Thursday 20 December 2012

Nigeria Internal Security Landscape

Nigeria inherited a security system that was oriented towards the promotion of the interests and objectives of colonial masters first, and secondly, Nigerian bourgeois on independence; employed largely in support of maintenance of law and order in aid of those in power, with policies centering on law enforcement and territorial protection. The above structure robbed the security system of the ability and capacity to think and act in an integrated strategic terms or develop necessary instruments and structures through which strategic and tactical doctrines could evolve over time.

Events occurring within the global community have changed the perception of security, so that security is now conceived as a comprehensive and total package with the socio-cultural and economic security aspects assuming the centre stage of importance. National security today is seen as a total security: encompassing security of life and property, security of the economy, security of the economic resources of the country, security of food and raw materials, security of industries, security of the general health of the people, security of the environment and security of national integrity and esteem.

The state of health of the nation’s economy is now an issue of concern not to Nigeria as a country but to the international community. It is a problem that threatens national security and undermines international peace.

The decline in the economy of Nigeria coupled with the impact of structural adjustment measures adopted to address these problems by successive administrations have resulted in social and cultural crises, which in turn is affecting national security. These problems confronting the social fabric of the Nigeria society have resulted in serious threat to internal security so that Nigeria finds herself faced with instability stemming mainly from internal sources.

To treat this ailment, Nigeria had to allow the penetration of her economy by foreign interests to a level which is considered intolerable in many quarters.

Worse still, Nigeria lacks a standard defence contractor’s security policy. The nation’s security system is as porous as its borders. Anybody can be defence contractor in Nigeria and the operations unregulated.

Nigeria also lacks domestic cohesion and is suffering from chronic internal political fragility which combines to create the numerous vulnerabilities we are witnessing in the security sector. Ethnic and religious pluralism and their manipulations are pervasive and are not conducive for national stability and development.

Low level of internal cohesiveness and harmony is more worrisome than external threats. History is replete with examples of nations that failed to achieve organic integration and greatness due to activities of antagonistic nationalities. These nations do not only failed but dissolved into their component parts when confronted with serious security challenges. We should prove our enemies wrong and the prediction of disintegration by 2015 false by cementing and building bridges across our divides. There is unity in diversity and there is beauty in variety.   

It is imperative therefore that the Nigeria internal security landscape be predicated on a socio-political environment of national stability, need for national cohesion and national development. The Federal Government of Nigeria own it a duty to provide the necessary infrastructural environment and motivations for Nigerians to, as a matter of patriotism, individually and collectively play down internal antagonisms, multifarious contradictions and dichotomies which our internal and external enemies do capitalize on from time to time to undermine our corporate existence through the enthronement good governance and elimination of corruption in governance. Our interest and value systems must be reengineered to reflect believe in Nigeria and love for Nigeria.

The appreciation of the impact of the economic, social and cultural dimensions on internal security is important in understanding both the security landscape as well as analyzing and planning an integrated security programme to achieve the primary aim of government which is the “security and welfare of the people” as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

The containment of the economic, social and cultural aspects of security is no longer optional but a major and compulsory strategy to achieving national cohesion and security. Any security landscape design that failed to incorporate socio-cultural and economic components is bound to fail. Internal security is the concern of everybody but the motivation comes from leadership! Leadership must at regular intervals consider the living standards of the followers and ensure that those things that cause anger, frustration and idleness are eliminated or reduced to the barest minimum. Because, idleness breeds frustration and frustration begets anger and anger leads to violence and violence perpetuates insecurity. Take away idleness, and frustration will die, anger will disappear, violence will vanish and the people will become their brother’s keeper and live happily. Everybody wants to  actually be happy!

T. A. Imobighe (1990) observed that internal security has to do with freedom from danger, or with threats to a nation’s ability to protect and develop itself, promote its cherished values and legitimate interests and enhance the well being of its people. According to Imobighe, internal security is the absence of those tendencies which could undermine internal cohesion and the corporate existence of the nation and its ability to maintain its vital institutions for the promotion of its core values and socio-political and economic objectives, as well as meet the legitimate aspiration of the people. Internal security, therefore, is the baseline of any nation’s security system. Internal security must provide freedom from danger to life and property and ensure the presence of a conducive atmosphere for the citizenry to pursue their legitimate interests within the society. However, it is regrettable that 52 years after independence, Nigeria lacks a well articulated internal security policy in spite of the fact that security has continuously received the chuck of the nation’s annual budgets. There is also little or no intellectual work devoted to this all important aspect of our national life except intermittent official memoranda, commission reports, and individual write-ups on particular emergency situations. The absence of a workable doctrine for internal security paints the landscape in bad light.

Past experiences at trying to manage internal security have been by ad hoc response with emphasis on developing coercive apparatus of government with little or nothing in the area of removing the main causes of socio-economic hardship, poverty, and citizenry alienation.

The police, SSS, NSCDC, NDLEA, Customs and Immigration Services and even the military have persistently been used to perpetrate crimes against the society, the radicals, the opposition elements and other deviants within the society in the name of internal security.

This negate the doctrine of internal security which is the articulated fundamental principles governing the management of internal security; a body of teachings, accepted beliefs, tenets, dogma, guiding rules, or principles that are recognized as valid and authoritative for managing a nation’s internal security. This principles or guiding rules must be widely accepted, nationally valid and legitimately applied.

In this aspect the internal security doctrine must answer questions like: Who and what constitutes national threat?  What will be the nature of government actions and what goals and missions will be assigned to the various agencies involved in it? What forces are needed to execute these missions, and what additional resources may be employed to improve capabilities and strengthen countermeasures? What steps will be required to prepare for counteraction? How would the counteraction be?

The doctrine of internal security posits:

1.     That conservative and coercive approach to internal security management is not panacea to ensuring stability and law and order within the society but the creation and sustenance of conditions that guarantees fundamental rights of the citizens and removes causes of discontent and internal strife, alleviate socio-economic hardship and inequalities.

2.     That the essence of society is the maximization of the general well-being of all people within the society.

3.     That internal security is meaningful and succeeds only when it creates conducive atmosphere for the citizenry to pursue their legitimate interests and realize their basic needs.

4.     That good governance is the pivot upon which internal security revolves and thrives.

5.     That citizen’s participation and partnership among the police, public, elected officials, government, and other agencies working together to address crime and safety is key to internal security.    

Apart from total neglect of this doctrine, the Nigeria’s internal security landscape is also saturated with issues such as lack of relevant equipment, especially in the areas of transportation and communication for the effective security coverage of the country.

Similarly, poor infrastructural facilities in the country like bad roads, poor telephone services and absence of a technological culture to ensure local production, servicing and repairs of needed gargets have contributed heavily to weakening internal security operations.

Added to the above is manpower problem in terms of number, skill and orientation.

It is worth noting that misconception of the roles of the various security agencies is another factor militating against performance in the internal security subsector. Our intelligence services are most affected by this problem. This misunderstanding has reduced our intelligence work to mainly witch hunting of government critics and the orchestrated deviates in society; thus robbing these agencies of the more important aspects of intelligence work which includes collecting intelligence information and monitoring the mode of the country to keep the nation’s leadership on the right and popular path.

Lack of synergy and coordination of activities on the part of the security agencies, and a clear definition of their powers coupled with claims and counter claims of supremacy have cost the nation many lives and unquantifiable amount in properties over the years. This has often led to grave conflicts between the police and the army, the police and the State Security Services etc. especially in the management of civil disturbances.

In most America Universities, Home Front Security is being popularized and studied as a course. This is borne of the fact that once the home-front is stable and secured, the nation’s ability to tackle external front will greatly be enhanced.

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