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Stephen Okwori: The way forward to security challenges in Nigeria

Stephen Okwori

Nigeria is the most populous African country. Its multiple security challenges, for instance, the nefarious activities of Boko Haram and Islamic State for West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorist groups, kidnapping and banditry have created so many crises and as a result, have spread to other neighbouring African countries.

Before now, Nigeria has been grappling with some internal security challenges, but the advent and actions of these terrorist groups, armed bandits and kidnappers have destabilised and destroyed the Northern part of Nigeria, specifically the North-East and North-West.

The sad and very unfortunate thing is that, these terrorist groups and armed bandits have killed tens of thousands of people including security personnel, and have caused millions of people to have fled their homes and towns and even become Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in their own country as a result of their flagrantly wicked activities. The direct consequence of these challenges is that the North-East and North-West regions have been plunged into a severe humanitarian crisis, which has left millions of people in dire need of humanitarian aid.

Although military forces and other security agencies have been trying to tackle this over a decade-long Islamist insurgency in the North-East and banditry in the North-West, despite all their efforts, the heinous activities of these terrorist groups and armed bandits kept resurfacing.

These challenges have being persistent and I think the security forces have ran out of strategies, ideas and tactics to combat the menace. From all indications, it is obvious that the social contract the government went into with its citizens to protect their lives and property have failed, and as it stands, there is trust deficit in the people towards the government concerning promises they have made to protect them.

Also, another major concern is the Sambisa Games Reserve popularly known as sambisa forest and the Mandara Mountains that harbour these Islamist insurgents. The forest covers approximately 60,000 square kilometres, stretching across six states in the North-East from Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Bauchi, Jigawa states and right up to some parts of Kano. The forest means nothing to Nigerians anymore, it has been a stronghold for the terrorist because that is where they have their camps; and it signifies terror. Insurgents always run back into the sambisa forest or mandara mountains anytime they strike and finish their slaughtering, killings, bombings or kidnapping of harmless and innocent citizens.

Another bothering issue is the kidnapping of persons by armed bandits and Islamist sect at random, it has assumed a national problem and a very worrying concern for Nigerians and Nigeria; this has produced psychological, sociological and financial impacts on the lives of victims and their family members.

This menace in Nigeria has become a very lucrative business that kidnappers collect as high as =N=100 million to =N=150 million as ransom, then as low as =N=50,000 depending on the strength and capacity of the victim(s). These kidnappers most times succeed in keeping their victims as long as the negotiation lasts, communicate with victim’s family via mobile phones and they get away without being caught by security agents, because the phone lines they use most times are not tracked.

These are some of the grave and unfortunate examples of the insecurity issues that the “Giant of Africa” will need to overcome to achieve its true potentials.

But unfortunately, we cannot keep doing things the same way and expect a different result.

Therefore, there is need for a paradigm shift from the current technologies that are in use, the strategies, tactics and approaches that is in place to a more improved and sophisticated technology, new strategies, ideas to be able to combat these menace causing us catastrophe in human and material resources.

From all indications, these security challenges need to be promptly nipped in the bud before it gets worse than what we are experiencing today, though some people may argue that the situation has already gotten out of hand.

Therefore, since security is everybody’s business, I would implore security professionals and organizations to come up with new strategies, ideas, approaches, and a more sophisticated technology to help Nigeria security forces in the area of surveillance, and assist them have access to these ungoverned spaces and mountainous areas where these miscreants hibernate and use as camps or hideouts to perpetrate crime.

And I enjoin Nigeria security agencies to be open and welcome genuine security solutions from any professional or organization that could be of assistance in the fight against these security challenges, because it has become obvious they cannot do it all alone.

(Stephen Obochi Okwori, an Abuja based Security Strategist and Management Consultant could be reached through www.sticmirac.com.ng).

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