Insecurity in Nigeria
Responsibility for internal security may range from police to paramilitary forces, and in exceptional circumstances, the military itself. (Wikipedia) Threats to Internal security Threats to the general peace may range from low-level civil disorder, large scale violence, or even an armed insurgency. Threats to internal security may be directed at either the state’s citizens, or the organs and infrastructure of the state itself, and may range from petty crime, serious organized crime, political or industrial unrest, or even domestic terrorism.
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Foreign powers may also act as a threat to internal security, by either committing or sponsoring terrorism or rebellion, without actually declaring war. Forces and Agencies Governmental responsibility for internal security will generally rest with an interior ministry, as opposed to a defense ministry. Depending on the state, a state’s internal security will be maintained by either the ordinary police or law enforcement agencies or more militarized police forces (known as Gendarmerie).
Other specialized internal security agencies may exist to augment these main forces, such as border guards, special police units, or aspects of the state’s List of intelligence agencies. In some states, internal security may be the primary responsibility of a secret police force. The level of authorized force used by agencies and forces responsible for maintaining internal security might range from unarmed police to fully armed paramilitary organizations, or employ some level of less-lethal weaponry in between.
For violent situations, internal security forces may contain some element of military type equipment such as non-military armored vehicles. But enough of definitions and insinuations. What we are talking about is not merely petty crimes, armed robberies, etc, but terrorism and bombings, armed insurgency, e. g. the Niger Delta problem, which seemed to have died down a bit of recent, after all the hullabaloo of Amnesty, Jos ethnic/religious killings, Boko Haram massacres and bombings in Abuja, Maiduguri and other northern cities, etc.
What every Nigerian should be doing is asking and demanding answers on what has been done so far since October 1st, 2010 Independence Day Twin Bombing in Abuja FCT. Not to mention numerous bombings in Maiduguri, Bauchi and Adamawa. Mind you, these are not the first instances of such insecurity. Insecurity has been with us probably since we became a Republic, only we decided to turn blind eyes to it. When the CIA report of 2005 predicted the collapse of Nigeria in about 15 years time, patriots and critics alike reacted differently to the report.
For me, as much as I wanted to dismiss it, something kept niggling my mind that this might be a true prophetic scrutiny of the state of Nigeria. Not because the CIA is dependable in its security analysis, after all, they didn’t get it right to prevent 9/11 2001 from happening, but events in Nigeria seemed to suggest that while other countries in the sub-region were developing, Nigeria was retrogressing despite its claim to democracy.
People expected the then Government of Obasanjo to take this warning as a chance for Nigeria to look inwards, engage with the report, and work on those predictive indices that could lead to the predicted failure. But, inopportunely, the Obasanjo government dismissed the report in its totality. In a way, the dismissal is not entirely a surprise, since our leaders, over the years, are prone to such habits of shielding the truth from their people, not caring as long as it does not happen in their time; are actually very ignorant of what is going on around them, and are obstinate and tyrannical in their nature.
The current general state of insecurity in Nigeria has now lent weight to the report. It must be recalled that while the report was released at the advent of the so-called Niger Delta crisis, since then several acts of bombings and killings by the extremist Islamic sect, Boko Haram, the carnage between ethnic Birom and the Hausa/Fulani in Jos, and the political violence that followed immediately after the 2011 Elections results, mostly in the northern part of the country, have further cemented the insecure state of the country.
Starting with the usual religious/ethnic oriented conflicts, to the Jos ethnic/religious/political conflict of 2008, regrettably, the northern states have shown that security of persons and properties is still far from being realizable. However, the current crisis which started in Bauchi and has engulfed other states in the north has elements of theocratic opinionated ambitions in it. While the fundamentalist group – Boko Haram’s – demand for the jettisoning of a western behavioral pattern and the imposition of strict Sharia law can be described as absurd to say the least, we should equally view it with all the seriousness it deserves.
What the current trend of violence is imprinting on the psyche of Nigerians is that the government security apparatus is incapable of guaranteeing the safety and security of its people. This would, therefore, impact on the general human security of the people as the situation promotes fear, while at the same time limiting the peoples’ ability to develop economically. At the same time, the state’s capacity to attract investors becomes limited as a result of the insecurity.
For instance, states like Enugu and Bauchi that have huge tourism potential would be losing out on this front On different terrorist attacks, listen to what leaders with political will had to say: On 9/11: “This is an act of war against the United States. We’ll hunt down the terrorists. They can run but they can’t’ hide… ” – George Bush London Bombing: “We’ll track down the terrorists and bring them to justice” – Tony Blair UN House Bombing: “Terrorism is a global phenomenon. May be it is Nigeria’s turn. ” – Goodluck Jonathan So what our supreme leader is saying is that, “why not, it’s our turn to start getting blown up”.
How much more should we expect? That shows you the depth of intelligence and care of our leaders. Security was a driving issue in the last Presidential campaign following bomb blast by Niger Delta militants and attacks of police by members of the extremist Islamic group, Boko Haram in the northern part of the country. President Jonathan campaigned very hard to convince Nigerians that his government was meeting those security challenges. But the rioting, mostly in the North, that followed immediately after his election raised questions, which are still unanswered, about security preparedness.
At least 800 people were said to have been killed in these Muslim-Christian electoral violence. “As president, it is my solemn duty to defend the constitution of this country. That includes the obligation to protect the lives and properties of every Nigerian wherever they choose to live,” he said Challenges & Proposed Solutions: Mr. President should acknowledge the failure of the security agencies hence there should be a complete overhaul of the Security Agencies in the county to pre-empt these security breaches. In particular, the failure of the intelligence services to contain the recurring security breaches.
The spate of bombings has once more brought to limelight the need for a Sovereign National Conference. Until these structural distortions and anomalies are addressed, the monster of insecurity will loom large and Nigeria will once more be listed as a terrorist nation. Mr. President has to act decisively to execute his Office, and this can be achieved by implementing the anti-terrorism law and punish culprits of such heinous crimes capable of causing instability in the nation. This will vitiate the implementation of Mr. President’s transformational agenda.
The long-term effect is that the on-going terrorism will discourage potential investors in Nigeria. At the speed Nigeria is deteriorating, there is a strong desire for a SOVEREIGN NATIONAL CONFERENCE so that all ethnic nationalities can make their stand known this amalgamated country. The way forward is for us to keep laying emphasis on the need for the evolution of six regions. The federation should stay but let every region grow at its own pace. The Western region has clearly set the pace going by the result of the last election.
All the Western states voted massively for the Action Congress party (ACN), a party that is not sufficiently different in programmes from the Action Party of Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Each region should have their own police Force. MOPOL and Interpol could be transformed into the only Federal Police crack elite team. The rest members of the police force should be dismembered and directed to return to their regions. It is the duty of the regions to now retrain, equip and pay them. Second, the judiciary is not helping matters at all. This institution is heavily compounding our problems.
It has got to really sit up. Cases of corruption are not meant to be compromised at all, let alone adjourning them endlessly. The judiciary ought to have, at this stage in our development, evolved time scales for cases. There ought to have been a time to determine a case; time to close that case; and time to deliver judgment and pass sentences. In Nigeria, cases that bother on corruption and insecurity have most often been compromised thus the law is no longer acting as a deterrent. What is happening in Jos is too gory to narrate.
The endless killing going on in that city has made the demand for regional governmentt more pertinent. The country cannot just continue to toe the line of extinction. Most Nigerians do not value human lives. They debase them. Most have become conditioned to act of carnages, brigandage, looting, massacre, butchery and bestiality. Thirdly, the Federal government should always be decisive on issues that bother on insecurity. We have never had strong leaders. From Shagari to Yar ‘Adua and now to Jonathan, what we have heard were leaders handpicked and imposed on the people.
We have over the years been denied leaders that would bring us out of the woods. First were Awo in 1979 and, controversially, Abiola in 1993. We have never had it so bad. OBJ was an imposition by the Northern oligarchy. Corruption was commonplace under OBJ. Now under Jonathan, what we have is intertwined corruption and insecurity. Ethnic and the foregoing problems and criminal activities individually and collectively create insecurity and breach of the peace that are likely to or indeed affect legitimate social and economic activities in the country.
These problems also have the very damaging consequence of giving the signal to the rest of the international community that Nigeria is not a safe and secure place and as such not suitable for economic investment and activities. This is particularly important in view of the efforts being made to create the desired atmosphere to attract foreign investment. Beyond the effects of security concerns on the economic fortunes of the country, the nature of the security challenges facing the country also have implications for the country’s political system.
As mentioned earlier, social cohesion among various groups and interests is important in the process of national political development. Therefore, the constituent parts of the country must be and indeed feel that they are being carried along in the process of national governance. Experience has shown that widespread discontent and loss of confidence in the system have ways of affecting national political stability. Invariably continuing escalation of violence and crises across the country will impinge on the survival of our democracy.
Accordingly, there is the challenge to rethink and improve on policy and institutional means of dealing with security concerns arising in the country. At the political level, the federal, state and local governments should evolve programmes of cultural and political education and orientation that seek to enthrone the fundamentals of democracy so that the political contestants as well as the generality of the citizens imbibe principles and practices essential for sustainable democracy.
Such programmes must also address specific tendencies that create security breach and concerns in the country. In addition, a process of legislative and constitutional review should be initiated to assess the country’s constitution and amend or expunge as necessary areas that have been found to give rise to conflicts and security problems. The process should also introduce new provisions and legislations that will ensure better and more effective interplay of interests among all groups and stakeholders in Nigeria.
Such exercise should also embrace ways of making the country’s democratic space more open, free, fair and tolerant as exists in other democracies around the world. Among specific lingering political issues that should be addressed are: the laws relating to political parties and their activities; the establishment, funding and activities of the electoral body; local and state government relationship; allocation of national resources and revenue; citizenship rights; devolution of security powers to states and local governments.
In addition, the legislative and constitutional review should also embody security sector reforms that will make the security agencies and institutions more effective in combating crimes and other threats to national security and make them accountable to the democratic political system and structures. These democratic structures include the states and local governments. I believe that we need to give a more concrete understanding to the definition of governors as the chief security officers of the state.
In all, what we need is a good government, no more no less. And a good government is possible in as much as people who are put in positions of authority are allowed and are committed to discharge their duties without fear or favors; are determined to serve with zeal and patriotism; are not ready to sell out to international capital and are ready to stand by the truth and die for it.
In all, there is no mono cultural theory that is a cure-all to the diverse nature of insecurity in Nigeria but I believed and stand by the theory that Nigeria should evolve into six regions, each region having its Premier or Governor, each region has a right to retain its states or to abolish- the choice is theirs in the region to make; each region should be in charge of its Education, Security, Health, Agriculture, Housing, Transport and Energy policies.