The Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Dr. Abdullahi Baffa Bichi, has called for the establishment of a statutory committee to be known as State Services Higher Education Board of Advisors (SSHEBA), with membership of key stakeholders from Intelligence Corps (IC) and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) as a way of strengthening the relationship between them.
He said this in a paper entitled “Tertiary Education and National Security Exploring the Linkages and Optimising Opportunites” presented to the Executive Intelligence Management Course (EIMC) 11 organised by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), Bwari, Abuja.
Dr. Bichi pointed out that the proposed committee would work under the mandate of bridging the gap between IC and the academia on national security issues, promoting cooperation and understanding between HEIs and IC as well as the development and periodic review of emergency operation plans for HEIs.
He said that education empowered people to realise their full potentials and when it failed, it was not just an individual that would be held back, but everyone in the society. He emphasised that when there was investment in people to develop their skills and capabilities, everyone would benefit from a stronger economy and safer society.
He further explained that national security referred to the security of a nation state and was not restricted to protection of territorial frontiers but also shaped or defined by human concerns such as Law enforcement; Environmental hazards; food security; Human rights; good governance as well as political stability which was regarded as the duty of the government.
On the centrality of education in national security, he said that the concept of “Intelligence” mainly involved secret activities through targeting, collection, analysis, dissemination and actions intended to enhance security and maintain power that would be relative to competitors by forewarning threats and opportunities.
He stressed that since the core object was security, it should be borne in mind that some element of it would be conducted in secrecy through intelligence information gathering which required some level of education and because it was relative to others, it would provoke resistance.
Enumerating the linkages between education and national security, he said that education was a fundamental human right and also essential for exercising other human rights issues, it played major role in gender equality through women empowerment and helped in closing the gender disparity globally, ensured financial stability as a powerful tool by which the economically and socially marginalised could lift themselves out of poverty and fully participate as citizens and also helped in making better informed decisions. He emphasised that the listed issues were contributing factors to insecurity and conflict and with proper education, such issues could be curtailed.
“Education is today recognised as the major currency by which nations maintain economic growth and prosperity. It is the new key to eliminating social inequality, reducing poverty and creating a sustainable model of development.”
Giving conceptual clarifications on the symbiotic relationship between HEIs and National security, Dr. Bichi further pointed out that HEIs were part of solutions to national security challenges through engaging in in-depth studies of past cases such as outbreaks of wars, peace building and post-conflict reconstructions as well as deterrence and coercive diplomacy among others.
According to him, by exploring cause and effect, academics could use both their historical and theoretical knowledge to help policy makers ask the right questions when faced with a particular challenge. On the other hand, policy makers and practitioners could help academics understand what type of work had been most helpful to them while seeking to resolve a policy problem.
On the utilitarian goals of HEIs and their contributions to national security, the Scholar explained that they were meant to develop the highest degree of creative thoughts and also contribute to the solution of concrete needs in their societies and the world in general. While emphasising the goals, he said that HEIs promote freedom and democracy by serving as places where students were prepared to become democratic citizens of a democratic society.
This, he said, required democratisation of Higher Education (HE) through equality of opportunity based on capabilities; continuation of the process of turning all members of the society into genuine democrats, capable of behaving like free beings and respecting the freedom of others and transformation from the erroneous notion that HE is for members of the privileged class to that of Education For All (EFA), to the limit of individual merit.
The Executive Secretary pointed out that HEIs were panacea for national economic transformation; scientific and technological researches and innovation to improve security and quality of life as well as ensure informed, free and liberated citizens necessary for democratic setting and quality of conversation on national issues at all levels.
He noted that they also served as centres of knowledge, new discoveries and high-level intellectual pursuits and explorations, stating that they were established to pursue the traditional goal of preparing students for responsible and productive adult life in the society.
He also said that HEIs were places where students were prepared for becoming democratic citizens of a democratic society, reiterating that this would remain one of the core objectives of any education policy in any society.
Dr. Bichi further highlighted that HEIs promote knowledge and innovation through striving to achieve higher capacity for creation and change; developing the ability to pre-empt the future by constantly and continuously incorporating advances and discoveries related to theories, processes and technologies into the educational process.
He stressed that these would have direct effect on the thinking, value system, motivations, attitudes and behaviours which were appropriate to confront the processes of generation of knowledge, technology and social practice.
Also among the goals was that HEIs served humanity and their environment through embracing the concepts of justice and the promotion of peace and solidarity within the framework of independence of cultures and nations.
This, he said, could be directed through economic and social progress within the framework of sustainable development at the service of people and their environment.
He said they also ensured that development was aimed at improving living conditions, not simply in response to demand, but being capable of transforming the demand depending upon the goals imposed by desirable future.
He added that they develop individuals to be opened to the confrontation of knowledge and technologies with others, as contribution to universal development and cooperation that would link regions, nations and the world, restating that HEIs served as institutions that helped in enhancing the capacities of their societies to live together in an interdependent world whose future would be the patrimony of a global society.
On a comparative statistical analysis on the size of Nigeria’s HEIs and their enrolment capacities to those of other nations, Dr. Bichi said that the figures indicated that the number was too low with a corresponding low enrolment due to lack of access, but with a contrary high and alarming number of out-of-school children, which compared to the nation’s population, posed a lot of security threat to the nation.
While expressing disappointment with the liberal nature of Nigerian campuses, the Scholar noted that such unrestrained situations might be exploited to steal technical information and expensive research and development results; provide easy access to spotting and recruiting members of institution’s community into the underworld; spreading false information for political or other ulterior motives; compromise campus safety; provide the opportunity to fund or establish programmes, projects and schemes that might be inimical to national security and incubate the crimes of the future.
The TETfund Scribe also identified sensational reporting and fake information by the social media as another area of security threat. He said that though advanced technology had provided limitless opportunities, it had its other negative side. He cited that with the advent of new media, fake news posted within few seconds with the help of the ultra-fast high frequency trading platforms, could be easily rebroadcast and accessed, leading to chaos and panic, which unfortunately might be too late to reverse in some cases or would had disappointedly gulped a lot financial transactions.
Proffering the way forward towards strengthening the connection between HEIs and national security, Dr. Bichi reemphasised that “A well-defined education policy is central to the success of a country’s intelligence activities. Education has an important role to play in rolling back irrational and anti-social behaviour. Education promotes rational analysis and creative arrangement which help to contain negative ideas, destructive tendencies and brazen indiscipline. Functional education should prepare citizens to be observant and conscious of their natural environment”.
The Executive Secretary also pointed out that HE helped in resolving security challenges by promoting greater understanding, tolerance and accommodation of other people’s customs, religions and opinions. He said that if successfully achieved, HE could create a national governing elite that would promote national peace, unity and harmonious coexistence
“I have made it clear that the success or failure of national security architecture rests on the nature of the country’s education in general and higher education in particular. There is no alternative to a well-planned higher education system, if issues of national security must permanently be checkmated”. He declared.