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EDITORIAL

Challenges Of Securing Nigeria’s Vast Borders

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As Nigeria’s insecurity situation escalates, we are compelled to recall our position on the issue in an earlier editorial. We are convinced that our suggestions then are still valid even now.

The challenges of securing Nigeria’s extensive and expansive borders assumed national emergency in the wake of the war against Boko Haram terrorists and the suspected influx of criminals masquerading as herdsmen. Nigeria shares borders with Chad, Niger, Cameroun, and Republic of Benin. The nation’s borders are believed to be about 4027 kilometres. She shares the longest border line with Cameroun which is estimated at 1,698 kilometres, shares 1,452 kilometres of borderline with Niger and the border with the Republic of Benin is estimated at about 600 kilometres.

Without doubt, securing this vast expanse of space poses a real challenge that requires a new approach if the negative security implications are to be effectively checked. Before now, the agencies of government in charge of manning the entry points into the country such as Immigrations Service and Customs Service have, over the years, raised issues concerning the near impossibility of effectively securing the borders using the old method of just posting personnel to those border posts. The other alternative would have been to build walls around the country.  But the cost implication of such a project at this time does not recommend it. Even in the United States of America with her famed near inexhaustible resources and the grandstanding of the Trump administration, border control has remained a huge problem.

It is not enough, in our view, to blame incompetence or inefficiency on the part of the agencies as responsible for the crisis situation in the nation’s border management processes. Those may be part of the problem but it is obvious that they, too, are overwhelmed by the sheer size of the space they have to cover. The disturbing security issues in the neighbouring countries which spill over into Nigeria are not helping matters just as they demand that urgent measures be applied to make the country safe and secure.

Experiences elsewhere suggest that more scientific and modern border management strategies that would require the application of up- to- date technology is a possible way out. Aerial patrols can come in as part of the arrangement targeted at protecting Nigerians who are beginning to be exposed to the risks of having a porous border. To make the borders safe, we recommend effective border patrol, staffing, constructing new infrastructure and fencing, introducing the use of advanced technology, which include, sensors, radar, and aerial assets able to make modern the ports of entry; and stronger partnerships and information sharing with agencies from neighbouring countries.

The situation along the nation’s borders makes it the civic duty of the rest of the citizenry to assist in whatever way they can in augmenting the efforts of the authorities so as to stem the looming danger the insecure borders pose to security of lives and property. Evidence of this was made manifest when the terrorists almost overran a section of the northeast in the early days of the Boko Haram insurgency. It brought to the fore the harrowing impact of illegal arms proliferation, smuggling and the upsurge of illegal immigrants.

Security experts have consistently canvassed the view that the clashes between herdsmen and farmers are not just what they seem. There is a strong assumption that some of the so called herdsmen are, indeed, criminals on rampage, rogue elements from crisis-torn regions across Nigeria’s borders out to cause mischief in the country and possibly destabilise her. These various pockets of attacks at seemingly random areas may be the harbinger, a deep breath before the plunge, waiting to undermine the country. If strong security measures are not taken to man these vulnerable areas, then there is a chance that the nation will leave open a vacuum that could be instantly filled with vices.

The security situation in the country makes it imperative that a more meticulous procedure is put in place to guard against people and arms coming through the unmanned borders as they constitute a potential threat to a peaceful coexistence of a disparate polity such as Nigeria.

We are persuaded to argue that protecting and preserving Nigeria’s borders against this hydra headed monster called insecurity appears to be a herculean task. Nonetheless, Nigeria ought not to be different from other countries that are so bent on taking the bull by the horn on this matter. In our considered opinion, it is pertinent to stress that Nigeria has no option but to effectively safeguard the country’s borders by deploying advanced technology, manned by a well trained workforce to guarantee safety of lives and property.

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