Security, peace and economic development, By Jide Ayobolu
Security is the degree of resistance to, or protection from, harm. It applies to any vulnerable and valuable asset, such as a person, dwelling, community, item, nation, or organization.
Furthermore, security provides “a form of protection where a separation is created between the assets and the threat.” These separations are generically called “controls,” and sometimes include changes to the asset or the threat.
Security is said to have two dialogues. Negative dialogue is about danger, risk, threat etc. Positive dialogue is about opportunities, interests, profits etc. Negative dialogue needs military equipment, armies, or police.
Positive dialogue needs social capital, education, or social interaction. It is important to state that, security is central to the attainment of economic growth and development, this is because, development no matter how little cannot flourish in an atmosphere of insecurity and violence. But with peace, development can be easily achieved.
It is for this reason that a historical perspective of the security situation in the country will suffice, to understand where the country is coming from. After all, to properly understand the present, we must have full grasp of the past, which will enable us plan effectively for the future.
At this juncture therefore, it is imperative to recall with the benefit of hindsight that, under the immediate past government of President Goodluck Jonathan, the Boko Haram insurgents had a field day, killing and maiming innocent citizens at will, the situation got so bad that, even soldiers that were supposed to fight the insurgents ran away from battlefront, claiming the terrorists had far more superior firepower and weapons; now with the Dasukigate scandal, we all know that, the funds that was meant to procure arms and ammunitions were diverted to individual accounts to satisfy private interests while the terrorists kept on killing helpless citizens and the government turned a blind eye to everything that was happening.
It is appalling to observe that, Boko Haram under Jonathan’s administration killed helpless and hapless people indiscriminately, from innocuous bystanders to impeccant school children. In total, there have been immeasurably terrorist attacks with countless heavy causality figures, across Northern Nigeria , since December 2010.
As a matter of fact, there have been numerous bomb attacks across Northern Nigeria since May 2011.
A series of bomb attacks occurred in many states, including, Borno, Bauchi, Katsina, Adamawa, Kaduna , Yobe, Kano and the Federal Capital Territory , Abuja . Yet it was practically impossible for the State Security Service to know the sponsors of the group, where their lethal weapons came from, and their modus operandi.
The analyses of the Boko Haram insurgents were predicated on conjecture and second-guessing; these could not have helped the country out of the precarious situation. Not only this, territories of the Nigerian state, were captured and controlled by the insurgents; and the counter-terrorism efforts ended in a fiasco.
Since the Boko Haram insurgents started their condemnable and objectionable activities nobody of note has been apprehended and brought to book, except just to score cheap political points and make pointless media stunt, even the small fries that were caught were not given any serious reprimand, in terms of state sanctions, they are treated with kid-gloves, this has more than anything else, emboldened them to continue with their wicked campaigns.
Also, Nigeria borders are so porous and open that the insurgents come in and go out of the country at will and there is no one to stop them. Besides, the amount of funds are have been committed to fighting the scourge of Boko Haram is so huge but not reflected in the arms and ammunitions used by the Nigerian armed forces as well as their motivation, necessitating the objective question, as to how and on what the massive funds were expended on.
Similarly, the insecurity situation created by the Boko Haram sect threatened the very existence of NYSC scheme, which is generally regarded as a unifying factor in this country. The activities of the Boko Haram sect obviously threatened the corporate existence of Nigeria ’s sovereignty. Boko Haram succeeded in instilling fear and hatred among the people who have been living in peace and harmony for decades.
In Nigeria , there was a general feeling of insecurity among the Nigerian populace. The terrorizing effect of the activities of the fundamentalist sect, Boko Haram on the socio-economic condition of the northern states of Nigeria has become so devastating that some financial institutions and other business ventures have closed down in many areas, thereby causing relocation of non-indigenes to their own states and others to neighbouring countries that share borders with Nigeria . The dangerous dimension the insecurity challenge has posed by the fundamentalist group, Boko Haram, has heightened serious fears among Nigerian populace. The trend has led to incessant suicide bombings and all sorts of attacks in the northern parts of the country with little or no provocation. Consequently, lives and property were lost, business ventures and shops have remained closed especially in the north.
In the case of the Chibok school girl’s that were horrendously taken away by the Boko Haram insurgents; it was a very sad experience that the country would never want to go through again.
However, it is imperative to underscore the fact that, there was no swift response by the Nigerian government to get the abducted Chibok School girls back to the country and to their parents.
The Federal Government and Borno State government gave different accounts of how the girls were kidnapped, and both governments traded blames, with obvious communication breakdown. But the manner in which the girls were kidnapped in several buses and trunks without any security interception is really very disturbing and worrisome.
This was accentuated by the assertion by Amnesty International that the military had been tipped off about the abduction but they failed to act, this is a glaring egregious error that cannot be explained away under any guise.
In all of this, the Nigerian government was very lethargic, standoffish and unconcerned, behaving as though nothing of any significance had occurred. In fact, with the benefit of hindsight and body language of the Federal Government, it was glaring that, the government then did not initially believe that the girls were actually kidnapped, it carried on as if, it was a political gimmick meant to settle political vendetta, in order to attract undue attention to the political foes of the government.
This raised question about the information gathering mechanism of the security agencies and the quality of advice it offered to government. It was only much later that it dawned on the Federal Government that the girls were actually abducted, and president was busy traveling all over the world, even campaigning for elections in these devastated areas; and not bating an eyelid about the plight of the abducted school girls.
Instead of getting to the brass task of rescuing the girls, government was more concerned about the politics of terror, initially, government treated the kidnap saga with levity, thinking it was a façade, but the general public outcry and demonstrations across the country and beyond, even by very prominent people in the society made the government to come to the realization that it gaffed and made a strategic miscalculation and to this end, took sluggish steps to retraced its earlier stance to no avail.
The point of departure in this regard was the reluctant acceptance of global assistance not only to help rescue the abducted school girls, but also to fight terror in the country. This is because Nigeria ’s economic wellbeing is strategic to the economic interest and prosperity some economic superpowers. It would be recalled that initially, President Goodluck Jonathan had rebuffed all entreaties to make him accept the offer of the international community to fight terror in the country.
The management of the Chibok school girl’s abduction which has now attracted global attention and outrage was a bad advertisement of the country, in terms of how the government cherished and catered for her citizens. This is indicative of the fact that those who claim to really be in charge of the affairs of the Nigerian State then were indeed not on top of their game. This was further buttressed by the fact that, after several weeks of the unfortunate kidnap saga, the president claim not to know the whereabouts of the abducted minors, as if to say, they were been abandoned to their fates.
It would also be recalled that, when the Boko Haram insurgents went to students hotels and killed, maimed as well as slaughtered helpless minors, all the government did was to commiserate with the parents of the departed souls, with no concrete game plans to deal with nagging problem of insurgents and its concomitant effects on the polity, only for such to repeat itself again and again.
Hence, the whole war on terror in the country before now, was nothing but an unmitigated disaster, hence, its funding should be thoroughly probed. From all indications, the fear of the Boko Haram was the beginning of wisdom, even in Abuja, schools were shut down, business were closed, people lived in fear and the insurgents were dictating the scheme of things, as the security agencies were apparently confused and clueless, unfortunately the people of Nigeria and the national economy are the worst for it.
The information gathering mechanism of the security apparatuses in the country were very poor; and insurgents seemed to have infiltrated the rank and file of the security architecture enabling them to strike at will with reckless abandon and precision. The government is finding it difficult to galvanize confidence and hope amongst the people under Goodluck Jonathan.
Each time the insurgents struck killing hundreds of people, government official just came out talk tough and promise the people that the culprits would not be apprehended, but that such dastardly act will not occur in the country again, only for such mindless attacks to repeat itself over and over again; the people were fed up and thoroughly frustrated. This is compounded by the fact that several countries issued travel warnings and restrictions to their citizens; steadily Nigeria was classified as “one of the axis of evil” in the international community.
It was under this confusion that President Buhari became the leader of the country, and he is of the firm view that the responsibility of putting paid to the ugly insecurity is with the government; and that must government should sit up, and find very, lasting urgent, all-embracing solution to the menace and that trading blames would not take the country anywhere.
The government should not only take responsibility but it must show capacity and capability to resolve this quagmire as soon as possible. The senseless bombings and security challenge must stop, this is exactly what the Buhari administration has done, it has reorganized the armed forces and motivated them accordingly, the counter-terrorism war is now prosecuted with determination and vigour, new arms and ammunitions have been procured, the probe of the $2.1 billion arms procurement is on-going, all the territories previously occurred by the insurgents have been captured by Nigerian soldiers, the rescue of the Chibok girls has gathered the much needed steam, yes, there are still incidents of bomb detonation, here and there, but by and large, the insurgents have been largely defeated and incapacitated, but the government is not resting on its oars, as it is collaborating with the country’s immediate neighbours and indeed the international community to stamp out terrorism completely from the country.
The Federal Government is now collaborating and not fighting the governments of the North Eastern states, as used to be the case; in order to find a lasting solution to the activities of the insurgents in the areas, therefore, it is imperative that the efforts of the government in this regard should be deeply appreciated, after all, the 1999 constitution states unequivocally that the security and welfare of the people shall be the purpose of government. Hence, this is the best of constitutional democracy in practice. This is in spite of recent campaigns by a group to use the issue to get personal things for themselves.
On the issue of the Niger Delta militancy, there is no doubt that the Niger Delta Avengers are not a militant group that is in any way committed to the genuine environmental and underdevelopment issues of the south-south geo-political zone, from all intents and purposes and from there demands cum body language as well as modus operandi, it is pretty obvious that they are a violent political organization formed by disgruntled politicians mostly of Niger Delta extraction and with sympathizers and collaborators from other parts of the federation, bent on frustrating all the heart-warming efforts of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government.
The fundamental objective of the faceless group is that, this present government must fail, so that, what their sponsors lost in the 2015 general elections they can slyly gain in the 2019 general elections through devious means.
The formation of the faceless and violent group is also meant to distract the present administration from comprehensively and conclusively pursuing the anti-corruption crusade which is undoubtedly yielding positive dividends for the country. Corrupt politician can no longer steal like before; expectedly they are angered by the stance of government on corruption, secondly, the anti-graft agencies are recovering money and properties in different parts of the world from corrupt politicians and fraudulent top government officials as well as their cronies in various other places; they are therefore seriously vexed; as at the last count, over N3 trillion have been recovered, also, a top military officer promised to pay back N4 billion, while a politician volunteered to pay back the huge sum of N400 million to the coffers of the government, besides, other stolen funds are daily recovered with affecting people making voluntary confessional statements.
To President Buhari, in the war against corruption there is no friend or foe, the underlying fact remains that, the right thing must always be done, the essence of public office is not to amass wealth or for personal aggrandizement; however the reason for justification for public is to serve the people which is predicated on selfless service. This is the new line of thinking in the country; it looks odd, but it is the right thing to do, Nigeria has no time to waste, as it must be a shinning example to people around the globe, we must not forget the fact that, Nigeria is the largest concentration of people on planet earth, this means that, all black people all over the world are looking for Nigeria for inspiration and direction; and we cannot let them down.
From their activities and demands, it is logical and commonsensical to conclude that, since the person presiding over the affairs of the country at this material time is not from the Niger Delta region, this group was put in place by political traducers from that region, who were not favoured by the outcome of the 2015 general elections to make governance cumbersome and even impossible for the present occupiers of political office, perhaps, if they achieve their inordinate goals, they can maybe return to power somehow.
But the question to ask is that, is PMB and his government the real problem of the Niger Delta region? The so-called Niger Delta avengers should asked themselves, what and whom are they really avenging for and for what reasons or purposes? If they are not sponsored, they ought to have entered into constructive engagement with government or seek redress in local or even international courts or look for some other peaceful and constitution means to vent their spleen, instead of resorting to violence right from the onset. And, it was even Dr. Ngozi Nkonjo-Iweala, who said that, when you fight corruption, when you touch the pocket of the people stealing money, they do not keep quiet; and this exactly what is going on and playing out in the country.
Since the governors are the chief security officers of their respective states, it behooves on them therefore to ensure peace and security in their domain, in this regard; the president should talk to the governors of Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta states to live up to their responsibilities in ensuring tranquility and order in their enclaves, failure to do this within the next three months, a state of emergency will be declared in their states for one year in the first instance, the governors will be temporarily suspended for the duration and sole administrators will be appointed to take charge to restore hope, security and peace to the states in question.
This is perhaps the only way to restore normalcy to the situation in the country, we as a people and country can ill-afford to have people that will destroy and disorganize things that took years of hard work to build. Governors and indeed political office holders cannot just occupy offices for the sake of occupying it, they have to justify the reason for which they were appointed or elected as the case maybe. Nigeria cannot be an exception to the rules on international best practices in the conduct of democratic governance.
Insecurity in any part of the country is a threat to peace in every part of the country, and peace is a condition for development, therefore, the government must as a matter of responsibility create or put in place conditions that would guarantee peace not only for business and investment to thrive but peace for people to live harmoniously without let or hindrance of any sort, to be able to achieve their goals in life.
With the technical defeat of the Boko Haram insurgency and the systematic reorganization of the military architecture, as well as proper funding, the issue of security is the topmost agenda of this administration. Corruption is being carefully dealt with in the military; the military is being gradually professionalized and equipped.
Today, normalcy and development is getting back to the north-eastern part of the country. This is as a result of the peace that is brought about by heavy military presence; also, efforts are still on-going to rout out the remnants of the insurgents the geo-political zone. In a similar vein, the government is curtailing the menace of kidnappers and the scourge of Fulani herdsmen. Moreover, the government is actively engaging the militants and taking necessary actions against miscreants in the south-south geo-political. Now that the issue of security is paramount in the polity, the atmosphere of peace would usher in the much needed development that the country needs.
And, the government as well as the relevant stakeholders should engage is widespread advocacy and public enlightenment on the need for peace to aid development, as insecurity of any sort is an enemy of progress.
Ayobolu, a public affairs analyst contributed this piece from Lagos State.
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