Nigeria must adopt a more holistic approach that simultaneously combines combatting security threats more effectively with addressing the root causes of conflicts and agitations in the country, Agora Policy, a Nigeria think tank, has advised.
“Current military engagements should be sustained,” the think tank states in its latest report titled ‘Understanding and Tackling Insecurity in Nigeria,’ which was released today Monday.
“But the nature, pattern and trend of security challenges confronting Nigeria cannot be dealt with efficiently using military power alone.
“Addressing only the manifestations of insecurity without tackling its drivers is akin to merely cutting off the tail of a dangerous snake while keeping intact its head and the rest of its body.”
With all its six geo-political zones contending with one form or multiple forms of insecurity, Nigeria is “currently battling generalised insecurity” where hardly any zone of the country is spared, the report said.
The report identifies the dominant security challenges as terrorism in the North East, banditry and terrorism in the North West, herder-farmer clashes and terrorism in the North Central, militancy in the South-South, insurgency and separatist agitations in the South East, farmer-herder/communal clashes and even a sprinkle of terrorism in the South West.
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“Africa’s most populous country and erstwhile bulwark of stability in West Africa is practically under the gun on all fronts,” the report states. It warns that “allowing the prevailing security challenges to fester will hasten Nigeria’s slide to the league of failed states similar to the circumstances in Iraq and Syria.
“The preponderance of groups with territorial ambitions means increased threat to the territorial integrity of the country.”
Put together by a team of security experts, including those with service experience within and outside the country, the report analysed the types as well as the drivers and manifestations of insecurity in Nigeria.
Following from this, the report made short-, medium- and long-term recommendations on how to address the growing scourge.
“Insecurity in Nigeria is multi-dimensional,” the report states. “As such, for any attempt at addressing the growing menace to be effective and sustainable, it needs to be holistic, deftly combining ‘hard’, military solutions with ‘soft’ approaches aimed at tackling the socio-economic underpinnings of conflict and crime. Insecurity does not thrive in a vacuum. Some factors are precursory to it including the environmental conditions that both kindle and nurture insecurity.”
Produced with the support of the MacArthur Foundation, the report is the second of four policy papers commissioned by Agora Policy to contribute to national debate before, during and after the landmark 2023 elections in Nigeria.
The report identified drivers of insecurity in Nigeria and recommends a host of interventions including reviewing the Land Use Act and other extant laws, providing targeted education and skills training to youths in conflict areas, prioritising dialogue and alternative conflict resolution mechanisms, strengthening, legislative and judicial responses to ensure quick dispensation of justice, and embracing the use of strategic communications to win the hearts and minds of the populace.