Insecurity Challenges in Nigeria: Human Security Option as a Panacea – Kalu, Emenike Okorie, Ajuzie, Henry Dozie and Chukwu, Christian Chima

27 min read

Our Take: For decades now, Nigeria, like many other countries around the globe has been fraught with insecurity. While the root of Nigeria’s insecurity is notably poor governance, efforts towards addressing this challenge will remain largely inefficient until the concept of security is adequately defined, which will then inform a sustainable strategy. Adopting strategies that are human security inclined would be a step in the right direction towards combating insecurity.


Security is an indispensable ingredient in the life of any nation that aspires to develop. This underscores why successive governments in Nigeria have evolved different strategies to restore security in the country. For over a decade now, Nigeria has been battling with the challenges of insecurity. Threat of insecurity in the country is a multi-dimensional phenomenon. It ranges from the problem of Boko Haram Islamic extremism, militancy in the Niger-Delta, rampaging kidnapping in the South-east, armed robbery and ritual killings everywhere in the country. Unfortunately, every effort by the government at different times to bring back peace in the country has failed to produce result. Until factors fueling this spate of insecurity are addressed, the race for peace in Nigeria is a hopeless one. This paper explores the potency of ‘Human Security’ option as a strategy for achieving peace in Nigeria. Ex-post facto research method was used in the study.

1.1 Introduction

One of the most basic difficulties vexing the Nigerian society presently is that of insecurity in the country. This difficulty, according to Chukwu & Chiemeka(2015), arises mainly from the fears and despairs Nigerians face daily as they try to make sense out of the challenges of insecurity that confront them daily, particularly in the state of hopelessness they now find themselves. This issue of insecurity takes on particular pungency when Nigerians try to make sense of the paradox of penury and hunger in a nation so richly endowed with natural and human resources. According to data compiled by Houston-based, since the discovery of reserves in 1958 in Nigeria, Nigeria has earned over $300 billion in oil revenues, with very little to show for uplifting a majority of its people. In all, the only legacy bequeathed on an average Nigerian is the increasing failure to meet their basic needs (Dada, 2007).

As a result, the issue of insecurity has become the very first set of thought that comes to mind whenever any topical issue is discussed in Nigeria. Since the end of the cold war, security threats to nations, especially in Africa and other third world countries are more of internal dynamics and contradictions than external aggression. Put simply, Nigeria has been plagued by the impregnable threat of insecurity accentuated by ethnic and religious pluralism and intolerance, fatal ideologies and extremism, and unemployment worsened by exponential corruption by the ruling class, and a somewhat shaky democratic rule.

In the face of these challenges, Nigeria, like many other countries of the world today, has in the past couple of years been battling frantically to get herself disentangled from the ugly grips of insecurity, but to no avail. However, in confronting this challenge, successive governments have over the years and at different times erroneously adopted anachronistic strategy and definition of security as “National Security” where the protection of the nation’s territorial integrity is the focus. This definition, close-minded as it is, has had a lot of implications on the country’s efforts to achieve sustainable peace and by extension, national development. According to the United Nations (UN) (2009), the end of Cold War reconfigured the global environment in a number of ways that challenged traditional security paradigms. This explains why all efforts by the Nigerian government in not making human security its pillar have always failed and, of course, would continue to collapse. In the same vein, Orikpe (2013) argued that the recent social conflicts in various African countries, particularly Zimbabwe, no doubt have roots in the failure of the government policies to provide or manage the basic human physiological needs of their citizens. On the basis of this reality, redefinition of security beyond the parochial scope of “National Security” becomes imperative in today’s world if sustainable peace and national development are to be achieved.

In view of the foregoing, a relatively new concept, ‘Human Security’ has been added to both security and development lexicon. The term appeared in the United Nation’s 1994 Human Development Report (HDR) to expand the scope of security beyond the narrow sense of security as national security strictly aimed at the protection of territorial integrity of a state against aggressions from enemy nations. According to the 1994  Human Development Report (HDR) of United Nation, the idea of security focuses basically on individuals having access to safe drinking water, shelter, food, security for every household, employment opportunities, eradication of poverty, social and political inclusion, good governance, environmental protection and access to quality healthcare services. One cannot be said to be protected until one is economically, socially, educationally, medically, politically and environmentally protected. It makes no meaning spending millions of dollars on military hardware annually while individuals living in the ‘protected territories’ are languishing in abject poverty, excruciating pains of hardships, in a disease- infested area, without safe drinking water, access to healthy food, quality education or shelter.

Extending this line of argument, Enu & Ugwu (2011) posit that human security is a post cold war concept that involves multidisciplinary understanding. They further noted that the turning point for human security began with the publication of the 1994 Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which emphasizes freedom from want and freedom from fear for all persons as the best approach to tackle problem of insecurity. Nigeria has been bedeviled by multiple security challenges in the recent time. This has created unimaginable fears across the width and breadth of the country. Ali (2013) and Coker & George- Genyi (2014) observed that the fear of insecurity in Nigeria is on the increase. Put another way, the country is awash with countless cases of kidnappings and hostage taking for ransom, assassinations and unsolved murders, religious crises, robberies, oil theft, and other potent threats to critical infrastructures, ethnic agitation for self determination in the Southeast, renewed militancy in the Niger-Delta region, and indeed all manners of security threats including the Boko Haram conundrum. Despite the fact that democracy provides and allows conflicts in society to be resolved by rational argument and persuasion rather than by violent coercion, the activities of Boko Haram, the ultraviolent Islamic militant group that hinges the killings and other abuses against Nigerians on decades of failed government and elite delinquency in the Northern States have defiled all rational reasoning (Chukwu,, 2015). The continued existence of Nigeria as one entity depends largely on how these virulent challenges are managed. In her response to these security problems, successive Nigerian governments had adopted the traditional option of military strategy. It is so glaring that this strategy has failed to produce result, hence the growing tempo of insecurity across the country (Ali, 2013). It therefore means that to achieve a sustainable peace and acceptable level of national development in Nigeria, there must be a change in strategy – a paradigm shift. In view of this reality, this study explores the nexus between human security and sustainable peace and by extension, national development.

2.    Statement of Problem

Today, in spite of her abundant endowments for tourism, Nigeria is not a tourist destination for people from other countries. Fear defines the daily lives of Nigerians as well as non Nigerians living in the country, as a day hardly pass without ugly news of kidnapping, assassination, armed robbery, terrorism and other criminalities. The insecurity situation in the country is so widespread that no part of the country is spared.

In fact, in his observation, Oladiran (2014) noted that the pattern of insecurity in Nigeria has been regionalized, with the terrorist group, Boko Haram attacking most of the northern states, kidnappers ravaging the South-eastern part of the country, militant attacks and pipeline vandalism in the Niger-Delta area, daily increasing cases of ritual killings and kidnapping in the Southwest and politically motivated killings everywhere in the country. Also, in the recent time, agitation for self determination in the South-east is posing a security challenge as the federal government of Nigeria unleashed the military on the armless civilian agitators. All these security challenges have great implications on the peace and development of the country. Investors, especially foreign investors are moving their investments from Nigeria to neighbouring African countries with relative peace. This is because no investor will want to invest where his investment and even his life is not secure (Adebayo, 2014; Okonkwo, Ndubuisi-Okolo & Anagbogu, 2015). Corroborating this, Eme & Jide (2012) argued that Boko Haram has created widespread insecurity challenges across northern Nigeria, increased tensions among various ethnic groups, interrupted development activities, frightened off investors and generated concerns among Nigeria’s northern neighbours.

In all these, the Nigerian government has mistakenly and narrowly defined security strictly as national security. The logic is that this definition informs her approach and strategies for combating the menace. One does not need a degree in mathematics to know that a wrong formula will produce a wrong answer. The government has spent billions of naira in military hardware and in amnesty programmes in the Niger- Delta and has lost so much in terms of military personnel, erroneously believing that it can achieve peace and security through these means. Every effort to tackle security problems in Nigeria has achieved little or no result.

It is the position of this discourse that at the root of Nigerian security crisis are the widespread and endemic poverty, mass youth unemployment, inequality, environmental devastation and neglect, hunger, bad governance and leadership failure. Until these issues are properly addressed, Nigeria cannot enjoy peace. According to Emuedo (2013), analyzing the impacts of the amnesty programmes of the federal government, opined that until and unless the factors conducting violent conflicts in the Niger-Delta region; marginalization, environmental despoliation, inequitable distribution of oil revenues and underdevelopment are addressed, the present peace in the region may not subsist for long. It is on this basis that the study aimed at analyzing these intervening factors and proposing that applying ‘Human Security’ approach is a sure way to peace and development in Nigeria.

3.  Methodology

The study is ex-post facto research, relying on the data readily documented overtime. The study area is the entire country, Nigeria, as one security issue in any part of the country will definitely have consequences on other parts of the country. It is entirely a qualitative study. Secondary materials such as journals, books, unpublished papers, official documents of the governments and newspapers were used.

4.  Conceptual Clarifications

4.1    Security

Security, as a concept and as a phenomenon is a relative term. It means different things to different people, hence differences in approach in pursuit of it. However these differences, there seems to be some elements of agreement among security experts and scholars as what the term means. Amujiri & Agu (2012), see security as freedom from risk or danger and fear. It is safety, confidence and the ability of a nation to protect and defend itself, promote its cherished values and legitimate interests and enhance the well-being of its people.

In fact, there are two major ways of looking at security (Nwanegbo & Odigbo, 2013). According to them, one is the neo-realist perspective that sees security as strictly a state affair aimed entirely at securing the territorial integrity of the state through military approach. This conception of security dominates security debates and logic during the cold war era. However, with the end of the cold war, the world is adopting a postmodernist perspective in conceptualizing security. This approach seeks to displace the state as a major provider of security but rather places greater emphasis on non-state actors. In the view of Nwanegbo & Odigbo (2013), the advocates of this approach tend to argue that the concept of security goes beyond a military determination of threats. No wonder, long ago, McNamara (1983), warned that any society that seek to achieve adequate military security against the background of acute food shortage, population explosion, low level of production and per capita income, low technological development, inadequate and efficient public utilities, and chronic problem of unemployment, has a false sense of security.

By implication of these definitions, it is so clear that security is not just the protection of national territorial integrity of the state. Security like development must have human a face. A man without assurance where his next meal is coming from does not have security, even if he is protected by the best army in world with the most sophisticated military hard ware. This brings us to the logic of human security.

4.2    Human Security

Human security found its earliest comprehensive expression in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Report in 1994 (UN, 2009). According to the report, security means freedom from “want” and freedom from “fear”. It goes further to list seven dimensions of human security. These include:

  1. Economic security
  2. Food security
  3. Health security
  4. Environmental security
  5. Personal security
  6. Community security
  7. Political security.

This brings to the fore the fact that even though Nigeria is not fighting any external aggression, the fisherman and woman in the Niger-Delta whose land and aquatic life are destroyed by oil exploration and exploitation lack security. In the same vein, a young graduate who has search for job without hope of getting any cannot talk of security. A poverty-ridden market woman struggling everyday to survive huger is not secured. In fact, Human Security is synonymous with development. It involves raising the quality of life of the people through provision of safe drinking water, food, quality healthcare, good roads, dignified housing, quality education, quality and sustainable environment, and community participation.

4.3    Peace

Among scholars, there are contending ideas about what constitute peace. Some seem to defined peace as absence of war, while others look at it from different angles. Citing Galtung, George-Genyi (2013) posits that there exist two dimensions of peace. The first is negative peace that refers to the absence of direct violence, war and fear of the individual, nation, region and at international level. The second dimension is positive peace that is the absence of unjust structure, unequal relationships, justice and inner peace of the individual. Deducing from the above definitions, Peace is a condition in which there is no social conflict, violence or threat, imagining or real, and where individuals and groups are able to move about to meet their needs, aspirations and expectations. It is not simply absence of fear.

4.4    Sustainable Peace

Sustainable peace means an enduring peace. However, to achieve a sustainable peace, it must be built on the solid foundation that address the fundamental issues that ignite and fan the amber of violence, aggression, crime and total insecurity in the country. In Nigeria, frustration, unemployment, hunger, poverty, marginalization, injustice, political impunity, ethnic and religious suspicion, inequality and total absence or inadequate social amenities such as quality healthcare, good roads and electricity are fundamental issues that determine whether there can be a sustainable peace or not. If these issues are addressed properly by the government, sustainable peace and development automatically will follow.

5.  Literature Review

5.1    Security Challenges in Nigeria

Literature on the security challenges in Nigeria is reviewed under the themes of Boko Haram Insurgency, Niger- Delta militancy, Ethnic-Religious Conflicts, Kidnapping, Assassination and Armed Robbery.

5.2    Boko Haram Insurgency

The activities of a nefarious Islamic fundamentalist group known as Boko Haram have become threat to Nigerians and, indeed, the international community (Bamidele, 2012; Amujiri & Agu, 2012; Okonkwo, Ndubuisi-Okolo & Anagbogu, 2015). Basically, Boko Haram’s ideological mission is primarily to overthrow the Nigerian state with its Western values and then impose strict Islamic Sharia law in the entire country (Onyebuchi and Chigozie, 2013). This is a violent reaction against the Nigerian state with predominantly western attributes. There is an obvious clash of civilizations. A clash between Islamic values and western values, in fact, the efforts of the West to promote its values of democracy and liberalism as universal values, to maintain its military predominance and to advance its economic interest has engendered counter responses (Huntington 1993:29). Thus, the rise of Boko Haram with its violent disposition against Western values is a counter response to Western civilization that is fast eclipsing, that is, if it had not eclipsed other civilizations such as Islamic civilization. Consequent upon this, their unwholesome activities which, have been impacting negatively on the various segments of society; creating the psychological basis for arbitrariness are compounded, a school of thought asserts, by the intense use of State authority by an effective minority of the Northern extraction to cover up and dismiss these detestable killings and abuses as being only the maturation of long festering extremist impulses that run deep in the social reality of North east Nigeria while doing nothing to halt their  introduction  of terrorism into the crime space in Nigeria. Terrorism which originally is an alien phenomenon to Nigeria is with us at home today with its fingers soaked with blood through incessant (Adebayo, 2014) bombs explosions that kill huge of numbers of Nigerians.

There is yet an unsettled controversy about the historical origin of this organization. However, citing Musa, Oladunjoye & Omemu (2013); Anyadike (2013) noted that Boko Haram has been in existence since 2001 but did not become popular until 2009 when they participated actively in the sectarian violence which occurred in Northern Nigeria. They further argue that this group was founded in 2002 in Maiduguri by Utaz Mohammed Yusuf. In 2004, it moved to Kanamma, Yobe State where it set up a base called “Afganistan”. Before 2009, this group was not known for violence. According to Alao, Atere & Alao (2012); Obi, (2015) since 2009, the death of their leader has led to violent attacks witnessed on regular basis in churches, security establishments and media organizations with huge human casualty present the government as helpless and incapable of handling the insurgence.

On 25 July, 2009, the group lunched an all-night attack on Dutsen-Tasnshi Police Station in Bauchi State (Bamidele, 2012). According to him, this was followed by a five-day standoff between Boko Haram and security forces, resulting in about 800 people killed and several others injured. Since then, this terrorist group has unleashed untold violence on Nigerians. Lives and properties lost to this wanton terrorism cannot be quantified. Churches, Mosques and other public buildings have been destroyed. According to Anyadike (2013) on June 16, 2011, this deadly terrorist group bombed the Nigerian Police Headquarters in Abuja, the Federal Capital. Anyadike further noted that the sect followed up that attack with the bombing on August 26, 2011, of the United Nations House, also in Abuja. Since after these incidents, the group has gone wild in its violence against Nigerians.

5.3    Niger-Delta militancy

Niger-Delta is an oil rich region in Nigeria. The region is one of the most blessed deltas in the world (Emuedo, 2013). However, the discovery of oil in commercial quantity in this part of Nigeria has not brought any blessing to the region. The discovery of this “black gold” was followed by intensive and extensive oil exploration and exploitation in the region to the extent that the Niger Delta has become the hub of oil and gas production in the country. Crude oil from the belt accounts for over 90% of revenue accruing to the government. In spite of the oil wealth, the region is riddled with abject poverty, high unemployment rate, social deprivation and injustice, pollution and under-development (Chukwu, 2015). Basically, the region has suffered prolonged neglect and official marginalization right from when oil was discovered in the area (Ugwu, 2011). Exploration in the region has resulted in unimaginable environmental damage. Oil spillage has negatively impacted on both the aquatic  life and the agricultural land in this area, thus exposing the people to avoidable hardship, hunger, unemployment and penury. Their means of livelihoods, fishing and agriculture are endangered. According to Ugwu (2011) and Emuedo (2013) successive governments have not been able to address the deliberate marginalization of the people who are the custodian of the wealth of the nation and it is a paradox (Ashimolowo & Odiachi, 2012) that in spite the huge revenue from crude oil in the Niger-Delta, the people of this area continue to live in a condition of social deprivation and abject poverty. This, indeed, is the background of what instigates agitation and subsequently militancy in the Niger-Delta region. Though the agitation and militancy are not new phenomena in the region, the current wave of violence can be traced to the Kaiama Declaration by Ijaw Youth Council in 1998 (Ugwuanyi, Obaje, Ohaeri, Ugwu and Ohagwu, 2014). According to them, in the declaration, all the multi- national oil corporations in the Niger-Delta were ordered to leave the region by 31st December 1998. The failure to adhere to this order or to address the environmental problems created by these multi-nationals corporations (MNCs) led to the emergence of different militia groups in the region. Among the different militia groups are the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta (MEND), led by Henry Okah, the Niger-Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (NDPVF) led by Asari Dokubo, the Niger- Delta Vigilante, led by Ateke Tom (Ugwuanyi et al, 2014). These militant groups, at this point, engaged in all forms of violence and criminalities. Substantiating this, Ikein (2009) and Nwogwugwu, Alao and Egwuonwu (2012) noted that between 2004 and 2009, 600 expatriate oil workers were kidnapped and the militants vandalized and bombed various oil installations. Oil production comes to almost total collapse.

This created an alarming state of insecurity in the region. Fears grip everybody including the international community. Unfortunately, the first response from the government of Nigeria was military repression. This singular act of insensitivity cost the nation so much in terms of military spending and of oil revenue. When the government realized that military option can neither deter the militants nor bring peace to the region, on June 25, 2009, the government of late President Musa Yar’ Adua granted unconditional Amnesty to the militants. The amnesty proviso was that all militants should surrender all arms and ammunition in their possession within 60 days (Emuedo, 2011). These ex-militants were to receive N65, 000 stipends at the end of every month, while  they undergo training at home and abroad to acquire skills in order to be employable and reintegrated into the civil society. This seems good and has almost abated the spate of militancy in the area. In Nigeria, merit is prone to perversion. Where the state is in ruins, violence is often befriends a large chunk of under and unemployed jobless youth populations. This is what has happened, particularly amongst those who, after the demobilization and the disarmament programmes (DD), were not re-integrated into the society and are thus returning to the creeks to re-group; there is a renewed militancy by Niger Delta Avengers presently. According to Chukwu, (2015), the problem in this country most times is that we want to cover things up with euphemisms. For example, when environmental degradation is observed, it is called another name. If examination malpractice occurs, it is sorting. If bribery is noted, it is settlement. Corruption is one bane that has stood on the path of any government genuine programme in Nigeria. All government palliative measures aimed improving the poor have turned out to be drain pipes which the rich and powerful have used to salt away millions of Naira. This explains why the elites have sacrificed the re-integration programme on the altar of short-term interest, thus compounding the problem (Chukwu,, 2015) of sustainable peace in the Niger delta. The pertinent questions yearning for urgent  answers are who and who were re-integrated into the society? What were the criteria/qualifications for the selection? Who formulated the criteria? Obviously, the surprising thing is that the peace achieved so far through amnesty is seen as something that should be glorified as end in itself. The Niger Delta was peaceful until armed militancy came in; and so militancy was itself a reaction to the situation that was happening. Thus, the peace ought to have been seen as a part of a process that should lead to a sustainable peace (Chukwu,, 2015).  Be  it as it may, until the problem of underdevelopment and poverty in this area is addressed, sustainable peace will continue to elude us.

5.4    Kidnapping

The spate of kidnapping in Nigeria is becoming a tsunami. Though it is a national security concern, it is so pervasive in the Southeastern and Southwestern part of the country. Kidnapping is now a big ‘industry’ and steady means of livelihood, especially for people in the Southeastern part of the country (Uzorma & Nwanegbo, 2014). Although, some of the kidnapping incidents are politically motivated, pecuniary interest is the main motive driving the ‘industry’ as victims pay huge sum of money, sometimes, in millions of Naira as ransom. Poverty, unemployment, bad governance, and hopelessness have created and nurture in Nigeria an army of idle, hungry, frustrated and aggressive youths who are easily lured into violent crime as a means of survival. According to Iyang & Abraham (2013) the incident of kidnapping has affected Nigeria’s image as a nation. It has also affected Nigeria’s attempt to develop viable tourism industry as visitors are regularly warned by their countries to be wary of coming to Nigeria.

5.5. Armed Robbery

Armed robbery has been identified as one of the prevalent crimes in contemporary Nigeria (Rotberg, 2007). It has manifested in various forms and dimensions over the years. Prominent forms of armed robbery experienced in Nigeria include car snatching, high-way robbery, house and office robberies, and kidnapping. It is obvious  that Nigeria, at the moment, is bedeviled by multiple insecurity challenges. Amujiri & Agu (2012) attested to this. According to them, apart from the scourge of kidnapping, Nigeria has become a fertile ground for the dare devil robbers and all sorts of criminalities. Robbers are on rampage on the major high ways in Nigeria and travelling on these roads remains a dreaded adventure.

The Lagos State Command of the Nigerian Police Force disclosed that between December 2015 and November 2016, the command has arrested 486 armed robbery suspects ( content/uploads/2017/03/NGA-Watch-Report16V7.pdf.). This report did not give us statistics of successful armed robbery operations either in Lagos or across the whole Nigeria. Across Nigeria, armed robbers attack banks on daily basis and billions of Naira carted away. They are on rampage.

6.  Causes of Insecurity in Nigeria

Nigeria has joined the comity of failed states resulting from the spate of insecurity in the country. It is a worrisome situation. Any sincere bid to tackle the monster requires an understanding of the root causes. Agreeing to this, Akwara, Akwara, Enwuchola, Adekunle & Udua (2013) contend that as the roots of violence and insecurity tend to be complex, sometimes people resort to violence when they are oppressed, discriminated against, socially excluded or economically deprived. In this discourse, some of the root causes of insecurity in Nigeria such as youth unemployment, poverty, corruption and leadership failure, marginalization and injustice are analyzed.

6.1.    Youth Unemployment

Unemployment is one of the monsters confronting the country today. Nigeria, like other countries in Africa faces the challenge of youth unemployment. This has become a big threat to the survival of the political space of the country (Odunuga, 2015). Unemployment is a situation where people who are qualified, ready to work,  searching for work but could not find any. The rate of unemployment in Nigeria is rising day by day and the youth are the worst hit. It is becoming a norm in Nigeria for young school graduates to roam the street in search of jobs for minimum of ten to fifteen years before getting any, if at all they will get. According to National Bureau of Statistics (2017), unemployment rate in Nigeria rise from 10.4% in the fourth quarter 2015, 12.1% in first the quarter 2016, 13.3% in the second quarter 2016, 13.9% in the third quarter 2016 to 14.2% in the fourth quarter of 2016. This rate is so alarming and so worrisome when compared it with that of the neighbouring  Benin Republic with an unemployment rate of 1% within the same period.

Unemployment breeds poverty and hunger. There is a saying that an idle mind is a devil’s workshop, and a hungry man is an angry man. This explain the increasing involvement of Nigerian youths in all forms of security breach and other criminalities, including terrorism, kidnapping, armed robbery, ritual killing, assassination and advanced fee fraud. In his observation, Adesina (2013) opined that there is a correlation between rising levels of unemployment and the spate of insecurity in the country.

These youths are easily lured into any form of criminality just to survive. According to Iredia, cited in Orikpe (2013) there are 35 million unemployed youths in the country who are forced to resort to anything that can serve as a means of livelihood. The simple logic is that a gainfully employed person cannot be available as a hired assassin, as a kidnapper or as a member of a robbery gang. Though problem of unemployment cannot offer a sufficient explanation to the challenges of insecurity in Nigeria, youth unemployment is a critical conducting factor to the rising rate of violent crime and total insecurity in Nigeria. It is, therefore, the submission of this paper that there cannot be a successful fight against insecurity in Nigeria till the government rise to her responsibility of creating jobs for the teeming youths, most of who are already hopeless.

6.2.    Poverty

Poverty is a form of economic deprivation. Disease is closely associated with it (Offiong, 2001). He further averred that both economic deprivation and disease which result from poverty bring physical discomfort and prevent children from reaching their physical and mental potential. Ironically, Nigeria is one of the most resource-endowed nations in the world, but its citizens are among the poorest in the world. There is a persisting paradox of a rich country inhabited by poor people. Nigeria’s oil and gas production accounts for over 90% of revenue accruing to the government yet, Nigerians are riddled with abject poverty, social deprivation and injustice, pollution and under-development. Unfortunately, as poverty systematically deepens, a large poverty stricken youth populations without any sustainable source of living have continued to dabble into organized kidnapping, armed robbery, civil unrest, terrorism and communal conflicts. Thus, the prevalence of poverty, unequal access to resources, large youth populations with limited access to education or jobs, and other socio- political factors are not unconnected with the unceasing proliferation and use of small arms. For Haralambos and Holborn (2013), poverty is a social problem. There is a persisting paradox of a rich country inhabited by poor people, which has been the subject of great concern for many years, but more especially in the last seventeen years of civil rule. Most experts perceived that poverty must not be seen in absolute but in relative terms. The concept of absolute poverty has a number of serious conceptual difficulties as it concentrates on food only. Moreover, there is no single subsistence level which can be used as a basis for the poverty line.

Poverty is one of the myriad causes of insecurity in Nigeria. The poor are socially and politically excluded from participation in the community life of their society. They are likely to live in a slum. Their children are not likely to go to school and if they go at all, they are likely to drop out. This leads to frustration, aggression and vulnerability, hence an attack against the society. As a result, many youths face avoidable hardship resulting from government inability to create jobs and eradicate poverty. According to Oladiran (2014), there are a large number of unemployed youths in Nigeria and jobs are not forthcoming. Some of these unemployed people go into crime to survive. Admitting the foregoing, there is an intricate relationship among unemployment, poverty and insecurity. Akwara, Akwara, Enwuchola, Adekunle & Udaw (2013) corroborate this when they opined that security strategies remain incomplete as long as they do not address problem of poverty and unemployment. They further added that due to the security risk pose by the duo of poverty and unemployment; advanced nations make social security payment to the unemployed to keep them off the street until they get jobs.

6.3.    Leadership Failure

While it is true that insecurity is a globally issue, Nigeria’s security situation has over the years deteriorated owing to poor governance, political desperation and government inability to deliver the needed dividend (Nwanegbo & Odigbo, 2013). Good governance and focused leadership are indispensable ingredients of peace and security. Every government is constitutionally and morally expected to meet the aspirations of its people by providing them such things as good roads, employments, quality healthcare, education, food security, opportunities, and expanded choice. Almost all these things are lacking in Nigeria due to leadership failure. Substantiating this, George-Genyi (2013) asserts that, When there is governance failure, the security framework deteriorates as has been the case of Nigeria. To ensure an effective security system, there must necessarily be some link between the elements of good governance by the leadership. These elements include rule of law, accountability and transparency in the management of resources, political stability, provision of basic needs and services as well as absence of corruption.

However, it must be pointed out here that bad governance always sow seeds of aggression within a polity and is a threat to internal security of any nation. Since the return to civilian rule in Nigeria in 1999, expectations of the citizens from the leadership of successive governments in the country have never been met. Instead, what Nigerians see are corruption, political impunity, and wanton looting of the treasury. This pushes Nigerians to unimaginable hardship and hopelessness.

The quest to correct the perceived injustice, marginalization and exploitation of the people of the Niger- Delta has led to the formation of militia groups who have resorted to violent means in their agitation (Okumagba, n.d). It is unimaginable that the petro-dollars from the Niger-Delta will transform Abuja to one of the best cities in the world and the Niger-Delta people will quietly continue to live in squalor, disease, hunger and excruciating poverty. Militancy in the Niger-Delta is simply a fight against injustice. Emuedo (2013) captures this when he noted that violence and the spate of insecurity in the region is a response of the people to government’s total neglect as there has not been any genuine attempt by successive governments to ameliorate the huge environmental problems created in the region as result of oil exploration and exploitation.

Niger-Delta people have lost all their means of livelihoods. Originally, they are farmers, fisher men and women. Today, their waters are contaminated and the aquatic life destroyed. Agricultural yields from their farm can barely feed them talk less of going to the market to earn income. It is pathetic. Until this injustice is addressed, every investment, effort and strategy to bring peace to the region will fail.

7.  Conclusion and Recommendations

Military option and national security hegemony are good security strategy and ideology, but they are wrong options for Nigeria. This is because in Nigeria, the security challenges are not external aggression, rather the challenges are internal threats that were incubate and hatched by bad governance, poverty, hunger, injustice, corruption, unemployment, general government insensitivity and leadership failure. The best army in the world with the best artillery cannot solve Nigeria’s security problems. The root causes of security threat in Nigeria must be properly addressed.

Human security paradigm can solve this puzzle. Human Security emphasized a shift from national security to the security of the human person to ensure freedom from ‘want’ and freedom from ‘fear’. Human security is synonymous with development and good governance. It means food on people’s table, quality education and safe drinking water for the people, employment, justice, environmental protection and economic progress. This paradigm shift is imperative if Nigeria must achieve sustainable peace and national development.


Given that Nigeria’s security challenges are rather internally-driven threats bred by bad governance, poverty, hunger, injustice, corruption, unemployment, general government insensitivity, and leadership failure, the best security option is to explore human security. It emphasizes freedom from fear and wants while also promoting the quality of life of the people through a sustained welfare strategy.

About the Author(s):

Kalu, Emenike Okorie – Department Of Sociology/Anthropology, University Of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria

Ajuzie, Henry Dozie – Department Of Education Foundation, University Of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria

Chukwu, Christian Chima – Department Of Intelligence And Security Studies/Sociology Novena University, Ogume, Kwale, Delta State, Nigeria

Source: Research on Humanities and Social Sciences

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