INSECURITY IN NIGERIA: SALIENT ISSUES
“Telling the truth and accepting the truth has been our major problem in Nigeria. Some people will never tell you the truth when you are in power, and honestly, many of us in power also do not want to hear the truth”.
Prof. Babagana Zulum (Governor of Borno State.)
Many people from different social, cultural, religious and political background have given diverse reasons for the insecurity in Nigeria which seems to be at its peak today. Never in the history of the nation has human life of its citizens been threatened like we are witnessing these days. From east to West, from North to South, chilling news of man’s inhumanity against man fill the air. Callous decapitation of armless harmless people, kidnapping, and robbery seem to be normal in a country called Nigeria. Nigeria was created by God for greatness. Nigeria has enviable natural and human resources. Nigeria is not threatened by earthquake and other horrifying disasters that devastate many other countries. However, her people loath truth. Both the led and leaders hate to hear the truth as the wonderful and godly Governor of Borno State, Prof. Bagagana Zulum said recently. This is one of the biggest problems militating against the progress and peace of the country.
Practically, economic factors such as poverty, unemployment and the yawning gap between the haves and the have-nots cannot be over emphasized as among the key factors that are responsible for crimes in Nigeria. Some experts also posit that the porosity of the nation’s boarders give room for illegal migration of dangerous and dubious people into the country. Furthermore, lack of adequate intelligence gathering and sharing among security agencies and the citizenry has a role to play in the unsuccessful overpowering of criminals in the country especially terrorists. We also have heard that our security men lack modern equipment and training to match the sophisticated armoury of these hard-to crack human destroyers. Again not much has been done by government on proliferation of illegal arms in the country. However, there are some very salient factors that fuel crime in Nigeria. May we look at some of them at this juncture.
The geometrical multiplication of illegal children who are abandoned in orphanages while their parents are going about free and happy but in the eyes of people they are dead. This is the same case with the so-called motherless babies home. Many of their mothers and their lovers who produced them are alive. This goes on in all parts of Nigeria.
The Almajiris from early stage of life are thrown into hardship. They are given no meaningful education. Some of them are trained beggars who eat miserably and are clothed in rags most often. They are brain-washed to believe that their situation is approved by God. By the time they grow up in this modern society, the reality of life dawns on them, and they begin to resent the society.
The emergence of Baby Mamas. I read that some of these women have the right to live as they desire. Really? A woman will have five kids from five different men all in the name of human right and women liberation. One stated in the newspaper that the greatest benefit of the lifestyle to her, is the enjoyment of different men instead of sticking to one man. Regrettably the society instead of calling a spade a spade redefines evil. We are told that, “It is your life, live it the way you like.” Granted! What of the negative consequences? Is this a form of male Harem? May God intervene in this so- called modern world.
The proliferation of harems with uncountable children:
Truth be said some of these children rarely get adequate love and care from their parents especially their fathers. A man sells carrot and ginger in a wheel borrow but has three wives and twelve children. Oh!! Now please can somebody tell me how children from the above four categories of family background will get adequate love, care, and education that will position them to become responsible and patriotic citizens? Some of them will surely grow up as sadists, who will display aggression to the system at the least provocation. Some may develop inferiority complex and will easily be swayed into crime of all shades, just to pay back evil to a society that is insensitive, wicked and inhuman to them.
Use and dump:
I read that some politicians recruit young men as thugs only to dump them after elections. Meanwhile they were equipped with dangerous weapons to fight their perceived enemies. What is all this? Political opponents for the sake of God are no enemies. Ideally politicians contest for elective positions and the electorate choose them based on the principles of integrity, quality of manifesto, honour, and capabilities of contestants. But in Nigeria, politics and elections are “do or die” because some of the politicians have negative ulterior motives for joining the race ab initio. Now after elections the thugs are left with their weapons which they utilize to vent their anger on poor harmless citizens. It is said that “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”
Injustice at all levels:
In our nation, merit, fairness, justice and value for excellence have vanished at all levels. The key factors for admission into institutions of learning are connections, bribes, ethnic and religious considerations. In Nigeria some graduates will be searching for jobs for many years, while some students will have some job opportunities waiting for them even while in school. In some instances, some newly recruited staff who are highly connected are placed above older staff in some government establishments. Similarly, employments, discipline and promotion are influenced by the same subjective variables. Faced with these realities, are we surprised that some people take up arms against their fellow citizens and government at all levels? The dearth of punishment in Nigeria. Different types of punishment are metered out to deviants in every society to maintain order, and peace. Often in Nigeria, connections, religious, political and tribal sentiments are employed to sweep under the carpet, crimes and infractions committed by some people. And so there is no deterrent for those who may aspire to commit the same crimes. At times arrests are made and the aforementioned factors will come into play to set the offenders free. Sadly, the people who didn’t commit the crime may go in for it especially if they are less privileged.
The promotion of worthless Entertainment and Fashion:
We are witnesses to the reckless lifestyle of many Nigerians who indulge in alcoholism, clubbing, eating all manner of rubbish, smoking dangerous substances, and enjoying weird and unedifying musicals. Many parents, teachers at all levels and religious leaders turn a blind eye to the shameful dressing of many girls and women today. Some of these daughters of Eve go half naked in the name of fashion and freedom. They are all over the internet and daily newspapers projected as models and stars. Today prostitution is gradually becoming a way of life for many girls who want to live a high life. They are equally in high demand by wicked and ungodly men. Added to this dangerous alcoholic drinks and drugs are sold in small bottles and sachets in open markets across the country. Children watch pornography even in the streets. All this no doubt increase the rate of crimes like rape, suicide, murder and robbery. Don’t we know that immorality of all shades and shapes, has a nexus with crime? Is Nigeria bewitched?
Whenever the name of God is evoked, what ideally comes to mind are truth, love and godliness. Sadly, in the world, there is too much hatred for any semblance of godliness. Some so-called believers in God do not see anything wrong with lying. The logic is that telling a lie to extricate oneself from trouble is cleverness. That is why falsehood and propaganda have been elevated to a way of life and our youth are learning and practicing them. In Nigeria, there is too much religiosity with little or no godliness, but we know that religion without truth, love and justice is a waste of time and hypocrisy. I state without any equivocation that nothing will check evil deed in any person who believes that live ends here on earth.
The Legalization of illegalit:
We are in the world where idol worship is called culture. Please consider a river, wood, iron and a tree, which is greater than man, not to talk of the Supper Spirit Being? Further more, in our contemporary society, a man calls a girl that he is not married to “my woman/girl”, and a woman/girl calls a man that is not her husband, “My man” unabashed. It is in Nigeria that paying hugely to secure a job or be promoted is becoming the accepted norm. If a man refuses to join in illegality he is called a “mugu”. In our clime, eulogizing and idolizing people with ill-gotten wealth is a major draw-back in the fight against evil in the land.
The Way Forward:
We cannot eat our cake and have it. We cannot enter the bush, cut a tree and come to the road and begin to ask” who cut that tree? We cannot be like a couple who has a serious fertility problem. The man has a low sperm count while the woman has some issues with her hormones. Initially, they refused to tell their doctor the whole truth. Later after medical investigations, more facts were revealed but they continued to live in denial. At a point the man began to grandstand that he has no problem. Is there any hope for solution to their problem? Your guess is as good as mine. Nigeria is on the precipice. She is sitting on a keg of gun powder. All hands must be on deck to ensure that the boat does not sink. My humble suggestions on how to check -mate the spread of insecurity in Nigeria include the following: The country’s political arrangement as contained in the 1999 constitution (as amended) must be urgently reviewed by the National Assembly with the view to restructure it such that more power will be devolved to the state and local government.
There are many items in the Exclusive list that shouldn’t be there just as there are some in the Concurrent list which the federal government should hands off entirely (this is not the subject matter here). The federal government and the National Assembly must be sincere on the issue of resource control. Sensitive issues like this should not be swept under the carpet because they lead to agitations and bad blood. For instance the goose that lays the golden egg must be highly valued and pampered for peace and justice sake. In another dimension the time has come for the local government system to come alive. We cannot devalue grass root administration and expect crime rate to reduce. Still on the constitution, why must Nigeria have a Bi-cameral National Assembly? It is surely not cost- effective.
Quota system is evil and evil is quota system:
Robbing Peter to pay Paul; sacrificing merit and excellence at the altar of quota and federal character will continue to promote evil in the land. The injustice it promotes at all spheres of the nation’s life should be addressed NOW. Nigeria has no reason to be the poverty capital of the world with all the natural resources bestowed on it by God. Records have it that Nigeria has about 34 solid minerals identified in 450 locations in the country. These resources must be harnessed. Local content laws must be fully implemented for our youth to get jobs in the country. Lack of job, means lack of daily bread and hopelessness. Angry and frustrated able-bodied men are bombs waiting to explode.
Implementing justice and punishment in Nigeria:
The time has come for Nigerians to insist on justice and fairness in their private and public affairs. Infractions and crimes should be fairly handled so as to deter intending offenders from committing such offences. According to Ernst Fehr( an economist), “The reason why punishment for norm violations is important is that it disciplines the potential norm violators.” Let the laws apply to all Nigerians irrespective of their creed, tribe and status. Whether you believe in one God Almighty or a wood or nothing that is your own business. But if you break the laws of the land, you will go in for it. This is what happens in every sane society.
Leadership by example:
No pontification and theories will change the attitude of citizens more than seeing parents, religious leaders, teachers, captains of private and government establishments and political leaders at all levels, live a godly life laced with truth, love , justice and simplicity.
The condemnation and censorship of weird music, fashion and entertainment:
These things have positive correlation to a large degree with drunkenness, smoking, getting “high”, rape and banditry. Pornography, cultism, idolatry, murder, nudity of women are the major content of Nigerian films which teenagers watch. This shouldn’t be allowed to continue in the name of human rights.
The federal and state governments should give Nigerians basic infrastructure by all means. Nigerians transverse the length and breadth of the country in pains, because of bad roads. The frustration this brings cannot be imagined by the well- to- do and privileged citizens who either travel by air or use heavy 4-wheel runners with police and military escorts. Related to this is the need for the government to urgently plan to build railways across the country. It is my humble opinion that it does not make sense for the government to give some poor families across the nation N5,000 monthly stipend. Such identifiable indigent families are too many in the poverty capital of the world. Because of the “Nigerian Factor,” the distribution of that money shall NEVER be fair and effective. Besides, it is degrading. The government should rather implement free primary education and highly subsidized Secondary education for all Nigerian children. The greatest gifts for all families in Nigeria should be social amenities, accessible roads, free medical treatment for the aged, and children below five years, electricity and water supply. If these are available many people will genuinely strive for their daily bread with gladness and patriotism.
Nobody can deny the fact that Nigerians are hardworking and patient; what they need is the enabling environment to work. This is why when they travel abroad, they become highly resourceful and sought after.
If there is meaningful prioritization of economic and social programs by government at all levels these things could be achieved. We don’t need to make the NTA Compete with CNN with millions of dollars as the government is planning. The government has no business sponsoring religious pilgrimages at all levels. The government should have nothing to do with games and sports; it should be privatized.
Reducing the financial benefits of political office holders. Perhaps this will make the offices less attractive. Secondly it will reduce the extravagant lifestyle of public officers which greatly causes disaffection amongst the less privileged.
The need for family planning:
It is wickedness for men and women to produce children they are not prepared to cater for. All men and women who claim to be fathers and mothers produce children they abandon, should stop the wickedness. Owners of baby factories and their patrons especially women of easy virtue should be clamped down by the government.
Child-abandonment contributes to crime rate in society. Nowadays the cost of giving a child the basic things of life has skyrocketed. Families, religious bodies, educational institutions and the National Orientation Agency (NOA) should lead in the campaign for birth control. A big man claims that he has all it takes to marry many wives and bear many children, some of whom he sees occasionally. A poor man does the same thing and cannot provide for his children’s basic needs, thus driving them to criminality. Are they honest to themselves and fair to the children?. According to an ibo proverb, “when one finger is soiled with oil, it spreads to the rest.” The consequences of our actions and inactions affect other people in various dimensions.
De-emphasizing university paper certificate:
The bitter truth is that not everybody is a university material and not all can afford it. But there is the need to restructure the Nigeria school system at all levels to place emphasis on vocational training. That way school leavers can take up vocations of their own choice and prosper in them. Skills and productivity of individuals should be the premium and not empty big certificates. When dullards or ill-equipped boys and girls are in higher institutions, a corrupt system is inevitable. Their parents pay all the way; the lecturers exploit the situation and at the end, the nation has an abundance of half-baked educated illiterates. The need to give soft loans or grants to school leavers and Ex-corps members to start business of their own after showing evidence of acquiring some valuable skills. Giving young boys motorcycle is not empowerment; it has many disadvantages.
The Federal Government should boost the morale of the Police by giving them modern barracks, standard equipment, modern weapons, good uniform, constant training and a good salary scheme. The day the police force is standardized and highly motivated, Nigeria shall begin to experience greater peace and security.
Conclusively, without peace and security, a man cannot enjoy his possessions on earth. I am yet to read about a country where farmers cannot go to work because of fear of rape and murder, yet stakeholders in the country are busy blowing grammer and engaging in political intrigues which exacerbate matters. Insecurity jeopardizes a nations match to development. The much talked about tourism boost in Nigeria cannot be feasible with insecurity that is engulfing it. Strategic approach by the government to improve security in Nigeria must include closing the gap between the rich and the poor. According to John Ploughman, “A fool does at last, what the wise does at first.” A concerted effort must be made to empower Nigerian youth economically. Our target should not be wiping out criminals alone, but preventing what leads to crime. The seeds of destruction were planted in Nigeria by Nigerians and only Nigerians will uproot them.
Written by Mrs N.N Chukwuka
(An Applied Sociologist)