In Nigeria, rising insecurity is the order of the day. No day passes without reports of kidnapping, banditry, robbery, murder and wanton killings. More worrying is the fact that, in spite of huge resources being injected into the defense sector, the Nigerian government seems unable to curb this menace that has been troubling the well-being of the nation for so long. The crisis exemplifies an overarching problem: the limited capacity and capability of the Nigerian armed forces to quell instability and protect human lives. It would seem that brute force and quick action is only reserved for peaceful, unsuspecting protesters and unarmed citizens.
As it stands, no part of the country is safe, as it grapples with security hitches that cut across the six geo-political regions, particularly in the North-East, North-Central, Northwest and Southeast regions. Residents in these areas are now constantly on edge, while the government that is normally entrusted with the security of their lives and properties seems to be fast asleep. Thousands of people have died since these attacks began, and the terrifying kidnapping of schoolchildren from classrooms in northern Nigeria has repeatedly drawn global condemnation, public outrage, and protest. Still, the lucrative kidnapping industry continues to thrive, as regions previously untouched by the attacks become increasingly vulnerable.
To state that Nigeria is in dire need of an intervention would be the same as calling rain wet. So, it goes without saying that Nigerians need a leader who is willing and able to tackle insecurity head-on. Let’s see what each of the three most popular presidential candidates has had to say about this very pressing matter, leading up to the general elections.
Getting straight into it, Tinubu has promised to improve security by decentralizing the policing of the country and creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs simultaneously. According to him, decentralization of the policing system is key because those within a system are the ones that can identify their problem and possible solutions. Done well, this will create a robust security system where crimes will be easily identified and curbed.
Meanwhile, the vice-presidential candidate for the party, Kashim Shettima said he would use his eight-year experience tackling Boko Haram in Borno to deal with banditry and insurgency. According to him, the strength of the country’s armed forces is abysmal relative to its challenges and compared to its peer countries, and believes Nigeria’s troops need to be boosted to at least 960,000.
Verdict: While the irony of Tinubu talking about decentralizing the police is not lost on us, decentralization of the police has been long in coming, and would be interesting to see if he can pull it off in real life. The national assembly has a critical role to play as well as the state houses of assembly because the constitution will need to be amended to accommodate the new force.
Furthermore, the vice-presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Kashim Shettima’s recent statement about him being the one to fight insecurity, while Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate, will focus on fixing the economy if they are elected, has left citizens a little skeptical and even worried (especially considering the condition he left Borno State in as former governor). If, indeed, it is Borno State’s passed “success” that is being held up as a beacon of hope for the whole country in terms of security and development… then, I dare say, Nigerians have a right to their concerns.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has pledged to end insecurity and secure the nation from terrorists, kidnappers, and bandits. According to him, without security, no development could take place for the six geopolitical zones to harness both capital and human resources.
“National security is the first sign of a functional government, and where it does not exist, we must not blame those who threaten it. We can only blame a government that allows it to be threatened. And if I am elected as your President, insecurity is one thing I will not tolerate,” he said.
Going further, he said that a secured country is critical to the success of every sector of the nation, and some of his tweets contained what he called “National Security 7-point Agenda.”:
“#1: Ensuring the security of lives and properties and the dignity of Nigerians by restructuring and enhancing the funding of our security agencies as well as training of security personnel.
#2: Restoring merit and professionalism in the process of recruitment, appointment and promotions enshrined in the acts establishing the security outfits and their extant rules and regulations.
#3: Implementing a Special Presidential Welfare Initiative for our security personnel.
#4: Increasing the number of security personnel to meet the security needs of over 200 million Nigerians. We shall conduct systematic and guided recruitment exercises of up to one million personnel into the police force, to combat current security challenges and meet the UN police to citizen ratio of 1:450.
#5: Employing the tools of strategic engagement with state and non-state actors in theatres of conflict.
#6: Promoting Police-Community relations to build mutual trust and confidence as a proactive strategy for crime prevention and control.
#7: Streamlining the functions and operations of security outfits like the NSCDC, and FRSC, among others to foster synergy, and intelligence sharing in order to make them more effective.”
Verdict: Of the three candidates, Atiku appears to be the most confident in his ability to address the security issues plaguing the country. It is also commendable that he broke down each point, explaining the plan of action further. While many of his points seem doable, it will be interesting to see if anything will actually be done. With the wind of declarations, endorsements, and lofty promises blowing across the country ahead of the general elections, one can only hope the next administration actually acts on its promises.
The presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi has revealed two methods his administration would use to tackle insecurity if he is elected as Nigerian President in 2023. The former Anambra State governor said that the first thing his administration would do is to pull Nigerians out of poverty.
According to him, there would be fewer criminal activities in the country if poverty is alleviated. The second method is to ensure the availability of adequate measures for all security agencies which would help them to discharge their duties effectively.
Accordingly, we will tackle insecurity robustly, through an aggressive increase in personnel and equipment and inclusive training of operatives in our security agencies.
— Peter Obi (@PeterObi) August 31, 2022
“We will tweak the security architecture, by offering each arm or agency lead in areas where they have comparative advantage,” he said. “We will pursue intangible assets of good governance, rule of law, security of lives and properties; and emphasize patriotism, national interest, and national morale, quality of government, political will and character, which are all complementary to the other assets.”
Verdict: Although many have called Obi’s experience and conflict resolution skills into question when it comes to addressing the security challenges in the country, his aim is to tackle insecurity through an aggressive increase in personnel and equipment and inclusive training of operatives in our security agencies. His vision is to address one of the root causes of the problem: poverty. Although he makes a fair point, it is a tad bit simplistic to assume that unemployment is the central agent of the crisis. Still, the question in the forthcoming campaign for the 2023 presidency is not so much who, among the aspirants, has a better vision for Nigeria, but who will do what is needed to make that vision a reality?