Nigerian Homeland: Tackling Security Challenges of fragility
At the very moment when challenges to the Nigerian Homeland are growing in number and complexity, while economy has continued to kowtow to all Global currencies and youth radicalism has become a major issue in security planning, many analyst has concluded that the state is in its twilight. After decades of rising unemployment, high state sponsored corruption, sustained economic unease, in the middle of the worst security crisis in a generation, Nigerian are weary, and increasingly looking at the new government to bring in a change that will broker a new national order.
The ministry of interior has become the beacon of hope for the common Nigeria, given the appointment of a seasoned security professional and former Harvard fellow in person of General Abdulraman Dambazzau, former Chief of Army Staff (COAS) as the honourable minister in charge of policing the Nigerian homeland. The challenges of security in this nation without basic statistics to plan and work with; contrasting and, ever competing security organisations with overlapping and unclear jurisdictions; rising security challenges from terrorists, ethno-religious and militias groups; coupled with traditional security challenges of securing over 200 million people with less than 500,000 poorly; trained, remunerated and equipped law enforcement officers.
Faced with these daunting challenges; the temptation to hunker down and ride out this huge disorder is understandable for a novice, but this has not been the case for this officer and a gentleman and his team, knowing that Nigerian simply cannot afford this luxury, the unity of the nation is at stake, and believing that for Nigerian interest and peace and security of the country they have hit the ground running and has continued to achieve notable feats.
Proliferating challenges and resources to address the insecurity of lives and property within the Nigerian state notwithstanding; there are impetus for hope given the pedigree of the new helmsmen ability to harness the little resources available and professionally; demonstrating remarkable discipline and imagination in what, where and how, optimal results could be reached in solving escalating challenges to national security.
Nowhere is this more important than in the area of reorganisation and repositioning for effective operations, currently operational dysfunctional homeland security mix. This challenge is made more daunting by the prepondence of use of Private Security Companies in provision of basic security functions given obvious distrust for the public security services. Leading to erosion of the social contract between people and their government.
Fact that the state is well aware of its fragility challenge and has constantly tried to put in place in time past, several policies to address the widening gap between security demand and supply in the Nigerian State, is defeated by the public apathy and the generally view that these efforts lack nuance of essential elements of sound policy.
However despite increasing trust due to some current achievements by our security forces, the Amnesty International claims of overhand plays and lack of respect human rights by operatives has overshadowed the progress and hard-won experience of the past two years. Despite overcoming overwhelming challenges in taming Boko Haram and restoring peace to Boko Haram infested areas in North-eastern Nigeria our performance in other areas of law enforcement is falling short of the mark.
Our law enforcement capacity is currently handicapped by; bureaucratic politics; the bogus design of unrealistic policies without marked measurable deliverables and unrealistic timelines; the failure to understand and balance short-term priorities in dealing with long-term goals; unplanned resources, multi-layered and overlapping functions; missed opportunities to decisively act to prevent and manage crisis devoid of violence action; and apparent lack of concise plan for law enforcement capacities development.
There is no simple prescription to address security challenges in a fragile state. Trying to fix every issue in Nigeria security in the next two years could be daunting and clearly impossible given the enormity of challenges inherent in the current system. Yet, a systematic approach towards articulating sound and realistic policy principles to determine where and how to invest scarce resources and attention to maximum effect will surely go a long way.
Given the fact that the leadership is structured and shaped to efficiently handle the required planning for response and strengthening the capacity of key institutions and partners within the security sector to do their part, there are needs for the constitution of a security summit to harness inputs from a distinguished and diverse group of stakeholders in this sector.
It is important that a new strategic framework need to be developed to handle the design of a new national security policy based on current realities. These policies must be based on needs for integration of definitive and correlating security function for each agency; concise enough to reflect real roles and measurable deliverables achieved in time frames.
These policies are expected to be:
Deliberate efforts should be placed on the identification of short, medium and long terms security goals based on mapped citizens need, and the required resources and efforts directed where Nigerian security interests are greatest. The security needs of states with whose fragility could upend national order and aligning with general need to structure operations based on on-the-ground assessment of needs not a fit all solution designed at the central level.
Institute monitoring and evaluation procedures independent of security organisations. Work closely with Civil Society organizations and partners to strengthen the respect for human rights and proper use of force in areas of responsibilities of our forces.
Prioritising conflict prevention by addressing the festering root causes of friability before they bubble over into conflict and instability. Greater resources should be done on improving local resilience, thereby influencing locals’ capability to manage shocks in non-violent manners. Structure locals’ alertness and vigilantes towards averting short-term attacks that might further exacerbate fragility.
Tackle banes of security in Nigeria: politics, ethnicity, and religious divisions. Increase locals’ capacity towards embracing mutual need and communal sharing of tasks in security of their environments. Faith Based organisations and Community Based Organisations should be supported and challenged towards creating relationship bridges to one another and not grow in isolation. Formal information sharing sessions at all level will create better awareness and clear understanding of government goals of security. Declassifying basic security operations allows the public to be integral part of security of theirselves and embrace security agencies operations working in concert toward shared goals.
Homeland security should become priority operations of the policing agencies but in a more specific ways. Selective operations based on need to shock and awe competing anti-state interests to silence is of importance. Long drawn wars are based on lack of proper planning and structural engagements. Choosing easy to achieve targets, which goals also align with the interests and capacities of local partners increases sense of trust and ability to win the hearts and minds of the locals.
Empowering local security partners and institutions to lead where they have greater stakes and influence albeit under professional supervision, will in no little ways embolden local assurance of security and reduce current civilians and security operatives casualty rates. Create incentives for communities with better
Domestic political support is essential to achieving desired outcomes. It takes decades for a country to transition from fragility to health; policy frameworks must acknowledge this reality and invest patiently and flexibly over time. We cannot sustain the present pace of reactive and expensive crisis response. Nor can we dive headfirst into complex environments without a shared sense of what can be achieved and greater confidence that it will have the required political backing and budgetary resources. We must be straight with the American people and our partners about both the limits of our means, and the costs and consequences of inaction. Translating these principles into action will be a formidable test for the next administration. Mutual responsibility and accountability will be essential to reframing our engagement with fragile states and with international partners and, just as importantly, within our own government. Three priorities stand out:
- Getting our own house in order by ensuring greater coherence and alignment among executive branch agencies and between the executive and legislative branches;
- Building more effective partnerships among international partners and between them and fragile states; and
- Sharpening the tools to help fragile states more meaningfully strengthen state-society relationships.
We believe these recommendations would allow the administration to deliver a more disciplined, realistic, sound and ultimately effective approach. This paper will be accompanied over the coming months by a series of policy briefs to explore specific policy, political, and bureaucratic aspects of this challenge in greater depth.
We have no illusions about the complexity of this challenge or about the limits of the Nigerian security challenges and international influence on Nigerian polity, but we are confident about the continued promise of a future for our youth and the need to create a better future for them by writing a new script for our own future.
Don Michael Olalekan, MA, Q.Med., DRS, fpnm
Director, Security Policy Analysis
African Initiatives for Peace and Human Security, (AIPHD), Abuja