In order for Nigeria to improve life for its citizens it must address the four main roots of insecurity; terrorism, unemployment, porous borders and corruption, says Abideen Olasupo.
Move two kilometres away from where you stand; you just might be a victim of a pipeline explosion! Stay alert at your present location; Boko Haram might be closer to you than your jugular vein! Loss of property, and life, is now at your own risk! You’ll have to travel much further however to find work; there are no jobs anywhere! My country, Nigeria, has become an insecure country, there are a number of reasons for the growing rates of poverty, injury and crime. And there’s plenty we can do to improve the picture.
The phenomenon of Boko Haram in Nigeria, continuing since 2002 still poses a great threat to the safety of the nation, as the group aims to establish a fundamentalist Islamic caliphate in West Africa. Research by BBC Monitoring shows the conflict has reportedly left around 20,000 people dead, and displaced at least two million.
‘Ansaru’ a splinter group from Boko Haram supposedly formed in protest against Boko Haram’s indiscriminate killings, has largely focused on kidnapping for ransom, primarily of Europeans. The activities of these groups continue to endanger the nation.
The high unemployment rate has been the bane of youth in Nigeria. The unemployment rate has been climbing for a decade and stood at 6.11% in 2019. As if that was not enough, the federal government, through the Minister of Labour and Employment, recently announced the unemployment rate has hit 23.1% and it is projected to grow to 35.5% by 2020. If the trend is not urgently reversed, the consequences could be extreme. There is no doubt the poverty rate will skyrocket and by extension, armed robbery, kidnappings, insurgencies, drug abuse, and most other criminalities (born of desperation).
The porousness of the Nigerian border is helping criminals. Men responsible for ongoing armed attacks in the Republic of Niger, Chad and the Republic of Benin, have found their ways into the Nigeria. Smuggled goods such as rice and vehicles, whose importation have been banned, flood through unapproved and unmaintained land border routes. This poses a threat to the safety of lives and properties of citizens in all the nations. This lack of monitoring allows cross-border bandits, smuggling, drug trafficking and human trafficking to thrive. It has become an even greater concern now as we all try to monitor and control the flow of people in an effort to safely quarantine and slow the spread of the COVID19 pandemic.
Corruption, and in particular bribery, is rampant. According to a corruption survey by Unodc.org, out of all Nigerian citizens who had at least one contact with a public official in 2018, 30.2% paid a bribe, or were asked to pay a bribe, to a public official. The 2019 survey also showed a notable increase to 63% in the overall proportion of Nigerians who had at least one contact with a public official. Bribery has become the route to securing whatever you want or need. This has led the nation to engage in ‘Do or Die’ politics, with elites manipulating and exploiting ethnic and religious differences and weak judicial systems for their own benefit.
Solutions to the Rising Insecurity in Nigeria
To restore normalcy, Nigeria should reconsider regional co-operation to combat terrorism. These evil perpetrators easily move around neighbouring countries and we must cooperate with one another to stop them. The broader international community’s assistance will be very much required. The armed forces should be well equipped, consistently motivated and vetted to ensure they are capable of carrying out their duties. The federal government should look into its recent initiatives of discharging wrongdoers on grounds of being repentant.
In addition to the existing government social interventions targeted at reducing unemployment and poverty, efforts should be made to create more job opportunities and interest-free start-up loans for the general population. Thorough and regular check-ups should be done to ensure existing opportunities are properly managed.
Also, the government must ensure the consistent policing of border stations to eradicate any form of smuggling into the country. This will increase the country’s revenue and help the nation to keep track of the movement of people and goods in and out of the country.
Lastly, we need more robust systems of punishment for corruption and abuse of office. Whoever is found trading fraudulently, misappropriating or syphoning funds, taking kickbacks, under and over-invoicing, demanding bribes or making false declarations, should be relieved of their duty. People who go into politics to amass wealth should be shown the way out through robust constitutional means.
Abideen Olasupo is the founder and executive director of Brain Builders International. He also championed the translation of the SDGs into local languages and is currently mobilising community campaigners to meet stakeholders across all the 774 LGAs in a bid to help in the localisation, and most importantly, the achievement of the SDGs.