From the terror of Boko Haram and ISWAP in the North East to the rampage of bandits in the North-West, IPOB in the South-East, and other militants elsewhere, Nigeria suffers from a crippling security situation. In this report, we look at what Tinubu is inheriting and what he must do to end insecurity in the country.
On May 29th, President-Elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu will not only inherit the mantle of leadership from President Muhammadu Buhari but also the demanding task of ending Nigeria’s myriad of security challenges.
In over 10 years, Nigeria’s security landscape has been shaped by war against insurgents such as Boko Haram and, later, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), in the north-eastern part of the country.
New threat elements such as banditry and kidnappings have emerged in the north-western region, while age-old communal clashes, as well as farmers’ and herders’ clashes, have existed in many parts of the north-central.
Under President Buhari, secessionist agitations by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in the southeast and parts of the south-south have snowballed into a major security threat that is threatening the country’s unity.
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In 2015, Buhari inherited a country haunted by various security challenges and housing the world’s deadliest terrorist group – Boko Haram.
Eight years down the line, Buhari, a retired military general who came to power on the promise to decimate Boko Haram and restore Nigeria’s bashed security image, has been unsuccessful in solving the country’s security challenges.
Security analysts admit that deaths associated with Boko Haram and ISWAP in the northeast have significantly reduced under the present government, which also claimed multiple times that it had technically defeated the insurgents.
However, activities of bandits, kidnappers, and IPOB have emerged and continue to cause a surge in casualty figures.
“When President Buhari was elected, the threat elements that were prevalent in Nigeria were terrorism, violent criminalities, especially armed robbery, and activities of international gangs,” said Dr. Kabir Adamu, a security analyst.
He explained that under Buhari’s tenure, new threat elements had emerged, most commonly banditry, which has now been recognised by the Nigerian government and international community as terrorism.
These threat elements and the burden of securing the lives of over 200 million Nigerians will be inherited by President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu on May 29th, when he is sworn in as the 5th President of Nigeria.
Nigeria’s current security situation
Data from Nigeria Security Tracker; a project of the Council of Foreign Affairs that catalogs data on violent incidents in the country, shows over 62,000 Nigerians lost their lives under President Buhari’s eight-year- administration.
The killings were a result of terrorism, banditry, secessionist agitations, and other violent incidents.
This is almost twice the number of Nigerians (34,972) killed between 2011, when the NST was set up, and May 2015, when President Buhari took over the mantle of leadership.
But despite this, the Buhari-led government had made relative strides in taming the mass casualty recorded in 2014 where at least 15,600 Nigerians were killed in a single year.
Presently, Nigeria is ranked 8th on the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) and 10th on the Security Threat Index (STI); an apparatus indicator that considers security threats to a state, such as bombings, attacks, and battle-related deaths, terrorism, and organized crime.
This ranking is an improvement from Nigeria’s 3rd place ranking on the GTI and 9.90 index points on the STI in 2015, when Buhari came into power.
The Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), now the country’s most prominent terrorist group in Borno State, ranked 6th on the list of the world’s 20 deadliest groups of 2022.
Boko Haram made it to the list as 7th while IPOB, which was designated a terrorist group by the Nigerian government in 2017, equally made it to the 10th spot.
Security threat elements Tinubu will inherit
In his Action Plan, ‘Renewed Hope’, President-Elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu has mapped out a proactive and intelligence-driven security approach to addressing the nation’s security threats.
The President-elect has assured Nigerians that his administration will mobilise the totality of the country’s national security, military, and law enforcement assets to protect all Nigerians from danger and from the fear of danger.
“We will expand and improve upon the use of technology, enhance recruitment of personnel, and bolster existing agencies and systems to achieve this fundamental national security goal,” the plan boasts.
Tinubu also assured citizens that highly trained and disciplined anti-terrorist battalions (ABATTS) with Special Forces units will be created to address terrorism and kidnappings while also upgrading tactical communication and transportation to ensure the Nigerian military is better equipped, as well as exploit aerial and technological superiority among others.
With Nigerians hounded by insurgency, activities of unknown gunmen and IPOB, cultism, kidnapping, and armed robbery, security analysts say despite Tinubu’s “thought-out plan”, the incoming government will need to investigate the root causes of the various security challenges and ensure synergy among Nigeria’s security forces.
Dr. Yahuza Getso, a security and intelligence analyst, explained that to address the country’s myriad of security problems, the Tinubu administration must focus on an in-depth investigation into the root causes of Nigeria’s security problems.
“This is in order to have a clear understanding of the problem and how best to address them,” he said.
Dr. Getso urged the President-elect to deepen synergy and respect among and between security agencies.
Towing the same line, Dr Kabir Adamu, a security expert, explained that the Buhari administration had so far invested significantly into the security infrastructure.
“So, equipment repository enhanced, more personnel in almost all the security and law enforcement agencies, the Buhari administration has done well in that regard.”
He however said the major challenge for the Tinubu Administration was that the Buhari government was leaving behind a security sector that was largely uncoordinated.
“Tinubu will inherit a security sector that is suffering from the triple challenges of cooperation, coordination and collaboration.
“This, essentially, is called security sector governance where the whole security sector architecture needs to be glued together and made amenable to the democratic aspirations of the Nigerian people. This is sadly the legacy.”
He said the challenge for the incoming president will be how to glue all the sectors together so that the outcome of their work helps reduce the security challenges.
“The principal challenge there is what is called security sector governance and that is what the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is leaving for the incoming government,” he said.
But the Tinubu team assures Nigerians that the President-elect is ready to tackle the issues head-on.
Bayo Onanuga, the former director of media and publicity, at APC Presidential Campaign Council, says Tinubu would focus on security collaboration and may need to fire anyone who fails to toe the line.
“He would not tolerate a lot of things and I am sure by the time he gets there; he would read the riot act to the leaders of the armed forces and say; ‘Look, collaboration is very crucial because if you don’t collaborate, how are we going to do security?” he said.
“I believe that Tinubu will not tolerate things like that, if they can’t work together, he may just need to fire them,” explained Onanuga.