It is four years exactly today that former top cop, lawyer, intelligence czar and politician, late Marafan Sokoto, Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi, passed away.
The occasion of the remembrance of his passing and the current security situation in Nigeria, necessitated this intervention.
Before he passed away in 2016, he had granted an interview to the NTA, in which he stated inter alia:
“Security information doesn’t have to be 100% correct. Even if it is 25%, what is important is the taking of preemptive actions to prevent it from getting out of hand.
Many people, including the reports of the Maitasine riots in Kano, blamed the security system for not measuring up but the truth was that in our archives and in reports submitted to government at that time, we had anticipated this kind of situation but in a manner that cannot adequately paint it as it happened… but from skirmishes in different parts of the north between law enforcement system and some sects of believers, there was sign that something new was showing its ugly head.”
Embedded in the above words, whether implied or mentioned specifically, are seven important security submissions (there could be more) valid for the Nigerian security situation, as it occupied the mind of the late intelligence chief, and extremely so for what the situation has further become.
The words are some kind of compass. Some kind of map for effective navigation. Below are the seven clues and pointers we have deduced from looking closely at the words, like a spy would.
First, it’s action, Smartie! Action, action, action. It is the bottom line. Every living thing depends on action. Action speaks louder. Actionable intelligence is superior intelligence. One that enables movement. Not one that emboldens statis, stupor or inertia. Growth is not a characteristic of living things in word only.
Secondly, preemptive action takes the bar. Preemptive action is the proverbial stitch in time. It is cheaper and less costly on almost all counts. The power and value of preemptive action is only seen when placed side by side the heavy costs of vacillating and dillydallying.
Thirdly, 25% of information is good enough! To get everyone going. Baba Marafa was so right. He was on the side of history. Lasting progress of any kind follows the incremental trajectory. Step by step. All this ‘figuring out’ business late 20th Century man often boasts about was not always the default position of seekers before they commenced their investigations. To Abraham it was said, ‘Lift up your head, from the place where you are.’ His servant would later tell us, ‘And I, being in the way, the Lord led me.’ How many remember Enid Blyton’s Famous Five of yore? Whatever happened to adventure? That sense of discovery? We grew up, abi? God help us. What was it that made adventures tick, once again? It was the rush in discoveries. No wonder the most famous definition of science in those days was, Science is Discovery. It happened to be the exact title of the most popular science text in secondary schools back in the day. Show me a man who made a discovery and I will show you a man who began his quest with 25% or even less of the information he needed.
Fourthly, anticipate possible scenarios. Baba Marafa was implying that constant education be given premium attention. Education broadens your perspectives, enriches and sharpens your tools for reviewing, analyzing and interpreting situations. To more effectively and more accurately anticipate scenarios depends on a steady supply of quality information. Has any come across a great chess player who is not a thinker? One who is an ignoramus ignoring the dozens of sensations breaking forth around him everywhere? Definitely, that was why he returned from his numerous trips with bags of books. It was why he had books strewn over his bedside. Thrillers, memoirs, academic research reports, and loads of other kinds of subjects. Central to Baba Marafa’s thinking was this line, “Where have I seen this/that before?” It was such an important question. It is a very important question. Dejavu should not be rare. It should be a steady experience. Because you are recognizing the cues and signals in the environment, as you move along.
Fifthly, review the relationship between law enforcement systems and sects. What kind of relationship should exist between law enforcement systems and sects? Can this relationship get anywhere without quality education? Should law enforcement not have a head-start over any sect? Should law enforcement systems be caught off guard by sects? Are skirmishes between law enforcement systems and sects completely avoidable?
Sixthly, cultivate the confidence of those targeted by sects. This is a no-brainer from Baba Marafa’s reserves. If you break the supply chain, you freeze the biggest source of incentive for the cause. What happens to the cause when the followers’ stream dries up? If those targeted by the sects have confidence in and know they have unfettered access to law enforcement systems, mightn’t they bring them into confidence when sects, with funny messages, knock on their doors?
Seventhly, track trends. For in them we may see patterns, clues, methods that indicate motives.