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Our Take: Nigeria’s escalating insecurity is a problem that requires a quick and long-term solution to ensure peaceful coexistence and sustainable development. Insecurity contributes to economic instability and is a barrier to social development. Despite the government’s efforts to curb insecurity, none has successfully addressed insecurity.
The rising insecurity in Nigeria is an issue that requires fast and lasting solutions for peaceful co-existence and sustainable development in Nigeria. This is because security was the basis upon which a social contract was entered into between the state and its citizens. It is imperative to note from the above that security refers to the mechanisms established by the government who oversees the affairs of the state to ensure that members of the society are protected and issues that cause insecurity are prevented, avoided or resolved on time.
When there is a breach of these mechanisms, the likelihood of security of lives and properties is uncertain. This means that insecurity leads to instability economic prosperity and serves as a hindrance to the socio-economic development of the state. Insecurity amidst governments’ efforts to curtail same has brought to the limelight a lot of questions. The causes of rising insecurity in Nigeria are diverse in nature which may be classified into;
(a) Political, Economic and Religious/Ethnic Oligarchs
In Nigeria, the Oligarchs could be regarded as the “powerful men” in the political, economic and religious/ethnic spheres whose influence has an impact in the decision of the state. The question is how has the influence of the Oligarchs negatively affected the efforts of the government to curtail rising insecurity in Nigeria? Elites across Nigeria most often than not use political, economic, religious/ethnic sentiments to achieve their selfish interests. They manipulate and appeal to the conscience of the people in order to raise the thoughts and feelings of distrust among other religious/ethnic groups thereby causing insecurity in Nigeria. Their manipulations raise such feelings as neglect, oppression, domination, exploitation, victimization, discrimination, favoritism, marginalization, nepotism, and bigotry. Examples of such groups being influenced by their elites that have resulted to conflicts causing insecurity in Nigeria are farmers- herders’ conflicts, the Shiite movement, IPOB, etc. Also, Nigerian politics and elections have over time been characterized with various forms of violence such as thuggery, killings, etc. This is connected to the desperation and violent struggle for powers and governance by the political elites who feel it must be them that should be in power at all cost; hence, breeding insecurity in Nigeria. Furthermore, the persistent out-cry by the leaders of certain groups for resource control and equal sharing of revenue has led to several violent agitations between the agitating actors and the government causing insecurity in Nigeria. Examples are Niger Delta Militant agitation against the government of Nigeria. Also, the Herders – Farmers clash is as a result of resource control that is, land for grazing or for farming respectively.
(b) Bad governance
The rising insecurity in Nigeria is not unconnected to widespread corruption as a result of government failure to find solution to curtail corruption in Nigeria. This is the cause of the high rate of poverty and unemployment. Resources that are meant to provide social amenities are embezzled and as such, the stranded citizens result to anything for survival such as robbery, thuggery and other forms of violence that constitutes insecurity.
(c) Defect in the structural mechanisms
There is no doubt that the Nigerian government has in place mechanisms to curtail insecurity in the country. However, these mechanisms are underperforming which anchors on several factors such as lack of modern equipment, poor welfare of the security personnel, corruption within the agencies, etc. Furthermore, Nigeria’s porous borders have lead to an unchecked inflow of weapons and uncontrolled migrants that have aided militancy and criminality which increases insecurity in Nigeria.
The solutions to rising insecurity in Nigeria should be the main concern of the government at all levels. Firstly, to achieve this goal, the government must study why conflict and violence occur through a structural mechanism in order to understand how the conflict that causes insecurity can be resolved. This can be achieved through collaborative decisions to accomplish constructive ends.
Secondly, sustainable development must be the cardinal point. This is realizable by engaging the following factors; nurturing, empowerment and communication. Nurturing is very important because it gives room for psychological stability and emotional maturity. Inner security must be secured using arranged social systems and protection based on a firm foundation. Communication is crucial to overcome ignorance and create a community based on reliable and cogent information. Thirdly, a constitutional arrangement which grants excess powers to the central government should be revisited. This is because re-structuring Nigeria will resolve the issue of beholding to the central power brokers than to the citizens. The 2014 National conference which came up with 600 solutions should be adopted. Fourthly, a reformed Nigeria security structure would be better to protect its citizens and assist in the fight against insecurity. Lastly, accountability and governance are key to resolving insecurity in Nigeria as many civil society groups are advocating to do. A vital solution is to connect those civic efforts to government leadership.
• As many civil society organizations have advocated, accountability and governance are critical to resolving insecurity in Nigeria. Connecting civic activities to government leadership is a critical answer.
• Reforming Nigeria’s security structure would improve its citizens’ protection and assist in the fight against insecurity.
About the Author(s): Attah Paul, Esq. – Expert in ICT Law and Internet Governance