By Sam Adzegeh –
Relevant stakeholders in Nigeria have been called upon to redouble their efforts in the bid to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure at all levels.
The appeal was made at a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday to formally unveil the forthcoming South-South stakeholders’ Summit with the theme: Domesticating Stakeholders’ Statutory Responsibilities in Protecting Nigeria’s Critical Infrastructure and other Assets.’
The summit is scheduled for Port Harcourt later this month.
Making the call, Dr. Chiakor Alfred, Chief of Strategic Planning and Innovations, Ashcraft Centre for Social Science Research, who doubles as Head of the Summit Planning Committee, explained that the forthcoming summit “is a follow up to an earlier summit held on Monday 28th February and Tuesday, 1st March, 2022 with the theme, ‘Protecting the Integrity of Nigeria’s Critical Infrastructures, Monuments and Business Assets.’
He explained that the earlier Summit was convened with the major objective of infusing a “national high – end architecture for systemized response strategy; explore turnkey solutions for deterrence, threat mitigation and recovery” as well as to “accelerate strategies for systematic intelligence generation and dissemination and increased security consciousness.”
According to Dr. Chiakor, it was further to “establish a network of proactive Stakeholders, Agencies and Policy Making Institutions to initiate, follow up and implement creative strategies for strengthening the ability of Business Assets to recover and withstand disruption” among others.
He regretted that the nation has in recent time been experiencing serious security challenges comparable to what obtained in Lebanon in the mid 1980s, and listed some of such challenges to include “the senseless slaughter of over a platoon of soldiers in Shiroro, Niger State on Saturday, 2nd July, 2022; the deadly attack and invasion of Kuje Prisons by Terrorist Elements (ISWAP claimed responsibility) on Tuesday, 5th July 2022; the brazen attack on the advance team of the Presidential Convoy in Katsina State on the same Tuesday, 5th July 2022; the Owo Church attack in Ondo State on 5th June, 2022; the ransacking of the Tukur Yusufu Buratai Institute for War and Peace, Biu, Borno State by ISWAP terrorists on 10th January, 2022; the abduction and killing of priests in Kaduna, Edo and Benue States to name but an atrocious few.
“The gross expansion of the contours that define security boundaries makes it imperative to recognize the eco-systemic dimensions of the threats that stare at us daily and in every form,” he submitted.
Dr. Chiakor further pointed out that, “One of the most worrisome challenges to Nigeria’s national economic development is the systematic vandalisation, degradation and destruction of its critical national infrastructures and business assets. The consequences of these criminal activities constitute adverse national security risks of untold proportions and impact our collective destiny gravely by undermining investor confidence; inhibiting the drive for Foreign Direct Investment, social capital growth and real business development; and truncating real progress in other sectors of the national economy.”
He further submitted that, “The unfortunate fact that the aggregation of uncertainties caused by the hostile operating environment has led to the liquidation and/or relocation to other countries of viable industries and business franchises that provided employment opportunities and other economic value chains to Nigerians. These have depressed the national economy and triggered high rates of unemployment and other attendant problems.”
He said the intensity of the diverse and numerous crises of vandalisation and destruction of Nigeria’s infrastructures and assets has prompted, at several instances, the call to arms by His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, (GCFR) President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the Armed Forces, Intelligence and Security Establishment and all Nigerians to see it as a patriotic duty to ensure maximum vigilance and shared responsibility in the protection and security of these Assets and platforms at all points in their life-cycle.
The South – South Zonal Stakeholders Summit is a Private/Public Sector Partnership that aims at building synergy, tact and appropriate techniques to enhance knowledge, leadership and management in the development of a strategic road map for proactive intervention and response strategy in line with the Risk Management Framework and provisions of the National Protection Policy and Strategy 2022 (CNAINPPS 2022); Petroleum Industry Act, 2021; the National Security Strategy Framework; and the Critical National Infrastructure Bill, 2021 currently under consideration at the National Assembly.
Emphasizing the importance of the forthcoming South – South Zonal Stakeholders Summit, Dr. Chiakor pointed out that it would further intensify advocacy for stakeholders’ statutory responsibilities as well as “engender the re-engineering of appropriate legislations and the strategic roadmap for harnessing expert knowledge and country wide technical support for deterrence, codified response strategy and recovery architecture to Nigeria’s critical assets.”
Also equally important, he argued, is “the desire to seek renewed commitment to the challenges impacting on the integrity of critical infrastructures and assets in the region, especially the vandalisation and destruction of its complex ecosystem of separate yet interconnected infrastructures in the Oil and Gas; Telecommunications, Transportation and Power Sectors.”
He pointed out that, to achieve the desired outcome and also sustain confidence building, diverse stakeholders are being mobilized to discuss the challenges impacting on the integrity, operations and security of these critical infrastructures and assets and also to seek possible solutions.
He listed some of the stakeholders to include Nigeria’s National and State Legislatures; the Armed Forces, Security and Intelligence Agencies; Statutory Regulators in the diverse Sectors of Nigeria’s productive economy; Investors/ Business Owners; Operators of the Infrastructures and Assets; Professional and Civil Society Organizations; the Traditional Institution, Socio Cultural and other Pressure Groups.
Further explaining the benefits of the summit, Chiakor said, “By building inter/multi sectoral synergy, the Summit shall engender Stakeholders and citizens with shared responsibilities towards achieving the institutionalization of the road map and priorities of the policy frameworks crafted to provide deterrence, security and resilience of Nigeria’s assets.
It is also the expectation of the Conveners that the derivatives from the Summit shall enhance knowledge leadership and management, regenerate confidence in securing Foreign Direct Investment into the country’s productive sectors; and also boost capital growth and turnkey business startups and development.”
Appealing for increased vigilance, Dr. Chiakor said, “The security of lives, infrastructures, monuments and assets is the collective responsibility of every citizen, whether private or public. Issues of security, destruction of lives and property know neither religion nor ethnicity. We are calling on the partnership and support of all Stakeholders, both in the Public and Private Sectors, with diverse political, religious and professional orientations to put aside all prejudices to help forge a common front to confront the monster that is threatening the integrity of our corporate existence as a people and as a nation. It is time also to live the slogan that says ‘if you see something, say something. If you hear something, do something’ “.