BY: ABUBAKAR JIMOH

The increasing rate of insecurity in some parts of Nigeria is a clear indication that security of lives and property is by far eluding the citizens on a daily bases.

It is glaring that the rate of insecurity is rooted from diverse and complex phenomena ranging from socio-economic, political and ethno-cultural disagreements to criminal activities across the country. The situation has exposed the executive, legislative, judiciary, government officials, traditional rulers, their subjects, and family members to all manners of threats such as kidnappings and killings making them relocating their relatives outside the country.

Apparently, the amplifying level of unemployment has dreadfully contributed to other social vices such as armed robbery, pick pocketing, prostitution, juvenile delinquencies, cultism, indecent partying, post-electoral violence, and grossly uncontrollable level of insecurity in the country.

Following the copious security challenges facing the country, Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Alhaji Muhammad Sani-Sidi, recently stated: “Insecurity and violent conflicts confronting the nation arise from socio-economic struggles, drought and desertification, massive urbanization, landslides, weak traditional, socio-political institutions, boundary disputes, ignorance, intolerance among various groups and communities, unequal distribution of resources among others.”

Similarly, a recent investigation by the Youths Against Disaster initiative (YADI) revealed that desperate, intolerant and ruthless contests among political parties have also contributed largely to the ongoing insecurity in the country. Where political leaders and their followers have often resulted in violence, security breaches, killings and destruction, carnages, brigandage, massacre, butchery and bestiality which threaten the very democracy that they seek to partake.

YADI further urged all efforts to tackle insecurity in the country to integrate consent and cooperation of the ethnic nationalities and religious groups. This is essential to the existence and continuity of Nigeria as a nation. Since Nigeria is a political unit made up of over two hundred ethnic and diverse religious groups. Unity and peaceful cooperation among these groups must be ensured to avoid such circumstances that would result to bloody conflicts among them.

Encouraging social cohesion among various groups in the country with key interests in national socio-political development is another strategy to combat insecurity. Each constituent part of the country should be involved in the national socio-political and economic decisions. This will not only help to install the years of lost confidence in leaderships, but also to achieve national socio-political stability.

Workable efforts must be made to stop the violence and proliferation of small arms and ammunitions across the country. This has long contributed to the intensifying rate of insecurity. It can be addressed through comprehensive reform of our national security sector. Some of the security challenges are self-inflicted and reinforced by greediness and poor security institutions.

Due care and calculated thoughts must be exercised in government’s response to armed violence; since various attempts to tackle conflicts in forceful manner have provoked an escalation of violence generating hefty support for armed groups and strengthening the positions of militants in Nigeria.

Regrettably, the intensifying rate of unemployment in the country has heightened the crime proportions and threats to the national security. The collective frustration among young job-seekers no doubt, is one of the single largest contributing factors to the ethnic and religious insecurity in the country; since it is increasingly becoming difficult for them to secure anything other than part-time or temporary work such as pipeline vandalisms, armed robberies, Cyber-crimes, hire assassins, kidnappings, and socio-political thugs.

Recalled, in 2012, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi raised alarm that the current security upheaval and internal insurrection all over the country were as a result of severe poverty and rising unemployment. Government must rethink and restructure the economic system of the country by creating enabling environment that encourages industrialisation.

Moreover, in the last five decades, Nigeria has repeatedly witnessed conflicts of diverse degree; triggering socio-economic, physical and emotional imbalances among the people.

Some of the resultant effects of communal conflicts are manifold loss of lives and property, investment opportunities, hunger and starvation, open violence, wars, mass strikes, and other forms of socio-economic disorders. Given the consistent rate of eruptions, almost every part of the country has been left vulnerable to one form of communal conflicts or another.

Just like most parts of the world, communal crises in Nigeria are multi-dimensional—religious, political, economic, social and ethno-linguistic. For instance, an African economist, Gesiye Angaye observed that the divisive interplay of politics, ethnics and religion in the country has led to rising nationalism and militancy of various ethnic movements, seeking self-determination, local autonomy, separate identity and true federalism.

The situation is not unconnected with the disintegration of our value system, especially among the unemployed youths who are always manipulated by warlords for selfish interests. The proliferation of small arms and light weapons, trans-nationalization of terrorism, globalization, and unequal distribution of resources are issues traditionally identified with conflicts.

Efforts to tackle communal clashes have received series of institutional and administrative attentions in the country. Among these are ‘Operation Ceto-Maza’, Free-toll Call and Distress Call Centres initiated under the leadership of Director General NEMA, Alhaji Muhammad Sani Sidi. These proactive measures have turned out to help averting hundreds of deaths and millions of naira property that would have been lost to frequent crises in the country.

In a bid to reduce rumour mongering and reckless speculations that are noted for some crises, NEMA has collaborated with relevant stakeholders to build the capacity of Nigerians in ICT and in the application of social media networking in conflict and disaster early warning response, and in confronting misinformation that exacerbates conflicts and insecurity.

Strict control must be maintained against the supply and use of arms and ammunitions as inadequate measures on these have fasten the outbreak of crises in the country and empowered warlords to accelerate conflicts rather than finding peaceful resolution.

More importantly, effort to resolve conflicts should give priority to the roles of traditional rulers, community/village heads, and the religious leaders who are likely to be more informed on the root causes of the clashes. They should be given chance to identify how their communities are affected by the conflict, how the obstacles to peace negotiations can be removed, and how traditional practices can offer alternative ways of ending conflict. This will help to attain post conflict reconciliation, peace building, and prevent reoccurrence of conflicts.

There is need for rethinking on policy and institutional means of dealing with security related matters arising in the country. Over the years, the security operatives have decried the lack of clear document on national security policy which has remained one of the major problems confronting the country on how to tackle security challenges whenever it arises.

Also, the security policy and institutional frameworks must be strategically incorporated into the training courses of our military institutions such as Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA), Nigerian Military Intelligence (NMI), Police Mobile Force Training School, Police Colleges, Police Academy, and Detective Colleges. Having a practicable national security policy at these levels will help in adequate delivery and professional development of strategic leaders required to meet the global challenges of maintaining peace and security.

Proper orientation and adequate training should mandated on our national political contestants at federal, state and local government levels through the establishment of programmes of cultural and political education and orientation in accordance with the basic teaching of democracy to make them imbibe principles and practices essential for democratic sustainability. Such programmes must also address and keep them aware of specific tendencies that create security breach and concerns in the country.

It has been argued that the widespread insecurity in the country seemed to be defined by organised criminality and by political and sectarian insurgency. The inability of the police to provide law and order in the country and the resulting insecurity has led some individuals and communities to acquire small arms for protection. The Police can be more effective if it is better equipped, better paid, and motivated.

Meanwhile, the national security vote must be judiciously utilized; as the ongoing security situation in the country has allowed for huge allocation to the security-related matters. These should be skillfully manned towards the provision of adequate training and welfare service of the security operatives, and acquisition of sophisticated modern security equipment.

Advanced approaches must be exploited in addressing the national security challenges. These include adequate deployment of the modern Internet Protocol-based, Electronic Access Control System (EACS), Intruder Alarm System (IDS) and Perimeter Detection System (PIDS) which are very essential technological innovations that can help in the area of physical security and building management system.

Abubakar Jimoh is the National Coordinator, Youths Against Disaster Initiative (YADI), and lives in Abuja.
abujimoh01@gmail.com