It is no longer news that the state of insecurity in the country has come to be literally the biggest problem that we are confronted with today. From North to South, East to West, the country is practically enmeshed in a very confounding orgy of continually escalating security incidents in which citizens are killed, assets are destroyed and livelihoods mangled without as much as a care. It is a really horrid and most confounding situation that is very clearly stretching both the governors and the governed in the land to their limits.
In the midst of this depressing situation however, the response from the formal tiers of government and security enforcement has been to literally continue to use the same principally military framework to address the challenge. This has left the nation with a scenario in which troops have now being deployed very thinly across as many as 34 of the 36 states in the country while the challenge is not exactly abated. This dispersal has therefore also raised another unplanned scenario where in some instances, criminal elements have been known to operate unchallenged for hours perhaps because there are no spare hands to deploy to confront them.
And confounding the challenge is the fact that the insistence of the federal authorities to continue to micromanage the overall security infrastructure in the country now stands as one major hindrance that needs to be addressed. If the truth is to be told, this policy has clearly become one of the biggest hindrances to combating insecurity in the country. If more boots are needed on ground, why not get them? As this editorial was going to press, one more news was filtering in that another round of fresh troops recruitment was being contemplated. Well, we would take it when we see it.
And going beyond the need for more men, indeed, one of the immediate admissions that the managers of the system ought to be made abreast of is the reality that there are indeed very many dimensions to the challenge of insecurity in the country today. A fitting solution therefore would involve delineating these dimensions of the crisis and tagging tailor-made solutions to each.
In the North East of the country for example, the biggest security challenge comes from the activities of the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency and its spin offs and global allies who have for a dozen years now waged a murderous campaign to entrench a Caliphate in that part of the country and administer it as a fundamentalist enclave.
In the North Central and North West on the other hand, the core of the challenge is traceable to the activities of bandits, land grabbers and ethnic and religious hegemonists. There is also the associated challenge of porous borders through which foreign criminal elements literally waltz their way in and out of the country, and seemingly almost unchallenged in very many instances.
In the South East, the crisis is chiefly one of alienation. Not a few people here believe that the region has since the national crisis of the 1960s and the ensuing civil war, continued to be at the receiving end and as such there is a combination of veiled and widespread angst among the people. Unfortunately, the classic response over the years by the political and security authorities have tended to revolve around militarily muscling all such expressions of discontent leading to what some now see as a new and dangerous development where the aggrieved young people of the region who were content in the past to express their discontent through carrying placards and undertaking prayer sessions may now be ‘fighting back by any means necessary.’
It is this diversity of situations and reactions that has prompted calls by informed commentators that each of the situations needs to be assessed in its own frame such that the nation can find fitting solutions to them in their own rights. This is the core fulcrum around which advocates of state policing for example have continued to drive their point. As they argue, a security personnel is best helped by his immersion in a local community and access to intelligence, a lot of which is supplied by people that he knows and who know him and can trust him to work with and deliver on given information in such a manner that the threat would be expeditiously minimised and the risk of reprisals from the criminal underworld almost non-existent.
And even more comprehensively, it is appropriate to note that the current spate of security challenges at the moment criss-cross a variety of economic, social, political and criminal dimensions. We have on our hands then a crisis for which plain text book law and order solutions would be inadequate. A bit of restructuring of the federation, a rejigging of the economic stratosphere, a recourse to international help and a decentralisation of the security architecture are some of the remedies that are required at the moment if a major dent is to be achieved. It is definitely not a crisis that would go away with the mere reshuffling of service chiefs or playing the ostrich when firm and concrete action is required.
The current security challenge needs all the frontal attention it deserves. This is the only way to truly ensure that government is living up to the billing enshrined in the constitution which places the security and well being of the citizenry as the prime reason for government.