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The New WAI Brigade And Matters Arising

WAI Brigade
Posted: Aug 12, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

While launching the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) under the then administration of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, WAI Brigade was formed and drafted to the then newly established National Orientation Agency (NOA) in 1984 to fight against indiscipline, disorderly behaviour in public and private places, disobedience to traffic rules and regulations, disrespect for constituted authorities, filthy environment, bribery, corruption and other social vices.

Late Brigadier Tunde Idiagbon, the then Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, had stated, “I want you to bear in mind the need to emphasise self-discipline and leadership by good example. Begin by drawing public attention to little but important everyday manifestations of indiscipline such as rushing into buses, driving on the wrong side of the road, littering the streets, parks and dwelling compounds, cheating, taking undue advantage of scarcity to inflate prices for quick monetary gains, constituting ourselves into public nuisances, walking without commitment and devoting little or no time to the upbringing of our children. Up to this moment there has been no formal declaration of war against indiscipline, it is my pleasure to declare today a launching day for the war against indiscipline.”

Sadly, most of the vices meant to be addressed by the WAI Brigade under the terms of reference are still preponderant in the nation, 32 years after the Brigade and several other similar initiatives have been put in place. Perhaps, this is what informed the re-launching of the Brigade on Monday this week by President Muhammadu Buhari, under whose administration the Brigade was first launched.

While acknowledging the urgent need to deal with the social vices and indiscipline that have come to characterise Nigerians’ daily lives, we are bothered that WAI Brigade will be saddled with such responsibilities when there are several agencies already established with special focus on each of these issues. For instance, the country has the Federal Road Safety Corpse) (FRSC) and various State Transport Management Agencies to grapple with the vice of traffic rule disobedience and related matters. There are also Health Officials in Health Ministries and Departments who are saddled with inspecting public places for unsanitary health conditions. The Nigerian Police, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) are there to curb cases of bribery, corruption and financial malfeasance. Civil Defence Corps is also there to provide civil intelligence to support the intelligence agencies.

Do we take it that re-launching this Brigade symbolises admittance of the failure of these various agencies and parastatals? What about the inherent duplication and overlap of duties? How would WAI Brigade function in a State like Lagos where Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) is already operating?

In as much as we appreciate that this may be one of the job creation strategies of the current administration, it is noteworthy to point out that the volunteers, who have been serving the Brigade in the past 30 years after the then military government was sent out of power by another military coup, have been doing so without any payment. If this is to be another job creation strategy, where will the funding for this exercise come from? Will appropriation for this be done through NOA? If what Dr Garba Abari, Director General of NOA said during the week while meeting with the members of WAI, is anything to go by, the roles of the Brigade in curbing insecurity, violence, kidnapping and in gathering civil intelligence, seem to fall under the purview of the defence ministry, one then wonders how NOA intends to manage a para-military outfit, given that its primary duty is that of orientating and disseminating right values!

What is the guarantee that when another administration or political party takes over, this Brigade will not go into extinction the second time? Is there any enabling or supporting Act of the Parliament to strengthen the WAI Brigade? We do hope this is not just another pet project of the President? We quite appreciate the efforts of the President in tackling the twin problems of indiscipline and corruption, and we totally support every strategy to deal with these problems, but we want the most economical means of fighting this crusade. The country is bleeding on too many fronts already. Definitely the Nation cannot afford another duplication of agencies.

it is either the current administration strengthens the various institutions that have been saddled with the responsibilities of dealing with these social vices and put systems in place to measure, evaluate and ensure their performance, or the terms of reference of WAI Brigade are reviewed to deal solely with issues of social indiscipline in the nation.