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|Remote, Immediate Causes Of Crimes, Insecurity And Instability In Nigeria by NUAIT: 2:13pm On Aug 24, 2012|
The remote, immediate causes of Crimes, Insecurity/Terrorism and Instability in Nigeria and Solutions.
By Don Okereke
Time and space will not permit one to expound all the raison d' etre for the unprecedented trend in kidnappings, instability and insecurity/terrorism in Nigeria. The unparalleled spate of terrorism, kidnappings and other violent crimes is to say the least, alarming. Religious leaders, churches, mosques etc are not spared in this onslaught. At the risk of over-egging the pudding, there is no gainsaying the fact that Nigeria is at a cross-road and gradually drifting towards a failed state. Of course our government hates hearing this home truth, but the truth must be told no matter how bitter it is.
Just recently the Emir of Kano-Alhaji Ado Bayero narrowly escaped death by the whiskers. His driver and two others were not lucky as they were hacked to death by the assailants. Somewhere in Okene, Kogi State, gunmen said to be sympathetic to the Cause of Islamic rebels in Mali were said to have ambushed and opened fire and killed two soldiers on their way to been deployed to Mali. A faceless new group known as ‘’Vanguard for the Protection of Moslems in Black Africa’’ has claimed responsibility for this attack. Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela’s mother-Prof. Mrs. Kaneme Okonjo was kidnapped a while ago. It took a demonstration of federal might-deployment of troops for her abductors to free her. Right now the mother of Bayelsa State House of Assembly is being held by kidnappers. These are prominent cases; so many other incidents go unreported probably because the victims lack a voice. Also recall how Senator Gyang Dalyop Datang and others were murdered in cold blood sometime last year in Plateau State. So much noise was made by both the State and Federal government, promising that the masterminds will soon be fished out. If these prominent folks with all the Police/MoPol escorts are not safe in Nigeria, one wonders who is safe.
The status quo is tantamount to what transpires in war-torn environments. The tranquility inherent in the nooks and cranny of Nigeria has been ruined. Some years ago, places like Jos, Kaduna etc used to be peaceful, cosmopolitan and crises-free. Not any more!
Even in a war situation, there are rules of engagement under the Geneva Convention. Indiscriminate killing of innocent people cannot be justified under any guise whatsoever.
It is on record that some countries have faced similar threats and challenges in the past and triumphed. Our bane in Nigeria is that by acts of commission or omission, we repeatedly shy away from the truth. We are rather reactive than proactive. The following are some of the remote and immediate causes of instability, insecurity/terrorism in Nigeria:
1. One of the primary causes of instability and insecurity in Nigeria is what this writer calls, ‘’our wrong system of government and over-concentration of Political Power at the centre’’. One is not trying to be a prophet of doom, but these problems will continue haunting us until we are honest and bold enough to sort it out. So far we have been treating the symptom of the disease and not the causative agent. Currently it will seem we are building on sand and not on a solid foundation because many of those issues that led to the Nigerian Civil war are still prevalent more than fifty years after the war ended. We cannot afford reinforcing a mistake! It’s high time we redefined and re-negotiated the terms and conditions of our existence perhaps through a National Conference or a no-holds-barred constitutional amendment. With many State governors opposed to Local Government Autonomy and ‘State Police’, one doubts the current constitutional amendment jamboree will yield much positive result.
Balkanizing this country is neither the solution to our problems. This writer strongly believes in the unity of Nigeria. Even in a nuclear family, there are bound to be disagreements, do we now split the family because of such quarrels. There is no doubt that Nigeria has come to stay but with more than 400 ethnic groups, we need a system of government that gives, if not all, then majority of our citizens a sense of belonging.
2. The second factor is weak judicial system, injustice, nepotism and a culture of impunity. Here people commit all manner of crimes and get away with them. When justice is said to be meted out, a rich man gets a slap on the wrist for stealing or embezzling billions of naira while a poor man is sentenced to five years imprisonment for stealing a goat. There is a widespread notion that justice can be bought or sold in Nigeria depending on one’s bargaining power and contacts in the corridors of power. Some of the alleged masterminds of Boko Haram are said to have been arrested in the past by security agents but promptly released due to intervention of powerful individuals while some of them were jailed for just few months, they come out sooner than later and continue with their nefarious activities.
3. A similar factor to the aforementioned is the unprecedented levels of corruption that has permeated the fabrics of our national life. The figures these days are simply mind-boggling! An individual steals, embezzles billions or even trillions of naira without blinking an eye-lid! It would seem there is a competition for who wins the highest award for corruption. Now the government is said to be negotiating with the indicted Oil subsidy culprits. This definitely sets a bad precedent. Why not let the law take its course. The rich criminal can bargain his way out of jail whereas the poor criminal has no choice. From the Police to the Immigration; from the Citadels of learning to the Seats of government; from the hospitals to the churches etc. This writer wishes to use a couple of personal experiences to drive home his point. His wife registered for ante-natal in one of the government hospitals and one of the requirements in addition to paying the normal registration fee, was to donate blood. After paying the required amount and donating the blood free of charge, he was surprised when the officials asked him to ‘shake body’. This in Nigerian parlance means to ‘’settle’’ or give them money. One can voluntarily appreciate them say for doing a good job but not for them to be demanding money for doing a job that they are paid to do.
He had a similar experience when he went to the Post office to pick up a foreign correspondence and the clerk asked him to his ‘grease’ palms before he will release his letter. Such incidents are widespread and have become more of a norm. People even laugh at you when you complain of such happenings or incidents.
4. State of origin/indigenship syndrome or the so-called ‘’quota system’’ also takes a toll on the stability and security of our nation. A typical Nigerian identifies him/her self first with his tribe or state of origin rather than as a Nigerian. A Nigerian born and bred in an area and whose parents and grand-parents are also born in that particular area but are originally from another place, are still seen as strangers or settlers. They may be tolerated but many a times they are not entitled to some of the privileges that the so-called ‘owners’ of the land are entitled to. Currently, it is very much unlikely for say, a Yoruba born and bred in Ebonyi State to aspire and become the Governor of that state. Same applies to an Igbo born and bred in say, Oyo state. Even when there is a law that stipulates one’s entitlements/rights, in reality, it is not pragmatic. With nostalgia, one remembers a situation sometime in Sokoto State; indigent students were exonerated from paying school fees while making it compulsory for ‘settlers’ to pay school fees. This is not even the gist. The gist is that ‘settlers’ from another country (Niger Republic) are perhaps inadvertently exempted from paying school fees because they bear Hausa names, are Moslems and have strong cultural ties with the Hausa/Fulani people that inhabit Sokoto state. On the other hand, ‘settlers’ from say, the South-Eastern or South-Western parts of Nigeria pay school fees because they don’t share the same name, culture or language with the Sokoto people. You can see the irony.
5. Weak Institutions, Powerful individuals. In Nigeria, some individuals- the so-called god-fathers, Cabals and power-brokers are known to be stronger than the government or the institution. They see themselves as untouchables. They boast that nothing will happen and nothing ultimately happens! A case in point is the Petrol subsidy fraud masterminds. The government wants to broker a deal with them so they can return some of the money they embezzled. Many a times, the Police, Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) etc needs some kind of ‘clearance’ from the powers that be before they can do what they are naturally supposed to do especially when a so-called godfather or powerful individual is involved. Unscrupulous money-bags and in some cases criminals are celebrated and put in powerful positions because they are ‘connected’. A very popular and powerful ex-governor in Nigeria manipulated and escaped justice in Nigeria but was subsequently jailed in the U.K. One recalls a former Defence minister in Germany that was relieved of his position because he plagiarized his doctorate degree thesis. Not long ago, a former Canadian minister resigned after it was discovered that inter-alia, she could not reconcile expenses of about $16!.
In the West, I mean most European countries and North America, it is not unlikely that people get away with crimes but once it becomes public knowledge or the person gets caught, there is no hiding place, the law takes its natural course and the culprit must pay for it no matter how highly placed he/she is.
6. There is no doubt that Nigeria is endowed with a plethora of unpatriotic, unscrupulous and greedy leaders. Leadership in Nigeria is a do-or-die affair, it is not about competition of ideas or rendering selfless service as is the case in most Western Countries. A leadership position in Nigeria is seen as a lifetime opportunity for one to enrich himself and exonerate the next twenty generations of his family from poverty. The so-called ‘security vote’ has become a conduit pipe for siphoning money from the government coffers. Like they say, a leopard cannot change its skin.
7. Unemployment and lack of record/database of criminals also in no small measure, contributes to instability and insecurity not just in Nigeria but in any other place. The saying goes that, ‘a hungry man is an angry man’. No wonder many western countries pay unemployed people stipends or give them food stamps. We have a superfluity of unemployed people and graduates in Nigeria and the jobs are not forthcoming despite the promises by politicians. Some of these unemployed people take to wheeling-dealing while other ones inadvertently go into crimes to survive. Don’t forget that our society is such a place that the affluent like to flaunt their wealth whether ill-gotten or not. So imagine where an average unemployed graduate that spent 4-5 years in the higher institution is constantly intimidated by money-bags that probably never went to a secondary school. Such unemployed graduate may be tempted to kidnap the so-called big-man or any of his relatives and extort money from them.
There is paucity of a comprehensive database of ex-convicts or criminals in Nigeria. The implication of this alone has far-reaching effects on instability and insecurity. There abound cases of ex-convicts serving even in the Security Agencies. How can we combat insecurity when we don’t have a comprehensive record of those that have committed one offence or the other in the past.
Also related to the above point is the fact that our Security Agencies needs to be more proactive rather than been reactive. The ranks and file of our Security Agencies need constant training and re-training. They must also be well-equipped to tackle the type of security challenges prevalent today. You don’t expect good result when a Police officer with just an O’ level is investigating a Cyber crime. Their remuneration is also nothing to write home about hence they are not motivated to do their job.
8. Nigeria is probably the only country I know of where the sale of chemicals and to a larger extent, drugs are unregulated and where anybody and everybody can waltz into a shop and buy any quantity of chemicals without questions been asked. Hence it is very easy for terrorist to buy some of the raw materials and ingredients like acetone, fertilizers etc that can be used to produce Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s). I recall an idea was mooted sometime ago for the Chemical Society of Nigeria to be involved in licensing chemical dealers. I don’t know if that policy saw the light of the day. It is not late to enact a law if one is not existing that will effectively regulate the selling of chemicals etc.
9. The recent SIM card registration exercise may just be a time bomb waiting to happen. One is not aware of any Data Protection Act or law that stipulates how personal information should be protected and penalties where there is a breach. As usual, the whole idea and exercise was rammed into our throat. Deadlines for SIM registration were been bandied about, you will think it was some kind of emergency. Of course dissenting opinions are seldom tolerated here and offering constructive criticism makes one unpatriotic. The alacrity with which the whole thing was done, you will think it is the panacea to all our security challenges. Billions of naira was sunk into this project. There is nothing to show that the SIM card registration exercise is a success. How are we even sure ‘’Mr A’’ that registers him SIM is who he claims to be since we don’t have a comprehensive database of Nigerians? Don’t forget that with roaming, one can use the SIM card from any country in Nigeria. Even if all Nigerian are forced to register their SIM’s, one with a criminal intent can get an unregistered SIM from any other country, roam it and use it to perpetrate criminality in Nigeria.
One is not sure if calls can be tracked in real time here in Nigeria. If this is the case, the most that can be done is to work out the coordinates of the nearest telephone mast to the approximate distance AFTER the call must have ended and a smart culprit must have moved.
Concentrating all our personal information-pictures, names, addresses, fingerprints etc in a single database without adequate security is definitely a national disaster waiting to happen. Terrorists can hack or access our personal information if they are not well encrypted or secured. My fingerprint is very personal to me. One’s fingerprint is like one’s blood; in fact it is even more personal than the blood because no two individuals on earth have exactly the same fingerprint whereas two or more people can have the same blood group and genotype. Hence it goes without saying that if you want me to volunteer my fingerprint under whatever guise, I need a guarantee that it will be kept safe and will not fall into wrong hands. The last time I checked, according to global best practice, it is only the fingerprint of a convicted criminal that can be taken with or without his consent.
10. Our borders are to say the least simply porous! With our extensive borders, people can waltz in and out of Nigeria without detection. Oil bunkering is prevalent because our coastal borders are not adequately patrolled. Proliferation of arms and ammunitions are also common-place courtesy of our porous borders. The Nigerian Immigration Service, Customs, Navy and the Nigerian Air force must synergize to ensure that our borders are effectively patrolled. If need be, perhaps we can do what the Americans are doing in their borders with Mexico by erecting perimeter fencing and electronic surveillance in particular hot-spots.
Solutions Proffered To The Aforementioned Problems.
Having identified the raison d’ etre of instability and insecurity in Nigeria, an attempt is hereby made to proffer solutions.
If we must surmount the aforesaid threats to our well being as a nation, then we must begin to tell ourselves the home truth no matter how bitter it may be.
One of the first and very important steps we must take to curtail instability and insecurity is for us to embrace a Political system of government that gives more power to the federating units rather than concentrating so much power at the centre. Even the so-called federalism we claim to practice is adulterated. We have corrupted what federalism represents. True federalism as practiced by the Americans will no doubt eliminate the frequent agitation inherent in our polity. Sequel to our diverse ethnic nationalities, diverse cultural and religious backgrounds, One tends to have an affinity for a system of government akin to the British model- devolution or a variant of it minus the monarchy aspect. After more than 300 years or so of uneasy political marriage, Britain with 3 or 4 constituent nations-England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, appreciates the need and benefits of devolving Powers to the constituent countries. Scotland inter alia, has its own Police force, currency, parliament etc.
The problems and realities that gave birth to Nigeria’s civil war in 1967 are yet to be dealt with. Whether we shy away from the home truth or not, the implacable geometrical trend in instability and insecurity in Nigeria can be reconciled to the quest for Political Power and Relevance by the various nationalities that people Nigeria. The Niger-Delta militants agitated and were promptly pacified with an amnesty program and with one of their own emerging the Vice President and subsequently the substantive president.
Several years ago it was the dreaded Maitesina that was unleashed terror. Today it is the Boko Haram. Who knows, tomorrow, the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign state of Biafra (MASSOB) will be tempted to take up arms since violence is the only language that the Nigerian leadership understands.
There was so much excitement over the offer of Boko Haram to negotiate with the government. These guys are playing a dangerous hide and seek game with the Nigerian Government. They are waging a psychological warfare and it would seem they have the ace. The Nigerian government must not negotiate from a position of weakness or helplessness. Sometimes, an offer of negotiation may just be a ploy by the other party to re-strategize, regroup, and advance. Let us hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
This entire hullabaloo about negotiating with every group that raises its ugly head is tantamount to postponing the evil day. Let us be ready for the consequences as we set a precedent of negotiating with every irrational person or group. Something is not quite right with the foundation of Nigeria, its high time we summoned courage and dealt with the nitty-gritty once and for all rather than chasing shadows and postponing the evil day.
Secondly, to eradicate or curtail instability cum insecurity, we need to strengthen our judicial system by ensuring that justice is dispensed no matter whose ox is gored. Nepotism and a culture of impunity must also be eschewed from our national psyche and life. Nigeria must be an egalitarian nation and not a country where there are two sets of rules-one for the rich and another for the poor. Nigerians must not be made to suffer in the midst of plenty!
Thirdly, serious, concerted and visible effort must be geared towards exterminating corruption and injustice in Nigeria. EFCC, ICPC must be INDEPENDENT! There must not be sacred cows or smoke-screens! A situation where the Attorney-general of the federation or the minister of justice can arbitrarily and unilaterally terminate or discontinue any case instituted by the EFCC, et al, no matter the merits of the case, should be looked into as it is subject to abuse.
Measures must also be put in place to ensure quick dispensation of justice. In Nigeria, people commit an offence that has say, a five years maximum sentence and they spend six years in jail awaiting trial. Let justice be done and seen to be done.
Fourthly, merit must not be sacrificed on the altar of State of origin/Indigenship or the so-called Quota system. Laws must be made that guarantees every Nigerian, the right to reside in any part of Nigeria and be entitled to what every other person there is entitled to. I understand we have such laws; those laws must not just be paper-tigers, they must be enforced and workable.
This issue is the root of the imbroglio in Jos and some other parts of Nigeria. The Hausa/Fulani tribes in Jos are still seen as strangers even though some of them, their Parents, grand and great-grand parents were born in Jos and have no other place as home.
Fifthly, we must strengthen and encourage our institutions. As Obama once said, Africa needs strong institutions, not strong men. Our institutions must walk the talk and not just be paper-tigers. All citizens must be equal before the law. The culture of foisting candidates on the electorate during elections must stop. Elections must be free and fair and a system should be put in place that ensures only Patriotic and unscrupulous individuals hold positions of responsibility.
Similarly, unemployment must be seriously tackled and curtailed. The private sector must be encourage and supported to create the much needed jobs. Constant electricity supply will no doubt boost employment and increase productivity.
Lastly and very important is that we must jettison our fire brigade approach to solving problems be it security or otherwise. More often than not, we wait until the harm is done before we start running helter-skelter. We must embrace an intelligence gathering method. Problems, crises etc must be nipped in the bud before they escalate. Prior to his death, Osama Bin Laden seemed to be larger than life for about a decade but through intelligence, America finally tracked him down and eliminated him.
Our Police and other security agencies must be well-equipped and trained/re-trained to tackle present day security challenges. Qualified and bright individuals should be encouraged with good incentives to enlist into the Security Agencies. The police must not be a dumping ground for dullards. One is encouraged with the recent enlistment exercise of IT professionals into the officer cadre of the Nigeria Police. Other professionals should be wooed too. The Nigeria Police is also reported to have upped the ante by making Ordinary National Diploma and NCE the minimum requirement for potential recruits into the Police. Recruitment exercise must be transparent. Merit must not be sacrificed in the altar of god-fatherism. The Police forensic laboratory must be well-equipped, funded and staffed with qualified personnel.
Security is not necessarily rocket science; no wonder even nitwits find very comfortable careers in crime and terrorism. A lot of common sense can help to maintain security. The problem is that common sense is no longer common these days. An iota of omission or negligence can have severe security implications and consequences. Even the Scripture says, ‘watch and pray’.
Nigerians must be continually sensitized to be security conscious. We have a culture of taking everything for granted over here. Security is a collective responsibility. Our lackadaisical attitude to security must cease. In most Western countries, people take note of a new neighbor when s/he moves into the neighborhood. You will be surprised you wander up and down a street in a typical Western nation and the next thing you see are police cars blaring their sirens. Apart from the security cameras everywhere, probably an elderly man or woman must have tipped the police off. Here in Nigeria, most of us do not know our next door neighbor not to talk of other neighbors living the next street. We don’t know or care what our neighbors’ are into.
The National Orientation Agency, the State Security Service etc have to be more proactive. Enlightenment campaigns must be ongoing.
Recall also that individuals and groups do not have a monopoly over terrorism. History abounds of State terrorism where Governments by act of commission or omission, use instruments and institutions of government to terrorize its citizens. We also have financial terrorism etc. Too much wealth is in wrong hands in Nigeria and they can deploy it to destabilize the polity.
So government must not push its citizens so hard that they resort to criminality, violence and terrorism. A hungry man they say is an angry man. Nigerians are generally peaceful and pliant.
All the aforementioned factors are intertwined; the sporadic interplay of them impinges an unpredictable butterfly effect on the Stability and Security of Nigeria. Nigerians, let us Unite Against Insecurity and Terrorism. Let’s make Nigeria great again!
God bless Nigeria and Nigerians.
(Security Analyst & Consultant)
|Re: Remote, Immediate Causes Of Crimes, Insecurity And Instability In Nigeria by IYGEAL(m): 10:10am On Nov 03, 2012|
what a nice piece of writing. Not surprised that no one replied
|Re: Remote, Immediate Causes Of Crimes, Insecurity And Instability In Nigeria by Veevien(f): 11:14am On Nov 30, 2012|
well written article, well done.
|Re: Remote, Immediate Causes Of Crimes, Insecurity And Instability In Nigeria by Donsacramento: 4:25pm On Dec 12, 2012|
I will like to use this nice piece for my term paper write-up, if u don't mind
|Re: Remote, Immediate Causes Of Crimes, Insecurity And Instability In Nigeria by NUAIT: 5:44pm On Dec 19, 2012|
I don't mind as long as you reference and acknowledge the author. Cheers
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