The word “SECURITY” is derived from a latin word (securus) meaning freedom from anxiety.
The Oxford dictionary defines security as the activities involved in protecting a country, building, or persons against attacks.
The Oxford dictionary also defines National Security as the protection of a country’s secrets and its citizens.
Going by the foregoing definitions and the unprecedented wave of overlapping security crises, I put the question to you… is Nigeria and its citizen safe?
Over the years, almost every corner of the country has been hit by violence and crimes like terrorism, kidnapping, bandit and armed robbery. The scale of the insecurity threatens the very fabric of Nigerian society: “With every attack, human lives are destroyed, lost or permanently damaged.”
Security is the pillar upon which every meaningful development could be achieved and sustained. Nigeria as a nation state has witnessed unprecedented series of agitations in the forms of kidnapping, abduction, armed robberies, to extreme insurgencies.
National security is a premise for national economic growth and development of nations. This is because peaceful nations attract growth, development and foreign investors while domestic investors freely operate the economy with little or no tensions and apprehensions and this brings us to the fact of how insecurity has affected our national economy.
With the coming to the scene by Boko Haram in 2002, the insecurity situation in Nigeria seemed to have assumed higher and more complex dimensions. Apart from the frequency and intensity of deadly attacks and carnages, the insecurity situation in Nigeria cuts across cities, towns, and villages that there is hardly anywhere to run to for cover and the most pathetic aspect of it is that it is the poor masses that surffer the most. Lives are being taken, properties are destroyed, and destinies are being cut short.
Some have linked the recent surge of insecurity to the staggering poverty across the country. The number of violent crimes such as kidnappings, ritual killings, carjacking, suicide bombings, religious killings, politically-motivated killing and violence, ethnic clashes, armed banditry and others have increasingly become very worrisome.
The government has tried everything from “force-for-force” to carrot-and-stick approach to diplomacy, but the problem seems to persist. There has also been strong advocacy for a multi-stakeholder intervention to the insecurity question rather than lean on military options alone, but the problem has defied the present medication it is getting. It will not be out of place to say that the current wave of general insecurity is fueled by poverty which has made national security a major issue of concern.
Presently, youth unemployment stands at 32.5% and the country is in the middle of one of the worst economic downturns in 27 years. According to the UN, by the end of 2021, conflict with the terrorist groups had led to the deaths of almost 450,000 people and forced millions from their homes and this has affected the lives of the Nigerian youth in various ways, for example the popular trend of “JAPA” (permanently traveling abroad) has become a major trend among the youth.
Banditry and kidnapping
One of the scariest threats for families in Nigeria is the frequent kidnapping of school children from their classrooms and boarding houses.
About 2,000 students have been abducted from their schools since December 2020, many only released after thousands of dollars are paid as ransom despite the government disapproval on ransom.
By every indication, Nigeria’s lucrative kidnapping industry is thriving and has become a trend among the youth and keeps expanding seemingly beyond the control of the country’s army. It poses a great threat to trade, education, farming and generally the lives of its citizens.
In order to ameliorate the incidence of crime, the federal government embarked on the criminalization of terrorism by passing the Anti-Terrorism Act in 2011, fundamental surveillance as well as investigation of criminal related offenses, heightening of physical security measures around the country aimed at deterring or disrupting potential attacks, strengthening of security agencies through the provision of security facilities and the development and broadcast of security tips in mass media.
Prof. Yemi Oshinbanjo once wrote in his tweet, 12th March 2021:
“To handle insecurity, technology will be crucial for both smart surveillance and interception of criminals, Also, now more than ever, we need a decentralized policing system, and we have proposals before NSS to bring this to fruition we are working to safeguard ALL Nigerians”
Despite these efforts, the level of insecurity in the country is still high signifying a worsened state of insecurity in the country. With the lingering security challenges and the difficulty of the security apparatus of the government to respond promptly to attacks on citizenry being the front burner to guarantee safety and security to lives and properties of the citizenry in the country, the question that bothers everyone in Nigeria today is “Can there be assurance of security?” Can people still sleep with their two eyes closed? Is the security of lives and properties achievable? It is evident that the government at all levels is confronting the situation head-on and dealing with it decisively even though more effort must be put in place, the question before us is, is the government doing enough to tackle the level of insecurity in the country?