Can Nigeria Overcome Its Security Challenges?

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One of the campaign thrusts of the All Progressives Congress (APC) before the general election in 2015 was to end the security challenges the nation faces once it assumed office. That was a potent campaign point the then opposition party used against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which was in power and ousted it.
The most visible problem at that time was the insurgency by the Boko Haram Islamist terrorist group that mainly operated in the North East. They unleashed ceaseless attacks on innocent Nigerians and different parts of the country. This development caused the displacement of a large number of persons who now live in internally displaced persons’ (IDP) camps situated in the affected areas and beyond.
At the last count, the death toll arising from the Boko Haram insurgency was not less than 20,000 while over two million persons had been displaced. There are disparate casualty figures of security agents involved in the war against the insurgents.
Soon after the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, it went into business, declaring war on the terrorists. Changes were effected in the military hierarchy while deadlines were issued to achieve set targets or goals, particularly in eliminating the insurgents from occupied Nigerian territories.
Few successes were achieved in the fight, especially when some of the missing Chibok girls were returned after negotiations with the terrorists. But the success story has not gone beyond that as the group has never ceased from attacking targets even when the government declared that it had technically defeated the terrorists.
Then came the Dapchi school girls kidnap saga in Yobe State where 110 students of Government Girls Technical Science College, Dapchi, were abducted by the insurgents. But to the elation of most Nigerians, 104 of them were eventually released. One person, Leah Sharibu, is still held while five students died in their custody.
As the war against Boko Haram raged, the herdsmen/farmers’ conflict that enjoyed minimal existence, suddenly escalated and resulted in several deaths and destruction of property. Benue, Zamfara, Taraba, Kaduna, Plateau and some other states were affected by herdsmen/farmers’ clash, banditry or sectarian/religious crisis respectively.
Kidnappings, armed robbery, ritual killings and assassinations are added dimensions to the security challenges confronting the country and are stretching it to the limits, sometimes threatening the very foundation of its existence. Some analysts have attributed the disturbing trend to political dissatisfaction, ethnic and religious differences, perceived societal neglect and poverty, corruption, unemployment, uneven development, etc.
A retired police officer, Mr. Robert Dike, said a holistic approach was required to tackle the new security challenges. According to him, it is important for all security agencies to synergise and share intelligence to curtail crime in the country. He said security was everyone’s business and went ahead to state that no Nigerian should be apathetic to the issue.
Some perceptive observers said the current security challenges, especially terrorism or insurgency, are not peculiar to Nigeria as they have become global phenomena which afflict all nations including rich and poor, developed and undeveloped countries of the world. They said it was for that reason world leaders and international organisations periodically collaborate on strategies to get rid of terrorism.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan, during whose tenure insurgency attained its glorious heights, did emphasis the imperative for nations to collaborate while he was in office when he repeatedly said that Nigeria was willing to cooperate with the international community to handle the problem of terrorism and related vices.
“One thing is very clear – terrorist attack on any individual or any part of the world is a terrorist attack on the rest of the world because terrorists do not care about who is anywhere. We will work with the United Nations (UN) because quite a number of them have contacted me to make sure that terrorism is brought under control all over the world,” the former president stated.
On his part, a Port Harcourt-based businessman and a social crusader, Mr. Tamunobere George, identified unemployment and ethnicity as one of the reasons crime is on the increase in the country. He said opportunities were lacking for too many young people to be engaged meaningfully and referred to the ethnic divide in the country as a curse.
“Nigeria is heading for an implosion if it doesn’t solve the problem of unemployment and ethnic segregation in the country. A situation where many jobless young people are manipulated into crime is dangerous. Equally dangerous is the problem of ethnicity. The farmers/herdsmen clash and the IPOB movement are caused by ethnicity. This thing can destroy the country if the government remains silent about them,” George said.
The disparity in the development of the country has also been identified as a reason for the frequent and widespread crises Nigerians are experiencing at the moment. There is a feeling of imbalance which has resulted in the opinion by certain sections of the country that they are marginalised. This, some people think, is the basis for the continued agitations for restructuring.
A legal practitioner, Tambo Austin, believes this is the case. “There is a general feeling of marginalisation in the country and this has given rise to dissatisfaction and grievances. This is what has necessitated the calls for restructuring. The employment of violence, of course, is one of the ways to bring the problem to the attention of the government.”
But the resident pastor of Old Time Religion Ministry, Biodun Animashaun, attributes the current state of insecurity in the country to the lose of moral and spiritual values in society. He said that the absence of these values had brought us to this state.
“Nigeria has gone down so badly because of the absence of traditional, moral and spiritual values. Do you know that there was a time when only hunters and security agents carried guns. But today what do we see; guns and guns everywhere. This must be addressed in order to return Nigeria to the path of righteousness,” he concluded.
Observers are sure that the times are more demanding. But what they are uncertain of is whether Nigeria can surmount the security challenges it faces at the moment and when.

By: Arnold Alalibo