Rethinking National Security in Nigeria: Analysis of Predisposing Conditions and Prospects for Stable Polity – Eugene N. NWEKE

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Our Take: The spate of insecurity in Nigeria has become concerning, spanning from state to human security, as a result of rising poverty, political violence, electoral conflicts, ethnic, communal, and religious disputes, kidnapping, and armed robbery. Since the return of democracy in 1999, Nigerian leaders have attempted but have failed to stop the rise of insecurity, this is due to an inadequate policy targeting contributory factors of insecurity. Good policy direction that prioritizes the vulnerable and a governance style that minimizes ethnic prejudices and tendencies could help Nigerians deal with the growing insecurity.


The Nigerian state is troubled by insecurity of lives and property. The insecurity ranges from state security to human security resulting from increase in abject poverty, sectar- ian violence, political violence /assassinations, electoral violence, ethnic, communal and religious conflicts, Niger-Delta crisis, kidnapping and armed robbery. Accordingly, this paper contends that successive Nigerian governments since the return of democracy in May 1999 have made efforts to stem the spate of insecurity but to no avail due to wrong policy targeting of the predisposing factor. The paper con- cerns itself within the purview of these predisposing conditions and suggests that inspiring leadership, policy direction that favours the vulnerable and governance style that deemphasises ethnic chauvinism and inclinations could stem the degenerating insecurity in Nigerian state. It notes above all the efforts to provide safety nets against marked driven policies that is widening the gap of inequality should concern the gov- ernment in order to meet human needs so as to secure stable polity and peaceful co- existence in Nigerian state.


In the contemporary world, the security issue has increasingly become a very important element for any form of development to take place in any country. This drives and explains why nation-states today attach great importance to issues of security. Accordingly, self preservation and survival of state and citizens is expected guarantee of any nation-state before production, research and development, education, infrastructural development, politics and related socio-economic transformation is achieved. To this extent, philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes stress the importance of security and its centrality in the purpose of government. The consummation of the entire idea centers on the need to preserve lives, protect properties, meet the basic needs of the citizens and bring about development in the society.

In Nigeria, security of life and property is a fundamental human right guaranteed under the country’s constitution. However, since the transition to democracy in May 1999, governments at various levels in the country have failed dismally to ensure security. This fact can be seen in the various political violence and assassinations, electoral violence, wanton ethnic, communal and religious conflicts, sectarian violence, Niger-Delta crisis, kidnapping, armed robbery, bomb blasts etc, that have continued to rock the Nigerian society. The excitement and euphoria, which accompanied the transition to democracy, have been replaced by frustrations and concerns about the failure of the experiment to guarantee adequate security in the country. Accordingly, the fundamental and critical questions to pose at this juncture are as follows: what predisposing conditions account for increasing threat to the security in Nigeria? How best can the emerging challenges of insecurity be addressed? This paper attempts to explore answers to these questions. First, it examines the meaning of the concept of national security. Second, it provides a relevant theoretical framework to serve as the basis for explanation and analysis. Third, it provides an overview of the national security situation in the country. Fourth, it highlights some of the causes of insecurity in the country. Fifth, it examines the major challenges vis-à-vis achieving high level security in the country. Lastly, it concludes with recommendations as to what needs to be done to positively and urgently make the Nigerian state secure.

National Security in Nigeria: Concept and Overview

The primary responsibility of securing life and property of citizens is the purpose of State. The Hobbesian thesis ‘Leviathan’ agrees to this and is universally based on “fear of death” in a “state of nature”. This condition of fear and vulnerability for both weak and might gave rise to social contract between State and ci- citizens. The state, being social contract creation, is positioned to respond to security threats on the expectation and the recognition that cooperative relationships based on a division of labour, distribution and exchange would better enable survival of the physically weak while protecting the might from the conspiracy of the later. What is deducible of this accord, in part, is to preserve the sovereignty of state, and on the other hand secure citizens’ livelihood from rivals, that scavenge on the state recourses. However, since the state is the formal entity for recognizing group of people (citizens) particularly in external relations (foreign relation) among comity of nations, hence the justification for securing the state using arms and troops. This realist preoccupation informed the pre-eminence of state approach to security (national security) against other perspectives.

The first perspective is intimately related to the idea of state upon the precept established by Peace of Westphalia of 1648 and by notion of the Weberian State. By this practice, security is directly linked to physical protection of state, which is the territorial safeguard of Nations. This safeguard is referred as national security, and its preoccupation is state survival in international arena. Against this underlying notion, security and survival are essentials that state must pursue and treasure. Achieving these requires access to resources and arm build up so as to maintain maximum protection and prevent other states dominating or depriving each other, especially the weak. In the words of Donnelly 2006 “the geopolitics and realpolitik have become a particular dominant aspect of conventional state security that concerns physical protection, geographical location and natural resources needed for the survival of the state”.

Besides the classical approach to security is the liberal perspective. The liberal perspectives argue against the state–centric view of security. It rather, on the contrary, maintains that the expansion of the global arena in 21st century shows that states become intertwined through complex beneficial security interdependences, not least by trade and political interaction. Security from this of point of view is thus not only understood as a way to ensure survival of the state (in a self-centered sense) but also to preserve certain liberal, moral and democratic attributes of the state (Doyle, 1983).

On another perspective, Copenhagen school, redefines and analyzes security from other sectors rather than realist (global arena); societal, environmental political and economic. This approach understands security from the ‘social constructivist’ approach by acknowledging new variants and causes to insecurity in the world. The import of viewing security beyond arms and troops illustrated by Copenhagen school broadens the way one could think of security. The paradigm shift in security studies from its historically association with state, regime and territorial security to attention in other units of analysis explains variant causes and approaches to security. It is for these reasons that a new school of thought arose on the concept of national security. This new school of thought tend to define national security to include not just military defence of territory but also internal stability, socioeconomic development, protection of life, property and economic resources of the country by constituted authorities, using security bodies. As McNamara (1968:149) writes:

In a modernizing society, security means development. Security is not military force though it may involve it, security is not military hardware, though it may include it. Security is development and without development, there can be no security… The security of any nation lies not solely or even primarily in its military capacity; but equally in developing relatively stable patterns of economic and political growth.

This brings us to the notion of national security within Nigerian purview.

In this regards, Nweke (1988:2) argues that:

There is no doubt that national security embodies the sovereignty of the state, the inviolability of its national boundaries, and the right to individual and collective self-defense against internal and external threats. But the state is secure only when the aggregate of people organised under it has a consciousness of belonging to a common sovereign political community, enjoy equal political freedom, human rights, economic opportunities, and when the state itself is able to ensure independence in its development and foreign policy.

In same vein, Nnoli also agrees with the re-thinking of national security. According to him, the concept of national security goes beyond the doctrine of military defence and extends to the creation and provision of democracy. He writes:

The conceptualisation of national security in terms of external attack is largely irrelevant. It must be viewed from the point of view of democracy, how to create and consolidate democracy in Africa. In fact, there is general acceptance that national security must go beyond the narrow focus on external attack and the use of the military to defeat it… National security is a cherished value associated with the physical safety of individuals, groups of nation-states, together with a similar safety of their other most cherished values. It denotes freedom from threats, anxiety or danger. Therefore, security in any objective sense can be measured by the absence of threat, anxiety or danger. However, and more importantly, security has a subjective sense, which can be measured by the absence of fear that threat, anxiety or danger will materialize. In other words, it is a value associated with confidence in physical safety and other most cherished values (Nnoli, 2006: vi & 16).

From the foregoing, we conclude that the concept of national security does not just mean security from external or internal attacks. It is not just a military or police affair that can be handled by arms and ammunition. It is beyond all these but include how governments govern; how media reports are effected; on whether citizens have food to eat or not; on whether soldiers, policemen, teachers, and civil servants are paid (good) salaries or not. In broad terms, Jega (2007:194) has itemized the meaning of national security as consisting of the following concerns: “protection and defence of the country’s territorial integrity, promotion of peaceful coexistence in the polity, eliminating threats to internal security, ensuring systemic stability and bringing about sustainable and equitable socioeconomic development”. By this explanation, we note that national security in Nigeria refers to a guarantee of peace and stability determined by ethno-religious/communal harmony; peaceful coexistence; food security; sustainable soci- oeconomic development; and democratic development. Also accounting for security of nation is strengthening the rule of law; creating a democratic political culture; nurturing civility, promoting good governance, transparency and structural reforms amenable to democratisation. These issues are particular to Nigeria and Africa in general. Therefore, national security in Nigeria cannot be explained comprehensively from universal perspective of state security alone, rather other social variables and challenges that impact on state and human survival are crucial elements for understanding national security. Against this background, Let us discuss the theoretical explanation as basis for rethinking the predisposing factors and solutions to insecurity in Nigeria.

Insecurity in Nigeria: Theoretical Explanation and Predisposing Conditions

The circumstances that threaten national security do not just occur. They are due to external and internal insurrection and conditions that result from state/citizen needs and actions. As such the threats to national security reflect on de- mands for rights and privileges by states and citizens. In recognition of this, it is conclusive to say that crisis and conflicts that challenge national security revolve on human needs in which the state ought to provide and protect so as to safeguard national security/stability. The explanatory framework that explains this is Human Needs Theory. It is often employed in analyzing the causes of and solutions to conflicts that threaten the security of nation. Therefore its application in this study is essentially germane as it highlights the call to understand the causes of insecurity and strategies towards enhancing national security in Nigeria.

The assumption of the Human Needs Theory is that there are basic human needs which individuals seek to fulfil, and that the denial and frustration of these needs by other groups or individuals could affect them immediately or later, thereby leading to conflict (Rosati et al, 1990). It is clearly obvious that the basic assumptions of the Human Needs theory are similar to that of Frustration- Aggression and Relative Deprivation Theories. Some scholars who have written on human needs theory include Rosait et al (1990), Burton (1990), Azar (1994), Gur (1970), Max-Neef (1991), and Faleti (2005) among others.

Overtime, Human Needs Theorists have identified some of these needs and the deprivations which cause conflict. Abraham Maslow identified physiological needs, safety needs, belongingness and love needs, esteem needs, and self-actualisation needs (Maslow, 1970). John Burton lists response, stimulation, security, recognition, distributive justice, meaning, need to appear rational and develop rationality, need for sense of control and the need for role defence. He refers to some needs as basic and these include food, shelter, sex, reproduction etc. (Bur- ton, 1979:72). Edward Azar names some basic needs like security, distinctive identity social recognition of identity and effective participation in the process that shape such identities (Azar, 1994). For Stephen Faleti, basic human needs comprise physical, physiological, social and spiritual needs. According to him, to provide access to one (e.g. food) and deny or hinder access to another (e.g. freedom of worship) will amount to denial and could make people to resort to violence in an effort to protect these needs (Faleti, 2005:51-52).

According to Faleti (2005:52), Burton identified a link between frustration which forces humans into acts of aggression and the need on the part of such individuals to satisfy their basic needs. According to him, individuals cannot be taught to accept practices that destroy their identity and other goals that are attached to their needs and because of this, they are forced to react against the factors, groups and institutions that they see as being responsible for threatening such needs. This is similar to the argument of Gurr’s (1970:24) Relative Deprivation Thesis that, “the greater the discrepancy, however marginal, between what is sought and what seem attainable, the greater will be the chances that anger and violence will result.

No doubt, human needs for existence, survival, security, protection, affection, participation, creativity, understanding and identity are irrepressible and are shared by all people irrespective of social status. No matter how a society or system tries to frustrate or suppress these needs, it will either fail or cause far more damage on the long run. Just like Gurr’s Thesis on Relative Deprivation, Max-Neef (cited in Faleti, 2005:52) believes that the tension between deprivation and potential are main issues addressed by the human needs theory because when im- important needs are not sufficiently satisfied, economic and political problems will continue to grow. Nnoli (2006:9) similarly explains that “political exclusion, economic marginalization and social discrimination threaten the security of citizens to such an extent that they regard the state as the primary threat to their survival. In desperation, the victimized citizens take the laws into their own hands as a means of safeguarding their fundamental values from the threat of unacceptable government policies”.

The Human Needs Theory appropriately explains the situations that threaten national security in Nigeria. As the theory succinctly captures, Nigerian state and citizens are in constant conflict over needs and demands for satisfaction. From the foregoing analysis, it is obvious that the Human Needs Theory is very relevant in our efforts to understand and explain the causes of insecurity in Nigeria. The theory surely links the numerous predisposing factors to insecurity Nigeria.

Conditions Threatening National Security in Nigeria

As the statists argue for strong military and arms in other to guarantee national security, this section of the paper peeps beyond this stand to examine other critical conditions that trigger insecurity. The point is that strong or weak military can no longer be considered as the most critical options for national safeguard. To this end, other predisposing conditions that bother on national security in Nigeria are discussed. As a peculiar nation, Nigeria is under the siege of crises that threaten state and human security, and consequently menace peaceful co-existence and secured livelihood. Among the factors compromising national security is persistent abject poverty. The condition shows that poverty has increasingly worsened from 1980 to 1996 (Federal Office of Statistics of Nigeria, FOS, 1999). The incidence of poverty rose from 28.1% in 1980 to 46.3% in 1985, but dropped to 42.2% in 1992 from where it rose sharply to 65.6% in 1996. Similarly, the data from National Bu- reau of Statistics of 2005 puts poverty incidence at 54.4% at estimated population of 126.3 million and 68.70 million living in poverty. The trend indicates that there is a drop in the incidence but the population in poverty (68.7 million) shows that more Nigerians are living below poverty line.

Going by the statistics and by the 1991 population figure of 120 million those living below the poverty line were 84 million. If the country’s population has grown to 140 million (2006, population figure) by analogous reasoning, the number of people trapped by extreme poverty and living on less than one dollar  a day must have risen up to 98 million. This means that another 14 million im- poverished people have been unleashed in the country.

Given this, there is no doubt that poverty is a serious and salient threat to state and human security. Thus, poverty provides the objective as well as the subjective context for the high level of insecurity in the country. This might have informed Egwuatus’ observation that “the distribution of national wealth is very uneven and poverty is the first threat to peace and stability”. Similarly, another scholar has observed that “90% of national wealth is in the hands of only 10% of the population. 44% of the population is young, and an average of three million people is thrown into the saturated job market without skills every year”. Accordingly, a combination of widening gap in income inequality, worsening unemployment situation and perceptions of group discrimination and marginalisation based on ethnic, religious, and communal differences create rigid identity divides based on us versus them syndrome, fan the embers of group hatred and ignite tensions and even violent conflicts (Jega, 2007:1999). It is therefore considered a root of conflicts and uprisings in Nigeria. It particularly creates situations in which individuals, be it civilians or soldiers, left to fend for themselves, engage in criminality or terrorist activities considering that they have nothing to lose. These dispositions culminate to generate a state of national insecurity in Nigeria.

Next to poverty is ethno-religious crisis. This crisis has remained protracted, endemic and has ranked very high as an issue of concern in national security. For example, one study listed about twenty-two major civil disturbances between May 1999 and July 2003 (Alubo, 2002:6), while another listed as much as forty incidences of ethno-religious and communal clashes between 2003 and 2006 (Je- ga, 2002). According to Nwanegbo (2005), internal conflicts in Nigeria and Africa, in general, are actually and mainly caused by contest over the control of scarce resources and it is those deprived or that feels deprived that tries to either protect or defend their interest or vent frustration in what ends up to be inter-ethnic conflicts, inter group wars or civil revolutions. He went on to argue rightly that internal conflicts have caused a lot of damages to both the political, economic, social and environmental order in Nigeria.

In addition, religious crisis has manifested in several ways ranging from incitement to religious riot and from interfaith violent clashes to terrorism. The religious fundamentalists have degenerated into high level intolerance that manifest in terror attack, especially Islamic sect popularly known as Boko-Haram. While the activities and attack are predominantly based in the Northern region of Nige- ria, its impact pervades the nation with sense of insecurity. Worthy of note is the high profile bombings at Nigerian police headquarters and United Nations House, all in Abuja and suspected serious threats for more actions.

Akin to religious crisis are ethnic conflicts. Prior to amalgamation of northern and southern protectorate by colonial regime of Great Britain in 1914, there have been records and events of long standing hostility, xenophobia and intolerance among various ethnic nationalities in Nigeria. These conditions are rift and on the increase and most times intermingle with religious colouration. As a result, there exist suspicions among ethnic extractions that engage in agitations and demands to address perceived denials and marginalisation. These nationalities tho- ugh interact and relate as Nigerians, through their negative and most often inflame utterances and actions that undermine the collective security of the nation and citizens. Therefore, at the heart of our crisis of national security is ethno-related disgust that Nigerians harbour for each other, because every Nigerian deduces an all important cleavage to our immediate ethnic community.

Apart from ethnic conflicts, there is also the Niger-Delta crisis condition that has set the tone for national insecurity. Indeed, the Niger-Delta problem is an oil-cursed challenge that has been around for a very long time. Saying that it is the hotbed of tension and insecurity in the country is grossly an understatement. The condition in Niger Delta is in two fronts; first is the actions of expatriate and state elites that work against the interest and safe environment of the host communities. Second is the nature of militancy as well as misdirected action of Niger Delta protestant which now cause panic for unconcerned persons. These two fonts combine to create a situation of insecurity in the region and in Nigeria at large. In addition to the second part of the cause of insecurity are such action as sea pirate, arms smuggling, bunkering and others. All these make our border open vulnerable, enhance free flow of arms and gun running which increase criminality and threat to secured livelihood.

Before the federal government granted amnesty to the militants; banditry, robbery, killings and kidnapping of expatriate oil workers and innocent Nigerian citizens was the order of the day. The cumulative effect of this unfortunate situation was alarming. Oil production in the Niger Delta nosedived as the state of in- security forced many oil workers out of the country. In some cases, oil companies had to close shop completely and go home. Many other oil-servicing companies were affected too. The effect of all these was that many hitherto gainfully employed people were thrown out of jobs. There are no new jobs either, while most people in strictly private entrepreneurship also lost their sources of income. Just like the position taken in this paper, Faleti (2005:48) attributes the crisis and aggression in the Niger-Delta to the frustration experienced over the years by people of the rejoin. According to him, after waiting and peacefully agitating for what the people of the region considered a fair share of the oil wealth that is exploited from their land, youths now take the law into their own hands by vandalising oil pipelines, kidnapping oil workers for fat ransom and generally creating problems for those they believe are responsible for their predicaments.

Similarly, political and electoral violence, murder and assassination appear to be on the increase since the return to democracy in May 1999. According to Newswatch Magazine, 24 cases of political assassinations took place between 1999 and 2006, most of them claiming the lives of prominent Nigerians such as Bola Ige, Marshall Harry, Aminasoari Dikibo, Ogbonnaya Uche, Funsho William, Barnabas Igwe and Abigail and his wife, etc. All these politically motivated murder and assassination are no doubt serious threat to the country’s democracy. Un- fortunately, the perpetrators of most of those dastardly crimes are yet to be identified by law enforcement agents. Perhaps, the assailants are unruffled because there seemed to be no threat to their act and this poses a great danger to security in the country (see Newswatch, August 14, 2006: October 2, 2006; July 23, 2007).In recent times and as extension of political link to insecurity, deadly bomb blasts have been on the increase in the country. This new type of terrorism is not unconnected with the electoral process. There has been bomb blasts in Abuja, Maiduguri, Suleja (Niger state), and Kaduna state in recent times. Many people have been killed in these explosions and dozens of others wounded. In the words of Jega (2007:197), “not only are security personnel demoralized by poor conditions of service, characterized by non-payment of salaries and allowances, they are also ill-equipped and poorly trained. Even when attempts were made to strength agencies for dealing with internal security, the focus had been on a conception of national security that put emphasis on regime protection and the pursuit of mostly imagined enemies.”

It is therefore worrisome that despite the country’s expansive resources base, and manner by which successive regimes under prolonged military rule have committed substantial public resources to military and national security expenditures in the past three decades, there seems to be neither the military capability, nor stable patterns of economic and political growth requisite to guarantee national security. Instead, there are daily emerging additional sources of insecurity and mounting threats to national cohesion and integration. Therefore it can be said that the opportunities offered by political liberalization under the on-going democratization have not been utilized by Nigerian leaders in enhancing national security in the country. While politicians use the expanded democratic spaces to push political brinkmanship to the precipice and exhibit a profound lack of capacity to learn lessons from past experiences, angry and hungry mostly unemployed or under employed youths have used the opportunities to exhibit their disaffection and discontent with the failure of the state to address their needs and aspirations. Thus, they have engaged in open, often violent, contestation of the legitimacy of the elected federal, state and local government in many parts of the country (Jega, 2007:197). As a consequence of bad governance exemplified in government’s lack of responsiveness to the security needs and aspirations of the people, the economy has remained comatose, while poverty has reached new and disturbing heights. In particular, youth unemployment and underemployment have continued to fuel such problems like armed robbery, murder and assassinations, political and electoral violence, Niger-Delta Crisis, violent ethno-religious and communal conflicts, etc. All these anomalies have gone a long way in constraining and obstructing the nation’s quest for socioeconomic development.

Besides these, Idowu (1999:131) has highlighted sundry conditions that threaten national security to include

  • Bad and weak government.
  • Human rights violation.
  • Unjust and inequitable distribution of national resources including political posts, industries, investments, funds, etc.
  • Disunited and un-integrated ethnic groups.
  • Ethnic and religious antagonisms and cleavages.
  • Weak and poor economy marked by corruption, weak currency, etc.
  • Social-economic hardship, unemployment, hunger, starvation, cashlessness, etc.
  • Weak military might.
  • Coups and military rule.
  • Communal clashes.
  • Unhealthy competition among the ethnic groups for national resources.
  • Political domination.
  • Misappropriation of national revenue.
  • Abuse and misuse of power by some defence and security agents.

On the merit of these conditions, there is need to seek ways of addressing the threats to secure stable polity.

Prospect for Securing Nigerian State

The explanation to challenges of securing Nigerian state reflects on competence, ability and commitment of government to deal with the major threats to national security. This is essentially about creating the legal, institutional and behavioral frameworks and contexts that can enable swift containment of threats to security in the country. Accordingly, one of the challenges is uninspiring leadership and paralysed socio-economic and political will to provide safety nets, entrench the rule of law and maintain law and order in the country.

On safety nets, poverty as earlier noted is the first threat to peace, stability and security in the country. Unfortunately, the advent of civilian regime since 1999 has not reduced the population in abject poverty. This is traced to inability of the governments to provide adequate safety nets against the shocks of liberalised economy. Equally the pro-poor policy has been operating on the principle of one-size-fits all. This principle rather than bring out those in poverty trap has allowed more Nigerians to drift into extreme poverty. The governments of President Olusegun Obasanjo and subsequent ones including regional governments have expressed lots of intention and even budgeted a lot of money for poverty reduction but to no avail because the extreme poor is not targeted and lack of leadership will for the purpose of implementing pro-poor programmes. Worthy of note is that the efforts to address human security by virtue of the pro-poor policies in Nigeria became more of instrument to settle political cronies thereby sidelining the expected target groups. For this lack of integrity of purpose and action, most Nigerians today are poor despite the country’s rich endowment of natural and human resources. Poverty and the worsening socioeconomic condition of most Nigerians is therefore the most difficult challenge facing the country and its people and the greatest obstacle to the pursuit and achievement of high-level security in the country. Therefore, the prospect of securing Nigerian state begins with engaging the group especially the unemployed but employable persons particularly the youths in meaningful sources of livelihood. This is expected to secure the citizens and the vulnerable. Achieving human security of these group will contribute to reduce their disposition to serve as tools for violent action and other as- sociated risky actions that threaten national security in Nigeria.

Another prospect for securing Nigerian state revolves on imbuing the citizens, especially the leaders with the right values and attitude towards safeguarding life, property and the applying the national resources to providing the needs of the people. All these involve the need to create and sustain requisite behavioural changes in the context of development of democratic culture. As Jega (2001:7), has rightly observed.

The Nigerian transition to democracy is being propped up by weak and fragile institutions and it is proceeding without the requisite democratic political culture, which is necessary, and which nurtures tolerance, accommodation, dialogue and peaceful resolution of disputes. Instead, it is predicted on a culture of insensitivity, rashness, brashness and violence, all of which bre- ed mutual suspicion, insecurity and related disengagement of citizens from the sphere of influence of the domineering state and its reckless officials. The state may be piloted by civilians, but Nigerians are yet to be able to see those as democrats, wearing democratic garb: rather any time they look, what seems to stare back at them are civilians with military authoritarian garb, encapsulated in the traditional way the military rulers were used to doing things. Essentially, and paradoxically, the Nigeria state seems to be piloted by species of political animal nowadays called “militicians”. Therein lies … a predicament that has to be purposefully addressed in order to assure the future … of the overall Nigerian democratization process.

From the foregoing, it is obvious that the challenge lies in the resolve to strengthen the democratic process that allows for emergence of focused and determined personalities that can transform national psych from the mindset of ethnic jingoism and religious fanaticism to mindset of patriotism. This positive value cannot depend on intensive civic education and public enlightenment campaigns alone, because so little has been achieved but what is desirable is strong electoral process that can spur political leaders to form and implement policies with direct benefits as well as give the citizens the cause to believe in Nigerian state. Such orientation will no doubt go a long way in reconditioning the attitude of ethnic inclination, lawlessness and militarism cultivated by Nigerians for purpose of surviving ethnic animosity and xenophobia.

Moreover, the strategy will also help to build Nigerian citizens rather than the existing ethnic citizens characterized by loyalty and attachment to ethnic nations. In essence, efforts in this regard promote national peace, integration and harness diversity for peaceful co-existence. It is considered a prospect that addresses conditions which threaten efforts to consolidate peace and triggers of persistent eth- no-religious and communal conflicts in the country. Unless these challenges are surmounted effectively, intolerance, arbitrariness, lack of accommodation and in- security will continue unabated; with severe negative consequences on the country’s quest for attaining secured livelihood and nation security.

Achieving national security to a great extent still depends on military, police and associated security operatives. To this extent, these institutions for maintaining law and order in the Nigerian state deserve strengthening through adequate equipment, better welfare packages and motivation to ensure better performance and commitment. This is desirable to surmount the condition of complicated and deep-rooted corruption. It is therefore apparent that without appreciable progress and success in the entrenchment of the rule of law and due process by security personnel, the scope of insecurity will continuously constrain and block the attainment of national security.


Security of life and property is a fundamental human right guaranteed under Nigeria’s constitution. Unfortunately, the governments since 1999 have faced a great challenge in efforts to guarantee security in the country. The paper has examined the condition that predispose the citizens and country to insecurity to include; abject but persistent poverty, religious crises and terror attacks, kidnapping and ethnic conflicts. Also traced to the problems is wide income disparity and inequality, bad governance, corruption, high unemployment, social dislocation caused by massive rural-urban migration, and the breakdown of societal values, leading to community unrest. Moreover, the institutions established to guarantee security are incapacitated by limited personal and skills, inadequate funding, poor equipment, and lack of proper orientation and commitment by some officials.

From the foregoing, this study notes that securing Nigerian state starts with shift of emphasise from military and arms approach to human security. This we note must be accentuated with inspired leadership will and service above self and ethnic bias in a bid to instil the patriotic zeal required for national security and development. Nigeria’s security objects can therefore be best achieved in the context of a sustainable process of democratic development. Accordingly, all hands must be on deck to ensure the consolidation of the county’s nascent democracy and the numerous benefits Nigerian state can offer. There is certainly no alternative to this. Also, government at all levels should urgently start to take care of the immediate needs of Nigerians like food, shelter, employment, basic infrastructure, reduction of poverty and improved security.

There is also the need to pay attention to training and equipping security institutions and agencies (judiciary, police, prisons, immigration, customs, army and other organs) charged with guaranteeing internal security. An important dimension to achieving this is through paradigm shift and change of attitude of some of those involved in security matters to see themselves as public servants who sho- uld deliver high quality services to their customers. Corrupt practices among security operative should also be vigorously tackled. Above all, the society, schools, religious institutions and families all have key roles to play in enhancing security. This they can do by creating a disciplined and law-abiding citizenry imbued with the right values and attitude towards safeguarding life and property in Nigerian state.


• To improve the performances and dedication of security personnel, there is a need to reinforce security agencies with proper equipment, better welfare packages, and motivation.
• Training and equipping security organizations and agencies (judiciary, police, prisons, immigration, customs, army, and other organs) entrusted with ensuring internal security is also necessary.
• The role of society, schools, religious institutions, and families in enhancing security is critical. Fostering a disciplined and law-abiding citizenry with the appropriate values and attitudes toward the protection of lives and property in Nigeria would be crucial to national security.
• Corrupt practices among security personnel should be addressed.

Source: The Journal of security Strategies

Keywords: National security, Insecurity, Conflicts.

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