The need for security was the basis of the social contract between the citizens and the state, in which people willingly surrendered their rights to the government who oversees the survival of all. From this perspective, security embodies the mechanism put in place to avoid, prevent, reduce, or resolve violent conflicts, and threats that originate from other states, non-state actors, or structural sociopolitical and economic conditions. Security is vital for national cohesion, peace and sustainable development.
Within the framework of this article, insecurity is defined as a breach of peace and security; whether historical, religious, ethnic, regional, civil, social, economic, and political that contributes to recurring conflicts, and leads to wanton destruction of lives and property.
Causes of Insecurity in Nigeria
There are several causes of conflict and insecurity in Nigeria.
1. Elite Manipulation of Ethnicity and Religious Differences:
Ethnic and religious conflicts arise from mutual suspicion and distrust among various ethnic groups and among the major religions in the country. The different ethnic groups across Nigeria often allege neglect, oppression, domination, exploitation, victimization, discrimination, marginalization, nepotism and bigotry. This often brings about ethnic clashes and religious conflicts.
2. ‘Do or Die’ Politics:
Politicians in Nigerian do not accommodate dialogue, negotiation and consensus. Consequently, political contests are marked by desperation, and violent struggle for political power among politicians. This brings about conflict and insecurity.
3. Widespread Systemic and Political Corruption:
Corruption is responsible for governance failure in Nigeria; and insecurity in Nigeria is mainly a function of government failure. Corruption has created massive unemployment in the country, which has in turn worsened the insecurity situation in Nigeria. Mismanagement of resources has brought about massive poverty and lack which is also a factor in the insecurity challenge facing the country.
4. Struggle for Resources:
The Niger-Delta crisis in Nigeria as well as the herdsmen-farmers conflicts is classic examples of violent resource struggle in Nigeria.
5. Pervasive Material Inequalities:
A major factor that contributes to insecurity in Nigeria is the growing awareness of inequalities in life chances leading to violent reactions by a large number of people.
6. Unemployment and Poverty:
Unemployment and consequent poverty among Nigerians, especially the youths is a major cause of insecurity and violent crimes in Nigeria. Youth’s unemployment have contributed to the rising cases of violent conflict in Nigeria. Without job creation, how does the government address poverty, and inequitable distribution of wealth among citizens?
7. Weak Security System:
This is a major factor responsible for the level of insecurity in Nigeria, and this can be attributed to a number of factors which include inadequate funding of the police and other security agencies, lack of modern equipment, poor welfare of security personnel, and inadequate personnel.
8. Porous Borders:
The porous frontiers of the country, where individual movements are largely untracked have contributed to the level of insecurity in Nigeria. As a result of the porous borders there is an unchecked inflow of Small Arms and Light Weapons into the country which has aided militancy and criminality in Nigeria. The porous nature of our borders has aided the uncontrollable influx of migrants, mainly young men, from neighboring countries such as Republic of Niger, Chad and Republic of Benin responsible for some of the criminal acts.
One of the most fundamental sources of insecurity in Nigeria today is terrorism. In Nigeria, terrorism is traceable to religious fanaticism particularly in Islam dominated states of Nigeria. Terrorism in Nigeria started with the notorious Islamic sect in the Northern part of Nigeria called Mataisine during Shagari civilian regime which was aborted by a military coup in December 1983 led by General Muhammadu Buhari. In recent times terrorism has assumed a political undertone and is been spearheaded by a faceless Islamic insurgents based in the Northern region of Nigeria called Boko Haram. Although terrorism has its root in Islamic fanaticism, it is now driven by factors such as inequality, poverty, unemployment, and illiteracy.
Effects of Insecurity in Nigeria
Social, Economic, and Political Development:
Social, economic, and political development is the aim of every well responsible government. However, all these depend upon the peaceful co-existence by people. In the absence of security, development is untenable because insecurity destroys economic, human and social capital. For instance, the Boko Haram insurgence in Northern Nigeria has almost crippled economic activities in that region. Similarly, activities, of Niger Delta militants in the oil-producing Southern part of the country pose serious threat to the economic health of the region in particular, and Nigeria in general. The security crises in different parts of Nigeria is destroying existing infrastructure and preventing a peaceful environment for the development of further infrastructure, and a safe environment for economic activities by individuals. Indeed, no nation can achieve sustainable development in an environment of insecurity.
Other effects/impacts of insecurity in Nigeria include the following:
1. Social dislocation and displacement of people
2. Social tensions and new pattern of settlements which encourages Muslins/Christians divisions
3. Heightens hostility between “indigenes” and “settlers”
4. Dislocation and disruption of family and communal life
5. General atmosphere of mistrust, fear, anxiety and frenzy
6. Inhumane treatment of people , especially in areas where rape, child abuse and neglect are used as instruments of war
7. Deepening of hunger and poverty in the polity
8. Atmosphere of political insecurity and instability including declining confidence in the political leadership and apprehension about the system
9. Governance deficit as a result of security agencies inefficiency and corruption.
Solution (The Way Out)
In Nigeria there has been rising wave of insecurity since 1960. Insecurity in Nigeria threatens lives and properties, and has hindered business activities by discouraging local and foreign investors.
The only solution for insecurity challenge in Nigeria is for Nigerian government to govern in a way that fosters development. Development in this context consists of creating an economy with relevant social, economic and physical infrastructure for business operations and industrial growth, to provide gainful employment, functional and useful education, and quality health care for the people. Furthermore, there is the need for governments to ensure that rising poverty indices are reversed to ensure that the Nigerian meet their basic needs.