The year 2023 will be epoch-making in the annals of the country for some obvious reasons, the most important of which is that it is the year the country will have new governments at the Federal and States levels. It is also the year the country will have surmounted security threats against its sovereignty and territorial integrity as Nigerians expect the nation to have overcome the problems of insurgency, criminality and banditry attacks in some parts of the country and learnt from its past mistakes to do things differently. Hopefully, after a successful election the country would join the league of democratic countries. Most Nigerians believe that all these will be possible if all stakeholders remain committed to their responsibilities and the political class and security agencies in particular change their ways to move the country forward.
It is important to note that the security stakeholders are among critical agencies for successful conduct of elections, good governance and national security. It is therefore important that the roles of the security agencies in the political evolution of the country are properly scrutinized as was done with the Electoral Laws. What makes the re-examination of the role of security agencies in elections and governance in the country very important is that the failure to do away with retrogressive practices, such as manipulation and use of thugs in politics, is believed to be with the connivance of security operatives, some of whom have played despicable roles. However, it is important to observe that most security operatives have performed exceptionally well. There certainly exists in their midst unscrupulous insider saboteurs whose activities need to be checked. It is important to note that politicization of the security organizations is among negative influences on security operatives that need to be closely monitored. In some recent elections in the country some unscrupulous security operatives have thrown overboard their professional ethics, neutrality and determination to strengthen the democratic process. It is not surprising that keen watchers especially of the security scene, including retired security practitioners, have lamented how some unscrupulous security operatives brazenly compromise their roles during elections and the discharge of their statutory responsibilities. It is a known fact that some security operatives have been corrupted during elections while some have been openly indicted for aiding and abetting electoral malpractices. Such irresponsible security operatives have done enormous damage to elections and governance in the country. Being parties to the manipulation of elections and intimidation of perceived political opponents of their pay masters are among allegations that have been made against security operatives that underscore the importance of repositioning nearly all security agencies in the country before 2023. All security agencies in effect need to be repositioned to have the ability of subverting all undesirable practices in 2023 in the country that have contributed to challenges faced in politics in the country. Security agencies need to go back to their roles as honest advisers of their principals.
The stability of the polity is dependent on the security agencies being professional and honest in advising the political leadership. There are allegations that the country has however witnessed the disturbing practice of security agencies especially their leadership failing to speak truth to power and at times aligning with those who appointed them regardless of the truth about issues before them. It has been argued that most security agencies in the country fail to be honest with those in power, thereby compounding the problems of those being ruled. It has been consistently observed that many of the security agencies have lost their claims to professionalism and neutrality. This is because some of them have been overtly politicized. The situation is likely to be worse in 2023 as there are reports that some politicians are busy and discretely recruiting retired and serving security operatives. This will definitely not augur well for the forthcoming elections. It is expected that 2023 will be a trying period for the country and critical stakeholders like security agencies. The country will therefore need very upright and professional security operatives, especially before and during the 2023 elections. Conscious efforts should also be made to purge the security agencies of those that are clearly corrupt, disloyal and those who have nothing to offer. They must also be insulated from the influence of desperate interests. This has become expedient at a time the country is passing through resurgence of ethnic, parochial and intense religious sentiments. The country can draw from the pool of professionally tested, honest and sound security operatives when it faces some problems.
Another retrogressive practice among security operatives that needs to be checked is highhandedness and seeing themselves to be above the law. These attitudes are the bane of security agencies in the country. Everything must therefore be done to ensure corrupt and politically exposed security operatives do not undermine the 2023 elections and national security. Special attention should be paid to the reported discreet recruitment of serving and retired security operatives who have nothing to offer by some politicians to strengthen the process in 2023. Relevant security agencies and the government should as a matter of urgency place such persons and their sponsors under close monitoring.
The year 2023 will come with myriad of challenges especially sentiments and actions that could be harmful to national security. It would be necessary to take concrete steps to stop individuals who are engaged in plans that could undermine national security. Reported plans by desperate politicians to recruit retired and serving security operatives should be among antics that should attract action from relevant agencies. The country cannot definitely afford to toy with its destiny in 2023.
A. A. GADZAMA OFR, mni
National Institute of Security Studies