SECURITY CHALLENGES IN NIGERIA AND THE IMPLICATIONS FOR BUSINESS ACTIVITIES AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
The Nigeria-South Africa Chamber of commerce webinar for January 2021 was held on 28th January 2021.
The Speaker was Chris Aluta, GMD, ProtectionPlus Services Limited. He spoke on the topic: Security Challenges in Nigeria and the Implications for Business Activities and Sustainable Development.
Nigeria once Africa’s largest economy continues its downward trend due to coronavirus issues, Banditry, Endsars, and other security vices. He mentioned that the crime rate in Nigeria is extremely high. Institutions remain weak with insufficiently protected property, rights, high corruption, and undue influence. In addition, the security situation remains serious in Nigeria. Nigeria must continue to upgrade its infrastructure as well as improve its health and primary education.
Furthermore, the country is not harnessing the latest technologies for productivity enhancements, as demonstrated by its low rates of ICT penetration. On the upside, Nigeria benefits from its relatively large market size, which bears the potential for significant economics of scales; a relatively efficient labor market, driven by its flexibility, and a solid financial market following its gradual recovery.
However, Nigeria in recent times has witnessed an unprecedented level of insecurity such as Boko Haram activities, banditry, kidnapping, Fulani-Herders-Farmers clashes that resulted in Ondo State issuance of Quit notice to Fulanis in the State. This has made national security threat to be a major issue for the government and has prompted a huge allocation of the national budget to security. In order to ameliorate the incidence of crime, the federal government has embarked on the criminalization of terrorism bypassing the Anti-Terrorism Act in 2011, fundamental surveillance as well as investigation of criminal related offenses, heightening of physical security measures around the country aimed at deterring or disrupting potential attacks, strengthening of security agencies through the provision of security facilities and the development and broadcast of security tips in mass media. Despite these efforts, the level of insecurity in the country is still high. In addition, Nigeria has consistently ranked low in the Global Peace Index (GPI, 2012), signifying a worsened state of insecurity in the country.
With the lingering security challenges and the inability of the security apparatus of the government to guarantee safety and security in the country, the question that borders everyone in Nigeria today is “can there be security?” Is the security of lives and properties achievable? He opined that government at all levels has not done enough by not confronting frontally the situation head-on and dealing with it decisively, others have argued that the situation has a political undertone or inclination calculated to serve the interest of certain political gods, who have been dissatisfied and disgruntled about the political manifestations in the country.
Chris Aluta, GMD, Protection plus Services Limited made this assertion while speaking on the topic Security Challenges in Nigeria and the Implications for Business Activities and Sustainable Development said that Security, however, can be described as stability and continuity of livelihood (stable and steady income), predictability of daily life (knowing what to expect), protection from crime (feeling safe), and freedom from psychological harm (safety or protection from emotional stress which results from the assurance of knowing that one is wanted, accepted, loved and protected in one’s community or neighborhood and by people around. It focuses on the emotional and psychological sense of belonging to a social group that can offer one protection). It is generally argued however that security is not the absence of threats or security issues, but the ability to rise to the challenges posed by these threats with expediency and expertise.
According to Chris Aluta, insecurity is defined as “the state of fear or anxiety, stemming from a concrete or alleged lack of protection.” It refers to a lack of or inadequate freedom from danger. This definition reflects physical insecurity which is the most visible form of insecurity, and it feeds into many other forms of insecurity such as economic security and social security.
The renowned Security expert said that for the Government to tackle insecurity, a key starting point should be to understand the causes of insecurity as well as to investigate their sources of social disorder and instability.
Aluta pointed out that it is necessary to distinguish between different causes as each may require a different remedy. Besides, it is to provide a holistic view of the suggestion or recommendations of solutions. More often, however, policymakers are disinclined to isolate and clarify particular causes. They prefer blanket references, with the consideration that the causes of insecurity are interwoven and contributory to one another. Like in many other societies, the sources of insecurity in Nigeria have been traced to a number of factors and explained by different people.
These factors have been classified or grouped into external and internal factors. Beyond the external-internal dichotomy, sources of insecurity have also been classified as either remote or proximate and immediate sources/causal factors. In Nigeria, the challenge is not so much about the insecurity of external sources, but rather that of internal sources. We recognize that some internal factors have been enhanced and strengthened by the presence of external forces, but, there is no doubt that, if the internal situations did not present themselves, the external forces would be unable to infiltrate.
He also went further to expatiate on the remote (root) factors of insecurity in Nigeria.
Lack of institutional capacity resulting in government failure described as the corrosion or breakdown of institutional infrastructures. The foundations of the institutional framework in Nigeria are very shaky and have provoked deterioration of state governance and democratic accountability, thus, paralyzing the existing set of constraints including the formal and legitimate rules nested in the hierarchy of social order. The state of insecurity in Nigeria is greatly a function of government failure or can be linked to government failure. This is manifested by the incapacity of the government to deliver public services and to provide basic needs for the masses. The lack of basic necessities by the people in Nigeria has created a pool of frustrated people who are ignited easily by any event to be violent. The argument here is that Nigeria has the resources to provide for the needs of its people, but corruption in public offices at all levels has made it impossible for officeholders to focus on the provision of basic needs for the people Nigerian situation as a ‘Paradox of Plenty. A situation where the country earns a great deal of revenue through oil sales but fails to use these earnings to meet the needs of its people and to develop infrastructure as well as the economy. When these situations exist, the crime rate is bound to rise and the security of lives and properties cannot be guaranteed.
Pervasive Material Inequalities and Unfairness – Greater awareness of disparities in life is a major root cause of insecurity in Nigeria. This is a rooted general perception of inequality and unfairness which has resulted in a grievance by a large number of people. This perception stems from the perception of marginalization by a section of the people, government development policies, and political offices and this has become a primary source of disaffection and resentment. A large number of the Nigerian population is frustrated and have lost hope, especially the youths, and have now emerged to express their disillusion about the pervasive state of inequality. The activities of the avengers were responsible for the epileptic power supply in the country as well as the inability of state governors to pay workers’ salaries due to the low revenue generated in the oil sector as a result of the attack on pipelines.
Ethno-Religious Conflicts – These have arisen from distrust among various ethnic groups and among the major religions in the country. He identified ethnoreligious conflict as a major source of insecurity in Nigeria. The ethnoreligious conflict was defined as a situation in which the relationship between members of one ethnic or religious group and another of such group in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society is characterized by lack of cordiality, mutual suspicion, and fear, and a tendency towards violent confrontation. Frequent and persistent ethnic conflicts and religious clashes between the two dominant religions (Islam and Christianity), present the country with a major security challenge. In all parts of Nigeria, there exist ethnoreligious conflicts and these according to him, have emerged as a result of new and particularistic forms of political consciousness and identity often structured around ethnoreligious identities.
Conflict of Perceptions between the Public and government – Over the years, there has been a standing mismatch between public and government perceptions. A situation that often results in the reactions of the public to the excesses of the military regimes which governed Nigeria and has continued after the end of military regimes and created a sensitivity by those in government at public intrusion in matters of state.
Weak Security System – This results from inadequate equipment for the security arm of government, both in weaponry and training. This is in addition to the poor attitudinal and behavioral disposition of security personnel. In many cases, security personnel assigned to deal with given security situations lack the expertise and equipment to handle the situations in a way to prevents them from occurring.
And even when these exist, some personnel get influenced by ethnic, religious, or communal sentiment and are easily swallowed by their personal interest to serve their people, rather than the nation. Thus, instead of being national watchdogs and defending national interest and values, and protecting people from harm by criminals, they soon become saboteurs of government effort by supporting and fuelling insecurity through either leaking vital security information or aiding and abetting criminals to acquire weapons or to escape the long arm of the law.
Loss of Socio-cultural and communal value system -The traditional value system of the Nigerian society like most African societies is characterized by such endearing features as collectivism, loyalty to authority and community, truthfulness, honesty, hard work, tolerance, love for others, Mutual harmony and co-existence, and identification of an individual with another (Other distinctive features of Nigerian traditional society are abhorrence for theft and high value for life. Stealing was considered extremely disgraceful and lives were also highly valued). All of these values which made society secured and safe have all gradually been thrown away and lost. New values have taken over their place over the years, with the so-called ‘modernity and civilization’. All our endearing values and morals have been traded off for western values.
The immediate factors which caused Nigeria’s insecurity situation are inexhaustible.
Porous Borders – One major immediate factor which has enhanced insecurity in Nigeria is the porous frontiers of the country, where individual movements are largely untracked. The porosity of Nigeria’s borders has serious security implications for the country. Given the porous borders as well as the weak and security system, weapons come easily into Nigeria from other countries. Small Arms and Light Weapons proliferation and the availability of these weapons have enabled militant groups and criminal groups to have easy access to arms. Nigeria is estimated to host over 70 percent of about 8 million illegal weapons in West Africa. Also, the porosity of the Nigerian borders has made it possible for an unwarranted influx of migrants from neighboring countries such as the Republic of Niger, Chad, and the Republic of Benin. These migrants which are mostly young men are some of the perpetrators of crime in the country.
Rural/Urban Drift– The migration of jobless youths from rural areas to urban centers is also one of the causes of insecurity in Nigeria. Nigeria is one of the countries in the world with very high rural/urban drift. Most urban areas in Nigeria have grown beyond their environmental carrying capacities and existing infrastructure and this has resulted in increased poor quality of the living conditions in urban areas in Nigeria. Out of frustration, these youths are drawn into crime.
Unemployment/Poverty -As a result of the high level of unemployment and poverty among Nigerians, especially the youths, they are adversely attracted to violent crime. Failure of successive administrations in Nigeria to address challenges of poverty, unemployment, and inequitable distribution of wealth among ethnic nationalities is one of the major causes of insecurity in the country.
Terrorism – At the most proximate and least disputable level, terrorism is the most fundamental source of insecurity in Nigeria today, and its primary bases and sources of support have generally been located in religious fanaticism and intolerance. As “the premeditated use or threat of use of violence by an individual or group to cause fear, destruction or death, especially against unarmed targets, property or infrastructure in a state, intended to compel those in authority to respond to the demands and expectations of the individual or group behind such violent acts” which has cost 13.4 percent of the world gross domestic product. Nigeria has lost large numbers of lives in the Northern region since 2009 to the insurgency of this infamous sect, Boko Haram which has been ravaging the northern region of the country.
The insecure environment of business refers to insecurity variables that affect the performance of a business but over which the business enterprise has little or no direct control. In Nigeria, the variables range from theft to organized armed robbery, kidnapping and demand for ransom, assassination, repeated invasion and blockading of business installations, social injustice, unemployment, lack of access to livelihood resources, the rising cost of living, and bombing, pipelines destruction. All these variables of crimes and social maladies have made the Nigerian security environment to be complex.
In addition to the usual crimes, the coordinated attacks from the Boko Haram sect in the northern part of the country, besides making life miserable for Nigerians, have affected so many businesses operating in that region. The bomb explosions initiated by this group have been on the increase leading to enormous loss of life and property and a general atmosphere of fear and social tension in the country.
The implications of the Nigeria insecurity situation for organization’s business activities cannot be overemphasized. We contend that when there is widespread insecurity, it could affect business investment, the entire business organization, or some aspects of its operations which include production, marketing, finance, and human resource (H/R)
World Bank on the investment climate in nine African countries in which it was found that 29% of business operators in Africa and 36% in Nigeria perceived insecurity as a major constraint on investment. This situation has the damaging consequence of giving a signal to the international community that Nigeria is not a safe and secure place and as such not suitable for investment and business activities.
In that case, foreign firms and entrepreneurs would decline to invest and this is particularly important in view of the efforts being made to create the desired atmosphere to attract foreign direct investment. So, it is a strong disincentive to business investment as it scares away potential investors.
This is because such environments or economies are considered high-risk zones due to the high level of uncertainty about the safety of investment and the lives of the managers and their staff.
Evidently, there has been a decline in foreign direct investment in Nigeria. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is usually investment targeted at building new factories or investing in actual production activities which create jobs. Foreign investors in the Nigerian economy are moving away from starting new companies or production plants and are buying up shares of quoted companies instead. The state of insecurity in the country besides the issue of lack of regular electricity supply, which itself is a source of economic insecurity in the country is repelling investors.
The Nigeria insecurity situation can, and in many cases, actually halted business operations during the periods of violence and also caused the outright closure of many enterprises especially in the areas or zones where incidences of insecurity are rife and are on a daily occurrence, in a bid to protect lives of operators and business property. Generally, if there is no peace and security, it is extremely difficult for businesses to survive. Ordinary citizens having small and medium scale businesses cannot open shops for business transactions. Insecurity everywhere is a risk factor that business owners and managers dread and wish to avoid by relocating their businesses elsewhere. In the case of Nigeria, there is also evidence of some businessmen and manufacturing companies having to relocate particularly from the North in recent time, to other peaceful parts of the country. Non-indigenes especially Igbos and Yorubas have to return to their home states before they are killed by Boko Haram. In addition, some firms have shifted their operations to other countries like Ghana which is deemed to be more peaceful. Apart from the outright closure of a business enterprise, an existing business can also be affected in the four functional areas of business shown below such as production, marketing, finance, and human resource (H/R).
Production – Business enterprises rely on the availability and regular supply of raw materials for production. Security problems can cut off the supply of such raw materials. When a firm is unable to access raw materials needed for production due to insecurity in the source, it can disrupt production activities.
Marketing – It is not only that a business enterprise must get raw materials for production, but it also must dispose of off their output. Insecurity limits market availability. In addition to the fact that areas pruned to insecurity will not be attractive for marketers from outside, there will be restrictions on mobility. Besides, the Migration of people from the areas to other parts of the country or outside as a result of insecurity will affect the customer base of businesses operating in the environment where the insecurity exists. Nigeria is currently experiencing this situation in many parts of the country especially in the terrorist fields of the northern part of Nigeria.
Finance – Insecurity also increases security spending by business organizations. This emanates from the cost of taking precautions and payment for private security services. From general observation, most business organizations operating in Nigeria maintain security personnel as well as security infrastructure in order to ensure the security of their properties and the lives of their staff and customers. It could also result in the loss of capital through the burning of business buildings and properties. Beyond these, it also limits sources of funds to the business.
Human Resource – When there is a high level of insecurity in a particular area or region, there will be migration of people which could lead to a dearth of skilled labor. Insecurity affects the general human security of the people as the situation promotes fear, while at the same time limiting the peoples’ ability to work effectively. There are also circumstances when employees of a business enterprise become victims of the attack and the firm losses its experienced staff through death or injury. As such, workers resign to run away from such areas and fresh people do not want to go there for employment. The implication is manpower shortage for the business which ultimately affects the success and survival of the business. This exerts pressure on the business for manpower at any cost. Due to the impact of insecurity on businesses, we support the proposition that the government must ensure the availability of public security at all times. This is crucial because if businesses fold up and investors are no longer forthcoming, then the future is bleak.
Security and development are also related in the sense that being a public good, the imperative to maintain security competes with other public goods such as education, health, and infrastructure for public funds. Insecurity, therefore, becomes a drain on local and national resources at the expense of development and peoples’ well-being thereby, having adverse consequences on economic growth and development.
Thus, in the absence of any real threats to security, expenditures on security can be reduced significantly, allowing national and local governments to channel more resources to other public goods to improve the quality of life of the people. In addition, insecurity destroys existing infrastructure and also prevents an environment for the development of further infrastructure; and a safe environment for economic activities by individuals to give them economic empowerment that will enable households not only to cater for their present generations but also to provide for future generations.
Consequently, Aluta posited more sustainable development initiatives regarding insecurity are needed in Nigeria and this is imperative, since security is central to development, and the national transformation agenda of the current administration may not be achieved if there is no solution to the menace of insecurity ravaging the country.
He mentioned the following as solutions to the issue of insecurity: Leadership development- It is viewed that Nigeria will have to develop visionary leadership, a leadership that is detribalized such that it has at leadership positions only people who are able to inculcate in their people or followers, the idea of common citizenship as the transcendent factor among all Nigerians, no matter the tribe, gender, religion, economic and social status. In other words, it is imperative that we have leaders who would not be limited to championing the causes of their home state, tribe, or religious groups, but rather focused on deeds and pronouncements which convincingly and positively impact the entire citizenry of the federal republic”. The argument for this is that such leaders “will help to mold the contending ethnic and religious groups into harmony and help to remove the perceived mutual distrust among them. The process of developing visionary leadership can be challenging, but however, it can be overcome “by using institutions of the Nigerian constitution as a nursery ground to produce leaders with national outlook and with a missionary zeal to transform the nation”.
Good governance – good governance is the panacea for the insecurity challenge in Nigeria. He states that the war against insecurity would be won only by raising governance standards that is, cultivating the culture of good governance where the government is responsible and accountable to the people. In his view, security engagement cannot be separated from good governance. Many others have also linked security to the governance system. The general view is that peace and security are determined by good governance. However, good governance is a function of effective, visionary, transparent, trustworthy, and credible political leadership whose driving force is an improvement in the collective wellbeing of the citizens through well-conceived, effectively implemented economic policies and human development programs. The underlying principle of good governance is the focus on people as the ultimate objective of governance.
The Socio-Economic Development-This factor is strongly considered as the major key to peace and security in Nigeria. The challenge in solving the insecurity problem in Nigeria is to accelerate the pace of development. Development in this context consists of creating an economy with relevant social, economic, and physical infrastructure for business operations and industrial growth, to provide gainful employment, high-level education facilities, and medical care for the people.
Elimination of Corruption and Entrenchment of Social Justice – Corruption is viewed by everybody as the cog in the Nigerian wheel of progress and development. It is the bane of our society. It is both a social and economic monster. It is the cause of inequality and inequitable distribution of the nations’ wealth among its citizens, a situation that is the root cause of disaffection among Nigerians. It is theorized by many that fighting corruption and winning the war will bring about an egalitarian society, where fairness, social justice, and equal right for all will reign supreme; where rights will not be privileges for some people, and for others, privileges are their rights: where every Nigerian will be treated and accorded position not based on tribe and sect, but on merit defined in terms of the content of his character, mental capacity and ability to deliver; where there will be no discrimination.
Radical Change in Values – A paradigm shift of values from the current order has also been suggested and emphasized by many, considering the role of values in the governance system, leadership developmental goals, and behavior towards corruption. It is argued that except our values are right, we cannot get it right as a nation in all of the areas that we have itemized, and except we get it right in those areas, the people will continue to suffer deprivation and injustice which will cause dissatisfaction and disaffection and consequently create an insecure environment.
To overcome insecurity there is a need for intelligence gathering and surveillance so that law enforcement agents could be proactive and reasonably predict potential crime with near-perfect accuracy rather than being reactive.
The menace of insecurity no doubt calls for a new approach that will be founded on credible intelligence gathering”. Government must not only continue to engage the security personnel, but it must also, more than ever before, recognize the need to devote more attention to security intelligence, capacity building to meet the global best practice standard, and acquisition of modern technology.
There is also the need to modernize the security agencies with training, intelligence sharing, advanced technology, logistics, motivation, and change of orientation. This effort will enhance the operational capabilities of the Nigerian security agencies by identifying avenues that would enable them to respond appropriately to internal security challenges and other threats. In addition, there should be a complete overhaul of the security institutions in the country to reflect international standards of best practices so as to pre-empt these security breaches. In particular, the failure of the intelligence services to contain the recurring security breaches.
The consistent pattern of post damage responses to national security has been attributed to the dearth of pre-emptive intelligence among security personnel.
There should be an institutionalized approach rather than the episodic and reactive response adopted by the government in the aftermath of attacks. In addition, the Government at all levels should not compromise in enforcing the law. 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 cause; time to close that case; and time to deliver judgment 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. Our law enforcement agencies must therefore be incorruptible and fair. To ensure all this, there must be incentives, good conditions of service, and social security. Finally, dealing alone with the issues mentioned above will not appraise the root causes of insecurity.
Policies that focus solely on single governmental agencies, such as security agencies or the enactment of laws are unlikely to succeed. Instead, a coordinated preventive measure is necessary for addition to military strategies and judicial institutions. He posited that there is a need to reorder priorities and to seek a better understanding of the underlying causes and dynamics of the insecurity in the country with the aim of providing effective conflict prevention and management strategies.
The formulation and effective implementation of policies and programs capable of addressing the root causes of insecurity in Nigeria is crucial, especially with regard to poverty; unemployment, environmental degradation, injustice, corruption, porous borders, and small arms proliferation. Therefore, efforts to tackle insecurity can only be effective if there is a robust combination of legislative and judicial interventions with government reforms that address some of the acute human security challenges confronting a vast majority of the population.
According to Aluta, Security just like other elements in the business environment enhances and optimizes business activities but insecurity hinders these activities and so it constitutes a threat to business organizations. There is a strong skepticism that if the level of insecurity in our country is not scaled down, our vision to be among the best 20 countries of the world may be aborted. We must strive to get to a level where crimes will be nipped in the bud before they are perpetuated. Therefore, the government, civil society groups, business organizations,s, and individuals must fight insecurity so as to create an enabling environment where business organizations will feel free and secured to achieve their full potentials and the country will itself be safe to achieve sustainable development.
Also, this avenue was used to pay tributes to the late Chairman of Protection plus Services limited and Director of the Nigeria South Africa Chamber of Commerce, Dr. Ubong King. Various people poured encomiums on him for his wonderful deeds, impacts, and influence when he was alive.