The security of life and properties, ordinarily, is a major priority for any responsible government of a country. The basic definition of security is the absence of danger in any form. Cambridge Dictionary defines security as “The protection of a person, building, organization, or country against threats such as crimes or attack from foreign countries” (Cambridge University Press 2020, dictionary.Cambridge.Org).
The role of security in the existence of a nation cannot be over emphasized. From time immemorial and till now, most countries of the World have had various degrees of threats to national security either from internal or external forces. In fact, a major uprising that has continually heightened serious security concern in the world today is the act of terrorism. Nigeria, our beloved country, is one of those countries of the World that has been bedeviled with incessant security crisis.
Some major criminal activities that have consistently posed threat to security in Nigeria include but not limited to arm robbery, kidnapping, banditry, thuggery and the so called terrorism. Consequently, efforts made by State authorities to address these security breeches have proven insufficient. The Northern Nigeria is one region that has been greatly affected in the rising insecurity in the country. The insecurity in that region has been exacerbated by the heinous activities of bandits and terrorists. The level of insecurity in Northern Nigeria maintains consistently an upward trajectory despite diverse intervention from government to deal with the situation including the exertion of military might. This makes the security crisis a nightmare in need of breakthrough. However, an important question begging for answer in the minds of many is “How did it get to this point?”.
The Northern Nigeria has a lot of under developmental issues that have not been given it highest form of consideration over the years, which has made it a niche for insecurity to thrive. Poverty takes a leading role in the deteriorated insecurity situation in the region. Other factors that inhibit socio-economic wellbeing in the Northern region of the country are but not limited to poor educational system, ethnic and religious crisis, inadequate infrastructure, early marriage and failed protection of the girl child, political propaganda and above all corruption. This compendium of challenges is a factor that contributes to the security quagmire in the region. According to a report released by the World Bank titled ‘Advancing social protection in a dynamic Nigeria’ (January 28th, 2020), the Northern region accounted for eighty seven percent of all the poor people in Nigeria in 2016.
The World economic body affirmed the increasing rate of poverty in the region. Now, it is evident to say that the perennial insecurity in Northern Nigeria is an attendant effect of increased poverty in the region. The poor standard of living has made criminality attractive, taking undue advantage of the poor state of economy in the Northern wing of the country. Furthermore, burn out of frustration and hunger some persons give in to incentives of being lured into criminal groups like bandits and terrorists camps. These criminal groups further radicalize the minds of lured victims and empower them to rebel against the State. That is why on frequent occasions we wake up to hear of different degrees of gruesome killings and kidnapping orchestrated by either bandits, the dreaded Boko Haram and Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP) terrorist groups or ethnic rival clash.
Sadly, the resultant number of death toll due to insecurity in Northern Nigeria is really incredible and the potential rise in the death toll if drastic steps are not taken to quench the menace will make the situation more worrisome. However, the country needs radical solutions to get a breakthrough over her security quagmire especially in the Northern region.
It would be worthy to mention that some public enthusiast across the national space have before now suggested possible ways to address the rise of insecurity in the North. On the contrary, what we have witnessed so far is the shortfall in the political will on the path of government to implement these suggestions. This is to say that the first possible solution in addressing the security concerns of the North is for government at all levels to understand that the responsibility of securing the national sovereignty of the country, maintaining law and order, and upholding the inalienable rights of citizens of which include the right to life is her maximum priority.
Therefore, the urgent need to exert a resolute political will in dealing decisively with the security nightmare in the North is sacrosanct. As earlier mentioned, one of the major root causes of insecurity in the North is poverty. The Poverty talked about is not just on economic strength alone but also poverty of the mind.
The leadership of State must show deep sense of responsibility and due diligence in the discharge of their duties in providing basic social amenities, adequate infrastructure, and quality educational system for all irrespective of gender difference, promoting anti-terrorism and anti-criminal advocacy amongst youths and ensure peaceful coexistence among ethnic and religious groups. If these are diligently done, it will discourage the choice of membership and allegiance to terrorist and other criminal groups by local citizens. This is due to better orientation of the mind and improved standard of living. It will be true to say people living under better economic conditions and above poverty line will not result to criminality and criminality will not thrive in their domain.
A major issue that has recently attracted keen reactions and a subject of national discuss is the ideal of restructuring. Indeed, restructuring is a possible solution that can proffer breakthrough over the insecurity nightmare in Northern Nigeria. Nigeria is a federating State but practice unitary systemic agenda which contradict the true nature of federalism. A restructured Nigeria will allow complete devolution of power to the component States of the Federation especially on economy and security control. If this happens, the State government especially those in the North will assume direct authority over civil security outfit in their respective States. At this point, tackling criminality in these States will be more feasible and enhanced.
The security architecture must be well equipped with the state-of-the-art facilities and weaponry to counter security threats decisively. The welfare and remuneration of security personnel from the rank and file to the least ranked should be improved on to stimulate motivation. The government must engage the use of modern technology through local content to enhance intelligence gathering. The operations and intelligence gathering of the various security outfits should be properly coordinated uniformity for effective response to distress situation. If the country strengthens her intelligence gathering, most attacks and criminal plans will accurately be preempted and foiled.
Finally, above all, corruption has been the bane of development in Nigeria and the security department has its own share of the matter. The government must be sacrificial against their ego and express firm resolve to decisively deal with corruption in the system especially in the area of security. The government should as a matter of national importance engage the use of available technology to monitor and supervise resources meant to provide security of life and properties. If the country wants a breakthrough over the security nightmare in the North, the government must work assiduously and genuinely ensure there is no hideout for corrupt officials in government especially in security management.
Victor Okonjo wrote in via email@example.com