In this interview, the newly appointed Commandant- General (CG) of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Dr. Ahmed Abubakar Audi, offers perspectives on the efforts of the outfit on myriad of security challenges currently confronting the country. EMMANUEL ONANI reports
Against the backdrop of recurrent farmers/ herders clashes, what role are Agro- Rangers playing to stem the tide?
Agro rangers is a specialised squad that is well trained and encompasses armed squad, special forces and what have you. Their major role is to settle disputes among farmers and herdsmen and they will also protect and secure our agro allied investments in the country.
If you watch how events unfold as per this farmersherders crisis, we have arrested over 200 armed herdsmen and we have handed some over to the police and we are prosecuting some.
The armed squad is doing really well. NSCDC has a very unique disposition in terms of spread, that is, we have offices in all the 774 local government areas including districts and villages and farming communities in Nigeria. If you go to the Northeast, Borno state for instance, our personnel have been doing very well.
They have been escorting farmers, giving them cover in most farming communities. If you go to Ekiti state, our men are also doing that. It is the same story in Ondo state.
Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, has been off the power grid for some weeks now owing to the vandalism brought on power installations by suspected insurgents. What is NSCDC doing about the situation?
You are asking the right person the right question because I was the zonal Commandant in charge of North East and from my experience, our men have been providing surveillance services on virtually all the infrastructure in Borno state and environs.
However, we are overstretched because of the limited number of personnel that we have. Otherwise, NSCDC has performed creditably well in that area. Nigeria is experiencing a very dangerous and different type of conflict. It is asymmetric.
The way to nip it in the bud is that we must deploy intelligence. The Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka adopted the same strategy and they dealt with that country for two decades.
That is why we told ourselves at the level of committee or heads of security agencies that we must synergize. No agency should claim monopoly of anything. We must work together, share intelligence because this is not the conventional warfare, otherwise we would have halted it by now.
Those guys have international sponsors. They are also trained and heavily armed and so we are dealing with a serious situation. In Borno state, we have been doing our best and we have been contributing our quota.
You have barely spent a month in office. What should personnel and the public in general expect from you?
I am a digital man. I like to drive this Corps to be a world class service. I will use training. When you train and retrain your personnel, they will give you their best and you will enhance their productivity.
This safe school initiative is also one of the things that I will focus on. The deployment of special forces to go round and give surveillance and patrol to most of these hideouts, these kidnapping spots is also part of my mission. We are also planning to commission a Women Squad. There is this saying that whatever a man can do,
woman can do better. So, we want to give women a chance to show us what they have in stock securitywise.
We are prepared to give our best to Nigerians. I will also improve on the welfare of staff because it serves to motivate them to perform better. We are going to provide a well-packaged motivation for our personnel to encourage them to do better. As you can see, the NSCDC headquarters has taken a new shape. We have also gotten some vehicles from a philanthropist as part of his corporate social responsibility.
Among the vehicles, we have two fighter vehicles called Buffalos. We are doing our best to make sure that the country is safe. We have also reached out to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC to see how we can strengthen synergy with them.
We are visiting other sister-agencies to seek for further collaboration. When somebody is working he wants to be promoted. When somebody has been promoted, you need to pay him the backlog of arrears that is due to him. We are working on that to clear all those arrears so that we will encourage them to serve Nigerians.
Could you share with us the challenges that you have encountered since assumption of office?
It is not easy to have a mission and then when you want to implement, you will now discover that there are challenges. The first thing is paucity of funds. We need funds to provide equipment, welfare services etc. Again, I do not have enough equipment and logistics. We need those equipment to function very well. For example, we need drones that we can send on security errands.
We also need the personnel. We want to thank Mr President for graciously approving recruitment for us for the span of three years, that is, 5,000 for each year. That will give us ample opportunity to deploy more men to carry out our mandate.
Inter-agency cooperation among secu- rity and law enforcement agencies has been a serious issue. Whatl would you to promote this all-important aspect of crime prevention and fighting
? Simple. Scientific synergy. Proper collaboration. Attending the same trainings. Inviting other agencies to our programmes and trainings and I am also ready to attend theirs. You see, sometimes the clashes between agencies depends on the level of cooperation between the heads of such agencies.
I will like to cement and strengthen such cooperation. I am going to pursue with vigour, to work very closely with all heads of sister agencies. As you know, historically, the NSCDC is a product of the military and I have attended strategic courses with the military at the Nigeria Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies NIPSS.
Some of the Generals were my course mates and we have been interacting very closely because we are good friends. That is how it should be. I have been talking to my personnel that the relationship should trickle down and I know we are on course.
Nigerians will like to have an update on recruitment into the NSCDC. What is the situation as at today?
You know I just came in and I am still studying that process and I wouldn’t want to make any comment now. Anything that has to do with recruitment is a very sensitive issue but I will like to advise Nigerians to be wary of criminals, scammers who are everywhere trying to defraud them about recruitment. Under my watch, we will try and follow the due process when it comes to recruitment.
What is your message to Nigerians as Christians celebrate Easter?
I want to assure Nigerians of a hitchfree Easter celebration and to also say that the NSCDC will be out there. I have directed the deployment of over 20, 000 personnel to provide safety and security for Nigerians as they celebrate this occasion. I have also directed that they must be up and doing.
They must be assigned to most of our relaxation spots and worship centres. I have also directed the deployment of covert operatives who will mingle, mix and dine with civilians in various places.
I will like to say to Nigerians that security is everybody’s business and when you see something, you say something. I know that my men are ready for the job.We have identified hotspots across the country. We are facing an asymmetric warfare, whose offshoots are banditry and kidnapping. Nigerians will be travelling for Easter and these elements use the highways as soft targets. We will provide human and technological surveillance but I won’t divulge our strategies.