There was a time when national security, for the most part, meant military projections. And so it was that within the tenets of the traditional paradigm of security, the purpose of national security was to safeguard national values which centered on survival, self preservation and self-perpetuation and the pursuit of objectives that contributed to the growth and preeminence of the nation.
During the Cold War, the national security goal of both spheres was to expel external aggression and contain internal upheavals. Today, there is more to it and with several components, i.e. economic and ecological concerns, terrorism and weapons proliferation, international health concerns, migration, shifting demographics, and more. While most of the world has come to grips with these concerns,
To be specific, national security is undergoing a metamorphosis. The world now speaks of human security — a more encompassing and human-centered paradigm — as opposed to national security which is state-centered and revolves around military projection. Even so, one area of our national security we seldom discuss is the intelligence agencies. For most of us, the intelligence community is a shadowy no-go area, a forbidden topic. For most people, spies are like mystical and mythical creatures.
But when we think or talk about it, it is generally in the context of a spy agency — an agency that operates in foreign land. The truth is that members of this community operate both inside and outside of
Most Nigerians are familiar with the Defense Intelligence Agency State Security Service and the National Security Organization, but are not conversant with the fact that the Navy, Air force, Police, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and the Army all have intelligence wings.
In addition, the Nigerian Diplomatic service also has its intelligence service – as does all the diplomatic services of all the nations of the world. The British, French, Chinese, the American, German, and the Italian embassies for instance abound with intelligence officers with or without diplomatic covers. Some pose as entrepreneurs while others pose as expatriates working for foreign companies, or as researchers and university professors.
It should be noted that just as these countries play the spy game, so does
No matter the nature and structure of the intelligence community, its primary purpose is to assist governments in the policy and decision making process. In other words: the intelligence agencies exist to do one thing and one thing only: assist the government in the furtherance of its domestic and foreign policy objectives — whatever those objectives might be whether or not they fall within the bounds of law and human decency.
During the Apartheid era in
However, since the collapse of the apartheid regime (and the introduction of popular sovereignty), reforms have been introduced by way of legislations and judicial mandate in order to restructure and reorient the intelligence and other security services. The expectation is that these reforms will have a positive impact on how the intelligence agencies conduct their operations.
The guiding principle of the South African intelligence community is/was well known; however, one wonders what the guiding principles of the Nigerian intelligence agencies are. I especially wonder why the Nigerian intelligence community has had so many monumental failures. Why for instance, have these agencies not been able to embed some of their members into the inner circles of those responsible for fanning religious and ethnic conflicts?
The weakness and or the failure of the Nigerian Intelligence Community is glaring. For instance, why is it that year after year, politicians and government officials are able to siphon public funds without the intelligence agencies being abreast and ahead of the culprits? Also, they seem not to know who is involved in money laundering, oil bunkering, arms dealings, and other manifestation of low intensity conflict.
Thousands of Nigerians and foreigners are engaged in illegal oil deals and in other crimes– including white-collar crimes; yet, the government have no way of stopping these activities before they happen. What then are the duties and responsibilities of the police and these agencies? What are the duties of these agencies vis-à-vis transnational terrorism, transnational armed robbery, transnational prostitution and cross-border child-trafficking?
Derisively, some have jokingly said that “with little determination,
And in spite of the billions and billions of dollars and superior human intelligence and electronic gadgets in the arsenal of the CIA, the FBI and other American agencies, they too have had to suffer some grave failures. The unfortunate events of 9/11 are examples of such failures. In the end though, the
Does the Nigerian intelligence community have the ability to stop foreign intelligence from gathering sensitive information from our policy and decision-makers? In other words: are we capable of preventing opposing security organizations from eavesdropping on our ministers, governors and on Aso Rock — considering the fact that we have foreign agents posing as business men and women crawling all over hotels in Abuja and Lagos and all over government ministries in Kaduna, Port Harcourt and elsewhere?
Who, for instance, is keeping an eye on the German Bundesnachrichtendienst, the British M15 and M16,
Some of our public servants — greedily in search of dollars and pounds and travel visa for their relatives and self — easily sell or exchange state secrets. When the President and other government officials buy planes, telephones and fax machines, vehicles, computers and other equipments from abroad — how certain are we that they are not secretly fitted with audio and video devices?
It is impossible to put a stop to hostile intelligence activities. Friends spy on friends. Political allies spy on each others. That is a given — but worst still are enemies who have grand evil intentions. The Nigerian intelligence agencies must resolve to do a better job of protecting our vital interests. As things are, our boundaries, airports, seaports and waterways are not well-manned and so are not secured.