Rational for the Summit

In Northern Nigeria and in the surrounding regions, Boko Haram has killed and maimed more innocent civilians in the past year than ISIS and Al Shabaab combined. In 2014 alone it killed 6,644 people, surpassing ISIS which killed 6,073, thus making it the deadliest terrorist group in 2014 according to a report by Global Terrorism Index. Boko Haram’s murderous attacks make no apologies for its nature as a threat that requires serious attention; and so far it has managed to get the attention of the international community as a bloodthirsty cabal. As the Nigerian Military continues its commendable battle push, the approach taken in the past to contain and neutralize Boko Haram requires further robustness and sophistication to ensure a meaningful outcome. A broader approach is required; relying on counterterrorism measures in near exclusion of diplomacy, dialogue, and effective intelligence-gathering misses the bigger picture of containment, and stabilization of the region.

The inhumanity and deadliness of recent terroristic and sectarian attacks on civilian populations in Nigeria, and around the world were unimaginable just a few years ago. Such attacks have compelled the international community, and Nigeria in particular, to re-think national security paradigms, prompting a reflection on the difficult questions of how, when and where the next deadly attack would occur. Mindful that modern terror groups now have at their disposal an array of vectors to choose from in seeking maximal damage to society and critical national infrastructures, public institutions responsible for national defense and security must now devote crucial resources to intelligence gathering, and formulation of strategies to mitigate and counter threats.

The complexity of modern terrorist groups is profound, and so are the sources of their inspiration. But in the mix of the various confounding uncertainties there is consensus that such groups are inspired or unified by a multi-dimensional cause, and thus may not be ‘defeated’ by a unilateral solution – the root causes of insurgency are complex, the solution must be no less so.

That national security and homeland defense are topical concerns in recent years should not surprise a well-vested polity that relies on a trusted partnership between policy makers in the public sector and the citizenry. Such trusted partnership is achieved and nourished through meaningful and regular dialogue that create a shared sense of the current state of affairs of the nation’s safety, its level of intelligence-gathering, and pressing priorities. Together, they enable a better understanding of present and future capabilities to deal with potentially destabilizing domestic and trans-border criminal groups.

The Summit

This summit shall serve as a forum for substantive and impactful exchange of information, and discussion of acquired knowledge on domestic security strategies, protection of civilian populations and critical national infrastructures, and how the private sector can assist the government in intelligence-gathering, and deterrence. The two-day conference will bring together thought leaders in the public, private and academic sectors to foster dialogue on threats posed by domestic and international terrorist groups, effective counterintelligence, and when muscular intervention is necessary to contain and neutralize such threats.

The summit will also focus on the future of education and skill development in the cyber domain to protect critical data in financial and commercial sectors. The vulnerability of financial institutions and industries reliant on modern communication technologies to terrorism is now more pronounced than ever. The discussions would highlight the need to develop cyber-security as a multi-disciplinary body of knowledge with academic curriculum. Panelists would stress the importance of staying current, highlighting cyber half-life and the rapid pace of change in cyber and technology fields. This should foster discussion on how to change the educational outlook, and how to incorporate younger students into apprenticeship programs that facilitate the acquisition of marketable skills; this approach recognizes the importance of investing in human capital early on and the need to build partnership programs that offer meaningful employment opportunities for youths vulnerable to radicalization.

It is in this spirit and understanding that the Council on African Security and Development at the University of Wisconsin Research Park, USA, and the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) of the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, are pleased to host the Nigeria Summit on National Security 2016, to be held May 25 – 26, 2016 in Abuja, Nigeria. The two-day summit will feature internationally recognized names in global security as principal speakers: Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former Secretary-General of NATO, who also served as Prime Minister of Denmark, General T.Y. Danjuma (Rtd), former Nigerian Minister of Defence, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, former Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Dr. John Campbell, former US ambassador to Nigeria and currently a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, New York.

An international body of experts from the allied fields of national security and development would provide depth and breadth to the summit as panelists and discussants. Notable amongst them are Dr. James Stavridis, a retired 4-star Admiral of the United States Navy who served as the 16th Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, Lt. General Greame Lamb (Rtd.), former director of United Kingdom Special Forces and commander of British Field army, and now a fellow at Yale University, Ambassador Emmanuel Imohe, former Director-General of National Intelligence Agency, Dr. Kalu I. Kalu, former Nigerian minister of finance, and Graeme Wood of Yale University.

The list of invited participants include Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, the National Security Adviser, the Sultan of Sokoto, and governors of northern Nigeria who have first hand knowledge of the deadly consequences of insurgencies, other state governors and policy makers.

The President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, Nigeria’s Minister of Defense, Mansur Mohammed Dan Ali, and Minister of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Khadija Buka A. Ibrahim, have standing invitations to the summit.