EVERYBODY is talking about security. The concerns appear to end with the talks. As bombs go off as routine in Maiduguri, Bauchi, Kaduna, Abuja and other targets that the criminals may choose, too much attention is paid to chasing the criminals after the crime. Why the sudden rise in insecurity? What can be done? Is anyone noticing that while all the attention is on the bomb spots, kidnappers are returning? Will Nigerians ever feel safe again? What are the causes of insecurity? Where are the police and government? On a wet Wednesday morning with intimidating traffic jams on the abandoned Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, our panellists weathered the storm to x-ray the challenges and proffer solutions. The challenges are not new, though new initiatives are required to tackle them. You will find them here…
Moderator: Are there more perspectives to security than the ordinary daily concentration on the bombs that have been exploding in different parts of the country, especially in the North East?
Ogbidi: Security and the welfare of the people are the primary responsibilities of government. We are in this situation because of the paradox of government, a situation where government abandons clearly spelt out constitutional roles. Government is complacent about the mass unemployment, a major contributor to the poor security nationwide. What we have is a backlash.
The present generation of Nigerians the most educated, the country has produced in such large numbers. They are deploying their intelligence to other things since government has failed to cater for them. They are more sophisticated than the poorly trained security people. The knowledge gap is partly responsible for the inability of security agencies to cope with the security lapses.
Nnanna: We are witnessing the cumulative result of bad government and signs of a failed state. Two major factors, unemployment, and availability of arms contribute to the poor security in the country.
People disgruntled with the politics of the day have a huge pool of unemployed people who they use.
They just arm them and use them. Some states that share similar collapsed credentials like Mali, Chad, Ivory Coast have the same situation. Others that have managed to have their systems work like Ghana, Togo, Benin, Sierra Leone, even Liberia have no collapse of security. it is remarkable that some of those countries are recovering from civil wars but their internal security is better than Nigeria’s.
Ikhariale: We are sliding into a state of nature. Life is nasty, brutish, and short. It is also a collapse of the social order. Anarchy has taken over and is expressing itself in the forms of impunity. Sectarian indoctrination has been introduced to those who are causing the troubles. values that sustain normal societies have been substituted by lawlessness and a breakdown in the social order. We have been watching this and the authorities have done nothing about it.
Three years ago, then President Olusegun Obasanjo warned us not to travel at night. he confirmed that it was dangerous. The President, who sworn to protect Nigerians was telling him that he had conceded the night to criminals. for the President to have said that, showed that we back to the state of nature.
Balogun: Most of the issues have been well identified. We have failed to plan, in doing that we planned to fail. We lack of futuristic leadership that is why we are always reacting to issues. why do these things happen? how can we stop them today and decades after? Social welfare must be embedded in whatever plans we have for the country, including security.
When we want to deal with corruption, for instance, do we look at the root cause? are we interested in measures that solve today’s problems and ignore the future? it is sad that these days people say everything is under alarm and out of control. We wait for the situation before trying to find solutions. Things have caught us unawares for a long time.
We must start asking ourselves serious questions. How many people has the Boko Haram sect killed? How many have died from the consequences of corruption? Which is the greater risk, Boko Haram or corruption? The bombs are not killing us. corruption is killing us and manifests itself in pen robbery.
Obi: As we look at security, the first thing that comes to mind is the root cause of the problem. We must look factors that pre-dispose the country to the problem. We cannot solve a problem with a deep knowledge of its causes. We prefer the fire brigade approach.
It is the major reason why we are not getting solutions. If we take militancy in the Niger Delta, as example, we can see that even the amnesty that was offered the militants did not tackle the causes of the unrest in the region. Less than two years after the amnesty was granted, with all the money spent in re-training the militants, they are back.
Kidnapping is being reported, some of the youths are issuing daily threats that they will disrupt economic activities there. Today it is Boko Haram, tomorrow it could another sect or another challenge.
There must be real causes of these problems, to solve them requires drastic measures. When Jerry Rawlings shot people in Ghana for corruption, people understood there was a price to pay for corruption. With there is law and order, people know the consequences of not obeying the law. Without the rule being brought into action, we will keep having these long talks.
We need to get the values back to our belief as a nation. Who are we, as a people? What are the visions of the foundation of the country? What type of future leaders do we want? If today’s leaders do not have values, tomorrow’s leaders will not have values.
Uwazurike: The 1999 Constitution in Section 14 (2b) states that, “The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.” If we examine the implementation of this provision of the Constitution, what we see is entirely different. There is insecurity, decay of infrastructure, the integrity question – corruption – and lack of consideration for the people. All these have their contributions to insecurity.
The security question is the most pronounced now. People are afraid of being attacked whether they are awake or sleeping. The authorities in Abuja have ordered people to be home about 10pm. is that the solution? If I am in Borno, I can be killed at noon without anyone finding out. I could be drinking, walking down the street or in my house. I can be killed, and that is the fact today. It is worse that nobody will make an effort to find out who killed me and stop other from being killed.
We are concentrating on Boko Haram and forgetting kidnapping, armed robber and other unmentionable crimes that accompany them. We should have a right to security according to the Constitution. Is that the situation now?
What about the welfare of Nigerians? Does anyone discuss our welfare? The breakdown of infrastructure has created extra cost for Nigerians in business and their private lives. Poor infrastructure attacks the welfare of the people. Of course, corruption has more far-reaching consequences in the inability or unwillingness of governments to apply the provisions of Section 14 (2b) in governance.
If we were interested in the root causes of the challenges in the North East where Boko Haram is operating, I would compare the North East with the South East where kidnapping is a major problem. Both zones suffer uttermost neglect of the Federal Government.
The least attention is paid to the two areas in terms of capital development. Capital development is critical to the stability of an area because it creates employment. Enugu Airport, which the re-construction began last year, is the only federal project in the whole South East since 1999. Three federal parastatals are in the South East – War Museum in Umuahia, the moribund Anambra-Imo River Basin Authority, and the Nigerian Coal Corporation, which is perpetually being revived. Similar neglect exists in the North East…
Crimes exist but governments must make efforts not to create the opportunity for people to think that crime pays. It is easier to convince the unemployed to join a movement that promises or provides relief. The educated in Boko Haram are putting their knowledge damaging uses. They can indoctrinate their followers, who are made to believe they are doing God’s work.
Sudden insurgency of crimes after the elections should not be a surprise. The elections occupied them. They are back to their base. Maiduguri is a target for this type of crime because it shares borders with Chad and Niger, countries that have high levels of insurgency and armed conflicts. Some of those in the Boko Haram sect could have had their military training in those conflicts and have found Borno as a convenient location to practise their skills when they are displaced from the theatres of war.
Olukoya: What informs the things we do as governments or individuals? Values are the kernel of the whole thing. I had associations, training and grew up in Lagos. I was in the Navy for 32 years and had inter-service interactions. The military is from the society.
All the changes and lapses we have mentioned come from changes in society’s values. In our growing years, the society trained the children. Security enough that people slept outdoors, could leave their doors open and thefts were few and non-violent.
If you forgot something, someone would bring it to you, so long as you could be located. A policeman at a street corner with only a baton and whistle could stop crimes across many streets in that vicinity.
We are still concerned with the growth of the society where certain behaviours the younger generations have picked up are influencing the larger society. It is in this setting that the issue of leadership comes up again. Our leaders must lead in an upright manner. They should be oriented, morally and spiritually and God fearing. The mind will be adequately controlled from the evils that manifest in the types of crimes we are discussing, if peoples fear God.
Poor values produce leaders who do not care about the people. Why would people kill, claiming they are doing it for God? The society must strive for the right values. Fear of God is not enough. Majority of Nigerians are good people only very few are troubling our souls. The fruit they bear is even when they claim a relationship with God is different from what you expect.
Ikhariale: It may well be that the religion gives them a wrong interpretation of the fruit they bear. The world is from suffering sectarian purism. People are resorting to God because there are things they are missing in their lives. After 9/11, the churches were full in America, people remembered God. In Nigeria, most of the places that were factories and warehouses have become churches. How has that changed people’s behaviour?
Leadership is more of banditry than corruption. A corrupt system will propagate corruption and our various governments testify to this. Banditry is what government has been for many years.
The universities have lost their values. They are gone. Some universities now have Vice Chancellors who move around with armed soldiers as guards.
When I was in Ife years ago, we had a notice at the gate that banned people in uniform (security people) from the campus. We have cultivated semi-illiteracy in everything because for many years we sustained a system built on counterfeit. We lost governance after independence. We did not follow the system that the British left, nor develop one that could cater for the needs of our people. How can a former President return to school at the level Obasanjo did after running government for more than 11 years? What type of government was he running?
Everyone, who gets a chance, exploits the ignorance and superstitions that thrive in this society. Nobody will rob you in Benin Republic. It does not matter whether you are travelling at night or daytime. The state is not there to protect you. What are the duties of government to people if it cannot protect them? What are the people’s duties to the government?
We like short cuts and we take them. If we wanted a doctrine of necessity, we should have had it in the Constitution. Why did we ignore the provisions which were adequate to cater for the transition from Vice President to President? We run a system where anything goes.
In America’s Wild Wild West, anything happened. America addressed its anarchy because it was a threat to the interest of the larger society. We take pride in anarchy. Simple things like queuing are not followed. People preside over illegality and celebrate anarchy as they make progress in their sabotage of society.
Down the road, the consequences of anarchy catch up with us. The security challenges from Boko Haram are only some of the consequences of the anarchy that we have tolerated for years.
Ikulayo: Values are very important, we have lost them. The schools, homes and the society have lost values. The loss of values is affecting the calibre of people we are having as leaders. Our leaders are manipulating the system to sustain their stay in office, yet they are the ones celebrated.
The honest man is the type they do not like because he would not want them to waste the resources meant for the people on themselves. When people talk about change, they want to change things for their self-interests not the system interest. Each person who gets into office makes the changes, most times throwing away the things whoever he succeeded, did. It is one of the things that is stopping the country from developing, there is too much waste.
Many people are idle. With the level of waste, there is little left to look after the people. There are too many people with first, second degrees, and PhDs yet they are not employed. When people are idle, when they are educated, when they know the waste that is going on in the system, they are bound to react in different way.
Universities are beginning to explore entrepreneurship skills so graduates have some skills that will not make them entirely dependent on the system and government. Poor leadership is the big one affecting Nigerians.
Many of the big men do not have their children here. They are creating a system that will make it difficult for others to survive. Some of them are preparing grounds for their children to succeed them. You can imagine the problems we will face when those who do understand this country take charge.
When we talk of values one of the things our children do not know is our culture. These problems manifest themselves in various deviant behaviours. Children who do not understand our culture cannot understand our values and cannot fit into the society.
Another important issue that needs to be addressed is youth unemployment. It is dangerous to have a large number of unemployed young people. Their minds are fertile and they can think up anything, especially with the access to technology.
Our education system is getting worse. Things are so bad that lecturers are afraid to talk to some student because they could be cultists. A lecturer was killed in Maiduguri when he challenged the behaviour of some students.
Obi: When people hide under God to do bad things, I put them in suspicion. As a student, I had a mindset that you do not do things that are against equity and justice. We do not understand the mandate of justice and good conscience. The people can deliver themselves by saying we have had enough. I want to see more of that happening. The judiciary is in a mess.
The quality of education is a problem. Who will employ graduates who are not well taught? What values will such people bring to their employers? Unless the root cause of these problems are addressed, they remain or return in another form. We are not bold enough to address corruption. We are more interested in who is involved. If I am a judge and my husband is corrupt, I am expected to free him and jail others. The country is a country of selfish people. Governance, the way we practise it is about me. The me principle is against justice, equity and good conscience.
No church teaches values. We should teach values from the homes – schools and churches confirm what we have done at home. We celebrate 419 people, dance at their parties. We call evil good and think nobody is noticing. The children in universities are looking at 419 people as models. They are the ones the society celebrates, our young people are growing up thinking that people with those values are the ones the society accepts. The see the acceptance in the recognition the society accords these people.
What is going on in the North East is called Boko Haram. We do similar things and call them other names.
Philomena IKULAYO, Lawyer, Professor of Psychology, University of Lagos
Obiageli OBI, Lawyer, Speaker, Governance 500, Principal Partner, Legend Advocacy
Henry Adeniyi BALOGUN, Lawyer, Security Training Consultant, The Alpha Institute
Chief Goddy UWAZURIKE, Lawyer, Principal Partner, Uwazurike & Associates, Vice President, Aka Ikenga
Rear Admiral Sunday Abiodun OLUKOYA (rtd), former Defence Attaché to Cameroon, former Military Administrator (old Ondo State)
Willy OGBIDI, Public Relations Expert, Head of Faculty, Nigeria Institute of Public Relations
Mike IKHARIALE, Professor of Constitutional Law, Executive Consultant, LRDC, Lagos
Engineer John OBAKPOLOR, retired Group Captain, Aviation Expert
Ochereome NNANNA, Deputy Chairman, Vanguard Editorial Board, Columnist
Moderator: Ikeddy ISIGUZO, Chairman, Vanguard Editorial Board
* We invited the police and SSS, but they did not attend.