassure the public on the one-sidedness of his security appointments for instance by making changes. In politics perception is everything. The President has failed to reflect an understanding of genuine public concerns in his actions on security matters. Reassurance is part of the job of the President, but it seems he does not care about what Nigerians think. At least that is the vibe we get.

The needs of the nation require urgent and agile transformational leadership. The sedentary pace and posture of the President is out of place. He does not seem to have the energy, speed and nimbleness needed to respond to the needs of the nation in a fast changing world. We need energy and enthusiasm that will motivate a nation. PMB looks healthier and sharper than last year, but there does not seem to be any change to his responsiveness to the needs of a nation in pain. Hopefully, it is not too late to change.

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