By Sumaila Ogbaje
A former Chief of Defence Staff has urged service chiefs and heads of security agencies to take steps to eliminate all forms of inter-agency rivalry to enhance national security.
Retired Gen. Martin-Luther Agwai made the call at the opening of a three-day Inter-Agency Cooperation Workshopwith the theme; “Strengthening Inter-Agency Cooperation for Sustainable National Security”, organised by the Defence Headquarters, on Tuesday in Abuja.
He said that developing cordial and symbiotic relationship among security agencies remained an important precondition for success in all operations.
The ex-defence chief said that the consequences of inter-agency rivalry were multifaceted and had far reaching negative implications on national security,
He urged the armed forces and other security agencies to continue to foster more collaborative efforts that would make the best use of available scarce resources for enhanced national security.
“Therefore, I implore you during the course of this workshop to identify areas of overlap of functions that require interventions to eliminate, reduce or clarify in executing your various mandates.
“It is hoped that the outcome of the workshop will assist the government in the formulation of policies that will enhance inter-agency synergy towards improved security in Nigeria.
“This will help in deterring current and potential adversaries within and outside the shores of Nigeria as well as mitigate the growing spate of crime and violence in the country.
“In an effort to forge a more positive bond between the armed forces and other security agencies, we must take a proactive role in the development and continual fostering of a more positive relationship by eliminating all forms of inter-agency rivalry,” he said.
Agwai commended the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, for his commitment to fostering cooperation and synergy between the armed forces and other security agencies toward enhancing national security.
The National Security Adviser (NSA), retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, said that effective inter-agency cooperation was the most critical aspect of addressing the numerous and dynamic security concerns of the country.
Monguno, represented by Maj.-Gen. Emmanuel Ndagi, said united effort was critical to comprehensive solution for security issues, adding that responses to challenges facing any nation required a multi-agency and interdisciplinary approach.
He said there were key national security policy documents that gave broad strategic guidance for interagency implementation.
Monguno listed some of the documents to include the National Security Strategy, and National Counterterrorism Strategy policy framework, among others.
According to him, effective intelligence cooperation can only be sustained through continuous coordination in line with the prescribed frameworks in the policy documents.
He said the Defence Headquarters had successfully coordinated joint operations in collaboration with other agencies in various operational theaters across the country, based on clearly defined vision, objectives and joint planning.
Monguno said that the workshop was designed to create a platform for joint planning and developing interagency frameworks.
“It should also be noted that the major value principle in inter-agency process is promoting cooperation and coordination rather than competition.
“Let me assure you that the Federal Government of Nigeria is committed and determined to provide the necessary support to all security agencies to carry out their constitutional rules.
“We must, therefore, continue to improve on the existence of synergy among security stakeholders to cooperate with a view to addressing the range of security threats across the country.
“I wish to implore all the stakeholders participating in this workshop to proffer appropriate strategies for strengthening interagency cooperation for sustainable national security, in order to ensure a peaceful prosperous and secure nation,” he said.
The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, said the much needed cooperation among the security stakeholders in tackling insecurity was sub-optimal, with dire implications for the well-being and order of the nation.
Irabor said there had been issues with boundaries of responsibilities, mutual distrust and suspicion, unhealthy competition, poor role delineation and general disinterest among some agencies.
According to him, this tendency, often simply referred to as inter-agency rivalry, have deeply permeated and jeopardised the national potential to more effectively and efficiently tackle the menace of insecurity and criminalities.
He said the workshop was organised to chart a new understanding, revise operational modalities realign competences, delineate lines of authority, communication, lead agency concept and support in line with global best practices.
“This approach is not meant to downplay or undermine the peculiarities of the several security agencies involved in operations, but rather to reposition us for optimal performance during joint and combined operations.
“It is against this backdrop that this workshop is considered apt to enhance synergy, increase information sharing and address the challenges of duplication of efforts in joint operations,” he said. (NAN)