The founder and Chief Executive Officer of Bulwark Intelligence, an information service company; Mrs. Tanwa Ashiru has attributed the strict allegiance of Nigeria’s head of security agencies to the government that appointed them as a culture that stemmed from long years of military rule.
In an exclusive interview with SECURITY EXPRESS at the weekend, she pointed out that in a democracy like Nigeria, allegiance of the security agencies ought to be to the nation’s constitution and not to a particular government in power.
In recent time, some notable Nigerians have expressed some ill feelings over the manner some security agents do the bidding of the nation’s leadership without being mindful whether such actions are in line with the provisions of Nigeria’s constitution.
The Bulwark boss, though shared similar ill feeling, but could not outrightly lay the blame on the doorstep of the security agencies, since it has been a carry-over culture from the military that ruled with decrees for about three decades. There was no people’s constitution during the military era as the country was governed with military laws that gave enormous powers to those in authority.
A graduate of American Military University and US Air Force veteran, Ashiru contended that “we need to understand that it is a cultural thing that stemmed from past military regimes for the security agencies to behave in such a manner because sometimes, leaders of those agencies were appointed by the government in power.”
“So when you have a President who appoints the head of a security agency, the appointee often times pays his allegiance to the President who appointed him or the very government which elevated him to such position” she said.
To reverse this culture, she argued that the populace must be reoriented by way of training people all the time to understand the constitution and the fact that where there is Rule of Law, nobody lives above the law including the president and leaders of security agencies.
She pointed out that paying of allegiance to the nation’s leadership rather than the constitution was not only in the case of security agencies but in other circumstances including people from their ethnic or community groups. “This is a cultural issue we must deal with, for everyone to know that nobody is above the law.”
Speaking on the increasing spate of cybercrime involving Nigerian youths, Ashiru noted that many of the youths involved in cybercrime have some expertise that often times baffled the security agencies which are fighting cybercrime.
She has advised that rather than clamp them into detention, government should be able to harness their expertise in cyber activities for the benefit of the country. Said she: “we need to begin harnessing the good side of cyber criminals among the young ones by training them more and using their potentials to advance the cyber technology in Nigeria.”
As cybercrime increases globally, Ashiru would want to ask “as a country, has Nigeria been able to deal with our own local cybercrime issues? These are things we must find solutions to” she stressed.
The US Air Force veteran would also want government to think out some incentives for those involved in the crime by way of having something that can really engage them for good once they stop indulging in cybercrime which currently pays them a lot of money.
Drawing the nation’s attention to the security implications of over bloated National Assembly run at huge cost, Ashiru posited that such scenario has made it difficult for other sectors to be taken care of, both in infrastructure and capital development towards creating employment. There are not enough resources to provide employment opportunities.
She pointed out that joblessness would always lead to involvement and increase in activities like cybercrime.
She further explained that the over bloated nature of the National Assembly and the high cost that comes with it has negatively affected the effective policing of the country as many police men who ordinarily are supposed to check crimes in nooks and cranny of the country are assigned as security aides to the lawmakers.
As an all-time supporter of the state police initiative, Ashiru wants our lawmakers to take advantage of the current move to amend the constitution to include creation of state police force.
Citing many advantages of having state police, she noted that Nigeria in its present stage of things needs state police to be able to check the incidence of crime as those to be employed are indigenes of the state many of whom know the peculiarities of their state.
According to her “it does not make sense to have one national police that would tackle all the crimes that have different peculiarities in different environments.
“I would advocate that we have state police force that would make it necessary to have more indigenes of the state forming larger part of the force with the state government having more control of the force. The Constitution should also ensure that there is an oversight function whereby boundaries are not overstepped in which a state government may want to challenge federal government because it has police command of its own. According to her, “in spite of my support for state police, I would not like to see a state challenging the federal because the truth is that no one state would have the power to fight the federal government as such a state can be shut down” she cautioned.
As fighting of crime is not a sex based issue, the Bulwark chieftain noted that globally (Nigeria inclusive) women are very much under-represented in security. She has therefore called for a paradigm shift for women in Nigeria in particular to be encouraged to be actively involved in security related activities.
She noted that women have special skills that can be harnessed in different areas contending that “women are actually good at analysis, critical thinking and intelligence as well.