Tuesday 3 September 2013

Protecting Nigerian Industry against External Aggression

Protecting Nigerian Industry against External Aggression


Presenting a keynote address at a three-day industrial security and loss prevention management workshop organized by the Nigerian Institute of Security (NIS) recently at Presidential Hotel, Port Harcourt the former Chief Judge of Rivers State, Hon. Justice Iche N. Ndu said, “It is my thesis that industrial security is national security, and industrial insecurity begets, not only economic insecurity and destabilization, but also political insecurity and instability”. Coded in these words are challenges to Nigerian leaders, policymakers and security professionals to evolve measures for internal and external process of effective industrial security management for improved functionality and success in the development of the nation’s industrial base, thus promoting sustainable national economic growth and development.

Nigeria has enjoyed relative peace from external military aggression. Nations at war employ all available means, including industrial sabotage to gain an advantage. However, we must realize that in modern times the term “war” does not typically refer to military confrontation. Economic wars are more prevalent these days. As at now, there is a relentless, massive, unceasing, and evil war mounted by the industrialized countries against the developing nations. The war is conducted in an atmosphere termed “peaceful coexistence” because it does not boom, grind and clatter. It is cool but devastating, silent but horrible, paralyzing economics and destroying nations. 

Nigeria has been at the receiving end of this cool but evil war. The story of Ajaokuta Steel Mills is a case in point. The circle of Nigeria’s exploit into the steel world has been endless and the waste monumental. Our once promising National Fertilizer Company of Nigeria (NAFCON) and hopeful Eleme Petrochemicals Company of Nigeria Limited (EPCL) collapsed in mysterious circumstances. Today, these companies are up and doing, in foreign hands, producing at full capacity and maximizing profits. Our four refineries are not only moribund but have also become drain pipes for siphoning our national resources. Nigeria, apart from importing refined petroleum products from abroad forces her citizens to pay for the products through their nose.  The security implications of zero industrial base economy, poor governance and frustrated citizenry are very much with us today.

The Nigerian Enterprise Promotion Act of 1977 (otherwise known as the Indigenization Decree) was intended to protect Nigerian’s industries by putting many businesses which were hitherto in the hands of foreigners in the hands of Nigerians. This good intention was soon defeated by a sudden upsurge in government revenue from oil, which saw the economy becoming suddenly over liquid plus its concomitant problems of how to organize the newly acquired business to avoid disruption and possible collapse that the unplanned changes in management caused; and the problem of how to cope with the runaway inflation which had badly eroded the purchasing power of the Naira. The worsened general economic conditions soon after the 30 months Nigerian-Biafra War of 1967 – 1970 coupled with lack of necessary goods; the realization of extreme sacrifice; and spreading disappointment and discontent caused insecurity of lives and properties to rise.

In the interplay of these factors, the unseen hands of our enemies were at work to reverse the indigenization doctrine and make Nigeria a dumping ground for foreign goods perpetually. Today, we are back to square one. Through the Bureau of Public Enterprises, we have sold everything to foreigners except the Presidency. We import everything, including toxic waste. Because the developed world would not want Nigeria to be detached from their apron strings, they would continue to do everything possible to sabotage any meaningful developmental efforts in the direction of heavy industries.

For instance, the doctrine of Local Content is another carefully orchestrated publicity campaign mounted by the multinational oil companies (MOCs) over 40 years after oil was discovered and exported from Nigeria without any meaningful achievement in terms of improvement in the infrastructural and industrial base of the country. In the Norwegian North Sea, it did not take more than two years for the country to take over the control of the national oil industry. Although the government initially placed a 30 percent local content clause in all contracts in the petroleum industry, in less than five years the local content was 100 percent. In other words, the Norwegians are in full control of their oil industry. They were never dictated to by anybody. The multinational oil companies merely provided the capital and expertise to kick-start the industry. The Norwegians take over as soon as they could raise the financial muscle. 

The Nigerian case is pathetic. It is a case of one step forward and two steps backward. About forty-seven years after oil was discovered and exported from Nigeria, the Petroleum Industry Bill is still battling to see the light of day. The same people who have been working against indigenous takeover of the Nigerian oil industry are doing everything possible to frustrate the passage of the original PIB into law.

The matter does not end with the oil industry. It is common knowledge that foreign government knows more about Nigeria secrets than the Nigerian Government, be it social, industrial, political or economic information. For example, nobody in Nigeria can say with any measure of certainty that when the British left the shores of Nigeria they handed over all the information they obtained about the country’s mineral resources. The situation may be illustrated by a story told by the Principal of a Secondary School in one of the Western states. He narrated how he observed and watched two white men and a black man for several days while they used certain implements to dig and extract something from a hillside near his School. One day, out of curiosity, he went up to them and enquired what they were doing. Actually, he thought that they were deployed by the Government to carry out one type of project or the other. The intruders did not reply. Instead they disappeared from the site. When after many weeks they did not return, he became suspicious and reported the matter to the Local Government Headquarters. Further investigation revealed that those men were actually digging for gold.

Where did these people obtain the information that led them to know exactly at what point to mine for gold? The chances are that they must have obtained the information from somewhere in the archives of their native country. But then, even that fact would be less important than the realization that these men had the audacity to come right into the heart of the country and hired a local guide to help them locate where to dig. How many more of this sort of thing goes on in this country on a daily basis? Are we really in control of Nigeria? How secure are our secrets? How protected are our intelligence?  

In the educational arena the story is the same. it is difficult for a Nigerian student to obtain data from one of the many multinational oil companies (MOCs) for an academic research than for a Camel to pass through the eye of a needle. The foreign company would instantly show him out of the gate on the grounds that such information is well-preserved and guarded company’s secrets. But, the student’s counterpart in the US or Europe would go to any library and lift exactly the same information about Nigerian petroleum industry right out of the bookshelf.

Similarly, if a helicopter lifts off from Yaound√© in Cameroon a drops in Kuru near Jos in Plateau State or from Niamey in Niger Republic and drops in Eleme in Rivers State, how many Nigerians, when they see the helicopter fly across, would give it a second thought?  I doubt if anyone will. But such an event is not only momentous, it could be destructive. It could also mean the life and death of a nation. How much of Nigerian borders is actually policed? How many immigrants are documented and monitored as they walk across the nook and cranny of the country daily?

Nigeria is surrounded by black African countries – Benin, Niger Republic, Chad, and Cameroon. Now, if anyone has a reason to spy in Nigeria would he not sponsor black Africans simply to work across our borders and do their dirty jobs? When we use the term “foreigner” in Nigeria, we are always thinking about white people, or discernible light-skinned people like the Arabs. Meanwhile, the nation could be overrun by black foreigners. For example, the disturbances in Kano from December 18 to 29, 1980 in which 4,177 people were killed and the economic life of Kano city completely paralyzed was masterminded by Maitasine alias Muhammadu Marwa, an indigene of Marwa in the Cameroon Republic. It is also widely believed that the now lateleader of the terrorists group, Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau that has killed almost 5, 000 people and is disrupting the commercial and industrial life of northeastern Nigeria since 2009 was from Niger Republic. If the invaders were originally folks seeking for their livelihood, no one would be much agitated. The real threat is when the invaders have sinister motives like the instances cited.

Again, if you discover Uranium at Eleme, how do you know that the next “village man” you see around Eleme is not a spy? He might as well speak Eleme Language, dress like the Elemes, and indeed live in Eleme for over ten years without anyone realizing that this man is gunning for our Uranium.

I do not know much of what Nigerian immigration laws say, but I know that in Scandinavia, the immigrant is made to report to the local police in any town he intends to stay for more than one week. If his stay in that locality will be more than two weeks, he will need to obtain a new residential permit to do so. As you move from town to town, or from locality to locality, the police keep tag of your movements and update their records. You are constantly under surveillance, even when they are satisfied that you are a harmless fellow.

Counter-industrial-espionage entails both the measures a nation takes to protect its secret industrial information, and the method of identifying and dealing with those who want to obtain such information through covert operations. The former is easier to do than the latter. The former is passive while the latter is active. Does Nigeria have what it takes to engage in meaningful active counterespionage activities? Is our security apparatus organized and equipped with the appropriate tools, manpower, expertise, and charged with the responsibility of providing us with an envelope of protection through the functionalities of planning and direction, collection, processing, all-source analysis and production, and dissemination of intelligence? How many of our corporate organizations maintain an effective in-house security department with a functional Business Intelligence Section? Where such department or Unit exists, how much attention is paid to: -

·         Current Intelligence – which follows day-to-day events,

·         Estimative Intelligence – which looks at what might be or what might happen,

·         Warning Intelligence – which gives notice to Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) or Policymakers that something urgent might happen that may require their immediate attention,

·         Research Intelligence – which is an in-depth study of an issue, and

·         Scientific Intelligence – which is information on foreign technologies?

Counterintelligence, the science of preventing enemies or competitors from learning about our secrets has grown both in scope and applications. It is either you can ensure that your secrets are very difficult to discover, or you can impede the effort of those who want to learn those secrets by snooping around. Although human beings still play prominent roles in gathering intelligence, electronic listening and seeing devices are now leading the race thus affording industrialized world added advantage over developing countries. Today, the security of some of our most cherished secrets that we hitherto enjoy are fast whittling away by technology. It is also true that the more publicly available information about us the more vulnerable we are to attacks.

Privatizing and commercializing all our ailing industrial and commercial concerns is not the solution to Nigeria’s industrialization problems. Our industries need protection; our markets need security. There is no disputing the fact that Nigeria is one of the world’s best-performing markets. According to the report written by Hilary Kramer and published in Forbes, an authoritative US Journal, “Nigeria was one of the world’s four best-performing markets in 2012 with a 35.45 percent gain and is the biggest and most dynamic frontier economy in Africa, with a GDP at par with global capitals like Hong Kong and Singapore”. Kramer noted that, “The Nigeria economy is growing at an annualized rate well above six percent, faster than any of the top-tier emerging markets”. The invisible growth is both frustrating and confusing. Where is all the accruable wealth? What percentage of the profits remains in Nigeria to develop our industrial base or are the profits exported in hundredfold to the foreign investors’ countries to strengthen their economy the more while we compound the problem of a “fast-growing economy” while the citizens suffer under the oppressive hands of poverty and frustration? Our market needs protection just as the citizenry request that their “security and welfare” be the primary concern of their Government.

What makes a nation thick is its ability to maintain a strong security defense; demonstrate the capability to learn the secrets of enemies (both real and potential); and exhibit the know-how to keep its secrets secret.

As we develop and advance in science and technology and play increasing roles in the international scene, we need to establish measures to protect our industries from both external and internal meddlesomeness. We must protect what we have as we move to where we want to be. In doing this, we must maintain a strong security defense, continually learning the secrets of our real and potential enemies and keep our own secrets secret.

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