National Security: Gambari Canvasses Focus Shift To Non-military Threats

A former Minister of External Affairs, Prof. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, has called on the Federal Government to devote more resources to solving issues such as poverty, political exclusion, marginalization, and youth unemployment as part of its efforts in dealing with security in the country.


Prof. Gambari, who identified those issues as non-military threats, made the call recently, while speaking at the 4th Biennial National Conference of the Centre for Ilorin Studies (CILS), University of Ilorin, lamented that “in our approach to addressing the challenges of security, we tend to address only one aspect — the military and physical threat to security,  and that is why we deploy the security forces all over Nigeria doing what is essentially community policing duties that traditional rulers and authorities ought to be addressing”.


The Diplomat, who was speaking as Chairman at the Conference, themed “Human Security and the Survival of Cultural Heritage of Ilorin Emirate and its Environs”, said: “it has become imperative for the Government to look at insecurity in the land from a multi-dimensional perspective, saying, the future remains bleak unless concerted efforts are made to urgently tackle the challenge of human development capital confronting the country.”


Prof. Gambari, who is also the Chancellor of the Kwara State University, Malete, explained that “a country can be physically secured but the people will be totally and completely insecure”, saying that there is a difference between physical security and human security.


Gambari further noted that almost 104 years ago, the British colonial masters created Nigeria “for their own purposes not for ours”, pointing out that, “now, we have to make the Nigeria that we want, the Nigeria of our dreams so that it is not just a mere geographic expression but the community of peoples sharing broadly, common values and aspirations and working to produce a united, peaceful, prosperous and just nation.”


According to him, “That is what is called nation-building and if you don’t build the nation, others will destroy it for you”.


Prof. Gambari said, “The choice is clear; we either work together to build our nation or we give room to those who will destroy the nation and that is why those of us who have travelled far and wide, we know that Nigeria is not where it should be and it is not near where it can be.”


Pointing out that nations like Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, and Taiwan that were at par with Nigeria at independence had overtaken our country, the international scholar advocated structural, policy and attitudinal changes in order to move the country forward.


Prof. Gambari said, “We should spend less money on equipping our military and security services. Yes, they need to be equipped to fight physical threats and security, but they (Government) should spend more resources on prevention because if you don’t prevent, you will keep busy on just the firefighting approach: prevention is better than cure and it is much cheaper. Let’s not continue to make the same mistake and think that this terrorism is not happening here. It is happening and in order to do prevention and address the root causes of conflicts, we have to address the vulnerability factors such as poverty, weak institutions of governance, political exclusion of key segments of the population, ethnic/religious tension, economic marginalization and above all youth unemployment. When you have massive youth unemployment, you are creating a pool from which bad people will go and pick people to go and do very bad things”.


Similarly, the Lead Paper Presenter at the Conference, Prof. Olutayo Adesina, who is a historian and the Director of the Centre for General Studies, University of Ibadan, lamented the eroding of traditional values and culture among young Nigerians, a development which he noted, is responsible for the pervading societal ills.


Prof. Adesina pointed out that “the problem is that we don’t value what we have any longer”, asking rhetorically, “Why is it that we are trying to develop or move forward based on the cultural values of different people? If we do not stop that, we are not going to make any progress”.


Highlights of the event which was declared open by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, was the presentation of the book “The Socio-Economic Development of Ilorin Emirate since the 20th century”.


Reviewing the book, the immediate past Director of the Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies, University of Ilorin, Dr. Mahfouz Adedimeji, described the 453-page book, edited by Professors Z.I. Oseni, A.S. Abdulsalam, B.L. Yusuf and Dr. I. A. Jawondo, as “a rich addition to the growing body of literature on Ilorin Emirate”. He noted that it is a book to be “read with diligence and attention”, having met “the criteria by which good books are determined.”

Earlier in his address, the Director of CILS, Dr. I. A. Jawondo, noted that the Centre was committed to the study of the Ilorin Emirate and its environs. He said that it is “the tradition of Ilorin not to pretend when burning issues are at stake” in particular, insecurity, noting that, the Conference is an attempt to proffer solutions to these societal problems as well as the Centre’s contribution towards maintaining peace and sustaining harmony in Kwara State.




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