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Defence policy review committee commences consultation in Lagos
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Defence policy review committee commences consultation in Lagos

Yvonne Williams

The Presidential Committee on the Review of Nigeria’s National Defence Policy, which commenced consultation in Lagos said there was urgent need to bridge the gap between the military and civilians.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the committee was inaugurated by President Jonathan on Nov. 20, 2014, to assist the government to assess the state of its defence organisation, mandate, capabilities and design.

The committee was also required to identify areas of the policy that needed review, as well as to suggest future interventions.

A member of the committee, Prof. Usman Tai, said at the opening of the two-day stakeholders’ interactive session in Lagos that the consultation was being held simultaneously in Kaduna and Enugu.

“Stakeholders in each of these centres are expected to contribute to the two-day interactive sessions on topics slated for the centres.

“Let me emphasise that Nigeria needs a defence policy that will strengthen the institutions of democracy because a weak democracy is bound to produce a weak military.

“The objective of this session is to bring together Nigerians from different sectors of our national life to contribute to the national defence policy review,’’ Usman said.

The Head of Political Science Department of the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, said the committee while in Lagos would engage the public in citizen’s participation in national defence.

Tai added that his committee would also engage the public in issues of evolving civil-military relations: “Concept and Practice, Robust Reserve Force for the Armed Forces’’.

He said the engagement of the public was expected to promote parliament’s role in the management and control of the armed forces.

Prof. Antonia Simbine, a professor of International Relations and Peace Keeping, said that it was imperative for Nigeria to promote and encourage citizen participation in national defence policy review.

Simbine, however, noted that Nigeria had long undermined the role of its citizens in the development and implementation of policies.

“Citizen participation should have long started in Nigeria. We need to know that citizen participation is essentially about involving the people that are being planned for in the process.

“Governments should know that without citizen participation, so many policies and planning will become futile,’’ she said.

The two-day interactive session is being attended by representatives of the Nigerian Army, Police, Nigerian Navy, The Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). (NAN)