BY Barrister Hannatu, Musawa
It was heartwarming news when over the weekend the six Secondary School Students of Lagos Model College, Igbonla, Epe, who were abducted on May 25, regained their freedom. Pictures of the happy students surfaced on various traditional and social media outlets as they were ferried back to their loved ones. Kudos must be given to police and both the Ondo and Lagos state governors, as well as the Federal government for the roles they played in securing the release and reuniting the children with their loved ones.
However, it must be said that the current spate of insecurity within the country gives cause for serious concern. Virtually every day in the news now, you hear of a kidnapping attempt or an actual abduction. You hear of killings and jungle justice. You hear of an armed robbery attempt or an actual robbery. In the North-east, particularly in Borno state, the suicide bombings and killings have continued unabated. In different parts of Lagos state, the “badoo boys” have been unleashing mayhem, reigning supreme. In many parts of the country, herdsmen and farmers clashes have become a regular feature.
Take a trip from Abuja to Kaduna by road; you will be alarmed at the amount of security personnel on the roads. This is as a result of the increased kidnappings and crime that has been synonymous with the road in recent times. Similar crime-laden roads and highways are abounding in many parts of the country. Many discerning Nigerians were happy about the arrest of the infamous “Evans” and alarmed about his revelations. However, the bitter truth is that there are many more “Evans” out there since from all indications kidnapping has become the new trend for criminals and becoming rich.
In the North-east, that some staffs of University of Maiduguri were kidnapped is no longer in contention as pictures of the abducted staffs have since made headline news. Similarly, crude oil explorers of the NNPC were recently kidnapped by Boko Haram and videos of their rescue plea has since been trending in social media circles. Accordingly, the acting President has since directed the military serving chiefs to relocate back to region in securing their release, forestall further kidnappings and ensure security is brought back to the region.
However, while perusing the root causes of insecurity in the country, many of the approaches the government has been adopting are simply cosmetic at best. These approaches would not reduce neither would they solve our insecurity problem. You have to first identify the sources of insecurity and tackle these sources. For example, unemployment is a major source of insecurity in our clime.
Without mincing words, the true situation is that the overwhelming unemployment rate in Nigeria is capable of causing panic! It`s especially obvious when it comes to Nigerian youths. According to the statistics, every tenth young citizen of Nigeria is officially unemployed and one in every 5 young adult is unemployed or underemployed. As they say, an idle mind is the devil’s workshop!
Another major source of insecurity is the pervasive corruption bedeviling our clime. From all indications, the fight against corruption is consistently being stifled by elements who want the status quo maintained. At every turn, corruption is seemingly fighting back ferociously. Sadly, corruption is already becoming a part and parcel of life in Nigeria. Our consistent dismal ratings as one of the most corrupt countries in the world in different international annual corruption indexes reinforce this.
The judicial system in Nigeria which is largely perceived to be weak is indeed another cause of insecurity. In every sane society, people feel insecure when criminals and terrorists can go free and the rule of law is seen to be absent or selective. There is also the belief that money can buy freedom in Nigeria. The corrupt system in our clime gives credence to this line of thought. Due to this weakness also, people take laws into their hands and partake in jungle justice as they feel that if a criminal is taken to the security agencies, he/she could buy their freedom.
Our porous borders are also a major source of concern. Our borders are largely poorly guarded and insurgents from other countries can infiltrate easily into Nigeria. This situation is especially dangerous in the North-east. Porous borders are also one of the major causes of terrorism in Nigeria. The proliferation of small arms and ammunitions are also a major source of insecurity. Smugglers use our porous borders to sell and distribute arms. Corruption and weak judicial system only helps smugglers to provide more guns, pistols, shotguns, rifles, assault rifles, grenades, and explosives that are used against the people and military forces.
Narcotic trafficking is another cause of insecurity in Nigeria. Criminal groups are involved in smuggling of illegal substances to Europe, Asia, South Africa and North America. Empirically, Nigerian gangs are one of the largest distributors of opium in the world! Security personnel welfare is also another security threat. Many of our security operatives, particularly the police of lower cadres aren’t paid sufficiently. Similarly, in the event of the death of a security operative on active duty, there are no assurances that his or her family members left behind would be adequately compensated. Hence, many of them even engage in criminal act or assist criminals and are unwilling to lay down their life in sacrifice to the nation.
The oil resource curse syndrome that has been plaguing us since its discovery is also a source of insecurity. The oil-rich regions feels short-changed especially when they feel the Federal Government is using “their oil” to develop other regions of the country and neglect theirs. Hence, people of this region feel cheated and in many cases take justice into their hands by vandalizing oil pipelines and engaging in other criminal sabotaging acts.
Adequately tackle the afore-mentioned sources of insecurity in Nigeria; insecurity would be reduced to the barest minimum. The huge spending on security and use of guns by security forces would not guarantee security of lives and property of Nigerians. Addressing the different security problems plaguing us without addressing the fundamental economic causes is only a short-term measure.
Once upon a time, the major security issue was the Niger Delta militancy. However, today it is a combination of the Boko Haram insurgency, herdsmen/farmers attacks and counter attack and increase spate of kidnappings. Tomorrow it will be something else.