The National Security Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari, retired Major General Babagana Monguno, says intelligence remains the most effective instrument in fighting insurgency and banditry.
Monguno stated this on Friday in Abuja while speaking at the public presentation of a research report.
The research was titled: “Terrorism and Banditry: The Nexus,” conducted by the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation.
The NSA, who is one of the panelists at the event, said evolution witnessed globally in the 21st century had made tackling insecurity more difficult, hence the need for intelligence.
He said that while intelligence came in various ways, including human intelligence, technical intelligence, cyber intelligence and others, human intelligence derived from the local community remained the most important.
Monguno said: “For as long as an agent of government decides to franchise or eliminate the agent of community, then you are depriving yourself of the most important oxygen, which is intelligence from the local community.”
Monguno said what Nigeria needed to do in tackling its current security challenge was to learn from the experience of developed countries.
He said: “Intelligence is the driver of operation.
“No matter how much you spend on defence forces – land, air, maritime or police – if you lack the relevant intelligence, you will just be like three blind men operating in a dark environment.
“You can imagine what that will amount to.”
According to him, while intelligence comes in various layers, it must be fused together and acted upon timely, saying intelligence in itself has a very short shelf life.
Monguno added: “From the moment you get intelligence, if the operational elements do not respond with the speed required, that intelligence becomes stale and it compounds the problems that will come later.”
Another member of the panelist, Crisis Group’s Nigeria Senior Adviser, Nnamdi Obasi, stressed the need to scale up security presence in the country, especially the ungoverned areas.
Obasi also stressed the need to improve on humanitarian assistance to those affected by insecurity.
On his part, a former Director of the Department of State Services, Mike Ejiofor, stressed the need to improve the capacity of security agencies and deal with the issue of bad eggs among security agencies.
Another member of the panelist, Ruth Olofin of CLEEN Foundation, said much attention should be paid to the effect of banditry and insecurity in the country on the education sector.
Olofin also stressed the need to conduct researches into the effects on the gender group, especially women and children, who had been affected by insurgency in the North East.
Dr. Chris Kwaja, a researcher, making a public presentation of the report, said that the research focused on four key states in the North West: Kaduna, Kastina, Niger and Zamfara.
Kwaja is a Senior Lecturer and Researcher at the Centre for Conflict Management and Peace Studies, Modibbo Adama University of Technology, Yola, Adamawa State.
He said that research identified social economy, farmers-herders, failure of government institutions, insufficient policing system as well as geography and topography as five factors that drive banditry.
Kwaja said the report also listed the effects of banditry in the states as the devastation of communities and threats to food security, which he noted further imperils and worsens economic outlook.
He said the report also acknowledged that the banditry activities provided cover for fundamentalists groups to spread, while it also threatened the education sector.
Kwaje said the report on ways to address banditry and terrorism in Nigeria recommended the need to review ECOWAS protocol on transhumance, undertaking of research and studies and to raise community security awareness.
He said the report also recommended supporting boarder management bodies in Nigeria, Niger Republic and Benin Republic as well as targeted social-economic intervention to ameliorate poverty and lack opportunities.