By Johnson Eyiangho
Abuja – The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara on Monday challenged the military on the need to gather reliable intelligence to tackle emerging security threats in the country.
Dogara threw the challenge while speaking at the opening of a five-day conference organised by the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) for the nation’s Defence Advisers and Attaches.
“I believe that if we succeed in gathering reliable intelligence that can be interpreted, we will always be ahead of the terrorists, kidnappers and all those who are threatening our peaceful co-existence,’’ the Speaker said.
He described the armed forces as the most important institution in the country presently as they were the ones always relied and called upon to address emerging internal security threats.
“The most important thing in Nigeria right now, though we practice democracy, it is not the presidency, legislature or judiciary, but law and order and national security.
“When there is no peace, law and order, there can’t be a nation. We must have Nigeria first before we talk about the Nigerian president, legislature and even the judiciary.
“I know that we are in an era, the 21st century in particular, where the entire humanity is threatened by advances in science and technology and by the threat of violence.
“Anywhere violence occurs, you will see the reversal of so many things. As a matter of fact, violence even destroys civilisation.
The Speaker described terrorism as a global problem which no nation should be allowed to tackle alone, adding that the best way to go about it was to engage and share intelligence and experiences.
Dogara promised that the National Assembly would always “appropriate more’’ for the military to achieve peace, noting that any nation which failed to invest in security would “diminish.’’
“We will not fail to invest in security,’’ he added.
The Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, who was the special guest at the occasion, noted that defence diplomacy had become increasingly part of counter terrorism operations.
Dan-Ali said that this was necessary as government seek to consolidate on its achievement and sustain the counter insurgency operations against the Boko Haram terrorists.
He, therefore, charged the defence advisers and attaches to strengthen that effort, as well as in the area of containing subsequent levels of asymmetric warfare in the nation.
“The importance of diplomatic relations with global players in consolidating efforts to sustain the level of achievement gained in our counter terrorism operations cannot be over emphasised.
“Accordingly, the role of diplomacy in counter terrorism strategy cannot be underestimated.
“It is therefore necessary to mention the propensity of using the traditional hard power measures in unconventional warfare or our fight against violent activities of non-state actors.
“Nevertheless, bilateral or multilateral diplomacy has become the most important soft power tool in countering terrorism,’’ he said.
Earlier, the Chief of Defence Intelligence, Air Vice Marshal M.S. Usman, said that the objective of the conference was to develop the defence advisers and attaches to become “more functional in national defence.
“From now on, our defence advisers and attaches will play more significant role in our quest to make game changing improvements to the strategic and operational tone of our counter terrorism operations.
“Defence diplomacy is key to our appreciation of the seismic shift that are happening at a fast pace around the Lake Chad and Sahel areas, as well as across North Africa and Middle East.
“This is because events there would determine to a large extent the operation dynamics of our own engagement,’’ Usman said.
The opening of the conference was attended by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Chief of Defence Staff, Service Chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris among other head of security agencies.
The theme of the conference was “Consolidating the gains of counter terrorism operations in Nigeria through Defence Diplomacy.’’ (NAN)