By OMOBA KENNETH AIGBEGBELE
Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu, CG NSCDC
From the plethora of achievements, from the reduction of vandalism on critical national assets, enhanced regulation of private guards, robust inter-agency collaboration, high morale of personnel to capacity and manpower development, the story cannot be the same again at the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
This is judging from the fact that the management of NSCDC has done so much in its little stay in office, much more than the previous administrations, transforming and repositioning the entire corps to meet with the best global standards as well as maintaining and sustaining the protection of critical national assets across the length and breadth of the country.
The introduction of the paradigm shift and the unprecedented conflict resolution mechanism put in place as saluted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is very fresh in the memories of Nigerians. That is talking about how the NSCDC, under the present management, has resolved over 15,000 conflict cases to date. This is judging from the fact that this has indeed broken new grounds as issues and conflicts are resolved within reasonable time-frame and the parties involved embrace peace on amicable settlement, proffered by the NSCDC operatives, applying conflict models and stimulating trends peculiar to the Nigerian culture, zone and secular nature.
Rising from an extra-ordinary virtual online executive meeting, the attention of the Coalition of Civil Societies and Media Executives for Good Governance in Nigeria (COCMEGG) has been drawn to the orchestrated, deliberate mischief and malicious ‘Letter to the Editor’ written by one Israel Abiodun (using a pseudo name) and published in a widely circulated national newspaper, The Nation on Sunday, June 21, 2020. The willful falsehood and deliberate blackmail, COCMEGG reliable investigations reveal, were concocted, fabricated and maliciously released to the media by a disgruntled element parading himself as a “concerned citizen,” so as to cast unwarranted aspersions and malign the present leadership of NSCDC. This was also to drag the present management and their hard-earned reputation into the mud.
For the purpose of clarity and fairness, COCMEGG believes and upholds the fact that it is important to state categorically that the sponsors and purveyors of the mischievous and malicious so-called “Open Letter to the President” are devilish and could only have emanated from the pit of hell. It is evident, from COCMEGG investigations, that these elements have taken it upon themselves and are hell bent on tarnishing the good work presently taking place at the NSCDC. In view of the foregoing, COCMEGG therefore diligently implores the general public to disregard and discountenance the highly illogical concoction that was served as an open letter to a seemingly upheld national daily newspaper.
As champions and agitators of transparency, good governance and accountability in the country, we at COCMEGG are aware of such deeply embedded surreptitious efforts and clandestine motives by disgruntled elements aimed at demonizing and blackmailing the present leadership of NSCDC. This is glaring because of the result of management’s avowed vision and mission to rebrand and reposition the NSCDC for effective service delivery. COCMEGG has watched closely the events of the past few days and monitored the court of public opinion.
COCMEGG has come, through this investigation, to realize that these malicious, deliberate and misleading narratives are willfully intended to pull down the hard-earned paradigm shift presently at the NSCDC. These are also aimed at tarnishing the unblemished reputation of a distinguished professional who has spent the better part of his life serving, protecting, and giving his all to the service of the nation.
COCMEGG has tried as much as possible not to join issues with the barrage of falsehood and malicious attacks on the management of NSCDC or engage in unintelligent rabblerousing in letting Nigerians know the succinct truth and nothing more. COCMEGG’s independent evaluation of NSCDC by its coalition partners and co-travellers in the boat of CSOs, shows alignment with corporate transparent leadership and good governance stance on issues paramount to the growth and development of NSCDC.
However, immediately, the present management assumed the mantle of leadership, he gave marching orders that it would no longer be “business as usual.” To back up this slogan, the Commandant-General developed a blueprint as encapsulated in his vision: “To professionally develop structures and training strategies that would contribute to the national security architecture by using modern technology to bring credibility into the concept of security”.
The CG’s conceptualization of the Agro-Rangers Initiative has become the cynosure of all eyes and brainchild of the leadership in the reduction of hitherto constant clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the country. This was indeed a grassroots approach, and a solution in response to the killings and wanton destruction of lives and property in the country. The scheme was also designed to give physical protection to agro-allied investments (both local and foreign) and everything that is related in the nation’s agricultural economy, as well as the protection of the citizenry from kidnapping and other violent crimes in the society. It was, as well, to boost Nigerians’ food security and local industry for growth. COCMEGG noted with satisfaction that as at today, over 5,000 Agro-Rangers officers have been deployed in the country to protect farmers and their investments.
Through investigation, COGMEGG realized that when the present leadership took over, there was no single State Command in existence, but today, the Civil Defence can boast of 12 State Commands completed and ongoing namely Ogun, Ekiti, Ondo, Osun, Delta, Anambra, Ebonyi, Edo, Sokoto, Kebbi, Gombe and Niger states respectively. The Directorate Cadre was also developed and commissioned by expanding it to Six Directorates so as to work efficiently and effectively as in other developed climes across the globe. These include the Intelligent and Investigation, Operations, Disaster Management, Technical Services and the Directorate of Infrastructure and National Assets which gave birth to manpower development and capacity building by dividing the country into zones from A to H accordingly. The present leadership also equipped all the zones with operational vehicles, logistics including ammunitions and hardware for personnel.
COCMEGG found out that the recent promotion of officers by the Civil Defence, Fire, Immigration and Prisons Service Board (CDFIPB) from the rank of Deputy Commandant to Commandants level, including the promotion of other ranks and file has been applauded as a good step in the right direction. This is judging from the fact that the promotion will not only enhance staff morale but also boost their loyalty to the nation as well as awaken their sense of purpose, patriotism, direction and responsibility. Howbeit, the new psychological test on personnel initiated by the management is a welcome development to test the alertness, health status and capabilities of men and officers of the Civil Defence.
Judging from the foregoing, COCMEGG has affirmed that the intention of the sponsors of such open letter is to drag the name of the organization into odium and public ridicule so as to settle cheap scores. This should therefore should be discountenanced and disregarded because, as COCMEGG found out, these stories been peddled are unsubstantiated and baseless. For instance, the recruitment process into NSCDC is strictly supervised by the Civil Defence, Fire, Immigration and Prisons Service Board, CDFIPB, under the Federal Ministry of Interior.
It is glaring that there has been no time in the history of the organization that the NSCDC, on its own, employed, promoted or disciplined officers without the approval of the President and Supervisory Ministry. COCMEGG findings further reveal that these are normally done in collaboration with all other activities within the organization and it is always based strictly on merit and availability of vacancies as a para-military organ. However, COCMEGG investigation further revealed that the dichotomy between Higher National Diploma (HND) and Bachelor’s Degree (B.Sc/B.A) holders has been removed by the CDFIPB. However, allowances are to be paid by the Accountant-General’s office.
COCMEGG also came to realise that the management under Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu has taken into consideration the development of infrastructure, capacity building and manpower development as most officers and personnel attend courses and professional examinations yearly unlike hitherto when personnel got promoted only once in ten years. The present management has also taken into cognizance the inequality of personal distributions within states as some have 4,000 personnel while others have 1,000, despite the meagre funding from the federal government. The leadership is doing everything possible to boost the esprit-de-corps already enjoyed today by the Civil Defence with prompt payment of salaries, allowances and other official entitlements as at when due.
This has, no doubt, led to the massive and rapid improvement in disaster management as first responders and the upgrade of the Katsina Institute of Disaster Management with state-of-the-art facilities and other social amenities within the environment. This is also to boost the morale of personnel and create a conducive environment for trainees and the College of Security Management at Ogun State fitted with modern equipment; therefore, COCMEGG, in strong terms condemns the so called open letter as it was done in bad faith.
Accordingly, the NSCDC’s present leadership, through its renewed vision and new policy direction aimed at ridding the country of vandalism and criminal elements as well as the protection of critical infrastructure and national assets, has deployed officers to secure schools, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps across the North-East and other areas. This has also led to the destruction of insurgency and illegal refineries by officers and men of the NSCDC in the Niger Delta region. Enormous efforts have also been put in place to arrest solid minerals thieves in states like Zamfara, Kogi and amongst others across the country, resulting in the stoppage of Oil/Petroleum products scarcity by the task force put in place by the management.
The present management has also used sports as another major tool where the personnel had done extremely well. COCMEGG realized how lot of laurels and trophies have been won by men and officers of the corps in all aspects of their sporting engagement. In the last decade, COCMEGG gathered, the NSCDC had taken the first position to all para-military games and Defence Sports due to the amiable leadership style of the present management, that sees sports as another way to relax and unify the officers of the corps by using the various sporting engagements for networking, information gathering, health, free flow of rapport among the para-military agencies. This was, as well, to share intelligence, enhance officers’ relationship and build bridges of mutual understanding.
COCMEGG, after a clinical and thorough investigation, including strategic Civil Society Engagement, therefore urges the media to be vigilant and not to be hoodwinked by fifth columnists in this direction. COCMEGG diligently wishes to descend heavily on these perceived mischief makers and rabble-rousers peddling falsehood about the management of NSCDC. COCMEGG warns that they should desist from doing such as their motives are well known and unveiled. COCMEGG urges well-meaning Nigerians to be wary of the antics of such disgruntled elements and disregard such allegations and consider them as mere hoax and hogwash.
In conclusion, COCMEGG therefore urges the management of NSCDC not to be distracted by these evidently sponsored allegations, but to remain focused on the paradigm shift presently taking place at NSCDC.
OMOBA KENNETH AIGBEGBELE