President Muhammadu Buhari and state governors, on Tuesday, ended their meeting on the state of the nation’s security with a call for a joint strategy to bring various conflicts to an end within time limits.
They also called on military field commanders to take measures to protect civilian communities as a confidence-building mechanism between the military and those communities.
The President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement in Abuja, said Mr Buhari and governors made their feelings known at the end of the virtual meeting coordinated from the State House, Abuja.
He said the president and the governors believe that” when the trust that has been lost between both parties is re-established, there would be improved cooperation in intelligence-gathering and sharing.”
The presidential aide revealed that the meeting also agreed that poverty and youth unemployment were at the root of the nationwide security challenges, and needed to be addressed with greater vigour by all tiers of government.
Shehu said the meeting also focused on the country’s security policies and approaches in tackling the internal security challenges with a charge that intelligence-gathering and sharing must be optimised.
”The President used the opportunity to dispel commonly held assumptions that the terrorists in the Northeast had far more weapons and money than the government, stressing that what is left of them are “mere scavengers desperate for food, raiding shops and markets, and killing innocent persons in the process.”
Buhari also expressed concern that in spite of the fact that borders with neighbouring countries had been shut, bandits and terrorists continued to have access to small weapons.
“These terrorists are in the localities. How is it that they are not short of small arms?” he queried the security and intelligence chiefs.
He said: “We have said enough on the need for them to rejig their operations. I am glad that there is better synergy and cooperation which are very important. I have directed the Service Chiefs to meet among themselves in-between the National Security Council meetings.
”The services have resources; yes, they need more, and mobility, and are doing their best, but there is a need for better gathering and interpretation of intelligence. Our intelligence-gathering must be improved.”
The president informed the governors of the imminent shipment of military weapons and aircraft from Jordan, China and the United States.
He, therefore, asked for patience on the part of the public because the new weapons and aircraft must be manned by trained fighters and pilots who must first receive appropriate training.