Insecurity is perhaps the biggest of Nigeria’s manifold challenges. Whatever the next government plans to do, stemming the tide of violent criminalities across the country must be top of the agenda.
This is because the primary responsibility of a government is to ensure the security of lives and property. Government loses its essence where there is no public order and peace, and where citizens and other residents cannot carry out their legitimate activities under the assurance of their personal safety.
Section 33 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria provides that “every person has a right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria.”
However, thousands of Nigerians are being deprived of lives and property by criminals almost every week. In the North-east, Boko Haram has waged a bloody insurgency for the past 13 years, killing an estimated 35,000 people and displacing over three million people from their homes. In the North-west and North-central regions, terrorists generally referred to as bandits have sacked rural communities, abducted hundreds of pupils in daring school raids and routinely kidnapped people on the road, in their farms and from their homes, even in the cities, for ransom. In the South-east, terrorists dubbed “unknown gunmen” are targeting government buildings and security personnel. They have also imposed a stay-at-home order that has crippled the economy of the zone and those who break the order are attacked and killed.
According to a report in August by the Nigeria Security Incidents Tracker, at least 7,222 Nigerians were killed and 3,823 abducted in 2,840 incidents of insecurity between January 1 and July 29, 2022.
Also, no fewer than 1,499 people were injured in the various attacks recorded in 505 local government areas in the country.
Speaking with Punch Newspaper over the report, a security expert, Timothy Avele, said the spread and figures showed that insecurity in Nigeria was getting out of hand.
“This figure clearly indicates that the security situation is spiralling out of hand for the worst and it is no more business as usual by the government saying they are on top of it.
“There is fire on the mountain and all hands must be on the deck to avert the Somalia situation where there will be a total breakdown of law and order. There must be visible and deliberate urgent actions to curtail the insecurity before it overwhelms security agencies.”
Nowhere to run to
Writing in his PREMIUM TIMES column in April, shortly after terrorists killed 92 persons in Kanam Local Government Area of Plateau State, Jibrin Ibrahim, a professor of Political Science and Senior Fellow of the Centre for Democracy and Democracy (CDD), said: “The state of insecurity in the country is so high that it is difficult for Nigerians not to think of jumping ship and going somewhere safer.”
However, Mr Jibrin noted that aside from the country’s governing class, who “have bought houses abroad, transferred money out of the country and are ready to leave the country within minutes,” for the “poor and even the middle class, the only possibility of exit is to neighbouring countries and on that score, our backs are on the wall, there is nowhere to run. Cameroon is facing the Boko Haram insurgency in the north and the Ambazonian civil war in the south. Niger and Chad are both suffering from insurgency by jihadist movements and warlordism while Benin Republic has just become a target of jihadist attack…
“The current reality is that no one is safe in Nigeria and our 200 million compatriots have nowhere to run to. The irony is that the armed forces have been deployed to almost all states in the country but with each passing day, the security situation in the country is deteriorating further,” Mr Jibrin lamented.
To be fair to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, insecurity was already an emergency when he was elected in 2015. The Boko Haram insurgency had raged for six years and terrorists were abducting children in rural schools and bombing targets in cities, including worship places, the headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force and the office of the United Nations in Abuja.
However, the scope of insecurity has expanded on the watch of Mr Buhari despite him making security one of his three priority areas, alongside the economy and a war on corruption. The stark failure of the administration in this respect has not been for lack of effort.
Referring to a military onslaught launched against the bandits by the administration targeted at destroying their forest fortresses, Mr Jibrin in his April article said, “The approach of the military is to rely on bombing the armed combatants from the air without sufficient troops to mop them out as they run. As the combatants are widely spread, bombs can only get a tiny fraction of them so there is no real strategy to finish them off. In any case, the armed forces have not expanded considerably and those on active duty are exhausted and frustrated due to lack of rotation. Careful trend analysis shows that the insecurity has been increasing and will continue to increase.”
All these stress the point that Nigerians expect their next government to restore the security of lives and property in their country.
In their manifestoes, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi of the Labour Party, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Bola Tinubu, all agree that the state of insecurity in the country is dire and needs to be urgently reversed. So what do they plan to do differently to make Nigeria safer, if elected?
Analyses of their manifestoes indicate that the four major presidential candidates virtually agree on what has to be done, essentially differing only in the details.
Aside from Atiku who served in the Nigeria Customs, none of the other three has a military or security service background or experience. However, all the candidates had presided over or sat at security council meetings at the state or federal levels when they served as state governors, and in the case of Atiku, as vice president.
That privilege would have exposed them to the workings of the military and security services as well as the challenges of the nation’s security architecture. That may explain why they all seem to think that the problems mostly lie in the architecture and can be solved by tweaking the management and operation of the security agencies and expanding their manpower and funding.
All four want to recruit more security personnel. But Atiku and Mr Kwankwaso specifically want the number of police personnel to hit one million, to meet or exceed the UN benchmark of a 1:450 police-to-citizen ratio.
The NNPP candidate goes further to propose the same number for the military. To keep them from idleness in peacetime, Mr Kwankwaso will deploy the relevant corps of the armed forces to civil duties such as civil engineering, healthcare and agricultural extension services.
All four candidates want to improve training and retraining for the personnel of all the security personnel, provide them with better equipment and encourage them to use more technology. They will also improve their welfare, with Atiku promising to implement a Special Presidential Welfare Initiative for the personnel.
Only Mr Obi specifically promises to create a state police, an initiative that will need an amendment of the constitution by the National Assembly. However, Mr Tinubu said “some instances may call for establishment or enhancement of civilian neighbourhood watch groups. Others may require the establishment of more formal locally-based law enforcement institutions.”
Let’s look at the key proposals of each of the candidates on the security sector in their policy documents.
The LP candidate promises to take the following immediate actions:
Activate all the necessary regional cooperation and arrangements for securing our borders with neighbouring countries in West and Central Africa, particularly Niger, Chad, and Cameroon.
Increase the personnel of our armed forces, police and other security agencies and optimally equip, train, and fund them to respond adequately to security threats.
Deploy state-of-the-art military technology to fight terrorists, bandits, insurgents and kidnappers; and
Recreate community relations with security agencies in order to increase public trust and build human intelligence to restore law and order in the communities.
He will also:
Pursue deliberate and proactive policies that will implement the fundamental objectives and principles of state police in the constitution so as to create a secured society that reduces the social pressure for crimes and provides viable livelihood for the youths.
Engage, support, and partner, with national and subnational institutions and governments and network them into an integrated and reinforced
Decentralise and professionalise the management of security institutions and use of grant-in-aid to encourage efficient criminal justice administration at subnational levels, namely, state, local government and community security administration.
To deal with cross-border crimes, adjust security modalities to address gaps and vulnerabilities arising from our obligations under the ECOWAS Protocol on the Movement of Persons.
Undertake institutional reforms, which consist of four initiatives pursued simultaneously:
a. reforming the security sector, with particular emphasis on re-focusing the military on external threats and border protection, and the police on internal security threats and law enforcement;
b. swift, firm and fair prosecution of criminals, bandits and terrorists to end impunity;
c. enhanced coordination among security agencies to enhance operational efficiency,
d. fair and transparent administration of justice hinged on the rule of law.
Improve the functioning and effectiveness of our security agencies particularly the police, by strengthening their civilian oversight as well as increasing their size, equipment, funding, and enhancing their professional training.
Strengthen the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Police Affairs, and other regulatory and supervisory agencies to provide robust and regulatory oversight and enhance coordination and performance of statutory mandates of the security services.
Ensuring the security of lives, properties, and the dignity of Nigerians by restructuring and enhancing the funding of our security agencies as well as retraining security personnel.
Restoring merit and professionalism in the processes of recruitment, appointment and promotions as enshrined in the acts establishing the security outfits and their extant rules and regulations.
Implementing a Special Presidential Welfare Initiative for our security personnel.
Increasing the number of security personnel to meet the security needs of over 200 million Nigerians. We shall conduct systematic and guided recruitment exercises of up to one million personnel into the police force, to combat current security challenges and meet the UN police-to-citizen ratio of 1:450.
Employing the tools of strategic engagement with state and non-state actors in theatres of conflict.
Promoting Police-Community relations to build mutual trust and confidence as a proactive strategy for crime prevention and control.
Streamlining the functions and operations of security outfits like the NSCDC, FRSC, among others to foster synergy, and intelligence sharing and make them more effective.
We shall adopt a proactive and intelligence-driven security approach to sufficiently address the nation’s security threats, and shall broadly pursue the following:
Bolster Our Security Forces
Accelerate the reforms commenced under the present administration in building a more robust, re-energised armed forces. As such, we shall recruit, train and better equip additional military, police, paramilitary and intelligence personnel.
Redefine Military Doctrine and Practice Anti-Terrorist Battalions:
Highly trained and disciplined anti-terrorist battalions (ABATTS) with special forces units will be created. Their objective shall be to seize the strategic and tactical initiative, giving terrorists, kidnappers and bandits no respite.
Upgrade Tactical Communications and Transportation:
Military units will be better equipped with tactical communications gear and new vehicles to give them a greater communications and mobility advantage over criminals, bandits and terrorists.
Upgrade Weapons Systems:
Further modernise the Armed Forces by ensuring that our weapons systems (land, sea and air) are capable of addressing current and anticipated security threats in the modern world. Recruit people who possess the technical skills required for today’s military. Reduce dependence on imported foreign military equipment by ramping up domestic production of basic and essential military hardware and equipment, including small arms and ammunition.
Exploit Aerial and Technological Superiority:
Focus efforts on taking greater advantage of our aerial superiority to both deter as well as swiftly respond to attacks by terrorists, kidnappers and bandits.
Improve Salaries and Welfare:
Improved special individual and family allowances, better compensation and guaranteed medical care for those injured in the line of duty will be provided. A special programme providing housing, scholarships, stipends, and health insurance for the families of our fallen heroes will be created.
Win Hearts and Minds:
Using targeted economic assistance programmes and in close collaboration with state governments, we will expand emergency and economic support offered to local communities distressed by terrorists and other violent groups. Strengthening the civilian assistance and outreach arm of our armed forces, the military will be integrated into these assistance programs:
Rehabilitation of the Lake Chad Basin ecosystem and other subnational economic systems affected by violent groups.
Accelerate the environmental clean-up and re-establishment of fisheries and other profitable aquacultural activities in the Niger Delta region. Restoring economic hope and vitality to these regions while at the same time creating a more active and present military/law enforcement deterrent to violent disorder, will drastically reduce the number of disaffected youths who join these extreme groups out of the despair and alienation that poverty can bring. By defeating poverty, we go far in defeating all forms of extremist ideology.
Secure Critical National Infrastructure
Implement measures to eliminate attacks on vital national infrastructure. This will be known as our (Critical Infrastructure Protection) CIP Plan.
Integral to this effort shall be the deployment of modern technologies, tools and equipment to end crude oil theft, prevent vandalisation of national assets, and reduce, to the barest minimum, environmental pollution of the Niger Delta. Combine increased aerial surveillance over land and sea with other cutting-edge technology that will provide instant notification of intrusions or disruptions of oil pipelines and related installations. Such technology will also be deployed to monitor power stations, transmission and distribution networks, sea and airports, rail transportation, telecommunications and other vital infrastructure.
Peaceful Communities, Secure Borders, Safe Forests:
Communities: Work in close collaboration with State Governments and the National Assembly, to enact measures necessary to secure and protect communities from criminal violence, particularly kidnapping and terrorism. These measures will be flexible and adaptive in order to fit local realities and challenges. Some instances may call for establishment or enhancement of civilian neighbourhood watch groups. Others may require the establishment of more formal locally-based law enforcement institutions.
Borders: Customs and Immigration Services’ ability to patrol and monitor our borders will be strengthened. This includes the use of aerial and ground-based technology mechanisms as well as more mobile patrol units.
Forest Regions: To prevent violent groups from using our forests and other public lands as hideouts, we shall revitalise Ranger or Forest Guard force, giving it the core mandate to monitor, identify, and track the use of our forests by any violent or criminal groups.
Integrated Identity Database
Sustain the current efforts on the integration of all existing data and expand the database and other such assets as useful tools for the security and safety of citizens.
Prioritise collaborations with key neighbouring countries, international partners, and allies to ensure the safety of Nigerians. We will continue to empower and, where necessary, seek to expand the operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force.
Focus on positioning the institution to better deliver on its primary duties of community policing and maintaining law and order through crime fighting and prevention.
Police personnel will be freed from extraneous duties such as VIP security and guard duties.
VIP Security and provision of security for government buildings, installations and other critical assets will be transferred to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). The NSCDC shall be evaluated and reformed to be better integrated with our internal security apparatus.
Reposition the Police
We shall boost public confidence in the Nigeria Police Force and other internal security agencies by increasing recruitment and providing high-tech, non-lethal equipment with corresponding manpower development schemes.
A Special Approach
“In our arrangement, we shall use the military and the police optimally to ensure that terrorism, banditry, kidnapping-for-ransom, militancy, insurgency, oil theft and bunkering, communal clashes, and all other forms of security breaches that are making our country unsafe are tackled head-on and brought to a permanent stop,” the manifesto reads.
“The size of the Nigerian Armed Forces will be built to about One million active service men and women. This entails recruiting an additional of about 750 thousand more personnel into the armed forces.
“The size of the Nigerian Police will also be built to about One million active service men and women. This will bring the police-to-citizen ratio to 1:220 (much better than the UN-recommended minimum of 1:450). The numbers can easily be obtained from the pool of able-bodied unemployed youth that are roaming our streets in all the 8,809 wards.
“After the special operation that will bring to an end the menace of terrorism, violent extremism, kidnapping for ransom, banditry, farmers/herders clashes, and any such insurgency threats, bulk of the armed forces and the police will then be redeployed to other productive activities such as engineering works, healthcare works, housing infrastructure works, agriculture services, and such other public interest works.”
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: Call Willie - +2348098788999