Insecurity: We Can Leapfrog To Success – Sen Hadejia Hassan Ibrahim

Insecurity: We Can Leapfrog To Success – Sen Hadejia Hassan Ibrahim
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Senator Hadejia Hassan Ibrahim, Jigawa North East Senatorial District, a former deputy governor of Jigawa State, spoke with  AljazirahNigeria’s Associate Editor, LATEEF TAIWO, and Photo Journalist TYIOKAA TYIOZENDA on the state of insecurity in northern Nigeria.

Distinguished, coming back from recess, the issue of insecurity in the North, particularly in the North-east has dominated deliberations at the Senate Chamber.

What is your assessment of the crisis?

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We should look at the issue of insecurity from a larger perspective. It is not a northern Nigeria issue, it affects everybody. Nigeria is a very fluid country, with movement of people from one place to the other. When the bomb is thrown, it does not select any particular person from a particular geographical zone, when they kidnapped, these kidnappers don’t know North and South or religious affinity when they strike.

It is very unfortunate that since I came to the Senate, I don’t think a day has passed without us observing a minute silence in the Chamber because of one issue or the other arising from insecurity.

Beyond the rhetoric, would you say the government has done enough to solve the problem?

Everybody is trying everything. At the state level, governments are donating equipment, donating vehicles to the security agents, some state governors are sitting down with terrorists, negotiating.  But I think what is important just like the Senate President said is convening a security summit, this time around not just with the Service Chiefs, but let us reach out to the people who have had similar issues and challenges all over the world – the US, some of our neigbouring countries. No man is an Island. As we speak, when the insecurity in Zamfara is dealt with, the pressure has now moved to Katsina State. When the Katsina Governor adopted an initiative, they moved to Niger, so we need to sit down collectively so that we can tackle insecurity.

There have been several calls towards changing the security architecture, but there is no indication that the powers that be is working towards that direction.

Our approach has been that of responding; we need to be preventive, we need to spend more on preventive measures. I have been telling people that the United States just observed the anniversary of 9/11, that is the  most fundamental terrorism act  that ever took place in America, and from that time till now,  there has  been little or no incident whatsoever, apart from  people that have tried domestic terrorism  or their own citizens going crazy.

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You need to ask yourselves: have there not been attempts? But they have set up preventive security architecture that enables them to stop this thing and they don’t celebrate it. But all the time, we go to town with it, giving away vital intelligence to these people, so that next time they can adopt another method. So we really have an issue and we need to change our security architecture.

When you say there is a need to change the security architecture, what do you really mean?

By investing in technology. The basic security architecture all over the world today is the CCTV. When the Americans came in during the last administration, the first thing they asked is where is your CCTV footage? We don’t have, it is not there.  Look at what happened in Port Harcourt over the serial killer, he had operated in 30 Hotels and there was no footage of him until the Commissioner of Police gave them 48 Hours to Install CCTV Cameras in the Hotels and it was the day they installed the Camera that they got him. Go to UAE, as you are stepping down at the airport, your face and movement is captured. From the airport to the hotel, you have your face probably appearing in 50 cameras, and if you are involved in any case and there is a need for a playback, there is technology to recognise your face that you were at so and so at 1.30, 2-30 and so on, they piece the information together and pick you up at the last point.  I recall in the UK when there was a plot to bomb the Tube station, that was about 4 to 5 years ago, they found out about the plot based on eavesdropping technology and they did not stop them until, they had several meetings, packed their bombs and ready to strike. They got hold of every one of them that was involved, if they had rushed in the moment the information came, they could have probably got one or two of them as we are doing with kidnappers in Nigeria.

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As a deputy governor in Jigawa State between 1999 and 2003, your administration started an ICT project in the state. What is the state of that project today?

There was no continuity; Jigawa blazed the trail in ICT. In 1999 to 2007, we got the first ISP licenses from Nigeria Communication Commission, NCC, to provide internet GSM licence for NCC. Before MTN, Vmobile we had the fastest internet connection in West Africa. We were doing these then because of Education and health. We wanted to have a situation whereby we can link up some of our schools like do in Senegal, where one teacher could sit down and teach two, three classes at the same time.

We set up galaxy for the purposes of distant learning and over time the federal government took over the galaxy without giving Jigawa any compensation and the new government that came in abandoned most of those things. We had informatics collaboration with the Singapore IT institutes. We were offering diploma and masters’ degree in computer. If it had continued in that direction, Jigawa would not be relying on federation account. Jigawa would have been an IT hub. I still have that passion, I have nine ICT centres in my entire constituency, and that has brought access to youths.

You co-sponsored a motion on the management of aid and donations, and this motion is coming up at the time some of these NGOs are being accused of collaborating with insurgents in the North-east.

The aid is given to IDPs in form of relief materials; drugs are the core mandate of the donors. The IDPs are not there by choice, they are there because they had to be there and people are benefitting from their situation.

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If you look at the content of the motion we are sponsoring, we are not accusing anybody. We are only saying that there should be a systematic way of receiving and distributing these aids. There should be a dedicated agency for the North-east situation and not NEMA to ensure aids gets to the targeted people.

 Talking about Kidnappers, they are obviously becoming daring.

Just look at the kidnappers that we are parading on the Televisions; somebody will tell you he has kidnapped ten times. If you calculate the ransom, sometimes up to N200million they have collected and look at the wretched clothe he is putting on, you will obviously know that, that guy is just a foot soldier and if we put on our thinking cap, we would have tracked the guys who are sponsoring these things. The guys who are doing the kidnapping are not the guys collecting the ransom; they are not the ones that fund it. There are kingpins who have different gangs, sometimes up to ten operating and none of them knows each other.

So what is the way forward?

We need to go beyond that and find those people who are sponsoring these kidnappers, because it is like investing your money in a venture. You invest your money, they do the kidnapping, and you collect the money and give them next to nothing. We need to take a look at the preventive security; we need to invest to do what others are doing to help solve this problem.

Your take on the increasing number of children out-of-school and the Almajiri system that serve as a fertile ground to recruit this foot soldiers as the biggest threat?

The only way out of it is to declare a state of emergency in the education sector and let’s do the right things. If you say there are 11 million out of school children on the streets, what is the status of the 15 to 16million that are in school at the moment?

After the feeding, what do we do next? Anything is better than what we have presently at the moment in the North. Let’s not be afraid to try technology, these things are not just being tested in African countries, but the world over – in India, Argentina, Brazil – they are all using technology to level the plain in terms of education. We don’t need to go through the process Indians went through for 20 years, we can leap frog.

Aljazirahnews


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