• Monday, April 22, 2024
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Nigerians worry over lack of political will to tackle insecurity despite FG’s emphasis on technology

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With the abduction last Friday, of over one hundred Kaduna school children, Nigerians have again questioned the use of technology to government if it does not aid in frustrating criminals from carrying out their nefarious operations or track them when a crime is committed.

Visiting the school and the distraught community, the state Governor, Uba Sani, rehashed the usual refrain.

Read also: Worsening insecurity raises questions over lawmakers’ oversight

Sani said that the security agencies were trailing the terrorists that abducted scores of pupils at a public school in Chikun Local Government Area of the state.

He said that the pupils would be rescued and reunited with their parents soon.

The level of insecurity that has engulfed Nigeria has not only caused uproar amongst the people but also apprehension.

Nigerians are getting increasingly worried that despite all the emphasis government is placing on the deployment of technology in every sector of the nation’s life, the security sub-sector appears to be operating as though the country was still in the Stone Age.

Many have however, alleged that the refusal to deploy technology may be deliberate, arising from lack of political will to do what is right, for some opaque reasons.

Read also: Has the military tech failed to tame Nigeria’s insecurity?

They point to the inability of the security agencies to track down those responsible for massacres in some parts of the country.

Nigeria has continued to reel under the pain occasioned by activities of kidnappers, who operate without being tracked, even when ransom money is taken to them through telephone contacts.

Recently, during an interview with the Channels Television, Enyinnaya Abaribe, a former Senate Minority Leader, pointedly accused security agencies of colluding with bandits and kidnappers to carry out their nefarious activities.

He expressed sadness that despite the many technological tools available at the disposal of security agencies, oil theft, kidnapping and insurgency still continue at an alarming scale.

“If anybody tells you that we don’t know who steals oil, the ships that are moving up and down, in this day and age, the person is not saying the truth. Technology has made it such that you can track a human being. The earth has geo-satellite everywhere, even infrared, you can track these ships,” he said.

Abaribe recalled when he was arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS) years back before the advent of the National Identification Number (NIN), saying that the security police tracked him using his mobile phone.

“When I was arrested in front of a barber’s shop in Abuja. One of the DSS directors was interrogating me and I was bantering with him and I asked him how they knew where I was because I was driving myself in a small car. He said, ‘We just used your phone to track you’.

“There was no NIN then, now every phone has a NIN; there was no BVN, now every bank account has a BVN. And then some people demand a ransom of N20m and the money was paid into an account and then the security people tell you they are unable to track the kidnappers.

“There are just some collusions going on and there is no concerted effort to deal with it. It’s just more or less like a sense of malaise; everyone says not my problem, not my issue,” Abaribe said.

According to him, “If you are responsible for something and you don’t do it, you pay the penalty for it. If you have to go to jail, you go to jail. If that happens and somebody sees that you are a leader that is able to crack head for the rest of the polity, you will see a change.

“The basic problem is that there is no penalty for malfeasance, no penalty for not doing the job that is given to someone.”

A former Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, had in January this year said that the security agents were not using the NIN to track kidnappers and other elements engaging in nefarious activities.

He levelled the allegation after seven members of a family including six sisters were kidnapped in the Bwari area of Abuja and the kidnappers had demanded about N100million as ransom.

One of the victims, Nabeeha Al-Kadriyar, was killed while the others regained freedom after several days in the kidnappers’ den.

According to Chude Nnamdi via x(twitter) on the 4th of February 2024, two buses belonging to GIG motors and ABC transport respectively which left the eastern parts of Nigeria the previous day were both hijacked by unknown kidnappers along Kogi-Abuja Expressway, with all the passengers on board.

One significant consequence of the evolving trend and pattern of insecurity is that the confidence of the public is dwindling and the economy seems to be worsening as foreign investors worry for the safety of their investments. To the international community, Nigeria’s reputation as an unsafe destination erodes tourism, pushing investment to other jurisdictions and forcing citizens out. Unfortunately, the entire regulation of the state in these perilous times is still one of retraction and pretension of normalcy.

Experts have given their opinion on the place of technology in the fight against insecurity within the country, expressing doubt over the level of political will of the government to eradicate the menace.

A public affairs analyst, Temitope Musowo said: “The Nigerian government apparently lacks the political will to fight insecurity probably because of the heterogeneity of the country, with the religious contention and ethnic colouration serving as the basis of insecurity within the country.”

He cited an example of the United Arab Emirate giving a list of some people sponsoring terrorism to the government, and said that the government of Nigeria did not do anything about those people till today because they are the high and mighty in society.

“Do we even need another country to help fish out those sponsoring terrorism in Nigeria? If it was easy for the government to track those who sponsored the #End Sars protest, why does it seem difficult to track those sponsoring terrorism in the country if the government really wanted to?” he further questioned.

According to him, “Sheik Gumi, a terrorist sympathiser has said it severally that the government knows where the bandits are. In fact, he negotiates with them on behalf of the government. We have seen pictures where the state governor sits and talks with terrorists in the name of negotiation. I am not saying insecurity should only be fought through kinetic approach, you have to use both kinetic and non-kinetic approaches, without necessarily giving those who take arms against the state a pat in the back while soldiers are sent to kill peaceful protesters.”

Needless to say that kidnappers sometimes collect ransom through the banks with all the BVN and other information available to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to track these people. It is widely known how meticulous the bank could be when an innocent customer wants to open a current account to do his legitimate business, yet, all manner of shady deals are done through the Nigerian banks.

According to Confidence MacHarry, a senior analyst, SBM intelligence, the Tinubu administration is not particularly big on security, and does not have as much focus on national security as it does for the economy. As such, the pre-existing security arrangements largely remained the same. Unlike Buhari that had quite a hands-on approach, Tinubu has largely been hands-off, so in a way, it could be construed as a glaring lack of political will.

He said that Nigeria has some of the best tools around to fight insecurity but the factors inhibiting its usage are drawn from institutions’ disinterest. This is also a problem of leadership from the top since security is constitutionally centralised. There is a lot that technology can do, especially in apprehending kidnappers who use regular channels for communication between each other and families of victims. The military uses technology associated with signals intelligence for counterterrorism operations but a major reason why the security challenges persist is because the police and other sister paramilitary agencies do not deploy the same and regularly enough for crime fighting.

Apart from some other resolutions which may include addressing underlying socio-economic grievances such as poverty, unemployment and inequality, which often contribute to insecurity, there are lots of technological aids which can go a long way in curbing insecurity and related crimes within the country. With the advancement of technology in this modern era, there are various security measures that can be utilized in the fight against insecurity and the government can fully attack insecurity if there’s a will to be particularly committed in tackling these challenges.

Implementing advanced surveillance systems including CCTV cameras, drones, and satellite imagery can help monitor vulnerable areas, borders and critical infrastructure to detect and deter criminal activities such as terrorism, kidnapping, and theft. Leveraging big data analytics and machine learning algorithms to analyse crime patterns, trends, and hotspots can enable law enforcement agencies to anticipate and prevent criminal activities more effectively. These predictive policing models can help allocate resources effectively and respond proactively to potential security threats.