What is the place of agro-rangers in resolving the persistent clashes between herders and farmers?
Agro-rangers are a specialized squad that is well trained and encompasses armed squad, special forces and what have you. Their major role is to settle disputes among farmers and herdsmen and they will also protect and secure our agro allied investments in the country. If you watch how events unfold as per this farmers- herders’ crisis, we have arrested over 200 armed herdsmen and we have handed some over to the police and we are prosecuting some. The armed squad is doing really well.
NSCDC has a very unique disposition in terms of spread, that is, we have offices in all the 774 local government areas including districts and villages and farming communities in Nigeria. If you go to the Northeast, Borno state for instance, our personnel have been doing very well. They have been escorting farmers, giving them cover in most farming communities. If you go to Ekiti state, our men are also doing that. It is the same story in Ondo state.
How about the Safe School Initiative? What is the level of partnership between the NSCDC and state governments?
On the Safe School Initiative, we have keyed into it and we have even commissioned a team of researchers and intellectuals who are conducting what is called vulnerability survey of all our schools and very soon we are going to launch that programme. In the interim, I have ordered that all state Commandants should deploy our personnel to schools in their various states and they are doing that in conjunction with state governors, commissioners of education and in fact even directly with the principals so that they can provide safety for our children.
Maiduguri has been off the power grid for several weeks due to the activities of insurgents who vandalised power installations. What is NSCDC doing in this regard?
You are asking the right person the right question because I was the zonal Commandant in charge of North East and from my experience, our men have been providing surveillance services on virtually all the infrastructure in Borno State and environs. However, we are overstretched because of the limited number of personnel that we have. Otherwise, NSCDC has performed creditably well in that area. Nigeria is experiencing a very dangerous and different type of conflict. It is asymmetric. The way to nip it in the bud is that we must deploy intelligence. The Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka adopted the same strategy and they dealt with that country for two decades.
That is why we told ourselves at the level of committee or heads of security agencies that we must synergise. No agency should claim monopoly of anything. We must work together, share intelligence because this is not the conventional warfare, otherwise we would have halted it by now. Those guys have international sponsors. They are also trained and heavily armed and so we are dealing with a serious situation. In Borno state, we have been doing our best and we have been contributing our quota.
You are just one month in office today. What are we expecting from you?
I am a digital man. I like to drive this Corps to be a world class service with the use training. When you train and retrain your personnel, they will give you their best and you will enhance their productivity. This Safe School Initiative is also one of the things that I will focus on. The deployment of special forces to go round and give surveillance and patrol to most of these hideouts, these kidnapping spots is also part of my mission. We are also planning to commission a Women Squad. I will also improve on the welfare of staff because it serves to motivate them to perform better.
As you can see, the NSCDC headquarters has taken a new shape. We have also gotten some vehicles from a philanthropist as part of his corporate social responsibility. Among the vehicles, we have two fighter vehicles called Buffalos. We are doing our best to make sure that the country is safe.
We have also reached out to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to see how we can strengthen synergy with them. We are visiting other sister agencies to seek for further collaboration.
When somebody is working he wants to be promoted. When somebody has been promoted, you need to pay him the backlog of arrears that is due to him. We are working on that to clear all those arrears so that we will encourage them to serve Nigerians.
What are the challenges that you have encountered since you came on board?
It is not easy to have a mission and then when you want to implement, you will now discover that there are challenges. The first thing is paucity of funds. We need funds to provide equipment, welfare services etc. Again, I do not have enough equipment and logistics, so, we need equipment to function very well. For example, we need drones that we can send on security errands. We also need the personnel. We want to thank Mr President for graciously approving recruitment for us for the span of three years, that is, 5, 000 for each year. That will give us ample opportunity to deploy more men to carry out our mandate.
What will you do differently to promote inter-agency collaboration especially with the Police?
I will embark on scientific synergy, proper collaboration, attending the same trainings, inviting other agencies to our programmes and trainings, and I am also ready to attend theirs. You see, sometimes the clashes between agencies depends on the level of cooperation between the heads of such agencies. As you know, historically, the NSCDC is a product of the military and I have attended strategic courses with the military at the Nigeria Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies NIPSS. Some of the Generals were my course mates and we have been interacting very closely because we are good friends. That is how it should be. I have been talking to my personnel that the relationship should trickle down and I know we are on course.
What is the update about recruitment into the NSCDC?
You know I just came in and I am still studying that process and I wouldn’t want to make any comment now. Anything that has to do with recruitment is a very sensitive issue but I will like to advise Nigerians to be wary of criminals, scammers who are everywhere trying to defraud them about recruitment. Under my watch, we will try and follow the due process when it comes to recruitment.
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