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Date Published: 07/16/10

Addressing the security situation in Nigeria By Nwokedi Nworisara

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Lately the security situation in Nigeria appears to be getting out of hand. Kidnapping has become rampant. People are uneasy starting from the President who proposed using the army to tackle it down to the ordinary man in the street whose only weapon is prayer. To tackle kidnapping will entail that we do a thorough soul searching of our past to find out where we went wrong in our policies with a view to ameliorating the situation. Every problem confronting a country arises from what it does wrong or what it allows the outsiders to do wrong to it. When bad policies accumulate it becomes a visible problem. You tackle it by acceptance not denial. You can then deal with the symptoms with confidence that the root causes will not replicate.

Kidnapping has a psychology that what belongs to one person can be possessed by another and enjoyed as if it was legal. It defines the total breakdown of law and order in a society where this crime is rampant. It shows there is presently no strong and existing legal value that is enforceable in such a society. It is an indication that security and enforcement is not working or is corrupted from within. On the other level of analysis where a security system is in place and working, its preponderance indicates there is multiplicity of other parallel bodies doing the same thing but ineffectually. It may also mean that there is confusion in the enabling laws or in the constitution which evens the splinters are trying to take advantage of. If there exist a central enforcement body guided by clear cut rules of engagement, then we can lay all blames on its table, but is there?

Let us look at the situation closely. The constitution has defined the right of the Nigerian citizen to self defense but has denied him the right to arm himself or rather the constitution guaranteed it but the advent of military rule expunged it or rather twisted it making it difficult for Nigerians to carry arms for self defense. It extends to the states as well. The constitution grants States power and authority but denies them enforcement arms that are independent of central authority even when slightly different laws may exist in the states. It goes on to the third tier of government the local councils as well. Now can you imagine the confusion that exists already because whether you like it or not these governments and individual players must find a way to enforce their constitutional given independent authorities and powers by keeping independent militias or creating factions in the central policing authority, what you call corruption for want of a better definition.

The question is what happens to these separate enforcement arms when the owners get out of power? What happens to them when the owners are about to get into power? What happens to them when security votes increase to as much as N500 million per month for some governors and as much as N20 million for local government heads or even so called constituency votes running into millions for legislators and their aids. You have a desirable confusion of contending militias who are bound to act outside the purview of existing laws even if the laws were stable. Now consider also that Nigeria had gone through a successful privatization during President Obasanjo’s 8years in power. Much of the choice public property and assets now rest in private hands. So if you were illiterate you only begin to understand that those property you used to see as public is now private. Coupled with this is the growing private sector security build up by those who can afford it. Consider also that these private ventures have also privatized the nationally collected security information which they need to secure erstwhile public now private concerns. And this security information gathering tactics are now shared by private militias making no one a monopoly of critical information especially on movement of persons they target. Now tapping of GSM phones and blocking of internet sites, mails, computers or the airwaves of broadcast stations is a child’s play every one can perform. It used to be exclusive to the SSS and the police and the army but it appears privatized too.

It is even worse for instance when you have to privatize NITEL and after sometime you change your mind. Now you know how it gets accepted in the minds of those who do not have to know what you are doing. The impression is that there is o need to work hard on our own. Young people begin to see their commonwealth in the hands of few. They begin to think they can acquire wealth by taking away from the haves because they see wealth as privatized public property. On the other hands faced with he highest unemployment rate in any country in the world, young people are easily recruited into these private militias and they learn from the flimsy reasons given by their employers for eliminating their political or business opponents. When their employer gets out of power or no longer able to meet their rising demands they move on to other employers. Today most State governments have their security outfits that are nationally unrecognized except by their State Assemblies; the same State assemblies that recognize Shari a laws. You can imagine the push and pull going on in the Nigerian constitution but our executive and legislators are so blind that they do not see these cleavages. They are more concerned with appropriating more money to maintain the ever growing demands of their private militias aimed at the 2011 elections.

Now how can we explain to them the need for restructured political system or the need for a better constitution when the system has become set for the consequences of wrong policies as we approach the object of these sturings-2011 elections? You can begin to appreciate the upsurge of kidnapping in Nigeria. It is known as political deterrence. In the Nigerian political system of the skewed variety of today critical political decisions are concluded now in the spiritual to enable manifestation come about in 2011. Now all attempts are made to deter opponents from carrying out their ambitions to run against certain candidates in the elections.  As I read it others who may fund certain candidates are also deterred by ridding them of their financial base. It could be their children, their parents or in-laws. These actions are always emanating from top political party men and even States but since it is illegal everything is regarded as kidnapping or armed robbery even when performed by uniformed men acting in collaboration with constituted authorities. That is the extent of the confusion that exists today in Nigeria. My intention of exposing this is to prove to doubters the evil we do ourselves when we refuse to change extant policies and the moribund constitution to address fundamental issues; when we fold our hands from facing reality because we happen today to be in power. The destiny of this country is the collective responsibility of all of us whether we recognize it now or only later on.

Mr. Nworisara aspired to be President of Nigeria under SDP in 1992 and APGA in 2003.

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