By Solomon Semaka

It takes great efforts and long time to build any worthy cause but destruction happens in a twinkle of an eye. Building solid institutions especially in a democratic setting requires the commitment of leaders and administrators of great repute and strong will. Whether by act of intentionality or divine happenstance, when Dr Ahmed Abubakar Audi, Phd, mni, assumed office as commandant-general of the Nigeria Security And Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the first from among the ranks of the service, many Nigerians including myself were skeptical of his ability to bring lasting reforms in the agency. This was because of the bad situation at the agency at the time of his appointment.

Audi’s, appointment as reports indicate has indeed proven that it was the best at rebuilding and enhancing the Corps’ productivity and efficiency. This he has achieved within two years of his leadership with numerous accomplishments, proving his capacity as an administrator and compatriot with the zeal to get things done for our dear country. Within just (2 )years of leadership of the corps, the Ahmed Audi led administration has justified the confidence reposed in him with lots of modest but novel achievements to his credit.

Upon assumption of office, the CG’s first priority was to restore the glory of the corps and boost the morale of its personnel by introducing transformational programmes and reforms in line with his vision to reposition the service and improve the operational capacity of the corps for general improved performance.

As a gender friendly and sensitive leader, Dr. Audi launched a gender policy document with the aim of including female officers in the structure and administrative echelon of the service. To keep the NSCDC vision for female officers alive, the NSCDC under his watch established a special female squad to address security challenges, particularly the abduction and kidnapping of school children. The squad increased surveillance and patrol of schools and provided relevant security awareness and reporting systems. To guide their operations, a vulnerability survey of schools in Nigeria was conducted, leading to the formation of the National Safe Schools Response Coordination Centre (NSSRCC) at the Corps National Headquarters. The center conducted training programmes for critical stakeholders. This innovative approach to gender mainstreaming is the first of its kind globally. This initiative has been commended for it’s impact on the United Nations Safe Schools Initiative program.

Under Audi’s watch, the NSCDC has prioritised training, retraining, and staff welfare to enhance personnel’s operational efficiency in the face of prevailing security challenges. So far, thousands of Corps personnel were trained in various skills and competencies to boost operational capabilities. It is also reported that a Ministerial Committee has developed a pragmatic and 21st century curriculum for the newly established Civil Defence Command and Staff College in Jos which has since been commissioned and operational. This is a sharp departure from an era where there was drought of training opportunities and support from the Corps. No wonder, the Corps has become one of the most effective, disciplined and productive security agencies as can be attested by the number of awards and recognitions coming from different stakeholders both locally and internationally.

Similarly, Corps welfare has received a big boost under the leadership of Dr. Audi Abubakar as the Commandant General. Massive affordable housing projects have so far commenced across the country for junior and intermediate officers with the one in Abuja completed and occupied. The Corps has also completed and commissioned the Sokoto and Kebbi states command to provide befitting office space for effective service delivery. Again, over 200 million insurance benefits have been paid in the last two years alone. Over sixty million naira (₦60,000,000.00) has been given to (119) personnel that sustained various degrees of injuries in the course of duty through the NSCDC Group Personal Accident Scheme. This is the first of its kind in Nigeria. It is interesting to note that another set of 162 families were paid eighty five million naira (₦85,000,000.00) as burial benefits. Other payments running into millions of Naira have been paid under various welfare and insurance schemes. Indeed Dr. Audi is a true reformer and transformer.

To ease operational difficulties and combat vandalism, sabotage and criminal theft of national assets, the Corps embarked on an equipment drive, acquiring operational vehicles, surveillance equipment, and eight gunboats to protect critical assets and fight against oil thieves. The formation of the CG’s Special Intelligence Squad (CGSIS), Agro-Rangers, Peace and Conflict Resolution unit has been an intentional effort by Dr. Audi to give a boost to his strategy in securing national assets, safeguarding farmers and farmlands. Indeed, CGSIS and the other units have performed optimally well in this regard and have combated criminal activities, safeguarding farms, farmers and sustainably settling disputes between farmers and herders through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). The arrest of bandits, kidnappers, and fraudsters, oil thieves, vandals and a cache of weapons is a testament to the strides of this achiever.

In line with its mandate, the NSCDC under Dr. Audi has made efforts to improve the private security industry by digitizing the Private Guard Company Department and coordinating the welfare and training of private guards. This is a step in the right direction as private guards play a very pivotal role in containing security in homes, industries and other critical sectors of the economy. Their regulation will therefore help industry players and stakeholders to act accordingly to laid down rules and guidelines for national development.

The Corps under Dr. Audi played a significant role in election security management during the 2023 general elections, ensuring the protection of INEC staff and election materials. The fact that even international observers commended the Corps for its protection of human rights, and absence of any involvement in electoral malpractice pays credence to the diligence of Dr. Audi and the entire Service.

The rain of awards and recognition received by Dr. Audi and Corps within the last two years, including the prestigious Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) as well as the award given to the NSCDC for being the Best Government Agency of the Year in 2022 have validated the wisdom to appoint heads of security agencies from within the ranks of their service.

The partnership with the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) to review and validate the Critical National Assets and Infrastructure National Protection Policy and Strategy (CNAI-NPPS 2023) is yet another milestone. There’s no doubt that the NSCDC under Audi’s watch has been reformed and transformed for better service delivery and improved national security.

Solomon Semaka, an anti-corruption crusader and public affairs analyst writes from Abuja.


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