The National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, has denied that Thursday’s meeting of the National Security Council discussed the fate of the country’s service chiefs.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Thursday presided over the 2020 maiden meeting of the National Security Council with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, and the security chiefs in attendance.
The meeting came amidst calls in some quarters for the removal of the service chiefs due to the ongoing security challenges in some parts of the country.
The House of Representatives had on Wednesday called on the service chiefs to either resign or be sacked in view of their inability to proffer solutions to the nation’s security challenges.
Mr Monguno, a retired major general, however, told State House correspondents at the end of the security meeting that the council which is the highest security body in the country chaired by the president, did not discuss the issue of the service chiefs.
“The issue of the National Assembly resolution did not come up at the meeting,’’ he said.
The NSA said the quarterly meeting focused on appraisal of the security situation across the country with a view to finding lasting solutions to the problem.
He said: “The meeting basically made an appraisal of the current security situation in the country and took a look at the possibilities, the opportunities available to government in addressing most of the recent challenges.
“There were discussions and at the end of the day, the most important thing that we came up with is the need for collaboration, both between governmental agencies and the larger Nigerian society because of the type of insurgencies we are faced with, the complexities, the multiplicity of all kinds of issues.
“There is a need for both parties, governmental agencies on one hand and the larger society to collaborate more vigorously. There is a need for us to deal with these problems in a comprehensive manner.
“Therefore, the council has decided to take a closer look at issues that will help us not just at the federal level or at the state level, but right down to the local government level.
“But this is going to be done after due consultation with the relevant stakeholders,’’ the NSA said.
Read the full interview with Mr Monguno:
We just concluded the meeting of the National Security Council, the national security council is the highest security body in the country chaired by His Excellency, the President. We normally hold this meeting on a quarterly basis and this is the first of the year, we scheduled the meeting for this morning. The meeting basically made an appraisal of the current security situation in the country and took a look at the possibilities the opportunities available to the government in addressing most of the recent challenges. There were discussions and at the end of the day, the most important thing that we came up with is the need to for collaboration both between governmental agencies and the larger Nigerian society because of the type of the insurgencies we are faced with, the complexities, the multiplicity of all kind of issues. There is a need for both parties- governmental agencies on one hand and the larger society to collaborate more vigorously. There is a need for us to deal with these problems in a comprehensive manner. Therefore, the council has decided to take a closer look at issues that will help us not just at the federal level or at the state level, but right down to the local government level. But this is going to be done after due consultations with the relevant stakeholders.
Can you give us an insight on the collaborative approach?
The issue of collaboration, it’s not something that I can disclose right now. We just concluded the meeting and we have to look at the issues before coming out with whatever decision. For collaboration, I want to think that everybody understands the need for a whole government approach in collaborating with the whole of society approach to achieve a lot. This situation requires everybody in the country to work together to deal with these challenges. So where there are gaps we need to close these gaps. That is what I mean by collaboration.
Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a resolution asking Mr President to relieve the service chiefs of their work, did you discuss it?
The issue of the National Assembly resolution does not come up at the meeting.
About seven months ago you said you were considering how to restructure the problem of the Almajiri system in the country which you identified as one of the security problems but till today nothing has been done?
The Almajiri thing is not a situation that the National Security Adviser on his own may deal with. What I said, I dentifrice it as a challenge, and I said it was one of the fundamentals, the root causes of these overlapping problems and needs to be addressed. Addressing it will require not just a federal and state but right down to the local government. Something is being done about that right now.
What are the challenges facing the Nigerian security structure because there are opinions out there that the security system has failed?
The major challenges are multidimensional in terms of security, challenges are both internal, external and defence-related as well as diplomatic as well as economic. So you wil, begin to appreciate the extend to which we need to work. These major challenges every ministry, department and agency is aware of the aspect it has to deal with and I am sure yesterday, after the Federal Executive Council meeting, you are aware the minister of works talked about his own area, likewise other ministries, departments and agencies are working. The issue of security in the context of the 21st Century is not an issue of just arms and ammunition or robbers and gangsters, it’s a multiple situation, the canvass is very very expensive and we are looking at it in a comprehensive manner. The challenges all of us are aware of and that is why in a nutshell, I said, there is a need for this government and the larger society to work together to find a solution to this problem. No one is oblivious of the enormity of the problem at hand. Government is aware and that is why we had this meeting at the highest level.
What is the general assessment of the council, would you say the situation is stable or critical?
The security situation is like a graph, sometimes it goes up, sometimes it comes down and that is why we have to assess it periodically. It will never remain level till we bring the whole situation to an end. Sometimes it could escalate, sometimes, it would down. So there is a perfect answer to that. If I tell you that it has improved and as we walk out of this place and something might happen, there might be an exploit ion somewhere. These are things that are not predictable, these are things that you cannot actually determine, that is the nature of this type of conflict we are facing.
Last week the President himself mentioned that bodies behind the insurgency in the country have you then time to identify some of these countries that sponsoring these insurgents and other forms of insecurity?
I never alluded to the fact that any country is undermining us directly or indirectly. What I said was that the challenges are multiple, they come in various forms, internal security issues, external security issues, Defence security issues, contemporary issues, diplomatic, economic, food security and so on and so ford. That is what I meant by multiple challenges.
What is the response of the national security council on the call by the National Assembly asking the president to declare insecurity a national emergency?
No we didn’t discuss that, that is not something I want to reveal now. So let’s leave that.