BusinessDay

Worsening insecurity under Mr President’s watch (1)

Nigeria could learn a lot from America’s 9/11 terrorist attack on its soil. Since the deadly attack that cost several lives on that fateful September morning, the US security architecture has undergone an unmatchable renaissance.

Nigeria’s journey to socio-economic opulence lies heavily on the government’s determination to secure its densely populated labour driven economy. The constant conflicts and recurring attacks jeopardise the nation’s ability to manoeuvre its way out of social and economic poverty, which have endured for too long.

Highlighting the root cause of insecurity in Nigeria

Insecurity is a global challenge that threatens the safety and peace of a nation. It is impossible to expect social and economic progress when a country is under fire due to a slack security design. Therefore, the right step in the proper direction would be appropriate spending allocation to defence and security for each fiscal year in the national budget.

Of the N13.6 trillion total budgetary cap for FY 2021, N1.96 trillion is dedicated to defence and security, representing less than 3 percent of the entire fiscal allocation recommended by the United Nations. Over the years, the government’s spending plans on security and defence have received declining shares to total economy-wide funding. This pattern is not in favour of the country’s socio-economic interest.

Between 2016 and 2019, for instance, defence budget, according to World Bank data based on NATO definition, has experienced a considerable decline in total GDP share: $1.72 billion in 2016, representing a 16.57% decline from the previous year; $1.62 billion in 2017, representing 5.92% decline from the previous year; $2.04 billion in 2018, representing a 26.02% decline from the previous year; and $1.86 billion in 2019, representing 8.95% decline from the previous year.

Read Also: Insecurity: Senate to approve any amount as supplementary budget

Nigeria’s declining spending commitment to security over the years has yielded its expected results as we experience today. There are tons of insecurity-related cases reported in the country’s north and southern divides, and the count has not stopped.

Religious extremism, banditry, forceful extraction of unsuspecting individuals for commercial gains in the northwest and northeast have claimed several lives of community dwellers while many more have been rendered homeless. Lingering conflict in the north-central part between cattle herders and farmers have sent many to their early graves.

Growing agitations for political and economic independence have brewed tribal intolerance and militancy in the east, west and south-south regions of the country.

The government of various countries have cautioned their citizens to avoid unnecessary travels to Nigeria or tread with extreme caution if they must. Worse hit states of the north and east are being blacklisted as a no-go area for foreign tourists or business travellers.

The United States Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, asserts the growing security challenges facing the country. He told Vanguard news, “It is fair to say that the challenges that Nigeria faces when it comes to security are quite extraordinary … whether it’s banditry and criminality, whether it’s piracy. All of them are real challenges”.

Therefore, if the government must root out insecurity from the nation’s system, it must commit to an appropriate spending scheme while mandatorily demanding accountability from the respective stakeholders who champion the cause for a secure Nigeria at the separate arms of government.

Recent insecurity related events

Several key events have heightened the severity of Nigeria’s insecurity situation, and this has thrown more caution into the air, especially in favour of foreign interest.

For instance, between January and November 2020, there were 142 Boko haram-related insurgencies in the northeastern part of the country, SBM intelligence reports. This amounts to an average of 13 incidences per month. Global Terrorism Index also reports that about 37,500 combat-related deaths and the displacement of over 2 million individuals occurred in 2018.

Between 40 and 110 farmers were killed by Boko haram fighters at Zabarmari, near Maiduguri, in November 2020. In December 2020, about 344 schoolboys were missing at Kankara, near Katsina, the President’s home state. Attack on the convoy of Borno State governor Babagana Zulum was also reported earlier this year.

On April 5 2021, shooters stormed the Imo State police command in Owerri using explosives. After carting away with properties within police custody, they proceeded to Owerri Correctional Centre and freed over 1,800 prisoners.

Within a week, hundreds of innocent lives across the country have been lost due to kidnapping incidences and banditry related activities:

On April 20, six individuals were murdered in Ekiti state.

40 Greenfield University students in Kaduna were killed on April 21.

Eighteen students were kidnapped in Oyo state on April 22.

Forty-five individuals were murdered in cold blood in Zamfara on the same day.

Eighty-three persons were killed on April 23 in Zamfara

3 of the 40 kidnapped Greenfield University students were killed on April 24.

Recently, a kidnapped job seeker from Uyo was found dead after being raped by her captor. It is reported that a N5 million ransom was paid to secure her release before her eventual death.

A Civic Media Lab report has also claimed that in April 2021, nearly 400 Nigerians have been killed by Boko haram insurgents.

It is thus clear that the country’s security architecture is weak, and the evil perpetrators seem to grow stronger by the day. Members of the Islamic States in the Greater Sahara (ISGC), Jama’at Nusrat al Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM), Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, Islamic State in West African Province (ISWAP), Fulani herders of West Africa, Militants of the Niger Delta and kidnappers in their camouflaged variants have done more evil than the government may seem to have contained over time.

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