Nigeria faces a complex web of security issues, ranging from terrorism and kidnapping to armed conflict and cybercrime.
These problems not only threaten lives and livelihood but also hinder economic growth and development.
While increased military efforts are necessary in addressing the root causes of insecurity and employment, smarter tactics are crucial for long-term success. Security and welfare of citizens are the primary purposes of government so says Section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, as amended.
President Bola Tinubu’s regime reaffirmed its commitment to eliminating poverty, terrorism and all forms of criminality nationwide.
“We are implementing programmes and policies to empower our citizens to combat the challenges of poverty, criminality, and terrorism,” Tinubu, who was represented by Vice President Kashim Shettima, said at the passing-out parade of Cadets of the 70 Regular Course, Direct Short Service Course 27 (Army) and Direct Short Service Course 31 (Air Force) of the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna.
Reading the President’s address titled, ‘The Heroes of Nigeria’s Path to Prosperity and Security,’ Shettima said: “Every day, every minute, we are reminded of the consequences of economic and social disintegration around us.’’
Security experts, have however, urged the President to address the root causes of insecurity, by looking at insecurity not just as a threat to national security but as a threat to the people.
He should focus on safety and the welfare of the people, instead of focusing on military force, and address the issues driving the violence.
“The truth is that Nigeria is faced with worsening insecurity on a daily basis,” an observer said.
According to the 2020 Global Terrorism Index rating by a group known as Vision of Humanity, “Nigeria is the third country most impacted by terrorism. Yet, total deaths from terrorism in Nigeria fell to 1,245 in 2019, a 39percent decrease from the prior year.’’
Moreso, ‘’Terror-related incidents also fell by 27percent, marking the lowest level of terrorist violence in Nigeria since 2011. Boko Haram, Nigeria’s deadliest terrorist group, recorded an increase in terrorist activity mainly targeted at civilians by 25percent from the prior year. Additionally, Fulani extremists were responsible for 26percent of terror-related deaths in Nigeria at 325 fatalities.”
The 2023 Global Terrorism Index shows Nigeria ranked 8th among the top 10 countries with the highest level of terrorism in the world. The Global Terrorism Index (GTI) 2023 assessed terrorism impact in 163 countries. With a score of 8.065, Nigeria has a terrorism impact that is “very high.’’ Insecurity also increases the cost of doing business caused by high wages, insurance premiums and security expenditures. This goes a long way to affect profit, lower returns on investment and ultimately affect economic growth and development.
There is no gainsaying the fact that while herders/farmers clash, the Indigenous People of Biafra’s violent agitations and insurgency may have receded, while banditry and kidnapping for ransom have substantially escalated. To buttress this point, on December 14, 2021, no fewer than 3,125 innocent persons were killed and 2,703 abducted by bandits in Northern Nigeria. These figures were obtained from the Nigeria Security Tracker, a project of the Council on Foreign Relations, an American think tank as well as quarterly reports released by the Kaduna State Government from January to September.
According to the latter, no fewer than 888 people were killed and 2,553 others kidnapped in Kaduna State between January and September 2021.
This is indicative of the fact that the push factors such as poverty and unemployment rather than religious sentiment are responsible for the soaring incidences of insecurity. Similar factors are responsible for the exponential rise in the incidences of internet scamming – also known as Advanced Fee Fraud – and money ritual better known as ‘’Yahoo Yahoo’’ and ‘’Yahoo Plus’’, which has now become the pastime of Nigerian youths, especially in Southern Nigeria. These twin variables, poverty and unemployment, are responsible for the growing incidences of human trafficking, drug trafficking, prostitution and other social ills. There are two broad ways to deal with this protracted insecurity problem; there are hardware and software approaches. Part of the hardware approach is the military onslaught against the criminal elements in Nigeria. However, through that, the law enforcement agents have only recorded minimal success.
Though, the Nigerian government procured more arsenals to put the criminal elements to rout, including the purchase of 12 Super Tucano aircraft from the US Government which the Air Force recently inducted into its air fleet, more arms and ammunition have also been procured.
However, a lot more still needs to be done in the area of actionable intelligence gathering, processing and implementation. I am yet to see a robust use of technology in the fight against insecurity.
No functional Close Circuit Television Camera (CCTV) within and around most public infrastructures including our prisons. No all-weather drones, deployed for intelligence gathering. There is a high possibility that we don’t have forensic laboratories to process evidence and exhibits gathered from sites where there have been security breaches.
Our satellite agencies such as Nigeria Communications Satellite, the National Information Technology Development Agency and the National Communications Commission have not been able to offer strong support for use of their different platforms to help the country solve its insecurity challenge.
The National Identification Number registration which many Nigerians have been coerced to participate in by the National Identity Management Commission has been of little or no effect in the fight against insecurity.
Worse still, there is lack of coordination and cooperation between and among the security agencies despite the presence of the National Security Adviser appointed to perform such a role. Many of the agencies are still working in silos while there is a lot of turf war going on among them.
More worrisome is the inability of the Nigerian government to use technology to unearth terrorism financing which still thrives despite the establishment of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit.
In March 2021, the Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria said 26 of its members were arrested by security operatives over alleged unlawful foreign exchange transactions.
They claimed that men of the Department of State Security arrested their members on investigation bordering on issues relating to money laundering, terrorism financing and Know Your Customer status. It is unknown how the case ended.
The insecurity situation in Nigeria is very serious and cannot be wished away. It demands a serious solution too.
Unless and until the Federa Government is able to cut off illicit financial flow used for money laundering and terrorism financing in Nigeria, the fight against insecurity will amount to mopping a leaking roof or attempting to use woven baskets to store water.