Nigeria’s substantial investments and critical infrastructure are under threat of the actions of terrorists, vandals and saboteurs, President Goodluck Jonathan has said. Jonathan expressed the concern in Abuja while declaring open a 2-day Stakeholders’ Forum on the protection of Critical National Assets and Infrastructure (CNAI).
The president, who was represented by Vice President Namadi Sambo, therefore, ordered the nation’s security agencies to review existing strategies for effective intelligence sharing towards ensuring greater protection of such national assets and critical infrastructure. He said the stakeholders’ forum was necessary in order to ensure synergy in the activities of the security agencies. “The substantial investments we have made in maintaining existing infrastructure and establishing new ones are under threat by the actions of terrorists, vandals and saboteurs.
These groups and individuals deliberately and mindlessly, target our infrastructure for their own economic, political, or sadistic gains. In recent times, piracy, sabotage of oil and gas pipelines, maritime robbery in our coastal waters and Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) have become major threats to our economy and environment.“
Jonathan said that with the increase use of advanced weapons, technologies and methods by these criminals, the security agencies must continue to review their strategies, to decrease response times, and increase deterrent and combative capacity.
He stressed the need for greater cooperation between the security agencies, adding that such cooperation would ensure timely identification of risks and potential threats to critical infrastructure and better coordination in the deployment of allied action.
The president, who commended security agencies for their efforts in the protection of public facilities, called on the public to work together with security agencies in the protection of national assets.
“The primary responsibility for the protection of our critical national assets rests on the shoulders of our security agencies. It is their task to take all necessary measures to secure our vital facilities by minimizing their vulnerabilities and degrading the capability of terrorists, vandals and saboteurs. I am happy to note that our security agencies have continued to discharge this responsibility creditably and have covered much ground against hitherto unfamiliar challenges, in so short a time. I commend their professionalism and commitment, and enjoin them to keep up the good work.“ Jonathan, however, tasked the participants to formulate a holistic approach to the protection of Nigeria’s assets and infrastructure.
According to him, the development of national infrastructure remains a core element of the federal government’s Transformation Agenda. He also called for stiffer penalties for those found culpable in the destruction or vandalism of public utilities.
`There is need for heightened cooperation of other stakeholders, with the security agencies, to more effectively protect our critical national assets and infrastructure. For instance, there is need for quicker resolution of court cases and the imposition of stiffer penalties on offenders. We must send a clear message, that henceforth, there is a huge price to pay for the theft of resources, and the destruction of critical infrastructure.“
The president called on the private sector and other stakeholders to update their internal security policies and systems and urged them to collaborate with security agencies to ensure the security of critical infrastructure under their management.
In their respective remarks, Senate President David Mark and the Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, gave the assurance that the National Assembly would take adequate steps to ensure that the nation’s critical assets and infrastructure were protected. Mark was represented by Sen. Mohammed Magoro, while Hon. Umar Bature represented Tambuwal at the event.
On his part, the Minister of interior, Comrade Abba Morro, urged the forum to come up with adequate sanctions against vandals and saboteurs to serve as deterrence to others.
He also stressed the need for greater cooperation among security agencies. The Minister of Power, Prof Chinedu Nebo, who also spoke at the event, likened the activities of vandals to a moral equivalent of war. He lamented the loss of more than 35 per cent of the nation’s power supply capacity to the activities of vandals. Earlier, the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), said that the forum was to deliberate on ways to adequately protect the nation’s critical assets and infrastructure.