• Monday, April 22, 2024
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Security: Presidential candidates’ consensus file

Security: Presidential candidates’ consensus file

The candidate consensus files is a series of articles that examine policies on which the major 2023 presidential candidates agree. We discuss the opportunities and challenges besetting each candidate in actualising each policy. These policies include fuel subsidy removal, security and government spending.

Although Nigeria has recorded significant strides across several sectors, security has emerged as a major hydra-headed challenge – terrorism in the North, community clashes attributed to unknown gunmen, kidnappers along every major highway, violence in Eastern Nigeria. All the while, the security forces remain largely unchanged in terms of size, skills, tools and even tactics and procedures that govern their operations. Thankfully, the three frontline candidates agree that insecurity must be tackled directly with meaningful, measurable impact registered immediately. After all, the three businessmen politicians know that insecurity is bad for business.

Waziri Atiku Abubakar, the PDP candidate, believes in increasing the number of policemen and officers to 1 million (the UN recommended police to citizen ratio is 1:450). Today, the Nigeria police force has an estimated total of 370,000 individuals trained using out-dated methods and curricula and lacking modern equipment for intelligence-gathering and crime fighting. The first challenge to PDP is thus funding – they will need to stump up at least four times the current police budget (2023 appropriation: N871bn) to pay for the increased numbers and upgraded conditions of service, training, equipment and logistics base required for effective law enforcement.

The second challenge is state policing, a major constitutional amendment issue for the national and state assemblies, which in turn requires revisiting the country’s revenue allocation formula of the Federal Government – 52.68 percent, States – 26.72 percent and LGAs – 20.60 percent of federation consolidated revenue. This takes us into the realm of politics and interests – testing the strategic abilities of Waziri and his team.

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the APC candidate, is the poster child of state policing. As governor of Lagos, he created the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) to bring orderliness to Lagos roads. Their function was carried out by police forces in other states in Nigeria in that period. Tinubu’s stance is similar to that of Waziri – increase the number of security personnel in the country and create state police.

Thus, we would expect both to face similar challenges. On the matter of funding, Tinubu is on record saying he has no problems borrowing more money to fund development. Securing consensus to amend the 1999 Constitution to permit state policing will test Tinubu’s political skills. To emerge the flag bearer of the APC, Nigeria witnessed strategic deal making on his part. He would need these skills again to sway the national and state assemblies to adopt state policing.

Peter Gregory Obi, the Labour Party candidate, shares the same views as the other candidates – increase in personnel and adoption of state police. Unlike the others, however, he has a unique set of challenges and opportunities to make this work. Obi, the ‘Obidients’ and the Labour Party have styled themselves cost cutters in governance. Following through on removing wastage in government allows a better police force to be funded but time is his biggest enemy.

Read also: Labour Party leads in Nextier presidential poll, run-off likely

His reforms will face stiff opposition from entrenched rent seekers in the public sector. He will also need to put in place a more efficient civil service and revenue generating authorities to realise the savings that need to be made. To stay true to his nature, achieve security and let positive reinforcement occur, he would need at least three years. On the issue of state policing, that is where his real challenge lies. The Labour Party has no candidates in the National Assembly today.

Barring a massive exodus of congressmen from their parties to the Labour Party upon Peter Obi’s victory, which would be a very risky venture considering recent judicial decisions, it is unlikely that he would have anything close to a majority. The same applies to State Houses of Assembly and gubernatorial candidates. Unfortunately, state policing is a legislative issue and Mr. Obi will find himself a political loner on an issue that requires total national legislative consensus.

Nevertheless, the indicators in 2023 point towards a situation where our security establishment structure is likely to change and, hopefully, improve significantly irrespective of the candidate. State policing is coming to stay and for it to work – governors need to do more when it comes to collaboration between neighbouring states; provision of technology, tools and training in their individual states.

The Police Service Commission and the Nigeria Police Force also need to work better and more closely with each other and with the state governors to build new capacities. The world is evolving quicker than at any other point in history and this applies to crime – we have to begin to equip ourselves for the challenges today and tomorrow, not those of yesterday.

Tijani is a founding partner at VIISAUS, Nigeria’s leading data-driven change maker and lobbying firm, providing expert consultancy in politics & policy, technology in public sector and research. He is passionate about socio-economic development and heavily involved in supporting MSMEs.