BY OMOBA KENNETH AIGBEGBELE
According to Aldrin Edwin 1930 -‘the eagle has landed’, Aristotle in 384-322 BC said “every art and every inquiry, and similarly, every action and pursuit, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason, the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim’. Alcaeus 620-580 BC also said: “Brave men are a City’s Strongest tower of Defence”.
The coming on board of Dr. Ahmed Abubakar Audi, 13 months ago has not only changed the narrative but has made considerable paradigm shift, deconstructed conversations, shaped opinions and rebranded the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), in spite of paucity of funds and the huge challenges he met on ground to reforming the corps into a 21st century civil defence that can be compared to anywhere else with international best practices put in place.
However, with the conceptualization of Abubakar Audi’s “The Civil Defence of our Dreams,” a master plan, to drive home a new mission and vision statement, that will propel the corps to the next phase of transformation, the first of its kind in the annals, the story cannot be said to be the same from the plethora of achievements encompassing development of institutional infrastructure, manpower capacity building of personnel to enhance Espirit- De -Corps of officers and men in terms of high morale, to prompt payment of salaries/emoluments and the establishment and initiation of the Special Female Squad (SFS). The list is endless as the CG is poised to surpass, refocus, reform and reposition the civil defence like never before seen in its entire history.
From a humble beginning, the Commandant General, Dr. Ahmed Abubakar Audi, who is a member of the senior Executive Course 38 of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) Kuru, Jos, holds a doctorate degree in Public Police Analysis, and possesses two master’s degrees to his credit in Public Administration and Law Enforcement and Criminal justice, has redefined his office in terms of professionalizing the civil defence for efficiency and effective service delivery to a transparent, accountable and formidable security outfit in the security architecture of the country.
On assumption of office, he gave marching orders that it was not going to be business as usual and encapsulated a blueprint and master plan on how to transform the Civil Defence to meet the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians by putting square pegs in square holes, reorganizing the management team, the DCGS cadre, ACGs, states commandants, zonal commandants and all other necessary departments for effective dispensation from top to bottom approach to the ranks and file for discipline to be effectively entrenched.
It is instructive to say, that transparency, accountability and professionalism have become and remained at the front burner of Dr. Audi’s transformational philosophy leading to enhanced revenue generation of the Civil Defence on private security companies to the federation coffers unlike previously and surmounting all other achievements of his predecessors in just a few months on the saddle.
Dr. Audi has introduced far reaching institutional reforms that have repositioned the organization for great productivity, efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of its constitutional role to the country and the safeguard of critical national assets, including life and property across the country, thereby reducing criminal elements.
The introduction of the yearly, quarterly Commandant General’s conference for men and officers of the corps will also go a long way in driving the mandate and keeping the paramilitary organization abreast of what is happening around the globe and also enhance improved service delivery of the corps in reducing criminals and vandals across the country by also improving professionalism of its officers and men as various departments of the DCGs, ACGs, States Commandants will use the opportunity to rub minds, update themselves with the latest development and challenges they encounter on daily basis and also seek for solutions, ways and means to tackle the menace once and for all for the betterment of the organization and nation.
The conference will also afford the CG the opportunity to cross-fertilize ideas with the management team, seek for renewed vigor, extract commitment and technologically driven ways to enhance the corps, dialogue and look for amicable ways to improve the manpower development/ICT, so that the corps can compete globally and give its best to the nation at all times with best practices.
Accordingly, in commemoration of this year’s 2022 International Civil Defence Day (ICDD) and also in celebration of the Commandant General’s first anniversary on the saddle, the CG spoke glowingly about his achievements, challenges and efforts put in place to make the corps more efficient, professionally equipped and more importantly, serve the country on a mandate to be selfless, patriotic and abide by the code of service and extant rule of law.
The Commandant General reiterated that the reforms so far introduced were in line with his vision to reposition and upgrade the operational machinery of the corps for improved performances by embarking on a mission to reorganize and revolutionize the training department of the corps in order to sharpen the skills and competences of the personnel to effectively cope with the challenges of the dangerous developments of insecurity in the country occasioned by the activities of hoodlums, bandits, kidnappers and insurgents.
The CG also emphasized that conscious and concerted efforts have been made to strengthen the capacity and manpower needs of the corps in order to position the personnel to effectively execute the mandate and tackle the challenges of insecurity in the country by embarking on aggressive training and re-training of its personnel, while making staff welfare a top priority and focus which are yielding dividends and fruits as at today.
The establishment of the Special Female Squad (SFS) is not only novel but the first of its kind in its history. In response to the Safe School Initiative of the Federal Government, the NSCDC did an audit and survey of schools in Nigeria, prepared a framework of proactive security measures towards addressing the incessant trend of attacks on schools across the country, including kidnapping and came up with this concept.
As a step in the right direction, the SFS has been mounting surveillance in an around schools while at the same time, making out time to sensitize staff and students by giving them security safety tips and educating them on the need for security consciousness and how and why they need to alert security agencies upon the discovery of strange faces and strange movements within the school environment and communities. The squad is also building collaborations, partnerships and robust relationships with local communities and other relevant stakeholders while also placing surveillance and monitoring as its watchword to checkmate the incidents of violent attacks and kidnappings.
Another major milestone of the present leadership is the recent approval of the Ministry of Interior on the committee to develop a standard curriculum template for the NSCDC training colleges. This feat is significant because it is a process of entrenching career progression for the men and officers of the corps. A 16-member committee headed by the venerable Vice Chancellor of Nasarawa State University, Prof. Suleiman Bala Mohammed was inaugurated, as seasoned professionals were drawn from various academic and professional backgrounds to be part of the think-tank.
Meanwhile, stakeholders across the country and well-meaning Nigerians are applauding the initiative as they all agreed that it is a well though-out initiative and affirmed that training is the life-wire in any organization aimed at improving service delivery, enhancing Its physical structures and the career development of the personnel. As the standard curriculum, the plan of the present leadership is to upgrade, improve and uplift the NSCDC to a world class-standard with the induction at the point of entry of newly enlisted officers acquainting them with standard procedures of operations and career development in the corps, which Indeed, is worthy of emulation.
Nevertheless, with the proactive measures put in place by the leadership to enhance staff welfare and prompt payment of salaries, emoluments and promotions, the staff morale as at today has grown astronomically and the highest in its history.
Also, the Agro-Rangers have been enhanced, well packaged and rebranded, while promotions are based on merit and allowances are paid as at when due, the Agro-Rangers are well deployed to reduce food shortages across the country and boost food security for the betterment of the country as both local and allied investments are also being protected by the Agro-Rangers.
The Commandant General had also established a new department for the effective investigation, monitoring mechanism of the personnel and assets across the country under the Commandant General Intelligence Squad (CGIS), so as to checkmate sharp practices by officers, discipline erring officers and men which also recently led to the disbandment of the anti-vandal unit in Rivers State due to negligence.
The effective supervision and regulation of the Private Guard Companies in Nigeria have become of importance as a strategic mandate of the NSCDC following the numerous security challenges across the country, there is every need to prune the numbers, remove quacks and see to it that it conforms with the laid down procedures by the Federal Government. The Dr. Audi-led management convened the first ever Chief Executives Summit of the private security companies in the country. It was a two-day summit that also involved the members of the Association of Licensed Private Security Practitioners of Nigeria (ALPSPN) and the management of the corps whose meeting deliberated on the roles of private security organizations and canvassed for their support for the effective regulation by the NSCDC and other security agencies to achieve their mandate and return the country to normalcy in its fight against insecurity.
The CG in the stakeholders’ meeting reiterated the need for a renewed vigor to fight insecurity, end quackery, and he sought their support and cooperation including collaboration to expose unregistered companies for effective monitoring of their operational roles and to also enhance their registration fees and other fees mandated by the Federal Government, for the efficient and effective supervision which have led to improved funds being remitted to the coffers of the country for the first time in history of the corps. The supervision of the private security companies is indeed breaking new grounds as a revenue generation avenue for the government.
Under the present dispensation, the directorate of legal services has been reinvigorated and strengthened with prosecutorial competence like never before in the prosecution of cases to scale up convictions and make law enforcement easy to deal with offenders of the law. Just recently, the directorate had a capacity building course for its men and officers drawn from across the country. And also, is the anti-vandal unit of the corps, which has also undergone major reforms for efficient service delivery and is spread across the South-South geo-political zone to reduce the incessant pipeline vandalization, theft of crude oil and the vandalization of critical national assets. Above 700 suspects had been arrested in the last few months bordering on vandalization and attacks on national assets and infrastructure, cattle rustling, banditry, attacks on farmers and farmlands including illegal mining. The corps has recorded continuous successes in anti-vandalization drive, protection of critical assets, protection of farmers, supervision and licensing of private security companies, physical security at mining sites, disaster management, mitigation and control, etc.
Consequently, the Commandant General, Dr. Audi, has emphasized inter-agency collaboration, synergy and partnerships as the only way to reduce the challenges of insecurity and called for an all extensive manpower development of the security architecture in the country. This was stated in his anniversary celebration speech, where he made a clarion call and asked that all hands must be on deck to move the nation forward. He emphasized that “the corps has also continued to enjoy robust collaboration and synergy with the UNDP, among other international bodies for the training and retraining of operatives of the department for efficient and effective service delivery.”
He went further to reiterate that “it is also instructive to inform Nigerians that the corps has produced thousands of Chartered Mediators who have been involved in various cases of mediation across the country and enjoined Nigerians to support the service in the delivery of its mandate to ensure the unity, peace and stability for the growth of the country and called on all Nigerians to endeavor to give information to security agents for intelligence gathering always as the special intelligence squad has been established to take proactive and pragmatic steps to do discrete investigations and intelligence gathering to track down criminal elements, as the squad also provides backup to State’s Special Forces and anti-vandal squad across the country.”
Omoba Kenneth Aigbegbele is of CWAI, GOCMEJ and a Mass Communication Specialist and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org