One of the fundamental human rights of the people in any given state is the right to security and this is why it is always provided for in the constitution of most sovereign states. Nigeria is not an exception, thus Section 14 (2) (b) of the Nigerian 1999 constitution states clearly that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of the government”.
Insecurity has become a hydra-headed monster that security agents in Nigeria appear incapable of handling vis a vis its multifaceted manifestations like bombing, kidnapping/hostage taking, destruction of property, creation of fear, to mention but a few. Now, hardly a day goes by without a report of one security challenge or the other. Unfortunately, ordinary citizens, as well as the nation’s economic resources, are at the receiving end of this wanton destruction.
The series of bombings and killings in the north; kidnapping and armed robbery attacks in the south; political and economic related assassinations as well as the politically influenced communal wars have become a multi-hydra-headed monster in which security agents in Nigeria appear incapable of handling. Security has long been a part of human existence and sustenance and could be aptly viewed as freedom from the threat of violence which could lead to the loss of lives and properties. That is, security is a situation in which citizens are free from any threats to their life and means of livelihood, safe from bodily harm, diseases, unemployment, and human rights violations wherever they may find themselves within a sovereign nation.
Forms and the Causes of Insecurity
1. Leadership Factor
The Nigerian state for some time now has not had the benefit of being administered by good leaders as most of the political leaders are in office for pecuniary gains. Often, sadly, these crops of political leaders oppress the citizens with the looted money, train thugs, and hooligans who later turn to robbers or engage in other forms of crime when they are dumped by the politicians after elections thus constituting a major threat to the security of the nation.
2. Unemployment Factor
Idle hand, they say is the devil workshop so as the rate of unemployment continues to rise so does the wave of crime and its attendant effect. The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) puts unemployment in Nigeria at 29.1 percent and still rising. These unemployed people now employ themselves by engaging in illegal activities such as kidnapping, robbery, bunkering, and other nefarious activities. Insecurity also makes it hard for Youths to look for jobs as most kidnappers now use these tools as a means to lure innocent people. however, there are reliable job sites in Nigeria available for youths to get employment opportunities
3. No Prosecution for Those who Threaten Peace
There have been several incidences of people involved in criminal activities being set free after their arrest without any prosecution or penalty. This encourages such activities as there is no penalty for engaging in activities that disrupt the peace of the nation. This is likely due to corruption in the government in which case government officials use the criminals for their gain and so will bribe their way to see that such criminals are set free. Politicians also use thugs during the election and I am not aware of a single case in which a political thug was prosecuted and penalized for engaging in peace-threatening activities. This certainly encourages crime and unlawful activities in society.
4. Nigeria’s Porous Borders
Book Haram has lingered this long without being contained because they flee to neighboring countries like Cameroun, Chad, and Niger when they are being attacked in Nigeria.
This wouldn’t be happening if our borders were secured by the Nigerian immigration service whose job it is to ensure such things don’t happen. Sometimes it is a result of corruption in high places since top officers in charge of borders can be bribed to allow illegal passage across our borders.
Level of Insecurity and Security Degeneration in Nigeria
Insecurity paranoia is continuing to haunt all inhabitants of Nigeria as it is already fast dawning on them that government cannot effectively guarantee the security of lives and properties. The state security agents who are saddled with the responsibility for the security of life and property which include- the police, state security agencies, the military, immigration, and prison service have all performed abysmally in the discharge of their duties. The level of insecurity in Nigeria is multifaceted as such one cannot accurately categorize the patterns of insecurity. Agomuo (2013) posits regarding the nature of insecurity in Nigeria that:
“At different times in the past, these different groups have held the Nigerian nation to ransom. In each of these different times, the groups reigned, the nation’s security agencies were unable to deal with them or quell their lawless conduct through superior firepower. The government has always reached a form of settlement with these organizations. The trend is that each time the government reached a compromise with these lawless groups, it became weaker and new groups emerged to use violent means to extract a commitment from the government. In a typical behavior of a nation that thrives on a rent economy, the government has always sought to buy peace and always ended with the peace of the graveyard like the current situation in the Niger Delta where former militants have been transformed into either top-level government contractors or emergency crude oil refiners in the creeks or kidnap merchants, despite an amnesty program that still costs the government billions of Naira every year.”
There are different forms of insecurity in Nigeria. For example in the South-West geo-political zone, armed robbery is prevalent especially in cities like Lagos, Ibadan, Akure, and Abeokuta; in the South-South and SouthEast which is the oil base of the nation, kidnapping is rampant and the activities cover every part of the zone with victims of all ages and all walks of life; in the North, robbery across the border coupled with Boko Haram insurgence is the security challenge.
The menace of the Boko Haram for some time now has constituted a thorn in the flesh of Nigerians; from the first time they struck in Borno State part of Nigeria in 2009, over 4000 people including Nigeria citizens as well as expatriates have been killed in violent deadly attacks targeting Christian churches, police, a few mosques, military installations, Western-type educational institutions with innocent students and even children.
Security, without doubt, is a sine qua non for the sound existence of human beings, a nation, its unity, and economic prosperity, employment opportunities as well as political stability. Security entails the presence of peace, safety, happiness, and the protection of human and physical resources. All threats to human security also challenge health and consequently are detrimental to the physical, psychological, and overall well-being of the individual.
Thus, we note that insecurity leads to illness, low life expectancy rate, low quality of life, and even death. The productive sector of the economy which depends largely on the availability and regular supply of raw materials is suffering from the cutting off of the supply of raw materials and also facing untold difficulty in the marketing of finished products. In the area of finance, insecurity has increased security or defense spending as the country and most business organizations now spend a lot in maintaining security outfits. Insecurity has thus, become a drain on national resources as the resources expended on security could have been otherwise deployed in developing national infrastructure.
Finally and perhaps most importantly to Nigeria, insecurity has significantly affected oil production as a result of kidnappings and the hostage-taking of oil workers and this has adversely reduced government revenue.