ROLE OF UNIVERSITY IN SECURITY
Over the years, I have been in the forefront of the campaign for effective integration of security into all aspects of the socio-economic decision making in Nigeria for visible transformation of the country. This perception is anchored on my belief that through concerted efforts in the areas of security research, education and training Nigeria can emerge not only a leading economy in the world but a power to be reckoned with.
As an advocate and promoter of scientific study of security, I am convinced that University can play a very valuable role in all these areas. In many respects, it is overdue that universities become directly involved in this subject. For too long now, in my opinion, security has been assumed to be the exclusive domain of government authorities to the detriment of nations. But prevention of loss arising from waste, accident, error, and crime (WAEC) among others is very much a question of new knowledge; and the research for new understandings relating workings of the natural world to resources protection, and control of human behaviors as well as the processes and development of policies, politics, production/distribution of goods and services, management styles and institution, and of the goals and effectiveness of communication and information. All these areas are properly the realm of university enquiry, study, and teaching.
Not least among the reasons for university involvement is the increasing importance to society of, and the increasing demand for, persons with a broad but coherent security science’s background and the familiarity in social sciences, policy and business management, who can undertake the loss prevention tasks of the future while solving the security challenges of today. These people can only come from universities who have given substantial and deliberate integrated attention to the issues of security as a topic of scholarly study.
Again, a university has a distinct advantage over government institutions in addressing security as a subject for research and training. It can, or should be able to, call on persons in the front rank of the wide range of areas of knowledge and professional study needed, not as “hired experts” but as colleagues involved in the intellectual adventure and as dedicated teachers. The fact that the Nigerian Institute of Security is in collaboration with the University of Port Harcourt to support the scientific study of security shows not only the remarkable cooperation that can be achieved, but that the subject itself is a satisfying challenge, and is relevant to a very wide range of university interests.
Not being tied to a single government organization gives a university freedom and indeed stimulus to compare and contrast different mechanisms and structures of security without having to defend any; and to analyze weaknesses and strong points in the design of security systems as well as in their operations and management.
Nigeria has at present three tiers of government and at least five different structures and styles of security. These provide rich source materials for comparative studies of the way similar issues are addressed in this country; comparisons which can then be extended to other countries. Universities can carry out such comparisons much better than could government agencies, but all of us can benefit from the results.
A university also has the luxury of hindsight. It can without defensiveness or embarrassment examine the past to see what happened after a security breach occurred, and can analyze what has been learned, if anything, collectively, by security operatives, administrators, and institutions from their successes and their mistakes over the past twenty years or more. This is a luxury that is rarely available to government security practitioners or their institutions, which commonly have to embark on new security arrangements and maneuverings, in different locale, before they have to properly solve the current security challenge or incident.
Sometimes, also government security operatives and administrators and institutions do not like to point out their own mistakes. Universities can have fun doing just that. And, certainly, not least among its advantages, a university has the tremendous stimulus of addressing these challenging and complex topics in partnership with fresh, inquiring and critical student minds, who not only view the issues from new angles but who can bring quite new ideas from which we all benefit.
Universities should aim at promoting, supporting, and enhancing academic research, technology development, education and training of higher level security practitioners in all aspects of the profession. Recently, the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Abuja, granted the country’s first four year bachelor’s degree in criminology and security studies, and graduate degree study is springing up there and other schools around the country. The University of Lagos, University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State University of Science and Technology and a few others also offer short term part-time and weekend programmes in security and safety. Other universities are following NOUN’s lead. Ambos Ali University, Ekpoma and Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island has recently received approval to offer diploma and undergraduate programmes in security respectively. These universities are also expanding their security programmes to include a master’s degree in security.
On the other side of the coin, a university, of course, faces some real challenges in establishing and maintaining, a balanced and effective effort in security studies and training. Some, that I have noted at the University of Port Harcourt include:
1. Unbalanced Interests. Despite good intention at the outset, it requires a lot of work, patience, and tact to sustain balanced interests from the various disciplines – natural sciences, social sciences and human sciences, medical/health sciences, political sciences, legal and economics faculties, computer and management sciences, etc. This balanced interest will not be obtained and sustained automatically. The initial enthusiasm wears off, often, when the real difficulties of the subject become apparent. To keep interests in such a multi-dimensional subject requires strong drive at the center, and accepted leadership among prima donnas. Part of the problems have been people not understanding all the roles and specialties, and what the different departments and faculties bring together
2. Lack of funding for research and student support. The near absence of funding for security research and student support has been identified as the major factor militating against security education in Nigeria. Research cannot be wished away because it provides the needed vision and directions; it also affords the channel through which past security challenges are seen; present security challenges are analyzed and future security challenges are predicted and solutions proffer in a more scientific manner.
3. As educational and training institutions, universities will want to produce graduates whose professional careers lie in security and its administration. There is bound to be a growing employment market in this subject area. But the whole concept and structure of security is undergoing legal, institutional and conceptual change. Universities should be part of this change and universities should provide the new knowledge that will influence its direction. In some way, presently established security systems do not serve either the industry, government or the public very well. This is not a trivial difficulty. Its seriousness is reflected in pure losses and crimes of diverse dimensions. Once university fully assumes its roles in security in terms of supply quality personnel and technology the market will widen and deepen to absorb the products.
4. “Security and its implications” is a difficult research topic in its own right. It may be looked at as a modern expression of the dilemma of societal learning and attempts by society to manage itself, control its actions, protect its resources and preserve its laws. Such research is essentially a study of ethics, human rights, behavior, tangible and intangible material ownership and control, and it probes deeply into the basis of socio-economic concepts and loss control. A different combination of faculty involvement, intellectual approaches, and leadership may be needed for research into the philosophy and political ramifications of security than for research into the practical aspects and application as well as the training of practitioners.
5. A further immense valuable role of a university in security is that it provides a focus for students’ actions and activism on questions having to do with a wide range of security and societal concerns; and on the relationship between democracy, government, business and loss control and prevention.
Security is the livewire of any nation. Once national security is threatened the country crawls; once national security is breached the country collapsed. But the good news is that, once national security is strengthened the economy grows and the nation becomes powerful and respected and the citizenry becomes prosperous and happy. The level of any nation’s development is dependent on its quality of security operatives, administrators, institutions and technology. Above all, the skills, expertise, know-how and technology needed to keep the security mechanism functioning properly are the products of university research, education and training.
The Nigerian security industry must be professionally driven and technologically propelled. And it is the responsibility of the university system to provide the intellectual capacity and the technological platform or knowhow. Commerce and industry must receive strong university support to design, manufacture, and market and manage both tangible and intangible security resources for efficient and effective protection of lives and properties and prevention of losses for the betterment of mankind.
Security is everybody’s business but the role of the university in security cannot be overemphasized. Besides, security is too important a business to be left in the hands of government agents and agencies alone. It is my humble submission that through concerted efforts in the areas of security research, education and training the roles of universities in security will become visible to all, appreciated by all and the nation will be better for it through robust economy and peaceful coexistence.