National Security: CSOs Seek Improved Relationship Between Military, Citizens

As Nigeria contends with high level insecurity, the Nigerian Armed Forces has been advised to continually improve its relationship with the civilian population.

The military was further counselled to prioritize partnerships with civil society organisations as the connections with the people will enhance intelligence gathering across the country.

The suggestions were made during the second day of a RoundTable on Asymmetrical National Security challenges, The Army and National Development, held at Nigerian Army Resource Centre, Abuja, in partnership with Development Specs Academy.

Speaking at the RoundTable on Tuesday, Hope Ayabina, CEO of HEDDA’s Humanitarian Assistance Center stressed  the need  for the military to developed a symbiotic relationship with the people.

Ayabina whose Humanitarian Assistance Center, has forged partnership with CBOs in various communities that cut across Nigeria especially, on the Plateau, Kaduna and the F.C.T  believes groups are glad to suggest ways help the military.

She said: However, to achieve this the  military has to get our trust back. They need to promise us that when we share intelligence reports, we and our family members will be protected. “

“Get involved with the activities of the Non Governmental Organisations and Community Based Organisations in their various communities; teach them a skill or two- security skills preferably-  that in itself, can be a tool for intelligence gathering 

“You can consider joint development projects by working with Civil Service Organizations to provide development projects in communities. I believe the army has an engineering division, with well trained personnel who can help to build wells and boreholes or bridges. I understand a country like Mauritania has used these development strategies to win support of the communities in the fight against AQIM”.

She added: “Through the NGOs, the military can also Introduce and sponsor events that attract the community leaders, youth groups, women groups and religious leaders.

“While at that, you will learn the mannerisms of the community members and understand the methods most appropriate for intelligence gathering.

“And to make reasonable progress, we suggest the military organize Annual or quarterly meetings and retreats with their partner NGOs and CBOs share progress reports, review and update intelligence gathering strategies”. 

Also speaking during the meeting, Margaret Agbo, Head of Training and Legal Services of Development Specs Academy noted that , “To collect information that would be useful in addressing security is what we call intelligence gathering. Information collected in this way gives insights into the prevailing social, political, and economic conditions that precipitate one problem or the other.

She identified key strategies and methods that could be adopted in effective grassroots intelligence gathering.

Agbo listed these strategies to include: “Community Engagement, in order to establish relationships and build trust;

“Regular engagements with various levels of the local leadership, influencers and elders, to gain deep insights into various aspects of what holds the community together;

“Direct, non-participatory observation of community life and activities, social interactions during festivities and individual behaviour in different circumstances; interactions, and behaviors;

“The conduct of surveys and interviews with wide cross sections of the community, to collect specific information about community social pressures, needs, opinions, and experiences”.

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