On Thursday, the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, was at Chatham House in London, where he spoke about Nigeria’€™s Security: Insurgency, Elections and Coordinating Responses to Multiple Threats.”
He made some controversial pronouncements during his presentation ranging from his assessment of the Independent National Electoral Commission’s preparedness for February elections to the Nigerian military’s handling of the Boko Haram insurgency.
Read below Mr. Dasuki’s full presentation: his prepared speech as well as answers to questions posed by reporters.
Question and Answer Session
On Saboteur in the military:
I would tell you. We have a few cowards. That is why we have a lot of court martial going on. If somebody does not behave in a manner that is befitting of his profession, he is treated by what is proscribed by law. That is what is going on. But to take it to the level of high level of sabotage, my answer is no. There isn’t high-level conspiracy within the army not to end the insurgency. There isn’t.
On How Boko Haram sustained themselves:
Boko Haram they’ve attacked markets, businesses, banks, kidnap to get ransom and that is how they’ve sustained themselves. We also know that they’ve had a lot of hijacking especially petroleum products that they use.
The situation on Baga is very unfortunate. We have a multinational task force that is supposed to have comprise of four countries. Cameroon was outside, Chad was on the other side and Niger had withdrawn. Only the Nigerian contingent was left there when it was attacked. The display is not something anybody would be proud of. The conduct is not something anybody would be proud of and that was how the task force headquarters was lost.
As to the exact figure, Amnesty international has put out something based on a figure based on satellite feed. We don’t have any independent confirmation or otherwise of that so what we would do is to go by the figure that Amnesty International put out. At the moment we’re making additional efforts. As we speak we have sent in more troops to Monguno which is just the next town up, that is where the troops from Baga went to to work towards recovering Baga. Hopefully by sometime towards the middle of next week it would be recovered.
On community engagement:
We don’t rule out any segment. We believe the fight against terrorism is everybody’s fight. We reach out to all segments that is why our programmes cover all spectrum. I’m sure there will be something that engages students at various levels including the universities because I know we have after school programmes and that bring in lower people before they get to you level. And I’m sure if we bring them in at that point it’s easy to manage by the time they get to college level.
On Chibok girls:
I don’t have any further information other than what is generally believed to be common knowledge that they have been dispersed; some of them have been sold out. That’s what we know. Every time we have surveillance footage over the area we are very hopeful. Not very optimistic but we are very hopeful. Maybe one day we would find something there. So far there’s nothing. The U.S. is still there. They are still present. They have eyes over the area I believe 24 hours a day, we have our own small capability. We are still doing our best to see how we can resolve it in one way or the other.
On ceasefire with Boko Haram:
Not too long ago, government came up with a statement that we are entering into a ceasefire with Boko Haram. That came up about because two letters were written to the Chadian president by people who are supposed to be Boko Haram leaders and Chad, we believe, has some links with the leadership. The Chadian president approached us because our president was in Ndjamena. We met and he said this is the situation and that they want to talk; they want a ceasefire and we said we are interested. If we can solve it by peaceful means why not. We did not seek out those leaders. The Chadians were the intermediaries. At the end of the day, it didn’t happen. That is what it is. It was not as if we sought them out. But as we speak, there is a committee of continuing dialogue and for any of the insurgents who want to come over to renounce violence and come over to the government side, there is a committee chaired by the minister of Special Duties to address that.
Yes we are looking at the issue of financing. In fact we have some international help with financing of terrorism especially Boko Haram.
On Sultan’s PVC:
The issue of the Sultan’s card, I raised this issue with the INEC chairman because he said when the president went to visit him that he did not have a voter’s card and he (Chairman INEC) said what happened in the case of the Sultan is that everybody in his polling unit, I think Sokoto South, their finger prints were not recorded. So they were asked to go and re-register. They did and apparently the Sultan was not happy that he still have not gotten his card and that it was taking too long. And what we said about people voting, our concern with INEC just as I was discussing upstairs the law provides that election must be conducted not more than 90 days before and not less than 30 days to the end of the administration. February 14th is closer to the 90 days before the end of the tenure. And we raised it with INEC and we said look there is a problem, if you’ve had a year plus and all you’ve been able to do is to distribute about 50% of the cards. We still have about 30 million cards. According to them, we have about 30 million cards to distribute. Look at the possibility of shifting this thing and doing it when everybody else has a card because it doesn’t cost you anything. It is still within the law and is saver for all of us. So that is what we are encouraging. They keep assuring us that everybody would have his card but I doubt it. You’ve a year and you have distributed 30 million. I don’t see how you would distribute another 30 million in two weeks. It doesn’t make sense but that is where we are.
On reluctance to accept international help:
I don’t agree that we are reluctant. We have the Americans there, we have the British, I think the French too. As we speak, just last week we are cooperating with the Chadians, we are cooperating with Niger and we are working closer to getting the Cameroon. I don’t know where they get the impression that we are reluctant to take assistance from outside. Probably because they have not seen physical troops on the ground but that is not the only way. Surveillance we get from the Americans, we have training from the British, equipment support from the British and French source so that is cooperation. We have physical troops Chad fighting on Nigerian soil, they would be fighting on Nigerian soil, that is assistance. We have physical troops between the Nigerian-Niger border addressing the same issue of Terrorism so that is the response.
On postponement of election:
What I said was that there is nothing wrong with us delaying to ensure that everybody who ought to vote get that card to vote. Because the comment everyday we hear everyday is that you can’t vote unless you have permanent voters card. If you can’t vote without permanent voter’s card what sense does it make to vote three months early when we have 3o million people whose cards have not been issued and are still with INEC. That’s my position. INEC makes the determination. If you can distribute those cards today, we would all be happy. But if you can’t please consider. Look at the other option.
I don’t what to say about amnesty. We’ve tried all sorts of things. When I came on board two years ago, that was the third phase. There is really no third phase but that was when the third phase was done because we had a lot of agitations of a people who said they were left out. I think there was a particular ethnic group in Delta who said they were the ones that were not beneficiaries because they did not sign up. Despite the fact that the condition was you would disarm and sign into the programme. They said we would disarm but would not sign into anything. We still went ahead and said let’s take another twenty something thousand or so and then end that amnesty. I’ve had several discussions with both the president and the minister of petroleum to find a way. There is the issue of pipeline security why don’t we outsource since they live in the same communities where these pipelines go through. Let them have something that engages them since we can’t continue paying. It doesn’t make sense. It’s not something we can afford. Now government pays monthly stipends. That would be the issue. I’m sure it would be one of the pressing things to address immediately after the elections. How would it affect the election? It’s like any other things. I don’t think there is a special issue. There are a lot of beneficiaries, it’s a local issue. A lot of people are showing up now that they should be included but we should draw a line and government has to take the decision to do the right thing.
On radical preachers and wealthy individuals supporting Boko Haram:
That is why we have a programme targets… we deal with imams because we understand that it is that narrative that affects the individual. That is what it is but we do our best to have our own people sending the right message to counter that. There are wealthy and even not so wealthy indivisuals thay make contributions. That is what it is.
On why nobody was punished for the botched ceasefire with Boko Haram:
The ceasefire offer went to the President Idriss Debby of Chad. President Debby because he’s a friend or concerned reached out to our president and said look I have this offer my people deal with them. I think it is credible to listen to it. And that was what we did. When it didn’t work out, we cannot go and punish Idriss Debby for something that if it has worked out we would have been grateful. I believe we would keep trying until we find the one that would work out.
On taking the fight to the Enemy:
I believe there is a mix up here. Gwoza is in Nigerian soil and we are fighting with Nigerian troops. I don’t see the issue here. Taking the fight to them, if they are Baga, if they are in Gwoza or Bama and we are there. That is what it is we are taking the fight to them. I hope that answers the question.
The joint force, there are various meetings just like you mentioned. There was a meeting in Niamey. The headquater of that one will be in Ndjamena. I don’t know what that one is supposed be personally as Nigerians we don’t see the uses. We have a multi-national taskforce that was headquartered in Baga people did not contribute much to. We had Chadian troops who were in Chad, Niger troops were in Niger and Cameroon never cross the border. People didn’t do much because they were all supposed to be stationed there. This is probably the same thing that is being pushed by some other countries but this time they are moving the headquarters to Baga. That’s all I know. I don’t know anything about the structure.
On De-radicalisation Programme:
We have a programme that is going on in Kuje prisons. And if you have any submission in research that would help our office is always open. Dr Fatima would receive whatever it is and I’m such it would be glad to listen if there are any other contributions you would like to make to the programme.
On Soldiers complaints and direct feedback:
Yes I get direct feedback from soldiers. That is one of the things we were discussing upstairs. If you saw the Shekau video two or three days ago, you have seen what he displayed. That is what they took from Baga. He also posted a video after they attacked Bama, I think it was, and you would have seen what they took from Bama. Anybody who has that much arms in stock to say he’s poorly armed or poorly equipped is being disingenuous to say the least. It is there to see. Like I always remind the president when he talks about this is the soldier personal weapon is all he needs to stay alive every other weapon is support weapon to help you live better. If I may digress, in Baga especially there was somebody who sent me something and I was annoyed so I sent him the list of equipment that was lost in Baga including four 105 artillery guns that were lost in Baga. There were six APC and all of them with at least 4000 rounds of ammunitions inside. So anybody who leaves that and say he’s not well armed is not saying the truth and unfortunately that is what people keep saying but you see other sectors with the same level of equipment achieving.
So it’s probably time when we ask those people who are unknown faces who make all these allegations. There was a time when there was a complaint about allowances not being paid and few people complained and I told the president that it’s not the individual who’s been paid, it’s the unit now if the unit is not paid it is not two people who will complain it’s the whole unit that will complain. When you don’t have a complain from the whole unit it says it is not true. What we found out and unfortunately we have a lot of cowards. There was problem in the recruitment process and we admit that. There are people who will give every excuse in this world not to fight. If you don’t want to fight it’s not your fault get out of the army. It’s a volunteer army nobody is saying you should be there; it is not by force. But if you’re there are certain things you’re expected to do and for now fighting is one of those things. If you don’t want to fight don’t make excuses saying we’re not armed we’re not equipped. If you see the equipment that Shekau posted on video that he took from Nigerian forces, you’d be ashamed. How would anybody who lost that sort of equipment come and tell you that he’s poorly armed and poor equipped. I think they should be asking them questions. So I do get feedback and I do reply to the military commanders because I have a responsibility. So I do get feedback that is why I know these things.
On Diaspora Voters:
The president has said he would do what he can. We will make the necessary constitutional amendment and maybe we would have one which would allow voting in diaspora. By the time we perfect voting at home then diaspora would not be a problem.
On Cooperation between Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen:
The interest may emerge at some point. They would be convergence at some point. Interest in issue of resources but what we found is that more than 70 or 80 per cent of Boko Haram are of Kanuri extraction. Fulani herdsmen are Fulani herdsmen and so there isn’t that much. Fulani has their own separate issues, which they address but there are very few of them who are involved. You get a few Fulani of course who are fighting with Boko Haram but there isn’t cooperation as such to say there is cooperation between Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram. There isn’t anything like that.
On morale and confidence of troops:
I’m very confident. Wherever we’ve notice we didn’t place the blame entirely on soldiers. We’ve moved officers around. We have redeployed officers. We have tried officers who showed poor judgement and we didn’t hide in doing it. We’ve seen there is a problem with the recruitment process earlier. So we put in systems whereby recruitment is now purely on merit. If you don’t want a career in the army, navy, or the air force, stay out. We’ve had a lot of people who joined just because they wanted a job not because they wanted a career in the military. Most of them are the ones who are running away and who are telling stories of poor equipment and stuff like that. So over time we would come out with a more professional fighting force and we are seeing it. When there was an incidence in Adamawa, it was two companies trained by the British that restored order and led the operations that recovered the lost territories in Adamawa. These were the same soldiers they were only differently trained and not the same chaps that ran out of Mubi earlier. So I think what we are doing is working; not as fast as we want but that is what it is.
On Human security issue:
Human security is a pubic safety issue that is why we called on the public for increased cooperation and support for the agencies. You can only do so much. There are the police navy army … we don’t have more than a million people everything put together. We are a population of about 170 million it’s not an easy task to police that population to know what everybody is doing. There are all sort of avenue to give feedback if there is anything wrong. There are traditional systems, at least in the north I know there were traditional systems of whatever happened the traditional rulers knew and they reported back. So we are trying a lot of that to go back to those systems that worked for us to give you information. Once you have information you can provide measures to counter (it).
FULL TEXT OF TE SPEECH
Nigeria’s Insecurity: Insurgency, Corruption, Elections and the Management of Multiple Threats
By Mohammed Sambo Dasuki, National Security Adviser
at the Chatham House – United Kingdom
January 22, 2015
Events in our recent history have thrust us into the glare ofworld attention in ways that have not always reflected us in our best light. The paradox of modern Nigeria is that while we have proudly emerged as the largest economy in Africa, and a viable investment and trade destination, a raging insurgency and perhaps our early management of it as well as uncertainty in some circles over the possible outcome of the impending elections have heightened interest in Nigeria. I, therefore thank the organizers of this event for giving me an opportunity to address the issues of insurgency, corruption and the 2015 elections.
2. After a somewhat turbulent past, Nigerian’s on the whole have come to accept that the best hope for meeting our nation’s aspirations is in continuing and deepening our democratic growth. This year marks for us an unprecedented decade and a half of uninterrupted democracy. However, this has not come without challenges, a civil war, truncated attempts at democracy; multiple military coups weakened our institutions and severely affected our ability to respond to some current threats.
3. Today a raging insurgency in the north east, allegations of high level corruption and a hotly contested national election is fuelling anxiety both at home and abroad about the future of Nigeria.
4. I wish to use this opportunity to highlight our responses and preparedness.
5. The real and existential threat posed by Boko Haram is perhaps a millennial challenge; how we approach it will have immediate as well as generational consequences. It will determine how we reform our institutions, define our fundamental values, the capacities we develop and the tools we use to address and prevent future threats. When a nation’s citizens take up arms against their fellow brothers and sisters, operate outside acceptable rules and norms of their society, kill and maim innocent civilians, including women and children, kidnap young children, and force preteen girls to blow themselves up in public spaces, it calls for deep introspection.
6. In the run up to the elections Boko Haram have escalated their campaign, seizing territory and hoisting their flag, they have 3burned down whole villages, ransacked communities, raped young girls and continued to kidnap both boys and girls. They have openly declared support for ISIS and expanded their campaign into neighbouring Cameroon and Niger Republics.
7. Nation’s that have been directly affected by terrorism have shown us how difficult it is to eradicate. The terrorists utilize their abundant imagination for evil, to inflict the maximum horror on communities conscious of the fact that states must be guided in their responses by rules, the law, their own values and respect for civilian lives and property.
8. It is my belief that any response to terrorism must be long term, holistic and robust enough to address its root causes. It must be guided by a law and order approach that utilizes both hard and soft approaches. The tenacity, organizational capability, ability to attract illicit funds, motivation of Boko Haram fighters and the fact that they embed themselves within civilian populations has perhaps helped to prolong the conflict in the North East.
9. Historical deficits in our military institutions including the fact that the last significant procurement of equipment was done over two decades ago, the inability of the government to buy the weapons needed in a timely manner, the need for a philosophical as well as operation shift from conventional warfare to asymmetric warfare in towns and communities teeming with millions of civilians as well as human rights accusations have greatly affected the military campaign.
10. In the last year multiple changes have been made in our prosecution of the war against insurgency, this includes greater training for the military in the handling of sophisticated arms and the use of technology, greater capacity building in counter insurgency training and wide scale training throughout the armed forces on rules of engagement and respect for human rights.
Additionally we are working on a new civil military relations doctrine that will redefine how the military relates to the general public, especially in places where it carries out counter insurgency operations. It will clearly spell out guidelines for civilian protection in all its operations.
11. To complement the military approach in the last two years we have set up a National Counter Terrorism Centre which has brought all agencies involved in combating terrorism in Nigeria under one roof, thereby enhancing coordination and ensuring greater synergy. An intelligence Fusion Centre now serves as a key component of the National Counter Terrorism Centre which serves as a processing point for allsource intelligence.
12. Conscious of the regional threat posed by Boko Haram, we have been working on multiple fronts with our neighbours in Cameroon, Niger, Chad and Benin, sharing intelligence as well as personnel in joint border patrols as well as through a multinational task force.
13. The Counterradicalization strand focuses on the prevention of radicalization through building community resilience, education, engagement with the religious environment and economic empowerment. Through this stream we will directly counter the drivers of radicalization. Community engagement is at the core of these efforts. We are in the process of creating systems and structures that will foster visible community cohesion and provide youths with alternative spaces to have their voices heard. Without the space for growth and selfactualization, youths are more easily led astray. Violent extremists prey on identity issues, offering a sense of belonging and a sense of worth. It is with this in mind that we are putting projects in place with the aim of reforming Nigeria’s education landscape. Our objective is to create a generation of citizens with the capacity for critical thinking and logical reasoning, who understand core national values and who are prepared for the global age we live in. We aim to improve interfaith relations and encourage dialogue, while creating greater economic opportunity for Nigerians.
14. Strategic Communications forms another pillar of the CVE Programme. Through Strategic Communications we are working to counter extremist ideology and narratives. We plan to undermine their credibility by presenting the true face of Islam. In the case of Boko Haram, narratives are founded on a set of core beliefs that are opposed to the state and aspects of education. Our response targets those that hold radical views, and the population at large aiming to further diminish tolerance for extremists’ rhetoric.
15. Nigeria has developed a robust countering violent extremism program that focuses on the root causes of terrorism, addressing them through four main streams. The Deradicalization stream focuses on prisonbased interventions. Although prisons are potential incubators of radicalization; they also offer the best option for rehabilitation. The deradicalization stream aims to reintegrate convicted violent extremist of enders back into society.
16. The fourth stream is a Presidential Initiative for the north east which targets economic revitalization, infrastructure development, job creation, a program to protect schools and the care of internally displaced persons as well as victims of terrorism.
17. Finally we remain open to a negotiated settlement to end the insurgency should Boko Haram express willingness to dialogue.
18. For Nigeria to address the underlying conditions conducive to the spread of violent extremism leading to insurgency, the cancerous menace of corruption must be fought with all elements of its national power. In order to build badly needed infrastructure, put our children in schools, ignite economic activities and accelerate upward mobility for a majority of our people we must address elite greed and weak institutions that make it impossible for national resources to be applied appropriately. Corruption must also be seen by the international community as a threat to international security and take even stricter measures to make it difficult for corrupt people to enjoy the proceeds of illegitimate earnings. There is a link between terrorism financing and weak international financial systems that allow the movement of stolen resources.
19. Corruption is both a major cause and a result of poverty around the world. It occurs at all levels of society from local and national governments, civil society, judiciary functions, large and small businesses, to the military and other services.
20. In Nigeria, much attention has been paid to the issue of corruption, especially in government establishments. However not much attention has been given to the efforts of successive governments to address the issue. It is to the credit of the successive administrations in Nigeria, since 1999, that many institutions have been established to deal with corruption especially within government circles and private businesses.
21. The institutions are:
a. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission –EFCC.
b. The Independent Corrupt Practices Commission – ICPC.
c. The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit – NFIU.
22. These institutions, since their establishment have performed creditably as acknowledged by Nigeria’s international collaborators. Many politicians, serving or retired have been fingered based on petitions received and investigated and prosecuted where concrete evidence of corruption has been established.
23. It has to be realised that changes concerning any socioeconomic or psychosocial problem in any society will take time, it cannot come overnight, and it has to be gradual. Tackling issues of corruption in Nigeria must have the buy in of the general populace; it is not only a problem for government alone to deal with without the active support of the citizens, who will be the beneficiaries of a corruption free society.
24. Anxiety over the peaceful conduct of the 2015 general elections has continued to grow both at home and abroad, fuelled by the memories of the postelection violence that occurred after the 2011 elections. Boko Haram who have repeatedly expressed their disdain for the democratic process have also escalated their campaign over this period, further adding to the sense of instability.
25. In a country of 170 million people elections have not been without their challenges, most especially pre and postelection violence, allegations of rigging, delayed delivery of ballot boxes, names left of ballot papers, desperation of some politicians to win at all costs are some examples.
Experience, most especially after the 2011 general elections has shown that some of the most serious challenges to election security could emerge spontaneously or due to perceptions, of irregularities during the voting process, which then reflected in what some people concluded were unfavourable election results.
26. Other challenges that we anticipate include the ability of INEC and the state to protect sensitive election related material as well as the provision of adequate security for electoral officers. This will help to ensure the integrity of the process.
27. Among the steps being taken is the setting up of an InterAgency Consultative Committee on Election Security –ICCES. The ICCES consists of top INEC officials, commissioners, directors and heads of departments, with representation from all the security agencies, including my office. For the first time in the history of election security in Nigeria, the country has a platform responsible for the coordination of security matters and pooling resources, particularly personnel in dealing with security challenges. Security services have promptly intervened and prevented potential crisis situations that could have gotten out of hand across the country. ICCES has continuously taken measures to upgrade its activities and ensure its effectiveness at both the state, and especially the local government levels.
28. In addition the electoral commission is retraining security personnel on their roles and functions at polling units. Sensitisation workshops such as the one currently embarked upon by the Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PRESCOM) in the six geopolitical zones of the country, with the theme; Ballots Without Bullets raise the awareness of Nigerian citizens across the country to the destructiveness of electoral violence and the need for youths to avoid being used by politicians. The National Orientation Agency and other civil society organisations including a group led by eminent well respected elders are also involved in similar sensitisation programmes across the country. Given the importance of how the conduct of the election is communicated, including the accurate and timely reporting of results, INEC staf s are being trained on strategic communication.
29. However, election security matters cannot be left solely to security agencies and INEC to manage. All other stakeholders, such as the media, community leaders and political parties have a significant role to play in the task of ensuring a peaceful atmosphere during the conduct of elections. Recently all the presidential candidates and their parties agreed to curb the use of hate speech and work towards violence free, fair and credible elections by signing what is now referred to as the Abuja Accord.
30. Given the above, the 2015 elections are expected to be relatively peaceful and violence free. The Federal Government has taken all necessary measures to ensure this by making adequate provisions for INEC, security agencies and by supporting numerous sensitisation programs.
31. We are conscious that there is some anxiety about whether elections will hold in the north east and the ability of the government to ensure that the internally displaced will be able to vote.
32. Our answer to both of those is yes. As far as is possible we are determined that adequate security will be in place to enable elections in all the areas in the north east that are safe, and that the IDP’s will be provided with the opportunity to exercise their vote.
33. The emergence of a seemingly viable opposition, as well asthe closeness of the race is a clear demonstration of our maturing democracy. Greater voter awareness also means that people are more engaged in the electoral process and determined to protect their right to vote. We on our part are doing all we can to ensure that every Nigerian who wants to vote is able to and that their vote will count.
34. Ladies and Gentlemen, I have attempted to present Nigeria’s most pressing security threat and demonstrated that this threat is both local and global. The question is whether the world will show the same and commensurate concern to the rising terrorism in parts of Nigeria as it does in other parts of the world. I have also shown that while we continue to face the debilitating effects of corruption we have taken steps to build strong institutions and strengthen our laws in addressing it. As we continue to do this we call on the global community to further address the corrupting influence of big companies and rich countries. I finally submitted that successive elections in Nigeria have improved and lessons learnt in 2011 are now being practiced in preparation towards the 2015 elections. The INEC has a strong team and government has ensured adequate funding and capacity enhancement while putting in place strong coordination mechanisms between the electoral body and other stakeholders.
35. It is my firm belief that Nigeria will emerge stronger, manage her threats better and improve on governance. We are taking these careful but sure steps at the moment. The terrorist threat has focused us on the right path. We have developed a new national security strategy that puts our people at the heart of our efforts, a national counter terrorism strategy that employs both hard and soft power and an economic revitalization plan that will bring succor to those most vulnerable and those affected by violence. We continue to reach out to members of the international community to stand with us as we strive to build a united and prosperous country.
36. Thank you for listening
A video link of the event: Nigeria’s Security: Insurgency, Elections and Coordinating Responses to Multiple Threats