Good morning Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.
It gives me great pleasure to come before you today at your invitation to share my thoughts on a topical and front burner issue, such as you have chosen for this event which I learnt is a monthly forum that affords people from different walks of life to share their thoughts on issues of concern to Nigerians or facing our nation.
Let me commend and salute your consistency, and your decision to be a part of the solution to the numerous challenges that confronts us as a people and a nation.
A nation of estimated 160 million people, struggling to grow but crippling under the weights of multifaceted challenges.
I commend you for taking on this onerous responsibility of veering outside of your regular media/news hound framework and the typical mindset of the fourth estate of the realm, but by choosing a forum such as this, you have veritably further become a barometer of the society rather than a group of people who have slipped into despondency and thrown up their arms in total surrender and slipped into a state of despair as many Nigerians have opted to do today.
Permit me to say that at no other time in the history of our dear country is there such an urgent demand for a realisation of the need for collective approach to solving our corporate problems, it is a duty that beckons on us as individuals and corporately regardless of our position in the society, gender, religion, beliefs or status, if we abandon this duty, we will all bear the collateral consequences of abdicating our collective responsibilities to our nation.
If we let this nation go down to ruin, we are also imperilled as individuals, ask Malians, Afghans and citizens of other trouble spots of the world.
As earlier espoused the title chosen for today’s forum is not only topical, it remains the sole front burner issue that has endured on the relevant and prominent issues scoreboard for the past decade, and it has become more prominent in the last six years threatening the foundation of our unity as a nation.
To underscore the place of security (the opposite of insecurity), the drafters of our constitution have situated in the Nigerian Constitution veritably in the second chapter, section 14 (2b) that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”…
To appreciate how compelling this relevant section is, we can read this in conjunction with section 13 of the Nigerian Constitution in mind, i.e the fundamental obligations of government, it states:- it shall be the duty and responsibility of ALL (emphasis mine) organs of government and of all authorities and persons, exercising legislative, executive or judicial powers to conform to observe and apply the provisions of this constitution; and then it goes to the afore read section 14 (2b), where issue of security is clearly mentioned. The direct implication of this is that when the state of insecurity pervades the air or the environment, the men and women in positions of authorities have abdicated their responsibilities as prescribed by the constitution that all these persons in position of authorities have sworn to uphold.
It is the understanding of this constitutional obligation that led me as a rookie and green horn parliamentarian (a first timer) to move the very first motion of the 7th Assembly House of Representatives on the 20th of June 2011, titled “Emerging threats to Nigerian Internal Security and the need for the Establishment of Department of Homeland Security” For the purpose of this forum, I will take the liberty to share with this august body that motion and the prayers therein.
Emerging Threats to Nigeria’s Internal Security and the Need for the Establishment of Department of Homeland Security
Hon. Bimbo Daramola
Aware that security and welfare of the people is the primary purpose of government as enshrined in section 14(2b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended;
Disturbed that the emerging threats to national security is a frontal attack on our nation, the collective welfare of all Nigerians and the very chord that bind us together as a nation and if not addressed in the immediate and continually it is capable of throwing the nation into a state of anarchy;
Concerned that terror attacks and other violent crimes are increasingly acquiring sophisticated dimensions and do not recognize boundaries, status, age, gender, tribe or religion;
Deeply concerned that current threats to national security is a real challenge to economic activities and indeed a huge disincentive to both domestic and foreign investments thereby limiting the nations quest to reduce unemployment and poverty;
Worried that being the most recent in the series of such attacks across the federation, the twin bomb blast at the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters on Thursday, June 16, 2011 which claimed about fifteen lives, with several persons injured and about 90 cars damaged has indeed exposed the obvious lapses in the nation’s internal security system;
Further disturbed that no single government institution has absolute capability to address the new dimensions that threats to internal security has acquired as its primary function but that internal security responsibilities are spread across numerous institutions, with attendant security lapses of grave consequences;
Notes that the changing nature of threats to security facing Nigeria requires more proactive contemporary security structure and system to protect Nigeria and Nigerians against such invisible enemies that can strike at any time with a wide variety of weapons and methods;
Desirous of dealing with threats to our nation’s internal security decisively and in concrete terms;
(i) commiserate with the Nigeria Police, the families of those killed by the twin bomb blast at the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters on June 16, 2011 and the families of other innocent Nigerians who lost their lives in other similar circumstances;
(ii) urge security agencies to improve upon their current level of intelligence gathering and response, cooperation and response coordination, information sharing and emergency preparedness;
(iii) urge the President to establish a Department of Homeland Security to among other things work, interface and coordinate other security agencies in the fight against internal security challenges, with special emphasis on preventive security; and
(iv) constitute an ad-hoc committee to among other things investigate the remote and immediate causes of series of terror-related violence, understudy the nation’s internal security arrangements, explore the best possible method for re-organizing the nation’s internal security system.
Permit me to share with you this little digression to further drive home the realities of the topic you have chosen for today’s discourse to illustrate how important it is beyond micro evaluations i.e seeing it as a problem or challenge too far away.
Just about this time last week, the preparation for the turbaning of the Chairman House Committee on MDGs, as Yerima Doguwa in Kano State, Hon. Alhassan Doguwa started, as his deputy, the lot fell on me to coordinate, among other things the attendance of members, logistics and all.
Having circulated the invites, I followed up with a formal meeting with the 32 main members of the MDGs committee.
The reality of the beast of insecurity reality started manifesting when 95% of members started asking questions about their safety. A lot of members ordinarily would have wanted to be physically in attendance but the preponderance of concern was the issue of “no guarantees of safety” and so they virtually all excused themselves.
I began to think about how deep and diverse the consequences of insecurity could be. In no distant past, one of the features of such events is for the celebrant to be able to parade a rainbow of personalities from far and near, as a credence to the extensive contact and network he or she has. Insecurity has therefore denied us of such a vital appurtenance of a parliamentarian, dare I say it could also play itself out in other professions.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I have added this illustration snugly to drive home the fact that I appreciate the NUJ FRCN Ibadan Chapel for also taking up the challenge of instituting a forum such as this where opinions could be shared on how to deal with some of the challenges we face today, and for electing to have this topic for today’s meeting.
INSECURITY NOT LIMITED TO NIGERIA NOT AN EXCUSE:
“the….burden Nigerians must live with until it fizzles out”
- President Jonathan’s comment after Christmas bombing.
When the issue of insecurity is raised, the refrain from many quarters particularly from federal government officials is that, it is not a Nigerian problem; this must have informed the above comment of Mr President. While I agree very tacitly, I must be quick to add that latching on to that excuse could be escapist and dim our vision in seeing the cost and consequences of this challenge, which in itself is one of the numerous challenges we are faced with as a nation and people, so if we go by this argument, it is like saying automobile accidents always occur and being a major feature on all roads so other road users could continue to be reckless and not exercise further care about becoming another or additional statistic of road carnage.
Certainly, insecurity in its broad sence is a part of the human society and that is why the Yoruba’s always say “a koya ibi” i.e God forbid evil; however we must always come to the realities of the roles we can play to reduce the factors that predisposes us to insecurity and take steps to ameliorate such factors lest they fester. If this is abdicated, it will surely worsen and has the capacity to consume us all.
I have heard statements like, isAmericatotally secured? Don’t we have manifestations of insecurity inBritain, South Africa etc? My answer is yes, insecurity scenarios also manifests in these advanced democracies and growing ones, but we must not allow these to mask our own local issues. Every society has its variant of insecurity manifestations, starting from factors that predisposes them to it and how they are dealing with it, for instance President Barack Obama in the wake of the seemingly rising usage of assault rifles and weapons rose up to the challenge by initiating a process that will lead to reclassification of the kind of guns that could be accessed and its usage. So also did President W. Bush take steps to confront terrorism after 9/11 debacle. What in concrete terms are we doing to anticipate, prepare and deal with our own challenges?
So the real challenge for us is to be seen to be doing something very pragmatic to curb what has now almost become a feature and identity of our lives as Nigerians. Indeed now it is not about when it will happen or manifest, the question is usually Where? How? In what Form? And how many casualties, and in some quarters there is a rude joke going on that government already has a stereotyped press release in anticipation of eventualities that goes thus:-
The Federal Government regrets the recent attacks at (….) on (….) where innocent lives were lost and properties destroyed, the Federal Government commiserates with the families who have lost their loved ones and assure them that the culprits will be brought to book….” This is certainly what we get always.
Of course you know that in most cases that is where it will likely end, or in very rare and far in between cases, feeble attempts of arrests are made they are paraded on television, with glee, if it does not elicit contention between security agencies,i.e SSS claims Police are parading wrong people, or vice versa!! As in the case of Olaitan, the private secretary to Gov. Oshiomole or the bombers of Thisday building. That is most likely going to be where it will end.
So this basically underscores our own disposition to the insecurity challenges that we are faced with.
Compare this to the reaction, decision and response time to the Gun control of President Obama in the United States, and in 80% of such cases in the other climes the perpetrators, are almost sure they will be caught and so they see the futility of committing such heinous crimes and getting away with it, some of them do not wait for the long hand of the law to fish them out, they take the only inevitable option available to them, commit suicide.
To further help to fully appreciate this insecurity issue, it may be appropriate to highlight some basic ancillary relevant dissection of the word insecurity in order to be able to fully put it in the context of good governance inNigeriaas today’s subject of discourse.
WHAT IS INSECURITY?
The word insecurity is taken from the word Insecure, from the Medieval Latin word “Insecurus” the word insecurus in latin is from “Securus” which means safe or certain.
The advanced learner’s dictionary defines insecurity as the state of being subject to danger or injury, and danger is defined as the condition of being susceptible to harm or injury, insecurity is also seen as the anxiety you experience when you feel vulnerable.
With this broad definition, there are critical operative and definitive or descriptive phrases and words that are central to understanding what constitutes insecurity; they include a state of danger, injury, and susceptibility to harm or injury.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it therefore implies clearly that wherever and whenever any situation presents itself with these factors in place, insecurity becomes the order of the day.
With the benefits of the definition, we can also identify what could constitute these situations with respect to developments in our nation today.
TYPES OR NATURE OF DANGER AS WITNESSED IN NIGERIA TODAY:
I have chosen to treat this subject in such a way that we can connect with realities of the insecurity situation we are confronted with. We run the risk of thinking that what defines insecurity may just be the attacks of Boko Haram sect on the places of worship or the assault on Louis Edet House, Police Headquarters or the MEND linked attack of October 1st or ethno religious killings in Jos, Bauchi etc.
If we go this route we will miss it, the gravity of the attack and the consequences are not the sole indices of what constitutes insecurity matrix. If we go by the definition of insecurity, i.e, state of danger (regardless of size) or vulnerability to harm or injury, (regardless of form, shape, consequences etc) they all find expression in the state of insecurity. It is when we take into account all manifestations that constitutes danger that we will be able to appreciate the dimensions and the extent of the challenge we are faced with as a people and nation.
Let me share some well known and in some ways under reported consequences with you, no doubts you are familiar with, but the advent of “higher” violent crimes has obfuscated these present realities also which are products of insecurity.
In no distant past, going to mosque/ church to commune with God and fellowship with brethren, was taken for granted and deemed as the most innocuous exercise on Fridays or Sundays, today, you will agree with me that it is no longer so, from the spectacles of barricades, to frisking and pat body searches, we would understand the dimension that insecurity has assumed.
Have we also forgotten the numerous kidnapping cases? Indeed some of your colleagues were victims in Abia state!! This affirms that we are all prospective targets and victims regardless of profession. The hired assassins and armed robbers on steady prowl? We are vulnerable at home, as we are at work and play and Nigerians now live by the seconds uncertain of what can happen next, as you go to bed, you are unsure if night marauders will not come for you, when you wake up, going to work you are not sure of being free from clutches of kidnappers or armed robbers, going to your place of worship is no longer sacred, this is the scenario we are confronted with today. Let me further drive this home with the deficient statistics that are available of attacks. We do not have correct and verifiable records of victims of kidnappings and spate of hired killings.
Today, Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, it is impossible to go through the pages of Newspapers without reading the gory news of one attack or the other with causalities in their tens. I do not thinkNigeriacan afford to let this go on lest we risk self annihilation.
Before I regale you with these imperfect figures or statistics as gathered randomly from the media, let me also share with you my own personal pains as a consequence of pervasive insecurity.
Yours truly used to love to sit out about ten years as a banker on Broad street, to beat traffic going back to the Mainland from the Island, I would sit with colleagues and friends to discuss and share ideas, but today I am wiser enough not to sit out, lest I become a sitting duck for kidnappers or hired assassins, I and my friends have lost the medium to relax. How I cherish those days.
Also, yours truly used to ride bicycle thrice a week as a form of exercise and to keep fit, but the rising insecurity profile of today has also denied me that chance for same reason, don’t blame me for my “pot belly”, blame insecurity.
Now the statistics and profile of insecurity by casualties and victims over the past three years. By the time these figures are added, we would appreciate the number of innocent people sent to their early graves. I have deliberately started with factual statistics of lives lost from nations at war over six years compared with monthly figures in some locations inNigeria, in seemingly peace time.
In all, it is estimated that various security crises and uprisings in Nigeria may have claimed over 100, 000 lives, about 25, 000 of that in the last 3years and if Nigeria has not been designated a war zone, this is one too many.
It is instructive to add that just about the time of preparing this speech, it was reported that a Senior Police Officer was shot dead inKanoon Monday.
This kind of support the fears expressed by my colleagues when we extended invitations to them to attend the turbaning ceremony of our Chairman. As earlier enunciated, it is not about whether it will happen, rather where, who will be the victims and when?
INSECURITY IN TODAY’S NIGERIA
Ladies and Gentlemen from the gory statistics and profile that I have provided, we need no soothsayer to tell us that we have on our hands the single most virulent challenge to our continued existence as a Nation, Post Independence.
Yes, we all agree that we have been grappling with the numerous other challenges, from the monster of corruption, which has bred decay of infrastructure, such as very poor road network, healthcare, deteriorating educational standard etc, whichever direction one turns these challenges stare us in the face.
But what has made the rising profile of insecurity more threatening compared with other challenges is that all over the world once insecurity becomes rooted and endemic it flourishes and festers. It starts usually as a localised issue for different kinds of reason; from the simple to the banal, our case today inNigerialends credence to this assertion.
Historically, particularly in Nigeria, the spate of criminalities and violent crimes which has cumulatively defined the insecurity levels we have today, has not always been like this, in the beginning one could almost say it was a localised issue, it manifested in the form of agitation in the Niger Delta as a result of real injustice to the people of the Niger Delta who legitimately had reasons to be really aggrieved as a result of the exploitation of the natural resources in that area without commensurate give back.
After many years of “non-violent” agitation which they perceived as been ineffective as was spearheaded by personalities like Issac Boro and Ken Saro Wiwa and the Ogoni 9, it gradually escalated to the period of corporate kidnappings, pipeline vandalisation and massive unrest in the area. For a period of ten years, up till the intervention of Late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua and the introduction of the Amnesty Programme, the Niger Delta was on the boil, a hot bed of violence, with frequent eruptions with consequences that reverberated through Nigeria into the global arena with attendant huge consequences from economic to social. This is the nature of insecurity, when it is not nipped in the bud, it only festers.
We are witnesses to the tons of weapons that the freedom fighters also known as militants claimed they submitted when the amnesty was introduced, who could have imagined that such number of weapons were in possession of some people in this country in the first place? While the agitation lasted, lives were lost in droves; lives of the innocent particularly during encounters with JTF, we can also remember the Odi andGbaramatuKingdomsack incidences among others. With attendance consequences.
One of the reasons why insecurity festers if not nipped in the bud early, is that when real agitations slip into the realm of deploying violent approaches to secure attention, it is liable to being infiltrated by all manner of other interests and considerations which may not be in agreement with the pure and pristine reasons on which the agitation was based in the first place.
The agitation for attention in the Niger Delta is a clear case in point. It got infiltrated by other special interests and became a tool for negotiation of personal benefits at the expense of the people of the Niger Delta whose plight the militants or freedom fighters originally claimed they were fighting for.
It may be necessary to at this point ask ourselves if the Amnesty Programme has become the one cure all drug for the restiveness in the Niger Delta? To my mind not exactly. I believe the intention of the former President was noble, and a whole lot of sincerity on the part of Government has been demostrated, from tangible attempts to focus attention on the area , today we now have the Amnesty Programme in place costing the Nation huge amounts every year aimed at redirecting the energies of the militants, the Ministry of Niger Delta has been created among other institutional reforms, the PIB has components that is aimed at ensuring that host communities get better attention from oil prospecting companies, etc.
With all these one would feel that by now the storm in the area would have simmerd down. But what have we found? We still have cases of agitation in that area. I have gone this far to buttress the reality of my assertion that once insecurity begins or sets in it usually leads to a chain reaction that may become intractable. As the Yoruba proverb say: Ai tete peka iroko, to ba dagba tan, o ma gba ebo, i.e if the branches of the iroko tree is not pruned in time, when it gets to its fullest stature, the iroko tree will demand sacrifices.
Ladies and Gentlemen, moving away from the Niger Delta, into the neighbouring South East States particularly Abia, what do we say of the “Kidnapping Industry” only yesterday, a news report on twitter said Police authorities have uncovered a training institute for kidnapping. Whether exaggerated or not, we cannot deny the fact that kidnapping otherwise called “Gbomo gbomo”, though had been with us ages ago in the South West, but very far and in between cases. In those days, growing up then, you were told not to accept sweets or biscuits from strangers lest you disappear and it was recorded then that kidnapping was for ritual purposes, a fetish means of making money, or ritual purpose, a form of crime that also finds a place in the insecurity matrix.
Today, kidnapping as a crime has stepped up. As a result of the eye opener events in the Niger Delta, nobody really needs to kidnap innocent children for the purpose of using them for money making rituals anymore that process is now outdated and barbaric.
If you check the amount of money demanded as ransom from those kidnapped, the Gbomo gbomo or kidnappers of the past would regret their actions. It is recorded that billions of money in Naira and Dollars exchange hands in the kidnapping industry. Today we can salute the efforts of Governor Amaechi and lately Theodore Orji for reasonable attempts to combat these challenges in Rivers andAbiaStatesrespectively. These two cases of Rivers andAbiaStateshave been singled out for mention because it shows that where there is a will there will be a way. Indeed as I will later enunciate, our challenge in this country has been the insufficiency of will to confront our challenges. Same also extends to the gory spectacle of the rising insecurity.
Moving away from the Southern part of the country and up North, the phenomenon of Boko Haram has been talked about and undeniably the sore thumb issue today. Having taken the battle to the doorpost of the police authorities in Louis Edet house, several security formations and installation including the Army Barracks in Jaji, and several attacks on security personnel and posts, the group has upped the status quo ante and earned a dreaded reputation for itself.
Historically a number of reasons have been adduced for the emergence of this group, from the school of thought of those who said they were political supporters of the former governor Ali Modu Sheriff, just as some people said some of the militants were political supporters of politicians in the Niger Delta who were equipped with weapons for the purpose of winning elections and abandoned after elections have been won by their benefactors. Today these unscrupulous politicians have bequeathed a virulent monster on our nation and unleashed the dragon, the consequences of which we are grappling with from across the length and breadth of this country. Unfortunately the Frankenstein monster that was bred has acquired a life of its own, and the tiger they rode their backs to power are on their heels to devour them unfortunately taking innocent ones along.
The chickens have come to roost. The sect has therefore reacted to the external considerations and stimuli, since politician pay masters have broken ranks with those they recruited and equipped for the purpose of winning elections, they have mutated to Religious sects, masking their real motives and intentions under religion and given further fillip by the name western education is bad (Boko Haram), yet they put to good use and advantage, all that western education has provided from usage of the internet to mobile phones to advance their invidious acts.
They attack innocent people at their most vulnerable locations, the young children, defenceless women and men in their places of worship, and claim that they are promoting Islam, Islam the religion of peace. Of course some Islamic clerics have pointedly dissociated Islam from the activities of this group.
From available information, there are different influences and interest who seek to take advantage of these people who are willing to be used or indoctrinated into raising the bar of insecurity in this country by activities of this sect. If one critically looks at the attacks and the victims, one can safely ask how has those attacks really answered the cause they have committed themselves to?
How can attack on innocent lives emasculate western education? My own view is that there are other reasons behind the stories. It could range from political to economic, for a minute, have we tried to look critically at the cost of funding the activities and operations of this sect? Have we also addressed our minds to the fact that the amount of resources committed to perpetrating these acts cannot be cheap and affordable by ordinary people who cannot afford three square meals? Now apart from the cost of funding the operations, have we also addressed our minds to the fact that putting together Improvised Electrical Devices (IEDs) will require some amount of western education and skill that ordinary people like me and you may not have? With these few questions, I am convinced that if attempts are made to seek answers to these questions, it will lead the way toward winning the battle. This is the place of intelligence gathering than could unmask the principals. Otherwise deploying JTF all over may just be leaving the substance and chasing the slough, putting moisturizer on a jestering tumour.
One can go on and on, what about the state erstwhile known for peace and tourism, that has metamorphosed now into a hotbed of violence; the state of Plateau. The bloodletting there due to perceived injustices have acquired the shape of ethno religious crisis and leaving in its wake several innocent lives lost.
These are all activities that have dominated our country’s landscape over the past ten to fifteen years, and dotted by several incidences of other violent crimes, criminalities such as hired assassinations, people getting hacked down and perpetrators never caught, rage of armed robbery on the rise and these evil elements carry on seemingly without let or hindrance.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the scenario we are confronted with in our nationNigeriatoday.
THE LAW OF CAUSE AND EFFECT
As briefly stated earlier and illustrated with the Iroko tree and the demand for sacrifice when it grows beyond expectation, we must also begin to ask ourselves how did we get to this sorry pass in our nation’s history.
To my mind, I strongly believe that we are reaping what we sowed. Insecurity does not become a leviathan in one day, it is a gradual build up, once the environment is made conducive, through a compromised, seemingly insensitive, ineffective and inefficient leadership, the regime of life in the jungle holds sway, where survival is that of the fittest, the struggle for survival comes with the adoption of strategies that could threaten corporate well being but ensure that violation and disrespect of acceptable norms, the only thing that matters is how to survive and at this point, the expression of this may occur in many forms, one of which is the adoption of extreme positions. For instance, when a man perceives that injustice is being done to him, and he seems boxed in a corner without opportunity to be heard, or the perceived injustice redressed, he could take an exit option that will seemingly secure for him attention at the expense of himself (the aggrieved) and the society, seen in this light as the aggressor, this could be the situation in some cases, where helplessness is perceived.
INSECURITY AND CHALLENGES OF GOOD GOVERNANCE
Fellow Compatriots, with the above synoptic presentation, insecurity is clearly a challenge to good governance, this topic can also be inversed to imply that with good government in place, insecurity as a challenge will be taken care of just like other challenges. I have briefly enunciated the challenges that we are faced with as a nation, but for this discourse my understanding is that the challenge that insecurity poses to good government.
Permit me to take excerpts from the introductory statement of President George W. Bush when the bill for the establishment of Department of Homeland Security was presented to the parliament in June 2002. The opening statement is:
“The President’s most important job is to protect and defend the American people…”, also it stated that
the changing nature of threats facing America requires a new government structure to protect America against invisible enemies that can strike with a wide variety of weapons…” ….immediately after the last fall attack, the President took a decisive step to protect America.
The basis for the above excerpts is to enable us first and foremost appreciate that insecurity in any form and anywhere is a major challenge to good governance. The above excerpts came from the bill that the then President of theUnited Statestook to the parliament to enable him deal with the challenge of insecurity posed toAmerica. Have we come to such a point to realise that we must also take decisive steps to deal with this challenge?
We will be in a position to appreciate the challenge that insecurity poses to good governance if we first and foremost address our minds to the implications of insecurity. The section 13-14 of the Nigerian constitution earlier cited underscores the demand for a secureNigeriaand that explains why the drafters of our constitution introduced the section and described it as the primary obligation of government.
COSTS OF INSECURITY:-
Insecurity has attendant consequences and it is an aggregate of these consequences that makes insecurity become a challenge to good governance. Some of the intrinsinc fall outs of the insecurity challenge to good governance are in the following areas.
- Ø Loss of Lives and Property:-
This is the first evident fall out of the insecurity challenge, the humongous profile and number of victims of the numerous forums of attacks is a major challenge to good governance because without the citizenry in the first place, there is no way any form of government can be functional in the first place, there is no way any form of government can be effective and relevant. Innocent lives are lost, both of those within the immediate precincts and those who suffer collateral consequences e.g Youth Corpers. Disillusion becomes the order of the day.
- Ø Psychological Fall out:-
When insecurity pervades a country there is a reign of psychological disorder in the citizenry. A psychologically challenged and traumatized citizenry cannot be inclined to pursue development in any form; psychological well-being is a major element critical to citizenry mobilization, a despondent citizenry can never make a great nation. A citizenry dominated by fear and feeling of vulnerability is an anathema to growth and greatness and insecurity is the greatest recipe for psychological trauma as the definition of insecurity as earlier given shows.
- Ø Economic Realities:-
Another major consequence that makes insecurity a challenge is the toll it takes on the economic realities of the nation. We do not have to look too far to justify this, the sustained activities of the Boko Haram sect has taken its huge toll on the economy of northernNigeria. The local economy around that part of the country has reportedly shut down, economic activities transactions are ebbing out. The Bama-Maiduguri cow market and others are negatively affected as capital is moving out in droves from that region, it is reported that it will take over ten years for the economy of northernNigeria to recover. In a similar vein, when the unrest in the Niger Delta was at its peak, oil production was affected by the attacks on oil workers and vandalisation with expatriates pulling out of the area.
- Ø Socio- Cultural Disaffection:-
Insecurity breeds cultural disharmony and distrust. Under the guise of insecurity, ethno religious crises and manifestations find expression, and this whittles down our unity. Citizens begin to run into parochial sentiments as enclaves to shield them, and this erodes the prospects of forging a truly united country. The series of unrests in the Northern part of Nigeria is a clear example of this and several times “non – indigenes” have had reasons to return to their places of origin in pursuit of safety after forced relocation from places where they had always lived e.g the Ibos in the North. Some have not been able to regain stability after such forced dislocations. This is a challenge to citizenry growth and development because when a seed of discord is sown and watered by mutual distrust it germinates at such a pace that it becomes difficult to uproot.
- Ø Strain in Foreign Relations:-
The spate of insecurity inNigeriaostensibly due to the activities of the Boko Haram sect and previously in the Niger Delta nearly earnedNigeriathe label of a terrorist state with attendant bilateral diplomatic complications and consequences. The Image of the country is bastardised and negative perception of the citizens and the nation could also hurt good governance, because we run the risk of being tagged a terrorist state and treated as a pariah state in the commity of nations.
- Ø Sociological Dysfunction and Disequilibrium:-
When insecurity holds sway, the fall out also includes sociological dysfunction in the system which also has cataclysmic consequences, for instance life and living is imperilled, livelihood is truncated, jobs are lost, the gap between the have and have not’s increases, education takes back stage for safety, students are withdrawn from school etc, development works cannot be undertaken, either road construction or crude oil exploration are hampered because expatriates and workers run the risk of abduction as it is the case as recent as last week when seven expatriates of a construction firm were abducted.
SO IS INSECURITY A CHALLENGE TO GOOD GOVERNANCE?
Without doubt, insecurity is a major challenge, to good governance inNigeriabecause it appears to be the fulcrum on which virtually every other development and growth works hinges. The fall outs of insecurity really encapsulates the challenge that insecurity is or will become.
THE WAY FORWARD
This submission will be incomplete without attempts at suggesting likely ways forward or an attempt to proffer a way forward without looking at the factors that predisposes our nation to insecurity. It will be an attempt at terminating a tree by cutting off the branches without taking off the roots.
FACTORS THAT PREDISPOSES NIGERIA TO SUSTAINED AND PERVASIVE INSECURITY
Yorubas have a saying that “bi ina o ba tan lori eje ki tan lee kana”. i.e if you do not ensure that the hair on the head is not conducive for lice to inhabit you will continue to have blood stains on your finger tips”
It is also pertinent to know that the cost of peace may be huge but it must be paid, and can never be too much for government to be adjudged as being in place to serve the people in fulfilment of the spirit of that part of the constitution, section 14(2b).
In order to be able to articulate the generic factors that predisposesNigeriato insecurity, we can take an aggregate look at the profile of all manner of components of the insecurity mix in the past ten to fifteen years. To my mind they include
1) Politics of Desperation:-
There is a clear link between violence and criminality perpetrated by persons or groups who have been “used” by politicians for the purpose of winning elections and after elections, such persons abandoned having already equipped them with weapons. When agreements are broken or they feel used, they take it out on the society. We have seen this play out in the South East with Bakassi Boys, in the South South’s Egbesu boys and OPC in the South West and now Boko Haram in theNorthern Nigeria.
These people become a pool of ready recruits for violence and thereby heighten insecurity in the country.
2) Rising Unemployment and Poverty:-
This twin danger that is assuming threatening proportions also make ready recruits available for insecurity, when persons feel despondent out of unemployment and assailed by the twin brother of poverty, the recourse to criminality and violence is easy and attractive.
3) Illiteracy Factor:-
A preponderance of illiterate population is disaster waiting to happen, a time bomb. When you have a growing population of illiterates or uneducated young population, it becomes easy for anybody be it an unscrupulous politician or a false cleric to preach messages that will promote violence.
4) Corruption Factor:-
The place of corruption in the generic factors that predisposes our environment to sustained insecurity challenge cannot be overemphasised. With pervasive corruption, where people cannot defend or have not earned the opulence that they flaunt, wrong signals are sent out and fickle minded people are inclined to feel that they should take their destinies into their hands. The flip side is the case where corruption prevents proper prioritisation of needs. A case where the security agencies are abandoned to the use of bare hands or knuckles to defend the nation while resources appropriated have been literally stolen or misapplied, limits the capacity to deliver and allows insecurity to thrive. The example of the expose of Channels TV on the 70year oldPoliceTraining Schoolin Ikeja will suffice.
5) Perceived Injustice and Inequity in the Society
As long as people feel cheated and left out where poverty looms in the place of wealth and affluence, the predisposition to taking the exit option of confronting the system becomes attractive. This was the primordial sentiment in the Niger Delta area before the genuine and legitimate reasons got corrupted by other interest groups.
6) Indecisive Weak and Insensitive Political Leadership
Possible Solutions to Insecurity in Nigeria
- Ø An Equitable and Justiceable Society:-
As long as people feel cheated and left out, as long as affluence continues to steer the impoverished of the Niger Delta in the face, our country will remain in the dolodrums of insecurity until there is justice and fairness there will be no peace, until we stop voting 4billion for the monuments and vote peanuts for the take off of over 5 universities, and security. We will continue to swim against high tide of insecurity.
- Ø Total Overhaul of all Security Agencies:-
There is no gainsaying that we have a poor level of national security preparedness, it is even evident in the limited number of personnel making up our security agencies and contemporary knowledge, skills and tools to combat insecurity. Before I go further it will be insightful to give you this tabular analysis.
|Security Agencies||Personnel Strength||National Population Nigeria||Ratio to Nigeria’s population|
|Police||< 400, 000||160 million||400|
|Army||< 250, 000||160 million||640|
|Air Force||< 150, 000||160 million||1066.7|
|Navy||< 200, 000||160 million||800|
From this table we can see that our security agencies that are grossly insufficient in number, poorly motivated and ill equipped to meet the challenges of insecurity inNigeria.
- Ø Time to consider
setting up the Development of Homeland Security:-
Again this was the first motion I raised on the floor of the National Assembly and indeed the first motion of the 7th Assembly. When I raised this motion, the level of insecurity had not reached this level, it is instructive that if you do not track the funding for terror it will be difficult to nip it in the bud, the American government is not stupid when the President decisively adopted this same agency to track all forms of domestic threats and terror or else you will contend withover burdened agencies who do not have contemporary understanding of the shape, dimension and sophisticated of modern criminals, and who are also not equipped in any way to track, follow up, apprehend and prosecute crimes.
- Ø Step up Security at our Porous Borders:-
Nigeria’s land borders are largely unprotected and this gives room for all kinds of nefarious activities like guns and ammunitions smuggling, bomb materials importation, easy access for foreigners to be used for criminal activities and so on. We need to secure our borders to check all this kind of activities.
- Ø Strengthen our Judicial System and other Key Institutions:-
We are all witnesses to how a man and mismanaged over 70billion got away because of a weak penal code administarating that is just an example, we have several cases also of our Former Governors who have robbed us blind keep getting frivolous adjournments and never facing the music for their misdeeds also in Nigeria, we have individuals who are still more powerful than the system until our institutions are strengthened enough to become levellers for all no matter your status or position in society we will keep having amazing levels of corruption which i have earlier identified as one of the factors that predisposes our nation to insecurity. Not only that, the security agencies have also stated that our laws are still so weak to deal with violent crimes, making prosecution very difficult. The backers and promoters of insecurity have therefore being able to walk free..
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I must not end this presentation leaving you with an impression that the challenge of insecurity to good governance is an exclusive purview of the people in government even though the constitution makes it obligatory to persons in different hierarchies of authority. May I say here that everybody has a role to play in helping government to battle the scourge of insecurity.
I have pointedly reminded us in this presentation that if insecurity is endemic, we are all very vulnerable and possible victims of the scourge, insecurity does not know or respect age, class, status, race, ethnic group, religion, or gender, you will recall in the recent past that 4 journalists were victims of kidnappers in Abia-State and they only managed to survive by the grace of God, you also remember that the mother of our finance minister was abducted and released after substantial ransome was paid, same for an actress, indeed a prominent Royal Father and many others. Insecurity at its peak boom could be so daring as not to respect location, indeed the more successful the attacks on powerful individuals and security personnel or formations the more emboldened the perpetuators are. The successful execution of the attack on Louis Edet House, the Headquaters of the Nigeria Police, must have served as a tonic to launch an attack on military barracks in jaji. As we also know the sanctity of places of worship has been desecrated by the people behind these disparate but coordinated attacks. From the foregoing, we are compelled at a time like this to be more alert and sentitive and willing to be in the frontiers of the crusade to deal with the challenge of insecurity knowing too well that injury to one is injury to all.
As distinguished members of the fourth estate of the realm, a lot also lies within your domain in terms of citizenry mobilisation against factors that predisposes us to insecurity and dealing with insecurity itself.
I have read in some quarters that several conferences have been organised for you aimed at ensuring that you do not lend your platform to scare campaigns and seemingly successful exploits of the perpetrators of insecurity, I am afraid you will need to create a balance here, because if you shut down the reportage of eventualities or mask news item about these evil doers , they have alternative media of letting their exploits into the public domain if the main stream media blacks them out they have access to Facebook, twitter, and blackberry services.
In a nutshell, your responsibility I dare say should be to remain in the vanguard of reducing if not total elimination of all that makes us a vulnerable nation to endemic insecurity and in two words the answer is good political leadership with will , therein lies our future as a people and nation. It is when we have a nation that good governance can be assured.
Once again, ladies and gentlemen I thank you most sincerely for the opportunity availed me to share my thoughts with you on this all important topic aimed at further raising the level of inclusive efforts at solving our common problems to confront our multifarious challenges. May God bless us with the leadership that has the will.