AGRO RANGERS: RE-BRANDING NSCDC UNDER GANA IN SPITE OF CHALLENGES

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By Omoba Kenneth Aigbegbele

The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) is a para-military institution that was established in May 1967 by the Federal Republic of Nigeria with the Act of the National Assembly. The Act was amended in 2007, to enhance the statutory duties of the corps.

It was the Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello (1910-1966) of blessed memory who said: “I have always based my actions on my inward convictions, on my conscience and on the dictates of my religion”.

The present Commandant, General (CG) of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu was born when great men were given birth to, and as soon as he assumed the mantle of leadership of the NSCDC, in spite of the daunting challenges, and the paucity of funds allocated and so many other grey areas yet untouched, the story has never been the same again.

From his plethora of achievements, he has moved to another pedestal of transforming and the re-positioning the entire corps to meet with best global practices and the protection of critical national assets across the length and breadth of the country.

 Another grey area, which has become the cynosures of all eyes and the brain-child of the Federal Government in the reduction of clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the country, is the conceptualization of the Agro-Rangers initiative.

 At a time in our history, when the menace between these two sworn enemies were at daggers-drawn and as such needed a home grown solution so as to nib in the bud this cankerworm once and for all.

However immediately, he assumed office, he gave marching orders that it will not be business as usual and went straight to work with the development of a blue-print 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.”

Though as an agency commissioned to provide measures against threat and any form of attack or disaster against the nation and its citizenry which is statutory, Act No. 2 of 2003 as amended by Act 6 of 4th June, 2007, it has relied on this enactment to bring succor to Nigerians and in the protection of lives and property in its day to day activities.

The CG, Gana Muhammadu, first of all, looked within to develop and enhance the directorate cadres of the corps by expanding it to comprise of six directorates, so as to work efficiently and effectively as in other developed climes across the globe.

The six include Directorate of Administration, Directorate of Disaster Management, Directorate of Intelligence and Investigation, Directorate of Operations, Directorate of Technical Services and lastly the Directorate of Critical Infrastructure and National Assets, which gave birth to the blue-print and needed manpower including capacity building for its core functions by dividing the country into zones for effective management from zone A to zone H unlike what was obtainable previously.

Consequently, as a result of the re-positioning and reforming efforts of the management to meet with international best practices, the Katsina Institute of Disaster Management has been upgraded and refocused like never before with up-to-date, state of-the-art facilities and equipment that encompass up to date e-learning  facilities, e-library, internet facilities, modernized hostels, pavilion (quarter – guard ) sporting facilities and other social amenities to boost the personnel, so as to make it more habitable and conducive for trainees.

 There are also facilities at the Civil Defence Academy, Sauka, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and the re-positioned College of Security Management at Ogun State, fitted with modern equipment.

The management under Gana Muhammadu, has also taken into consideration the development of infrastructure capacity development and manpower as most officers and men attend courses and promotional examinations before moving to the next level while training of personnel has become the order of the day.

The welfare of the staff is very paramount to  the CG as he is doing everything possible within his office 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 and establishing a core value of integrity, intelligence based security response system and professionalism in all aspects of its operations that have reduced the menace of criminals, herdsmen, kidnappers and vandals across the country to about 20 per cent.

The para-military agency has the interest of the Nigerian people and has greatly reduced threats and all forms of disaster incidence across the country through its professional intelligence gathering mechanism, investigations, information sharing and manpower development.

This has led to the massive and rapid improvement in disaster management as first responders, which has helped the country to curb the high incidence of disasters and other security challenges.

The 5,000 Agro-Rangers deployed to protect farmers and their investments from incessant attacks by bandits/criminals, including providing security to investments in the agricultural sector for both domestic and international businesses; provide physical security to the proposed 250 cattle ranches by the Federal Government is an initiative worthy to be mentioned.

Emphasis should be given to the CG’s leadership style and more important, his remarkable and selfless campaigns on disaster management, search and rescue, rehabilitation, re-integration, mitigation and the protection of key national assets and infrastructure across the country.

In his avowed determination and commitment to rid the country of vandalism and criminal elements, the CG deployed officers to secure schools and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs’) camps across the North-East and other areas as a result of the insurgency.

While a lot of awareness campaigns and sensitization have been carried out in these places, so as to inform the public about emergency numbers for rescue and operations and how it can be reached in case of emergency.

Due to his new policy direction on assumption that covers and focuses on the mandate of NSCDC, the protection of critical infrastructure and national assets, regulating, training, monitoring, supervising licensing of the private guards company, carrying out disaster management through search, rescue and rehabilitation and conflict resolution through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), including giving early warning signals to residents of areas discovered to be prone to disaster and reporting same to government for appropriate actions.

The NSCDC under Abdullahi Gana Muhammdu, has never failed in its constitutional responsibilities to see that the above factors are catered for in order to improve the sustainable economic growth of the country.

According to the Acting Provost of the Katsina Institute of Disaster Management, Commandant Muhammed Abubakar on a recent visit by the Commandant General to the institute, said “that since the assumption of office of the present CG, a lot of resources has been disbursed and expended to bring the institute to its current enviable standard, and he said he wanted to use the opportunity to pledge their support, commitment and unalloyed loyalty to the management of NSCDC and the Federal Republic of Nigeria to boost the welfare and manpower development of  the rank and file”.

These words on marble are replicated in the open-door policy adopted by the CG and the sound financial management of the meagre budget given to the corps, and despite the paucity of funds which has led to the financial discipline and the up-to-date financial accounting system put in place.

He also uses this medium to ask the National Assembly to look into their multiplicity of responsibilities and give an increment in the budget provisions, so that NSCDC will be able to cater for the enormous over-heads they shoulder towards achieving its set objectives and targets.

Consequently, as it relates to the reduction of crisis management within its mandate, the CG has deployed several officers to crisis-prone areas across the country like the North-East to secure schools and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs’) camps, and other volatile areas where we have clashes like Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Niger, Nasarawa, and Kaduna states in the last three years to curb the menace threatening the country’s drive towards food security.

It has also promoted synergy among sister agencies and the armed forces for intelligence gathering and information sharing, so as to protect lives and property in the country.

Other major responsibilities across the country have to do with a lot of illegal refineries that have been destroyed by officers of NSCDC in the rich Niger Delta Oil areas and also the enormous efforts put in place to arrest solid minerals thieves across the country, which also led to the creation of a new unit called the solid mineral defenders, and the stoppage of black market sales of Oil/petroleum products during scarcity by the task force put in place by the CG.

Sport is another major area where the present leadership has done extremely well. A lot of laurels and trophies have been won by men and officers of the NSCDC in all aspects of their sporting engagements, as all personnel of the corps irrespective of rank and file have been provided with insurance cover in the event of accident, death or disability in the course of duty.

 In the last decade, the NSCDC had taken the first position in all para-military games and defence sports due to the leadership style of Abdullahi Gana Muhammdu, who sees sports as another way to relax and unify the officers of the corps by using the various sporting engagements for networking, information gathering and free flow of rapport among the para-military agencies, so as to enhance their relationships and build bridges of mutual understanding.

Just recently, after organizing a week of fasting and prayers for the successful conduct of the 2019 general elections, the Commandant General monitored elections across the various states; embarked upon a security monitoring to spot on emerging security threats, for the protection of the electorate and logistics materials.

He also paid the allowances of officers and men to boost their confidence, including the repairs of vehicles broken down for the August occasion which drew the attention and commendation of local and international observers.

The extreme caution, courtesies and professional candor displayed and discharged with excellence by NSCDC to the pride and admiration of the voters, who showered accolades and praises on the corps, were noticed by these foreign observers.

It was also adjudged by all that the corps officers “are very meticulous, impressive and mature, even in the face of intimidation by the electorate.”

That was as a result of the training and re-training of officers before the 2019 elections, including the visits by the CG to strategic commands, the security meetings held by the CG with the 36 state commandants and FCT and the DCGs and ACGs on several locations.

Nevertheless, it was as a results of these achievements above and others too numerous to mention that the Coalition of Civil Societies and Media Executives for Good Governance in Nigeria (COCMEGG), bestowed and honored the CG with “The Most Outstanding Commandant-General Award of the Decade” recently.

On receiving the award, the CG thanked the President and Commandant-in-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari for the opportunity given him to serve, and also thanked the Honorable Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen Abdulrahman Dambazau, for his fatherly and supervisory role of propelling the needed change and the unveiling of the master-plan for the pro-active results so far achieved.

The Commandant General urged the personnel to remain good ambassadors of the corps, incorruptible and attuned to international best practices of security wherever they are called upon to serve. He also enjoined Nigerians join hands with the management to re-invigorate the fighting mechanism against vandals and criminals in the country.

He appealed to organizations, public-spirited individuals to support President Muhammadu Buhari’s drive to modernize the NSCDC through adequate support, funding and partnership in the area of manpower development, capacity building and the purchase of equipment and infrastructures because of its strategic importance to the socio-economic development of the nation.

Omoba Kenneth Aigbegbele is of CWAI, Abuja, Nigeria                                                                                                           Attachments area

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