Captain Umar Babangida Aliyu (rtd) is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO ) of Goldwater and RiverSand. He is a national security resource and solution consultant. He said in this interview with ISIOMA MADIKE that politicians have the tendency to play politics, ethnicity and religion with security
Why did you opt out of the military so early?
I didn’t just retire voluntarily; I was denied the opportunity to serve as I wanted to, which was why I left when I was only 26 years and as a captain. If you look at my life, most of my childhood friends and acquaintances were soldiers. My father was a soldier and I was brought up in the barracks. I am a barrack boy and I’m very proud to say that. Barrack boys are very smart.
What have you been doing since you left the army?
I have been what you can call a business security consultant since my premature retirement. I was a military intelligent officer. I was with the notorious “directorate of military intelligence”. I say notorious because it was one agency that was abused; it wasn’t used the way it should have been used. It had the culture of intelligent mind, but was abused. I was one of those officers who served during the military rule. After my retirement, I decided to apply that which I learnt free of charge, sponsored by the tax payers’ money to my life as a civilian to help the society.
How has it been being a business security consultant?
It’s been quite interesting, I must say. I used what I have been privileged to learn to help investors, entrepreneurs to navigate the rather troubling security service scenario in our country and to that effect we have Goldwater and RiverSand. Goldwater and RiverSand is actually what you can call a consultancy firm, it’s a defence and national security philosophy and a consultancy firm.
We are registered and have about N100 million ordinary shares. What do we do? We actually give clients across board, government, private and multinational information that can assist them to work, move and live safely within the Nigeria environment including families. I consult for royal families too.
There are some royal families who congregate every year in December from all over the world. They come home with their children and I have to go there and address their children and make them understand what threat trend and levels are and how they can move around during the Christmas period safely. Goldwater and River- Sand consult is actually the first of its kind; we are national securities resources and solution consultants for anyone who is interested.
Do you spread out to West Africa and other nations of the world apart from Nigeria?
We do things as far and as widely as we possibly can. We have done some work in the Gambia. Unfortunately what we did in the Gambia had some kind of heat when the then Gambia President made some awkward comment about my commander in chief. I decided to stop what we were doing in that country. Yes, I could remember he did a policy summersault. Other than that we have also been able to do business with company from other lands. We are just starting with small 100 million shares; it’s still small but what we do is that we have big brothers from the global clime. We do not intend or wish to compete with them but we are actually willing and humble enough to learn from them. We will not even mind if they send us on an errand as a way of getting us to hone our skills. So, it’s a gut adoption, then their accompanies will have us as their a dopted firm. What this means is, we are under their wings, they allow us to study them and it’s an opportunity for us to learn, and good enough, we also get referrers from them, which helps us to know our skills and learn the waves. That’s all for Goldwater and RiverSand consultancy.
With your background, how would you like to evaluate the security system in the country?
Security system as we have it today, permit me to say this, for me there is actually no system; there is only a situation. The way I look at it, there is really no system, no security system perse. The security system has always been and it still what we are struggling with in the country. So, if I were to evaluate this system as you have called it, I would say that our security system is struggling and I will explain myself. For a start, I know you’ve heard about the agricultural sector in Nigeria, the health sector, the education sector, the financial sector. Have you ever heard of the security sector? I don’t think so. There is no sector and if there is no sector how can there be a system. So, we actually have a situation not even a system or a sector, and if I were to do a profiling of this situation at least for being a citizen I’d just sound patriotic and say we are struggling with the situation.
What should be done to get a system?
It’s simple, make security functional. To build a system you must first of all isolate security. Our politicians particularly, have this tendency to play politics, ethnicity and religion with security. They don’t go hand in hand. Security is just what it is. Let me explain it by using another example so that you can connect with me very well. You know what poverty means; I’m sure every Nigeria understands and knows what poverty is regardless of their status.
One thing about poverty is that it has no religion, has no ethnicity and no region. Poverty doesn’t even have political party. Regardless of your party, your religion, regardless of what you do, If you go to the market, poverty will start showing its face if you don’t have what it takes to buy what you want.
It’s not difficult, poverty has no religion, if you like be a Muslim, Christian, when you go to the market, you are going to get the same price. It has no party; if you like be PDP or APC; if you want a Congo of garri you pay the same price, the same thing with security. One threat to one Nigeria is a threat to all Nigerians. Security has no party, when the threat comes it doesn’t kill you based on party or religion. Those who do not know, those who are gullible are deceived, they think it’s about religion but one think I can tell you is that anytime you hear people classifying security strike or religious incursion, you see local champions who are riding on the back of the threat to get publicity. It’s not relevant whether the threat is a Muslim or a Christian.
What does the threat mean? What is the act? Is it murder, is it action, is it genocide, fix that and try the threat. When you start putting ethnic and religion biases, you actually shoot yourself in the foot because you’ll draw a line and even those who do not support the act because you have drawn the line across religion, they will support the religion. What must we do? We must first and foremost get the right hand, the right heads and the right minds as our security chieftains. Our security chieftains today in Nigeria are yes-men. What do I mean by yes-men? They lack the courage to look at any politician in the eye and tell him or her shut up and sit down when I talk about security that is not your area. When you talk as governor or president I listen.
So, when I talk about security, you listen. Tell me where you want to go and get out of my way, I’ll take you there. So, we have security chieftains, who think security is politics and we have politicians, who think politics is security. That’s where the problem lies and that is why we are where we are today.
We have people who are imposters, they are just posing, grandstanding and pretending to be politicians or security chieftains but yield no result. We should have leaders not politicians. Leaders, who should be able to say Mr. Security chieftain this security problems, which one can you solve? When and how? What resources do you require? And when they don’t meet their words, we let them go and appoint new ones. In terms of results, our leaders and security chieftains must be result oriented.
One of the situations we have now is that of the Boko haram. How, with your training and background, do you think the security managers can go about it and get the kind of result that is expected from them?
I have said it always, across different forum; I actually said it on different occasions that, terrorism is a business. And like every business, before you set up your market, you have to do what we call location and localisation of industry. And what is location and localisation of industry in this instance? It means nearness to source of raw materials; land, labour and capital availability. If terrorism was a business don’t you think all those are in our country? They didn’t go to Ghana, they didn’t go to Togo, and they are not in Benin Republic. They are here because the way we carried ourselves make our country conducive for them to stay, makes a valuable business prospect for terrorism. Religious intolerance, social conduct, exclusiveness when it comes to matter that involves citizens.
Those are the things the masterminds need to set up a terror group. Go anywhere there is terrorism, you will find all what I have listed there. So, terrorism is a business. Those who involve or endorse it, they look for all these trace I have said when they do their visibility studies. The moment you are compliant, they give you service; in fact you buy one, you get 10 free. Yes, that’s what is happening.
What we have today, unfortunately is a situation whereby once you are into it, if you get out of it in 50 years, you are lucky and the masterminds, the sponsors and the script writers of terrorism are very much active in politics. They are the same people we give traditional titles, elect into offices and when we are told they are criminals, we give all manner of excuses while we have no other choice but them. I was in this country when somebody called Daniel Kanu led 1000 people or is it one million to march for Sani Abacha. So, if Abacha did not rule us, we cannot continue, the world will end, but Abacha himself decided to die and the world did not end.
The excuses we give to perpetuating criminals are the very biggest undoing that encourages the atmosphere of terror. Same for militants, kidnappers, and for everything you can think about that is destroying our country. We are the nucleus, the source, and the originators of our problems. Terrorism as you see it in the North-East today is just one variant, depending on what we do, how we behave or do not behave ourselves, we will see more variants. Yes, we will, not only in the North-East but all over the country. One variant already is the herdsmen thing. The sponsors and masterminds, some of whom happens to be in government, maintaining conspiracy of silence, they cannot speak up.
Is there any meeting point for the Boko Haram sect, herdsmen, and the Niger Delta militants?
Thank you so much for that question. Let me sound the national security warning; the day the militants, the terrorist, the herdsmen and all other agitators as we know them find a common ground, that day our government and our country will see tribulation. We had better do everything now to douse this problem and nip them in the bud because the day these groups as many as they are, decides to recognise each other, and cooperate, I don’t think that pot of porridge is one we can eat. We won’t be able to finish the pot of porridge they will be cooking for us. So, I’m grateful you ask that question and let security chieftains have their imaginations intact and begin to work on what I have just said. And let those who have no imagination come after me.
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