For the federal government to tackle current security challenges bedeviling the country, the government would have to implement quick and far-reaching measures aimed at curtailing the security threats.
A Nigerian policy think tank, Agora Policy, in its latest report put together by a team of security experts, including those with service experience within and outside the country, made policy recommendations on how to address the various security challenges in the country.
The report analysed the types as well as the drivers and manifestations of insecurity in Nigeria.
Titled: ‘Understanding and Tackling Insecurity in Nigeria,’ a copy of which Daily Trust obtained, the report recommended mopping of arms, strict border policing and hiring of mercenaries, among other measures.
According to the report, “Africa’s most populous country and erstwhile bulwark of stability in West Africa is practically under the gun on all fronts. The preponderance of groups with territorial ambitions means increased threat to the territorial integrity of the country.”
“To stand a fighting chance with overcoming widespread and growing insecurity within its borders, Nigeria must adopt a more holistic approach that simultaneously combines combatting security threats more effectively with addressing the root causes of conflicts and agitations in the country,” the report said.
While noting that the nature, pattern and trend of security challenges confronting Nigeria cannot be dealt with efficiently using military power alone, the report said: “Current military engagements should be sustained,” adding that, “Addressing only the manifestations of insecurity without tackling its drivers is akin to merely cutting off the tail of a dangerous snake while keeping intact its head and the rest of its body.”
The report made short, medium and long-term recommendations on how to address the growing scourge which, it says, negatively impacts not just security of life and property in the country but also national cohesion, the capacity and the credibility of the state, economic growth, commerce, food production and education.
“There are new domains of security threats, while smaller and largely benign groups have evolved into well-armed transnational insurgent groups. This means the security and defence structures that worked in prior dispensations are currently struggling to keep up with the evolved challenges. The need for a defence and security sector reform is imperative.”
“The report contends that these measures should be implemented alongside interventions that will enhance the capacity of the security forces to defeat and deter the terrorists, bandits and others who pose security threats to the country. In this wise, the report recommends a root-and-branch reform of the country’s security architecture to ensure that its security forces are fit-for-purpose and can adequately rise up to current and future challenges.
According to the report, such a reform should start with a comprehensive and consultative audit of the missions, doctrines, trainings and staffing of all the military, paramilitary and other security forces and agencies in the country to ensure an alignment with current and future security threats. The result of the audit, the report adds, should provide a guide to how to better streamline, resource, staff and coordinate security agencies in the country.
“The outcome of the comprehensive reform should incorporate mechanisms for significant boost in the number of security personnel, increased focus on accountability, more respect for rules of engagement and monitoring and evaluation, and greater coordination of intelligence gathering and usage.”
The report also recommends the mop up and control of the flow of small arms and light weapons, recruitment of more women in the security forces and introduction of more gender-sensitive policies, regulation of irregular security outfits across the country, and the introduction of a dedicated border patrol force to contain the unchecked flow of arms and terrorists/bandits across the country’s extensive borders.
The conflict drivers
While noting that Nigeria is currently battling generalised insecurity where hardly any of the six ego-political zones of the country is spared, the report identified 11 drivers of insecurity in the country, including: ineffective and inadequate security architecture, ineffective and insufficient criminal justice system, and easy access to small arms and light weapons.
Others are: the existence of porous borders, easy access to illicit drugs, prevalence of poverty and unemployment, impact of climate change, multiplication of unaddressed sociology-political and economic grievances, poor land use policies, agitations over resource control, and failure to address structural and constitutional deficiencies.
The report also identifies the dominant security challenges in the country as terrorism (North East), banditry and terrorism (North West), herder-farmer clashes and terrorism (North Central), militancy (South South), insurgency and separatist agitations (South East), farmer-herder/communal clashes and even a sprinkle of terrorism in the South West.
Private security contractors recommended
While recommending the use of private security contractors in a specified and controlled manner, the report states that: “It is a known fact that Nigeria’s security personnel are overstretched due to the persistent and widespread nature of current security challenges. This deficiency has allowed insecurity to fester. To relieve the security forces and to enable significant efforts to be applied to degrade the threats, the government should consider inviting private security contractors as it was done shortly before the general election in 2015 [and use them] to confront armed banditry in the North-West and North-Central regions.
“The engagement should be handled through the security forces to assuage concerns in some quarters that the private military contractors are an indication of the non-appreciation by the political class of the security forces’ contribution and sacrifice. Clear objectives and measurement parameters should be set and monitored closely.”
Commenting on the report, Waziri Adio, the Founder/Executive Director said as part of the process of gaining a deeper understanding of the growing security problem in Nigeria, the researchers while relying on secondary data explored the drivers and triggers of insecurity in the country.
“The current security architecture of Nigeria may have once been effective in tackling the challenges at their time of institution,” Adio said adding, however, that the challenges across the country have evolved significantly.
“To address the socio-economic underpinnings of conflicts and crimes, we also recommend a host of interventions. These include: reviewing the Land Use Act and other extant laws, providing targeted education and skills training to youths in conflict areas, prioritising dialogue and alternative conflict resolution mechanisms, strengthening legislative and judicial responses to ensure quick dispensation of justice, embracing the use of strategic communications to win the hearts and minds of the populace, addressing abuses by the security forces, controlling access to arms and drugs, and embracing a national healing process and ensuring reparations for victims of conflicts and abuses.
“We recommend the creation of a border guard force focused on providing border security, as the current role is being performed by the Nigerian Customs Service which considers border security a secondary priority to its primary focus of revenue generation,” the report states. “Nigeria can look at examples such as the Border Security Force and the Frontier Force in India, the Pakistan Rangers in Pakistan, and the Border Security Agency in Malaysia, among others,” Adio said.