By Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN
THE CRISIS OF INSECURITY
Security of lives and property has been accorded priority attention by governments of different countries of the world, be it democratic or military administration. This is so because an atmosphere devoid of fear, anxiety, threat, harm, etc to citizens’ lives and property will only bring about socio-economic development. In other words, development cannot thrive in the atmosphere of conflicts, violence, anxiety, fear and wanton destruction of lives and property, as it is currently the case in many parts of Nigeria. Therefore, it follows that there is a strong link between security and development in any social setting. Although the centrality of security in enhancing peaceful co-existence and promoting a conducive environment for viable economic activities to thrive has been recognized by successive Nigerian governments, the creation of state/community police will no doubt enhance better security. In addition, there is a national security policy formulated to ensure internal security which is enshrined in the Constitution with the obvious objective to effectively secure the lives and properties of the Nigerian citizenry. Section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 CFRN specifically states that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.” Governments at all levels have always carried out constant public enlightenment programmes on the need for all citizens to give peace and security a chance by being law abiding. Apart from that, there have been huge budgetary allocations to fund defence and internal security in the country, a trend that has denied capital projects the needed attention. In this regard, we need to get to that stage where we can demand and index and indeed audit the budgets of all political office holders who enjoy massive security votes.
Despite concerted efforts made by several administrations to enthrone adequate security to guarantee safety of lives and property, insecurity has become the order of the day in our land. There have been security challenges across the lengths and breadths of Nigeria, which up till now have defied all logical solutions. There have also been so many security challenges that have consistently threatened the corporate existence of the country in such a proportion as to give the impression of an implosion. The situation has gone so bad that each geo-political zone is associated with one form of security challenge or another. The level of insecurity in the country has assumed a frightening dimension that it is becoming increasingly difficult for people to freely move and engage in legitimate business ventures in some parts of the country. The Boko Haram elements are still killing and bombing hapless citizens especially in the Northeast region. Similarly, there have been cases of alleged incessant bandits and Fulani herdsmen attacks on innocent communities as well as cattle rustling in many parts of the country especially in the North. In the South-South region there are renewed agitations by militant groups, crude oil theft, illegal refineries and kidnappings, whilst there are alarming cases of cultism, armed robbery in both the Southeast and the Southwest by unknown gunmen. There is no gainsaying the fact that hostage taking and kidnapping cases in some parts of Nigeria have not only resulted in the creation of unfavourable investment climates for businesses to operate but also led to closure and relocation of business ventures by investors to other peaceful cities in the country or other peaceful African countries. All these security challenges have had serious adverse effects on the socio-economic conditions of our dear country and by necessary extension, its development.
No doubt, there is need for a leadership that empathizes with its subjects and commits to providing all security apparatus and equipment to curb the menace of internal aggression and conflicts in the different regions in Nigeria, especially in the face of rising cases of political disagreements and electoral malpractices. The security architecture of the country should be properly trained and overhauled to be proactive through intelligence gathering so as to nip any perceived security threat in the bud since the reactive posture maintained by these security agencies in crisis situations have not curbed security challenges in the country. Finally, the Government should evolve policies and programmes capable of promoting national consciousness and national loyalty as it will help to eliminate the centrifugal factors that are always at work to tear the country apart. In addition, there should be an enduring template that will put in place regular enlightenment campaigns on the dangers inherent in acts of insecurity in schools, churches, mosques, markets, media outfits. It is not enough to preach that security is everyone’s business when there are no conscious efforts made to educate the people on the basic tenets of security and its impacts on national development.
ABSENCE OF PLANNING AND CONTINUITY
The country lacks reliable and functional statistics to aid it in planning. Presently, we are all just projecting at a population of two hundred million people whereas a single legislator boasted of having married four wives with 25 children at his very tender age. The national census conducted so far has not helped in the quest to ascertain our true population having regard to the controversies that have trailed the exercise. From my own experience, many communities go about creating artificial entities just to boost their population, they manufacture incredible figures which cannot be verified in reality, all in a bid to shore up the chances of their domain. This should be blamed upon the Constitution which has made population and land size the yardstick for revenue allocation. In this regard, you have cases in which projects are executed in communities and locations where they cannot blossom, thus hindering development. Planning requires data and in a country where there is no clear definition of numbers, development then becomes a game of choice for the leaders who are in charge. As we can see in most cases, leaders prefer to locate infrastructure in their domain even though it may not be commercially viable.
The other point is the absence of continuity in governance. Presently, the style is for every new administration to seek to castigate his predecessor in office and in that way abandon all projects no matter the merit of its execution. The nation is thus robbed of development as the new man has to start afresh. In some cases, the motive behind such thoughtless policy is purely selfish and a way to siphon funds meant for the commonwealth. And because such a leader has not emerged through a process traceable to the true will of the people, he cannot be held accountable. This has in itself created a challenge for ASUU to go to the drawing board to rejig its strategies. We cannot continue to throw up incompetent and corrupt people in positions of leadership while we sit back to adopt the policy of progressive engagements. It is my humble suggestion that ASUU should embrace governance by ensuring that its members go beyond the traditional appointments as returning officers for controversial and inconclusive elections. They should become active in politics in order to achieve the desired change. Any ASUU President that successfully completes his tenure should be encouraged to go into the Senate.
There is no doubt that this presentation at this ASUU Congress cannot catalogue the massive development challenges rocking the country. However, the problems examined herein give a sense of purpose and direction on the cogent issues that must be tackled in the Nigerian polity to cause the floodgate of development of the Nigeria-state. It is pertinent to note that development is not a one-sided affair but multidimensional, which involves not only the Government and its institutions but also the private sector as stakeholders.
If we truly desire to overcome the challenges of state and the crisis of development, we must widen our tentacles, retool our strategies and come up with policies and actions that will put paid to the failure that we have all experienced in the hands of politicians. Nigeria is currently in dire need of capacity and ASUU fits well into the category of persons required to activate meaningful change. We cannot resign to the four-year ritual of repackaging corruption, selfishness and wanton neglect of the masses of our people by the very same people that vowed and made solemn covenants to protect and defend them. I have now thrown the ball into the court of ASUU.
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