• Friday, June 21, 2024
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How can we create safer communities in Nigeria?

How can we create safer communities in Nigeria?

As Nigerians’ home and abroad beckon the dawn of a new presidential and gubernatorial democratic cycle, the state of Nigerian polity, again, takes centre stage. Long-running socio-political issues like the economy, infrastructure, healthcare, education, national orientation, youth and sports development, and many other salient areas of national life will be front-burner themes in the minds of the newly elected Nigerian executives. Another issue that will be top of the mind is the state of security within Nigerian communities.

The United Nations defines National Security as the ability of a state to cater to the protection and defense of its citizenry. National security within this context cuts across various vistas of national life, including economic safety, food security, health security, environmental security, personal safety, community security, and political stability.

For Nigeria, community security remains one of the most lax areas of national security. From a terrorism perspective, Boko Haram, bandits, kidnappers, and separatist groups caused the death of over 584 people within the first half of 2022 alone in more than 64 terrorist incidents. Other adjacent contributory factors to Nigeria’s failings in the areas of community security include the high spate of violent crimes such as mugging, car-jacking, armed robberies, coastal piracy, farmer-herder clashes, extra-judicial killings, cultism, communal clashes, and many more. To this wise, security experts have put the Nigerian community insecurity level at 9.33 out of 10, thereby restating that the Nigerian insecurity situation is endemically high and is, thus, a deterrent to foreign investors who wish to invest in the Nigerian economy.

Some of the best ways by which Nigerians can alleviate the incessant insecurity situation include being watchful of the strange faces within their environment

However, community insecurity in Nigeria is not all doom and gloom. Through carefully orchestrated security measures, the community situation in Nigeria can be thoroughly revamped and optimally positioned for serenity and tranquillity, much to the benefit of citizens. The rest of this article will explore how Nigeria can sharpen its communal security architecture for national unity, faith, peace, and progress—just like the Nigerian motto proposes.

Fixing community security in Nigeria

1. Establishment of community policing

Section 5 (2) of Nigeria’s Police Act (2020) establishes the Nigerian Police Council as the highest policy-making body in matters relating to the Nigerian Police Force. The stipulation further provides that the President shall be the Chairman of the Council. Section 11 (3) of the Police Act (2020) further states that the President shall appoint the Inspector General of Police (IGP) on the advice of the Police Council, while Section 11 (5) of the Police Act (2020) confirms that the IGP shall not be removed from office except by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Recourse on salient policing laws in Nigeria must also be made to Section 130 (2) of the 1999 Constitution, which states that the President shall be the Head of State, Chief Executive of the Federation, and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation.

The community reading of the immutable policing laws and provisions in Nigeria means only one thing—that policing powers in Nigeria employ a national top-down approach from the President to the IGP and then to other police officers across the entire length and breadth of the Nigerian nation. This policing framework is colloquially known as “national policing.”

Nevertheless, as simplistic as the national policing framework appears, security experts in Nigeria have questioned the framework. In an article in “The Guardian” in August 2022, a public commentator in Nigeria, Bright Okuta, stated that Nigeria needed to decentralize its police force as a matter of utmost necessity if the country desires to dismantle the national web of never-ceasing insurgency and terrorism. Other security analysts in Nigeria, like Mr. Opeyemi Akinwoleola, have re-echoed similar thoughts while arguing that a decentralized police force will help to tame the myriad of policing challenges affecting the Nigerian state.

Through a community policing framework, police officers from a particular community will be drafted to attend to the policing needs of the community. Experts contend that this policing framework is miles better than the national policing framework currently in Nigeria today, where all policing appointments come directly from the federal government. Some countries that have successfully adopted a community policing framework include Brazil, Haiti, Uganda, and South Africa.

2. Improving personal security awareness by making sound personal security decisions

Security is a personal affair as it is a national affair. This point was emphasized in a conversation on Twitter Space hosted by RouteWatche, a digital platform created to help Nigerians and Africans meet and address their security needs. During the discussion, Mr. Opeyemi Akinwoleola stated that Nigerians must also learn to address their safety concerns by making personal decisions that ease their well-being. I also joined the conversation and I agree with him, that as individuals we should be aware and acquire the tools needed to manage our personal security.

Some of the best ways by which Nigerians can alleviate the incessant insecurity situation include being watchful of the strange faces within their environment, carrying personal security items like tasers and pepper sprays, reducing interstate road travel to a bare minimum, avoiding late-night gatherings as much as possible, installing home security devices like CCTV cameras, being watchful of the cabs and taxis they board and using apps like RouteWatche for personal security measures. Taking personal security measures can reduce insecurity and make our communities safer.

Read also: As subsidy goes, Nigerians demand cut in governance costs

Conclusion

The insecurity situation remains a cause of concern for all relevant stakeholders in the Nigeria, not least, elected representatives, armed forces officials, and the citizens. However, there still exists a ray of hope in the fight to curb the insecurity situation in Nigeria. Like through more ingenious communal policing measures and the use of technology, we can bring the astronomical homicide statistics down in the country.

However, the collective policing framework will involve air-tight negotiations between all arms of the Nigerian security apparatus if the security counter-balancing measure is to work successfully. Conversely, Nigerians must also not leave security issues to elected officials only. We must play our part in enshrining peace across the length and breadth of the country, because through more competent security measures, individually and collectively, Nigeria can become a better place to live, work and invest in. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.