A Communique from the Seminar on National Unity and Stability at Institute for Security Studies, Abuja August 2–3, 2017
The seminar is organised by the Department of State Services against the backdrop of the upsurge in ethnic and regional agitations for restructuring, self-determination, regional autonomy and secession, which are heightening cleavages and divisions, subjecting the polity to intense pressures and stress and creating fear and anxiety among citizens.
2. The seminar was attended by distinguished personalities and groups, including eminent traditional leaders, former and present top political leaders, academics, civil society organizations, labour, personnel of the military, paramilitary, security and strategic institutions, students, National youth corps members, and other youth groups.
3. The seminar comprised four sessions, chaired by eminent and distinguished Nigerians and four presentations, while eight discussants interrogated the presentations, bringing in diverse perspectives and insights. The presentations were followed by robust interactive sessions, in which participants raised and canvassed diverse views, thus enriching the discourse.
4. The following salient ideas, approaches and conclusions emerged from the forthright and robust deliberations, for managing national unity, stability, and security:
i. Security agencies must firmly discharge their constitutional roles and continue to ensure the safety of lives and property.
ii. Citizens were called upon to be more responsive and participatory in matters of security as well as hold people in authority to account.
iii. The current challenges to national unity and stability are partly founded on false perceptions and narratives of marginalization.
iv. It was agreed that claims of marginalization and calls for restructuring are often driven by self-aggrandizement, posturing for relevance, poor governance outcomes, political ambition and unpatriotic agenda of some persons.
v. The ideology of unity in diversity is based on broad consensus and is a platform for nation building and progress.
vi. Nigeria is stronger together as a united nation, and has, by far, greater potentials and possibilities.
vii. The freedom to express grievances and agitate for diverse causes cannot be absolute and should never extend to hate speeches and threats that hurt sensibilities of other groups and threaten the security of the nation.
viii. It is in order to address these issues that shareholders advised that governments at all levels have to engage with agitators, provide platforms for mutual interactions and understanding and build broad consensus and agreements for resolving the challenges.
ix. Good governance and visionary leadership would reduce citizen frustration, create sense of belonging and improve patriotism and contentment.
x. Nigeria has to muster the political will that is necessary to manage the issues that question or threaten national unity, cohesion and integration.
xi. The issue of moral character, ethics, attitudes, orientations and democratic tenets of self-restraint, tolerance and accommodation in the political class, elite and wider society was underscored.
xii. Nigeria needs firm, autonomous and strong institutions.
xiii. Human security is a better framework for security management and the security sector must mainstream the security and welfare of citizens and build confidence, trust and commitment towards shared and collective security. There is need to reduce youth restiveness by strengthening current efforts on social investments and economic empowerment and employment programmes to promote opportunities and productive engagement.
xiv. Current security challenges are quite extensive and require a review of national security architecture to include security sector reform, national security coordination and communication and establishing a centralised data bank.
xv. Beyond structural streamlining of the sector, there is need to mainstream merit, competence, and integrity in the appointment of personnel for leadership positions.
xvi. Federalism is threatened by rent seeking, unproductive behaviour, inefficiency in governments and revenue generation efforts, non-viability of states and local governments, high cost structure of governance, the unproductive basis of revenue sharing, growing inequality between resource endowed and non-endowed states which is incompatible with national unity and equality.
xvii. While rewarding production, there is need to focus more on revenue generation rather than sharing. The states and LGs have to be more innovative in resource mobilization. There is need to review the issue of the productive, judicious and efficient use of allocated resources.
xviii. The DSS was commended for organising the seminar because of its usefulness and appropriateness in highlighting strategies for enhancing national unity and stability.
The forum is borne out of the DSS’ renewed commitment to enhance its operations. This is to further policy execution and governance processes in the pursuit of human security objectives on which its intelligence gathering efforts are based. The Service is aware that it needs the collective support of stakeholders to be able to achieve these goals and therefore enjoins everyone to key into this vision.