The recent removal of fuel subsidy, the Naira float and other reforms since May 29, 2023, have translated into higher transport, food and other living costs. The cost of living is higher than it was before the date reflected above. Many streets in urban areas of the country are with lean traffic. It’s because of fuel subsidy removal. There is uncertainty in the economy coupled with heightened insecurity.
Some security experts believe that Nigeria must reduce its dependence on importing basic security gadgets
The other day, the security light outside the house of a friend was removed by hoodlums. As you’re reading this article, it’s exactly a week since the metal postal box of a neighbour was yanked off the wall by a young man who claimed he didn’t have money to eat. So how much will he sell the metal box, a passer-by asked? Two hundred Naira, the young man replied. What about the federal government’s (FG’s) palliative for the poor, someone asked. Maybe the poor lad was yet to receive the palliative, and so, he had to steal.
The unprecedented level of insecurity in the country is worrisome and it has severe negative implications for investment flows and businesses. Incidents of insecurity range from the activities of unknown gunmen, indiscriminate killing of security personnel; banditry, armed robbery, kidnapping, destruction of oil facilities in the Niger Delta, and child abduction/human trafficking. Others include the burning of police stations and INEC offices, schools, hospitals, clinics, shops, and residential houses, as well as the abduction of expatriates.
All these negatives have caused the country to consistently rank outside the best countries to live in and do business according to the Global Security Threat Index. According to the 2023 Global Security Threat Index, which is a major index for global investment destinations, Nigeria ranked the 10th worst country with a score of 9 out of 10. Nigeria is in the same league as Burkina Faso, Syria, Somalia, Libya, Mali, Afghanistan, and Ukraine which are experiencing civil and military unrest.
Service chiefs have always been invited on many occasions by those in authority over rising insecurity. Investors’ confidence has significantly reduced. A huge amount of money in foreign and local currency has been expended, and various legislations have been made on the sensitive and delicate subject of insecurity in Nigeria in the last 16 years but regrettably, “there is no commensurate returns on investment” as reported by the headline of the Guardian of October 25, 2023. “Insecurity defies 261 NASS motions, 20 legislations, N12 trillion in 16 years – 63,111 killed in Buhari’s era, 7,582 under Tinubu.”
Insecurity has affected local businesses here in the country and it has prevented many foreign investors from coming to invest in the country. For those private investors who are operating in the country, the cost of providing alternative security is unbearable. Many businesses have to provide security for themselves and significantly high insurance premiums for security-related risks.
The telecommunications sector and oil and gas sector are not spared from insecurity. Vandalism of telecommunications equipment and oil theft are on the rise, according to reports. Furthermore, insecurity within the country has significantly increased inflation. For instance, food inflation, and food supply challenges are on the increase. As security agencies are assessing the situation and charting the way forward with relevant authorities in order to safeguard lives and businesses, those with constitutional authority need to tackle the root causes of insecurity, high levels of unemployment and poverty among Nigerians.
Security has significant economic benefits to a country. However, insecurity has an economic burden on a country. Experts have called on the FG to ensure that there is further recruitment in all security organizations that are currently overstretched to respond to national security threats. The increase in manpower requires more funding. In the same token, security experts have advised that the FG must invest in technology with a view to incorporating it into Nigeria’s national security architecture and management. This sounds good but the incorporation of technology into national security is at a cost. In fact, defence economists will tell anyone who cares to listen that it’s not cheap to adopt technology in defence-related matters of the country.
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As part of suggestions to those in authority, some security experts believe that Nigeria must reduce its dependence on importing basic security gadgets. And that Nigeria must develop its Research and Development (R&D) capabilities in order to meet its basic national security requirements. This suggestion is brilliant but R&D as an endeavour is risky and costly with a high degree of uncertainty. So what? Spend the money, you will say. I trust the military will spend the money if it’s made available. But we must not forget that within a limited defence budget, resources are allocated between equipment and personnel; between air, land and naval forces. Military commanders have to use limited resources efficiently, combining their inputs of arms, personnel and other facilities to provide security and protection for the people.
In any economy, it’s not all the time that the military is used to resolve a conflict. Why? Defence is only a component of national security. There are other components including non-military dimensions such as economic security, energy security, environmental security, food security, and cybersecurity among others. Research studies have shown that the military can solve only 30 percent of the security issues affecting the nation through kinetic means, while the remaining 70 percent of solutions will be provided by the political leadership. This implies that those with constitutional authority must examine critically other options other than the use of force in their response to all national security issues. Whatever policy the nation wants to articulate on national security must have an accompanying implementation strategy that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely (SMART). We must have other strategies less the use of force to improve the chances of resolving conflicts. Our strategy must cover the limitation of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons among the citizens. Perhaps, then we will have a commensurate return on investments made in national security. Thank you.