The Problems and Challenges of Insecurity in Nigeria

Paper Presented to ACN UK General Meeting, 10th September 2011-09-02 London, UK .


Ladies and gentlemen, it is perhaps imperative in this presentation to come to certain terms with what we are going to talk about. This is because when we say security, are we talking about food insecurity, financial insecurity, personal security, national security, etc?


Anyway, I am sure, for this purpose of this political gathering that we are more concerned about national internal security of Nigerians as far as lives and property, and indeed, general well-being are concerned.


First, let me make it clear that more lives are lost in our country through road crashes (call it transport insecurity, if you want); diseases which could have been prevented if not for lack of commitment and care by our various governments (I will call this healthcare insecurity); infant mortality; ignorance, illiteracy and poverty. I will indict successive governments for causing so many deaths of Nigerians, directly and indirectly, mostly as a result of massive and unchecked corruption, greed, selfishness, lack of political will and conscience and of course, lack of vision and purpose.


Second is that insecurity, especially internal insecurity is not a problem that is unique to Nigeria. The US, the UK and many other countries, face the challenges of insecurity within their borders on a daily basis. The difference between them and our country, Nigeria is how they manage the threats; how knowledgeable and prepared they are; how they deploy resources against the threats; how effective they are; how patriotic and united these people are against threats of insecurity.


Thirdly, and I will be particular about Nigeria, is the fact that our Constitution, 1999 or whatever Constitution we operate under, specifically states in Chapter 12, Section 14, (FUNDAMENTAL OBJECTIVES AND DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES OF STATE POLICY) that:

(13) It shall be the duty and responsibility of all organs of government, and of all authorities and persons, exercising legislative, executive or judicial powers, to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of this Chapter of this Constitution.

(14) (1) The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice.

(2) It is hereby, accordingly, declared that:

(a) Sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority;

(b) The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government: and

(c) The participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.


From this, we see that it is expressly stated in our Constitution that the Government(s) is ultimately responsible for the security of lives, property, etc of the people of Nigeria.


Internal security, or IS, is the act of keeping peace within the borders of a sovereign state or other self-governing territories. This is done generally by upholding the national law and defending against internal security threats. Responsibility for internal security may range from police to paramilitary forces, and in exceptional circumstances, the military itself. (Wikipedia)


Threats to Internal security (Wikipedia)

Threats to the general peace may range from low-level civil disorder, large scale violence, or even an armed insurgency. Threats to internal security may be directed at either the state's citizens, or the organs and infrastructure of the state itself, and may range from petty crime, serious organised crime, political or industrial unrest, or even domestic terrorism. Foreign powers may also act as a threat to internal security, by either committing or sponsoring terrorism or rebellion, without actually declaring war.


Forces and Agencies (Wikipedia)

Governmental responsibility for internal security will generally rest with an interior ministry, as opposed to a defence ministry. Depending on the state, a state's internal security will be maintained by either the ordinary police or law enforcement agencies or more militarised police forces (known as Gendarmerie). Other specialised internal security agencies may exist to augment these main forces, such as border guards, special police units, or aspects of the state's List of intelligence agencies. In some states, internal security may be the primary responsibility of a secret police force.


The level of authorised force used by agencies and forces responsible for maintaining internal security might range from unarmed police to fully armed paramilitary organisations, or employ some level of less-lethal weaponry in between. For violent situations, internal security forces may contain some element of military type equipment such as non-military armoured vehicles.


But enough of definitions and insinuations.  What we are talking about is not merely petty crimes, armed robberies, etc, but terrorism and bombings, armed insurgency, e.g. the Niger Delta problem, which seemed to have died down a bit of recent, after all the hullabaloo of Amnesty, Jos ethnic/religious killings, Boko Haram massacres and bombings in Abuja, Maiduguri and other northern cities, etc.


What every Nigerian should be doing is asking and demanding answers on what has been done so far since October 1st, 2010 Independence Day Twin Bombing in Abuja FCT. Not to mention numerous bombings in Maiduguri, Bauchi and Adamawa.


Mind you, these are not the first instances of such insecurity. Insecurity has been with us probably since we became a Republic, only we decided to turn blind eyes to it.


When the CIA report of 2005 predicted the collapse of Nigeria in about 15 years time, patriots and critics alike reacted differently to the report. For me, as much as I wanted to dismiss it, something kept niggling my mind that this might be a true prophetic scrutiny of the state of Nigeria. Not because the CIA is dependable in its security analysis, after all, they didn't get it right to prevent 9/11 2001 from happening, but events in Nigeria seemed to suggest that while other countries in the sub-region were developing, Nigeria was retrogressing despite its claim to democracy. People expected the then Government of Obasanjo to take this warning as a chance for Nigeria to look inwards, engage with the report, and work on those predictive indices that could lead to the predicted failure. But, inopportunely, the Obasanjo government dismissed the report in its totality. In a way, the dismissal is not entirely a surprise, since our leaders, over the years, are prone to such habits of shielding the truth from their people, not caring as long as it does not happen in their time; are actually very ignorant of what is going on around them, and are obstinate and tyrannical in their nature.

The current general state of insecurity in Nigeria has now lent weight to the report. It must be recalled that while the report was released at the advent of the so-called Niger Delta crisis, since then several acts of bombings and killings by the extremist Islamic sect, Boko Haram, the carnage between ethnic Birom and the Hausa/Fulani in Jos, and the political violence that followed immediately after the 2011 Elections results, mostly in the northern part of the country, have further cemented the insecure state of the country.


Starting with the usual religious/ethnic oriented conflicts, to the Jos ethnic/religious/political conflict of 2008, regrettably, the northern states have shown that security of persons and properties is still far from being realizable. However, the current crisis which started in Bauchi and has engulfed other states in the north has elements of theocratic opinionated ambitions in it. While the fundamentalist group - Boko Haram's - demand for the jettisoning of a western behavioural pattern and the imposition of strict Sharia law can be described as absurd to say the least, we should equally view it with all the seriousness it deserves.


What the current trend of violence is imprinting on the psyche of Nigerians is that the government security apparatus is incapable of guaranteeing the safety and security of its people. This would, therefore, impact on the general human security of the people as the situation promotes fear, while at the same time limiting the peoples' ability to develop economically. At the same time, the state's capacity to attract investors becomes limited as a result of the insecurity. For instance, states like Enugu and Bauchi that have huge tourism potential would be losing out on this front

On different terrorist attacks, listen to what leaders with political will had to say:

On 9/11: "This is an act of war against the United States. We'll hunt down the terrorists. They can run but they can't' hide..." - George Bush

London Bombing: "We'll track down the terrorists and bring them to justice" - Tony Blair

UN House Bombing: "Terrorism is a global phenomenon. May be it is Nigeria's turn." - Goodluck Jonathan

So what our supreme leader is saying is that, “why not, it’s our turn to start getting blown up”. How much more should we expect? That shows you the depth of intelligence and care of our leaders.


Security was a driving issue in the last Presidential campaign following bomb blast by Niger Delta militants and attacks of police by members of the extremist Islamic group, Boko Haram in the northern part of the country. President Jonathan campaigned very hard to convince Nigerians that his government was meeting those security challenges. But the rioting, mostly in the North, that followed immediately after his election raised questions, which are still unanswered, about security preparedness. At least 800 people were said to have been killed in these Muslim-Christian electoral violence.


 “As president, it is my solemn duty to defend the constitution of this country. That includes the obligation to protect the lives and properties of every Nigerian wherever they choose to live,” he said


Challenges & Proposed Solutions:

Mr. President should acknowledge the failure of the security agencies hence there should be a complete overhaul of the Security Agencies in the county to pre-empt these security breaches. In particular, the failure of the intelligence services to contain the recurring security breaches. The spate of bombings has once more brought to limelight the need for a Sovereign National Conference. Until these structural distortions and anomalies are addressed, the monster of insecurity will loom large and Nigeria will once more be listed as a terrorist nation. Mr. President has to act decisively to execute his Office, and this can be achieved by implementing the anti-terrorism law and punish culprits of such heinous crimes capable of causing instability in the nation. This will vitiate the implementation of Mr. President's transformational agenda. The long-term effect is that the on-going terrorism will discourage potential investors in Nigeria.


At the speed Nigeria is deteriorating, there is a strong desire for a SOVEREIGN NATIONAL CONFERENCE so that all ethnic nationalities can make their stand known this amalgamated country. The way forward is for us to keep laying emphasis on the need for the evolution of six regions. The federation should stay but let every region grow at its own pace. The Western region has clearly set the pace going by the result of the last election. All the Western states voted massively for the Action Congress party (ACN), a party that is not sufficiently different in programmes from the Action Party of Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Each region should have their own police Force. MOPOL and Interpol could be transformed into the only Federal Police crack elite team. The rest members of the police force should be dismembered and directed to return to their regions. It is the duty of the regions to now retrain, equip and pay them.
Second, the judiciary is not helping matters at all. This institution is heavily compounding our problems. It has got to really sit up. Cases of corruption are not meant to be compromised at all, let alone adjourning them endlessly. The judiciary ought to have, at this stage in our development, evolved time scales for cases. There ought to have been a time to determine a case; time to close that case; and time to deliver judgement and pass sentences. In Nigeria, cases that bother on corruption and insecurity have most often been compromised thus the law is no longer acting as a deterrent. What is happening in Jos is too gory to narrate. The endless killing going on in that city has made the demand for regional govt more pertinent. The country cannot just continue to toe the line of extinction. Most Nigerians do not value human lives. They debase them. Most have become conditioned to act of carnages, brigandage, looting, massacre, butchery and bestiality.
Thirdly, the Federal govt should always be decisive on issues that bother on insecurity. We have never had strong leaders. From Shagari to Yar ‘Adua and now to Jonathan, what we have heard were leaders handpicked and imposed on the people. We have over the years been denied leaders that would bring us out of the woods. First were Awo in 1979 and, controversially, Abiola in 1993. We have never had it so bad. OBJ was an imposition by the Northern oligarchy. Corruption was commonplace under OBJ. Now under Jonathan, what we have is intertwined corruption and insecurity.

 Ethnic and the foregoing problems and criminal activities individually and collectively create insecurity and breach of the peace that are likely to or indeed affect legitimate social and economic activities in the country. These problems also have the very damaging consequence of giving the signal to the rest of the international community that Nigeria is not a safe and secure place and as such not suitable for economic investment and activities. This is particularly important in view of the efforts being made to create the desired atmosphere to attract foreign investment.


Beyond the effects of security concerns on the economic fortunes of the country, the nature of the security challenges facing the country also have implications for the country's political system. As mentioned earlier, social cohesion among various groups and interests is important in the process of national political development. Therefore, the constituent parts of the country must be and indeed feel that they are being carried along in the process of national governance. Experience has shown that widespread discontent and loss of confidence in the system have ways of affecting national political stability. Invariably continuing escalation of violence and crises across the country will impinge on the survival of our democracy.


Accordingly, there is the challenge to rethink and improve on policy and institutional means of dealing with security concerns arising in the country. At the political level, the federal, state and local governments should evolve programmes of cultural and political education and orientation that seek to enthrone the fundamentals of democracy so that the political contestants as well as the generality of the citizens imbibe principles and practices essential for sustainable democracy. Such programmes must also address specific tendencies that create security breach and concerns in the country.


In addition, a process of legislative and constitutional review should be initiated to assess the country's constitution and amend or expunge as necessary areas that have been found to give rise to conflicts and security problems. The process should also introduce new provisions and legislations that will ensure better and more effective interplay of interests among all groups and stakeholders in Nigeria. Such exercise should also embrace ways of making the country's democratic space more open, free, fair and tolerant as exists in other democracies around the world. Among specific lingering political issues that should be addressed are: the laws relating to political parties and their activities; the establishment, funding and activities of the electoral body; local and state government relationship; allocation of national resources and revenue; citizenship rights; devolution of security powers to states and local governments. In addition, the legislative and constitutional review should also embody security sector reforms that will make the security agencies and institutions more effective in combating crimes and other threats to national security and make them accountable to the democratic political system and structures. These democratic structures include the states and local governments. I believe that we need to give a more concrete understanding to the definition of governors as the chief security officers of the state.


In all, what we need is a good government, no more no less. And a good government is possible in as much as people who are put in positions of authority are allowed and are committed to discharge their duties without fear or favour; are determined to serve with zeal and patriotism; are not ready to sell out to international capital and are ready to stand by the truth and die for it. In all, there is no mono cultural theory that is a cure-all to the diverse nature of insecurity in Nigeria but I believed and stand by the theory that Nigeria should evolve into six regions, each region having its Premier or Governor, each region has a right to retain its states or to abolish- the choice is theirs in the region to make; each region should be in charge of its Education, Security, Health, Agriculture, Housing, Transport and Energy policies. The Central Government should be in charge of the Army, Central Bank, Customs, Prisons and Immigration services, MOPOL and Interpol, ALL WORKING at the same time IN THE INTEREST OF THE COUNTRY. The objections to this Soveriegn National Conference are coming significantly from the core north unbeknownst to the people from that region that the fallout from that conference would sufficiently be in their favour. Pessimism is a social disease but in a society of rights, it is right!


To end this presentation, allow me to quote former Head of State, Abdulsalaam Abubakar from his guest lecture at NIPSS, Kuru, on November 26, 2004, Democracy is a sought-after value. It is not a perfect system of governance, even theoretically. But as Aristotle argued, it is the least evil of all possible governments. The strength of democracy is drawn from the fact that it is supposed to be the product of the will of the majority of the people. Government is held in trust for the people. The citizens feel a sense of ownership of the state for they can identify with it as vital stakeholders whose will gave existence and legitimacy to the state and the government. As shareholders of the common-wealth, the citizens will not only avoid such behaviours that hurt and sabotage the system, but join forces to resist any such attack on the collective interest. That in-fact is the real basis for the development of grand tactic, the mobilisation of the entire national asset for the protection of the nation, which I believe can work best in a democracy”.


He should know; he ran this country for more than 9 months and he has to his credit of being the creator of the present democratic dispensation.


I do hope my presentation has been useful.


Thank you for listening.

Akintokunbo Adejumo used to live and work in London, UK, until recently re-locating to Nigeria in 2010.  A graduate of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria (1979) and University of Manitoba, Canada (1985), he also writes on topical issues and is published in several newspapers and internet media including, Nigeria Today Online, Nigerians In America, Nigeria Village Square, Champions Newspaper,, African News Switzerland, New Nigerian Politics,,, Nigerian, Nigerian,  etc.

He was the Codewit Author of the Month for March 2009 and has several awards for his articles.

He is also the Founder and Global Coordinator of CHAMPIONS FOR NIGERIA, ( an organisation devoted to celebrating genuine progress, excellence, commitment, selfless and unalloyed service to Nigeria and Nigerians.



 Appendix 1:

Here is a list of Abuja terrorist attacks under this administration since October 2010:

  • there was bombing on Independence Day in Abuja October 1st 2010
  • there was bombing at army barrack in Abuja December of 2010
  • there was bombing at police headquarter Abuja June 2011
  • there was bombing at UN headquarter Abuja August 2011


Appendix 2:

2011 Budget Appropriation For National Defence and Security:

The NSA, Police and Defence Ministry will spend a combined 865 BILLION NAIRA - more than 2 billion naira a day, weekends included!"


  • The Defence Ministry gets 348 Billion Naira
  • The Police gets 309 Billion Naira
  • The National Security Adviser (NSA) will spend 208 Billion Naira (Recurrent - N51 billion, Capital N59 billion, and another N98 billion for the Amnesty Programme).

This does not include the 36 states’ so-called Security votes. Even State Assembly members and local government councillors now have Security Votes. Clearly their security is more important than ours!

 865 billion Naira!!! How many equipment bought or how many training done??


Appendix 3:

These are the people in charge of protecting Nigeria and Abuja


"On 27 July, the Minister for Defence, Dr. Haliru Mohammed Bello, declared that the Boko Haram insurgency in Borno State will soon be over".


2. Erelu Olusola Obada- MINISTER OF STATE, DEFENSE - (Studied Law but no Military or Law Enforcement Experience)

Education: She studied Advertising Administration at the Watford College of Technology in England. She later read a degree in Law at the University of Buckingham in England, graduating top of her class in 1985. 



A holder of an Advanced Diploma in Public Administration, IGP Ringim joined the Nigeria Police Force as a Cadet Inspector on 1st March, 1977 and had his first stint of active police work in Kano, from 1978 to 1979, from where he was posted to the foremost investigative arm of the Force, the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID), Alagbon Close, Ikoyi Lagos. From the FCID, he was deployed to head the Criminal Intelligence Bureau (CIB) in Plateau State, with the rank of a Deputy Superintendent of Police. Acting IGP Hafiz Ringim’s hobbies are farming and jogging.


4. General Owoye Andrew Azazi - NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER.

CFR FSS MSS DSS GSS psc(+) fwc (retired) is the National Security Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria and a former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of Nigeria. The Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo made this appointment. General Azazi also served as the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) between 2006 and 2007. He replaced General Martin Luther Agwai. Before his appointment as COAS, he was General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Division, Kaduna.


Education: General Azazi holds a MSc in Strategic Studies from the University of Ibadan, and has completed the Staff Intelligence and Security Course, School of Service Intelligence, Ashford, Kent, UK and Combined Strategic Intelligence Training Programme, Defence Intelligence College, Washington DC, United States. He is a graduate of the Command and Staff College Nigeria, and the National War College, Nigeria where he won the President and Commander-in-Chief's merit award for best all round performance.


5. Northeast Zone Security Committee For Boko Haram.

ABUJA, August 02, (THEWILL) – The Federal government has inaugurated the Presidential Committee on Security Challenges in the North-East Zone of the Country saying, "The central purpose of setting up this Committee is to create a forum whereby every person who has suggestions on a way forward will without restriction reach out to the Committee with ease".

The committee was set up following complaints by Borno elders on the excesses of soldiers and continued threat of radical Islamic sect Boko Haram, which has claimed responsibility for the series of bomb attacks in the north.

The Boko Haram Security Committee Members Are:

1. Ambassador Usman Gaji Galtimari (Chairman);

2. Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume;

3. Mr. Joe Kyari Gadzama (SAN);

4. Colonel Musa Shehu (rtd);

5. Senator Bala Mohammed (Minister, FCT);

6. Dr. Bello H. Mohammed (Minister of Defence);

7. Barrister Emeka Wogu (Minister, Labour and Productivity) and

8. Abdullahi B. Shehu.


Most of these people are politicians with no tactical or intelligence experience.

The 8-member committee was given till August 16, 2011 to submit its report. Today is 10th September 2011, and ….**NO REPORT FOUND ANYWHERE OR REPORTED.



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