Security is a mechanism designed to avoid, prevent, reduce or resolve conflicts and threats that may emanate from individual, state entities, non-state actors or socio-political and economic conditions. While security has often been perceived as a state-centric phenomena, human-centred security should be the backbone of an overall smart security apparatus.
Security systems is at the core of any human organisation: physical (military), technological (weapons and robotics), physiological (immune system), informational (anti-virus and software defence), personal (martial arts), ordinary (padlocks and car security) socio-economic (agriculture, jobs and welfare) and constitutional (human rights and justice).
The 1999 Nigerian Constitution loudly proclaims that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”. A government that cannot substantially address the security concerns of its citizens as outlined above should rule in the jungle because without adequate security life itself is not worth living. The peace and harmony that defines humanity breaks down with insecurity.
At the heart of solutions to Nigeria’s security issues are developmental challenges which includes corruption, endemic poverty, high rate of unemployment, epidemic youth unemployment, low industrial output, high inflation, inadequate physical and social infrastructure, inadequate energy generation, rising domestic and external debt ethnic conflicts and religious bigotry.
It is obvious that development cannot occur where there is crisis, conflict, and war. Security and development are inseparable concepts. For the above reasons, Nigeria ranks low in the Global Peace Index despite requests for foreign assistance from the USA, Israel, and EU countries.
Lack of adequate physical security fuels crime rates and terrorist attacks as witnessed in some parts of the country leaving hundreds dead despite the high security budget and the Anti-Terrorism Act passed by the National Assembly.
Security challenges have been traced to the unbridled smuggling of large quantities of arms into the country many of which are deployed for mischievous activities such as murder, ritual killings, kidnapping, armed robbery, terrorism, intimidation, political thuggery, and assassinations.
The greatest threat of illegal acquisition of arms is that they could fall into the hands of unemployed youths. Youths constitute 60% of the Nigerian population. Unemployed youths can use these weapons for violent and other deviant activities. They also become easy puns in the hands of politicians who manipulate them for evil political agenda.
Ethno-religious conflict is gradually becoming a cancer in the country. The ignorant aspiration of many adherents of Nigeria’s two main religions in asserting the superiority of their religions has caused indescribable physical destruction and emotional wreck, coupled with mutual suspicion and accusations.
Ethno-religious conflicts have been traced to the inability of political and military leadership to address developmental issues confronting the country, especially the inequitable distribution of state resources, corruption, and political violence. The Niger-Delta crisis is a classic case in point. The conflict has led to loss of lives, property and national revenue due to violence and the destruction of oil infrastructure as well as the killing of petroleum personnel.
Insecurity is also fuelled by the growing perception of inequality among the various socio-geographic structures in Nigeria. Civil societies, professional bodies, and labour organisations see the corrupt politicians as marginalising them by nefariously and illegally allocating to themselves the large chunk of the national wealth leaving other sections of the country impoverished. The struggle to redress this inequality in wealth and status leads to incessant strikes which becomes violent and automatically reduces the national industrial output.
Youth unemployment constitutes the singular most delicate case of insecurity in Nigeria. The youths are the future of the country. The devil will always find some dirty jobs for idle hands. The multi-dimensional evils that youth unemployment gives birth to are horrendous: mental issues (leading to suicide or low self-esteem), ritual killings (leading to loss of lives), kidnapping (leading to loss of money, lives or freedom), cyber crimes (leading to loss of wealth, dignity and freedom), armed robbery (leading to loss of lives and wealth) retarded national growth (leading to unemployment, poor scientific research/educational development), organised violence (leading to terrorism and other shameful social evils such as rape, political violence, street fights, to mention a few).
Addressing security challenges needs multi-faceted, sustained, sustainable, and honest approaches. Our porous borders must be secured by well-trained, adequately-equipped and financially motivated security personnel. State-of-the-art technology should be deployed to assist the personnel, including CCTV cameras, sophisticated drones, radars, and infrared goggles for night vision. The personnel should also be trained to handle weapons responsibly so as not to infringe on the human rights of the accused.
As an addendum to the above, the security apparatus of the country should be drastically overhauled to include adequate funding for the Police and other security agencies. While it is believed that Nigeria is grossly under-policed (ratio 1:450), the placement of CCTV cameras in every public institution and strategic routes in the country will not be a wasteful investment to secure the lives and property of the populace. With this, criminals will be apprehended in no time.
Most of Nigeria’s security challenges will dissipate into thin air if we can kill the Hydra-headed monster called corruption. Billions of naira and dollars lost to corruption could be used to fix electricity, roads, health, education, and agriculture.
All the above mentioned are intertwined in subtle and obvious ways. Electricity is used in road construction, hospitals, and schools as well as in all homes and public institutions. Everybody gets sick at one point or the other and we need to visit hospitals. Most of us will attend schools one way or the other. We all need roads to get to our destinations, near or far.
Nigeria’s security issues will be addressed if agriculture is emphatically developed to solve the problem of youth unemployment. Thousands of jobs are associated with agricultural development. The billions being siphoned by corrupt government officials can be expended on land cultivation, agricultural mechanization, rural roads construction, improved seedlings, financial incentives to farmers, and industrial processing of agricultural produce. This can earn the country more money than oil and gas.
There are many countries without oil that are richer than Nigeria; such as Japan, China, South Africa and France. Developing agriculture also means that crime rates will automatically reduce, prostitution will hide its ugly head, and Boko Haram will have no army to recruit.