Insecurity: A norm in Nigeria – Part 2 – Samuel Agbelusi 

3 min read

The heightened clashes between nomadic pastoralists and crop farmers in many southern parts of the country, particularly in the South-East geopolitical zone, were interpreted as an invasion of the region by northern elements. 

That resurrected the agitation for Biafra. The Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra [MASSOB], set up in 1999, led the fights. MASSOB quickly became a dreaded militant group. Street cults such as the Aba Boys also grouped to resist the government headed by Northerners believed to be behind the Southward migration. The split of MASSOB eventually resulted in the emergence of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra [IPOB] in 2012, currently proscribed by the federal government as a terrorist organization.

The evolving jihadist zeal of the Mujahideen in Pakistan and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan has always had its eyes on sub-Saharan Africa. As early as the year 2000, Islamic missionaries with extremist’s orientation as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State were already present in some parts of northern Nigeria. 

Again, the inspiration remained high through the remnants of Muslims upholding Maitatsine ideologies of the early 1980s who always considered a Jihad as necessary. By 2009, Boko Haram was born. A few years after that, and following the fall of the Islamic State, West Africa became a new target. To strengthen its hold on Nigeria, Boko Haram swore allegiance to the Islamic state.

The government’s politicization of the insurgency and terrorism give headroom for their rapid expansion and replication despite the pressure from neighbouring countries to contain them. However, absolute poverty, illiteracy, and neglect of the youth in many of the northern states created ready pools of recruits that found solace in the use of ammunition. 

The Impact of Insecurity on the Economy 
As seen in Business Day, Rising violence in the country cost Nigeria 11 percent of its GDP with N119 billion. Similarly, projects worth N12 trillion were abandoned across Nigeria due to insecurity and other challenges according to data from TownTalk solutions.

In the same vein, the global peace index for 2021 compiled by the Institute for Economics and Peace ranked Nigeria 146th out of 163 countries with a score of 2.712, while among Sub-Saharan African countries the country was ranked 39th out of 44 countries examined in the region.

According to experts, insecurity affects economic growth by drying-out investments, increasing unemployment, and dwindling government revenue, among others.
The impact of insecurity is reflected on the performance of macroeconomic indicators, investment inflow as well as economic performance.
As of 2020, over $40.6 billion worth of foreign investments were diverted from the Nigerian economy as a result of insecurity according to the Global terrorism index.

This had implications for job creation and economic prosperity as purchasing power declined. Nigeria is now regarded as the world’s poverty capital and has an estimated 91 million people living in extreme poverty which is projected to reach 106.6 million by 2030.

Telecommunication companies were not left out as MTN projected a possible disruption in service provided due to rising insecurity challenges. Human capital development also met with a hitch as schools in the north shut down to avoid recurring cases of kidnapping.

The insecurity challenge also affected other sectors in terms of government revenue allocation as the security budget continues to increase year on year.
Data from BudgitIT shows that in 2020 the Federal Government allotted N1.78 trillion for security expenses which is approximately an 83.7 percent increase from the N969 allocated for the same in 2015.

Also, as major regions and states in the country became the hotspot for activities that threatened peace and security, people were forced to move to safer locations within and outside the country. Consequently, places like Abuja, Lagos, etc. are gradually becoming home to migrants resulting in overpopulation of selected places.

Insecurity also contributed to Nigeria’s inflation performance, although data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that it decelerated consecutively from April 202, however, this failed to reflect the reality in the market as prices of goods and food items surged significantly.
Solutions to curb insecurity 

The possible and viable solution is to solve unemployment, this is critical to ensuring a safe society with a progressive and productive individuals working hard to make the country great. To be secured, we must revamp our leadership recruitment criteria and stick to them religiously and honestly. There are needs to interrogate to see the type of education that we are giving to our younger generation. Is it one that guarantees our safety tomorrow or one that will pull us deeper into insecurity? These are issues that we must interrogate critically.

Our Take: Regardless of the approaches adopted to address insecurity, it has continued to linger largely due government’s politicization of insurgency. Also, at the core of this is extreme poverty, illiteracy, and neglect of young people and their consequent resort to extremist groups as a platform to express their displeasure with the government. One key driver that has remained recurrent in issue of national security is the lack of political willpower to address insecurity from its root cause.

Source: The Guardian

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