Security Challenges in Nigeria and the Implications for Business Activities and Sustainable Development – Prof. I.C. Achumba, O. S. Ighomereho and M. O. M. Akpor-Robaro

40 min read

Summary: The lives and property of Nigerians have been seriously threatened over time as a result of persistent security challenges which have affected the country’s socio-economic development. The government urgently needs to address the social, economic, and political issues that contribute to insecurity.


The paper examined the insecurity situation in Nigeria and its implications for business investment, operations and sustainable development. The evaluation of the level and dimension of insecurity which was based on secondary data and observations among authors in different places, zones and walks of life as expressed in their comments, as well as, on concrete evidences of insecurity incidence in different parts of Nigeria, indicated that the insecurity challenge in the country is enormous and complex and would continue to be, if the situation remains unabated. We therefore emphasized the need to evolve a safe business environment that allows for effective business activities and a sustainable development process. The security management models recommended to achieve this, are aimed at combating the creators and perpetuators of situations of insecurity, and simultaneously addressing and removing the sources of dissatisfaction and discontentment which spur security breaches and the involvement of all stakeholders both in public and private capacity-government, business organizations, civil society, religious groups, communities and individuals- to supply resources, expertise and information that are required to ensure a safe environment.

1.           Introduction

Nigeria in recent times has witnessed an unprecedented level of insecurity. This has made national security threat to be a major issue for the government and has prompted huge allocation of the national budget to security. In order to ameliorate the incidence of crime, the federal government has embarked on criminalization of terrorism by passing the Anti-Terrorism Act in 2011, installation of Computer-based Closed Circuit Television cameras (CCTV) in some parts of the country, enhancement of surveillance as well as investigation of criminal related offences, 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 (Azazi, 2011). 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. Hence, Adagba, et al (2012), Uhunmwuangho and Aluforo (2011) are of the view that the efforts of government have not yielded enough positive result.

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 that “can there be security?” Is security of lives and properties achievable? Apparently, the security situation in Nigeria appears or at least have remained insurmountable and many people have argued that government at all levels has not done enough by not confronting 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.

Consequently, the purpose of this paper is to provide a synthesis of existing knowledge on insecurity by integrating diverse explorations and to propose a strategy for security management. In the following sections, we examine first, the concept of insecurity, the causes of insecurity in the country so as to provide a background for understanding and appreciating the enormity of the problem and our proposed model for security management in Nigeria. This is followed by an exploration of the connection between security environment and business activities and an evaluation of the Nigerian security situation and its implications for business and sustainable development. Finally, in consonance with the call on everyone by government, to contribute to the war against insecurity, the paper proposes a security management model that could assist in managing security challenges in the country.

2.  The Concept of Insecurity

The concept of insecurity would be best understood by first presenting the concept of security. In the view of Akin (2008) security refers to “the situation that exists as a result of the establishment of measures for the protection of persons, information and property against hostile persons, influences and actions”. It is the existence of conditions within which people in a society can go about their normal daily activities without any threats to their lives or properties. It embraces all measures designed to protect and safeguard the citizenry and the resources of individuals, groups, businesses and the nation against sabotage or violent occurrence (Ogunleye, et al, 2011). According to Igbuzor (2011) it demands safety from chronic threats and protection from harmful disruption.

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 or knowing that one is wanted, accepted, loved and protected in one’s community or neighbourhood and by people around. It focuses on emotional and psychological sense of belonging to a social group which can offer one protection). This description structured the concept of security into four dimensions. However, these dimension can be weaved together to give a composite definition of security as the protection against all forms of harm whether physical, economic or psychological. 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.

Insecurity on the other hand, is the antithesis of security. However, because of the very many ways in which insecurity affects human life and existence, the concept of insecurity has usually been ascribed different interpretations in association with the various ways which it affects individuals. Some of the common descriptors of insecurity include: want of safety; danger; hazard; uncertainty; want of confidence; doubtful; inadequately guarded or protected; lacking stability; troubled; lack of protection; and unsafe, to mention a few. All of these have been used by different people to define the concept of insecurity. These different descriptors, however, run into a common reference to a state of vunerability to harm and loss of life, property or livelihood. Beland (2005) defined insecurity as “the state of fear or anxiety stemming from a concrete or alleged lack of protection.” It refers to lack 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.

Two views are of essence to this paper. These are (1) Insecurity as the state of being open or subject to danger or threat of danger, where danger is the condition of being susceptible to harm or injury, and (2) Insecurity as the state of being exposed to risk or anxiety, where anxiety is a vague unpleasant emotion that is experienced in anticipation of some misfortune. A major point about insecurity implied in these definitions is that those affected by insecurity are not only uncertain or unaware of what would happen but they are also not able to stop it or protect themselves when it happens. It is in this view that we would describe insecurity in this paper as: ‘not knowing, a lack of control, and inability to take defensive action against forces that portend harm or danger to an individual or group, or what make them vunerable’. ‘Vunerability’ is the situation that we do not know and we cannot face or anticipate. It is also something we may know would happen but we are not able to face it.

3.        Sources of Insecurity in Nigeria

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. As Andrew and Kennedy (2003) pointed out, it is necessary to distinguish between different causes as each may require different remedy. Besides, it is to provide a holistic view to the suggestion or recommendations of solutions. More often, however, policy makers 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 insecurity of external sources, but rather that of internal sources. Hence, our focus in this paper is on the 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. We present the internal causes of insecurity in Nigeria using the dichotomy of remote and immediate factors.

3.1. Remote (Root) factors

Lack of institutional capacity resulting in government failure

This result from what Fukuyama (2004) described as the corrosion or breakdown of institutional infrastructures. The foundations of institutional framework in Nigeria are very shaky and have provoked a 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. Evidently, as Igbuzor (2011) observed, 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 government to deliver public services and to provide for basic needs of 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 office holders to focus on the provision of basic needs for the people. Hazen and Horner (2007) described the 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, 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 chances is a major root cause of insecurity in Nigeria. This is a rooted general perception of inequality and unfairness which has resulted in 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. As noted by Onuoha (2011) a large number of the Nigeria population is frustrated and have lost hope, especially the youths, and have now emerged to express their disillusion about the pervasive state of inequality.

Ethno-religious conflicts

These have arisen from distrust among various ethnic groups and among the major religions in the country. Ibrahim and Igbuzor (2002), Hazen and Horner, (2007), Salawu (2010) and Igbuzor, (2011) identified ethno-religious conflict as a major source of insecurity in Nigeria. Ethno-religious 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 ethno-religious conflicts and these according to Ibrahim and Igbuzor (2002) have emerged as a result of new and particularistic forms of political consciousness and identity often structured around ethno-religious identities. The claim over scarce resources, power, land, chieftaincy, local government, councils, control of markets and sharia among other trivial issues have resulted in large scale killings and violence amongst groups in Nigeria (Adagba, et al, 2012).

Conflict of Perceptions between the public and government

Over the years, there has been a standing mismatch between public and government perceptions. A situation which often result 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. Frequently, on any given incident, public and government reactions diverge. In such situations, the media has never helped matters. Media practices have always focused on the dramatic and the spectacular view of the given situations. Such reports have always been capitalized on in sophisticated ways by various groups, some of which are violent to incite public clamour for a change and immediate reaction through strategically provocative violence. The point here is that the approach of media report over the years has contributed to exacerbate insecurity or perception of insecurity in Nigeria. President Jonathan alluded to this situation when he made reference to the popular axiom that the pen is mightier than the sword. In his statement, “the sword is used to kill and destroy but what we use the pen to do is also very critical. When you have a society with these unending political conflicts, it is there on the media whether print, electronic or social media and this brings a lot of insecurity to the system” (Bello and Oyedele, 2012).

Weak Security system

This results from inadequate equipment for the security arm of government, both in weaponry and training. This is in addition to poor attitudinal and behavioural 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 prevent 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 watch dogs 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 coexistence, and identification of individual with one another (Clifford, 2009). Other distinctive features of Nigerian traditional society are abhorrence for theft and high value for live. 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 importance of a people’s value system to their survival was espoused by Obama, when he challenged all societies to go back to their traditional values. In his words, cited by Clifford (2009),

“Our challenges may be new. The instrument with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends are hard work and honesty, courage and fair play,  tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism, these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quick force of progress throughout our history, what is demanded then is a return to these truths”.

3.2. Immediate and proximate factors

The immediate factors which caused Nigeria insecurity situation are inexhaustible. However, it would do just to mention a few of them in this paper.

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 (Hazen and Horner, 2007). Nigeria is estimated to host over 70 percent of about 8 million illegal weapons in West Africa (Edeko, 2011). Also, the porosity of the Nigerian borders has made it possible for unwarranted influx of migrants from neighbouring countries such as Republic of Niger, Chad and Republic of Benin (Adeola and Oluyemi, 2012). 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 centres is also one of the causes of insecurity in  Nigeria (Onuoha, 2011). 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 to increased poor quality of the living conditions in urban areas in Nigeria (Adedeji and Eziyi, 2010). Out of frustration, these youths are drawn into crime.

Social Irresponsibility of Companies

Corporate social irresponsibility is a set of actions that increases externalized costs and/or promotes distributional conflicts (Kotchen and Moon, 2011). Companies engage in corporate social responsibility in order to offset corporate social irresponsibility. The rise of terror groups in some parts of the country is directly related to the neglect of social responsibility by companies to the community where they are operating. This was the case of the Niger Delta crisis.


As a result of the high level of unemployment and poverty among Nigerians, especially the youths, they are adversely attracted to violent crime (Adagba, et al, 2012). Nwagbosa (2012) argued that the 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.


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 particularly in Islam dominated states of Nigeria. Terrorism which is a global phenomenon where no one is safe was defined by Sampson and Onuoha (2011) 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”. Terrorism in Nigeria is an Islamic insurgence with a political undertone by a faceless group based in the Northern region of the country, which called itself Boko Haram, which takes into account the legitimate political, social and economic grievances of the Northern population. Nigeria has lost up to 1000 lives in the North since 2009 to the insurgency of this infamous Islamic sect, Boko Haram.

Many theories have explained the terrorism challenge in Nigeria both in terms of personal motives of the terrorists, the underlying causes of terrorism, and the values of the communities that host the terrorism and sustain it. The theories commonly linked terrorism in Nigeria to religious, socio-political, economic and cultural parameters. Impliedly, while terrorism may originate in Islamic fanaticism, it is now driven as much by other factors such as inequalities within the country and lack among Nigerians, in terms of livelihood (economic) resources, education or access to education and good values.

The current challenge of terrorism to physical security is threatening the Nigeria society on all fronts. Like acid on the Emperor’s plate, terrorism in the country discloses fine patterns of vulnerability in a complex design. Once clear, the boundaries between reasoned affirmation of certain regional values and debilitating cultural/religious relativism, between democratic openness and intelligence community, have become less certain than before, and political management of the situation accordingly more problematic. Furthermore, the Boko Haram enemy is sufficiently diffuse that superior fire power of government cannot be fully effective, and to approach triumph too closely may be to forement resistance by the communities where the battle would be fought.

All of the factors above are succinctly summarized in the views expressed by foreign observers about the causes of insecurity in Nigeria. Kufour (2012) located the sources of insecurity in Nigeria in four factors: political conflicts; unbalanced development that involves horizontal inequalities; religious/ethnic distrust; and leadership failure. While Eunice Reddick associated the situation with low level of economic development  as a result of poor governance and high level corruption. In her words, corruption is “the walls that stand in the way of progress, the red tape that stops an idea from becoming a business, the patronage that distributes wealth based on tribe and sect”. (Oluwarotimi, 2012).

4.   The Insecurity Environment of Business in Nigeria

The insecurity 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, rising cost of living, and bombing. All these variables of crimes and social maladies have made the Nigerian security environment to be complex.

From 2008, the rate of theft, armed robbery and kidnapping which reduced in 2007 were on the rise again and Ani (2009) noted that the rate of theft, armed robbery especially in the banks, kidnapping and assassination has continued to rise especially in the southern part of the country. Also, CLEEN (2012) in a survey of crime rate in Nigeria found that robbery rate has increased significantly in the past one year. Also the vandalization of business installations in particular, those of GSM operator has been on the increase. Research has indicated that these vices are not equally distributed in the country CLEEN (2012). For instance,  the South East states of the country have the highest incidence of kidnapping, armed robbery and fraud while the northern states are characterized by bombing by the Islamic Sect, Boko Haram.

With the incessant Boko Haram, bombing of the northern part of the country, Nigeria indeed joined those isolated countries that carry that revolting tag of being referred to as terrorist states. Adagba, et al (2012) examined the activities of Boko Haram and listed their attacks from 2009 to 2012.

With these indices, we can say that the insecurity situation in Nigeria from 2009 is unprecedented. 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, has 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. Statistics have also indicated that in the last one year, there is a significant decline in peace as Nigeria dropped four places to 146th out of 158 countries in the 2012 Global Peace Ranking. In fact, Nigeria has been identified as the least peaceful country in West Africa (GPI, 2012). According to Igbuzor (2011) West Africa is among the most unsecured region in the world and Table 3 below indicates that Nigeria is the most unsecured country in the region as it has consistently ranked high among the countries in West Africa. On the contrary, Ghana a neighbouring country to Nigeria has consistently ranked low and is taken as the most peaceful country in the region.

5. Implications of the Nigeria Insecurity situation for Business Activities

The implications of the Nigeria insecurity situation for organizations’ business activities cannot be overemphasized. In this paper, we contend that when there is wide spread 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). This is indicated in the figure below:

The implication of the insecurity situation in Nigeria for business activities can be viewed from two broad perspectives, viz, the perspective of potential business investment and the perspective of existing business enterprise.

Potential Business Investment

Insecurity discourages investment as it makes investment unattractive to business people. This is because it increases the cost of doing business either through direct loss of goods and properties or the cost of taking precautions against business risks and uncertainty. These costs could have a negative impact on business development and progress. The thick arrow connecting the insecurity environment and business investment means that insecurity can be a huge blockade to business investment. Ujah and Eboh (2006) reported a study by World Bank on 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 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 lives of the managers and their staff.

Evidently, there has been a decline of 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. Figures from the 2010 Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) annual report show a steep 78.1 percent decline in foreign direct investment while also showing a significant 87.2 percent increase in portfolio investment into the Nigerian economy to take advantage of the depression in the Nigeria stock market due to low economic activities. This can largely be attributed to 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.

Existing Business Enterprise

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 is rife and are on 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 which 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 (Nwagbosa (2012)). Non indigenes especially Igbos and Yorubas have to return to their home states before they are killed by Boko Haram (Suleiman, 2012). In addition, some firms may shift their operations to other countries like Ghana which is deemed to be more peaceful. Apart from outright closure of a business enterprise, an existing business can also be affected in the four functional areas of business shown in the model (figure 2) above. These include production, marketing, finance and human resource (H/R).


Business enterprises rely on availability and regular supply of raw materials for production. Security problems can cut off 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. There is no doubt that businesses whose source of raw materials are in the North would be faced with that threat, if the insecurity situation becomes worse.


It is not only that a business enterprise must get raw materials for production, it also must dispose 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, 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 the Nigeria. We can also recalled that this situation had occurred in the Niger Delta particularly in Warri, Delta state during the periods of inter-ethnic clashes among three ethnic groups, Ijaw, Itsekiri and Urhobo , in Warri.


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 to the loss of capital through burning of business buildings and properties. Beyond these, it also limits sources of fund 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 in skilled labour. 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 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 position of Ujah and Eboh (2006) 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.

6.   Implications of the Nigeria Insecurity situation for Sustainable Development in Nigeria

Insecurity has been identified as one of the obstacles to sustainable development (Call, 2000, Ujah and Eboh, 2006, Igbuzor, 2011). The term sustainable development was popularized in a report by the Brundtland Commission published by the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1987. In the report, sustainable development was defined as “development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (UN, 2010). Since then, the concept has been variously conceived in terms of vision expression, value change, moral development, social reorganization or transformational process toward a desired future or better world (Gladwin et al, 1995). In their view, development is unsustainable when an enlargement of human choice excludes, disconnects, promotes inequity, reflects imprudence or raises insecurity. Development is the primary goal of every well meaning government and it is essentially dependent on the level of economic activities in a country; the level of economic activities is in turn enhanced by peaceful coexistence by people. It is people who interact to carry out economic activities through their businesses. Businesses are the vehicle for economic activities that would lead to national economic development. It therefore follows that businesses play a great role in the process of development and such role can be hampered in the absence of adequate security as we now find in Nigeria.

The aims of sustainable development are to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all and sundry and to maximize simultaneously national goals, organizational goals and individual goals that can persist over generations. As noted by Akpobibibo (2003) the principle behind sustainability is to make life meaningful to all. Therefore, security is crucial for sustainable development. In the absence of security, economic growth and development cannot be sustained as it destroys economic, human and social capital. Under conditions of peace and security, people and government can direct their efforts and resources towards improving human life.

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. Expenditures on security are therefore an essential component of the development process. For instance, the use of resources to strengthen a country’s security system could have been useful in other relevant areas. 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 (Nwagboso, 2012, Call, 2000). 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 prevent 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.

The importance and implications of the security situation in Nigeria have been emphasized by a number of world leaders, both in words and in action, and the need for the Nigerian government to brace up to the challenge. For instance, the former president of Ghana, John Kufour stated that the bane of Nigeria development is insecurity (Kufour, 2012). He observed that insecurity situation in Nigeria is costing Nigeria its leadership role in Africa in terms of development. As a result, it is unable to claim its rightful position as ‘giant of Africa’ from which other African nations could benefit or copy as a role model and that “if there is no security, there is no liberty, and if there is no liberty, life is not meaningful and society reverts back to the law of the jungle and man’s primary objective of forming a state is defeated”. To drive further the relationship between the security situation in Nigeria and her development, the U.S. government through its ambassador to Nigeria, Eunice Reddick has also acknowledge the insecurity situation in Nigeria as the major factor hindering Nigeria’s development efforts. As she put it, “Security is a prerequisite for successful development in Nigeria”. She observed that prevalent pervasive insecurity in the country, threatens to erode the country’s economic progress (Oluwarotimi, 2012). Consequently, 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.

7.       Solution to Insecurity in Nigeria

Having considered and understood the implications of insecurity in Nigeria for business operations and sustainable development, the question that arises before every one of us as Nigerians, is what to do to overcome the challenge? What can we do and what shall we do to put a stop to this menace of insecurity in our land? How can the Nigerian nation and economy be made safe for all of us? The answers to these questions lie in our hands as Nigerians in whatever capacity. In general, however, a number of methods or approaches have been prescribed as solution to insecurity, by different people as citizens both within the country and outside, and as foreign observers. The solution array in both short term and long term perspectives, commonly recommend and emphasize a strong fight against and removal of the sources and causative factors of insecurity. It is theorized that once these factors are eliminated, dissatisfaction and disaffection will be reduced and therefore the tendency for violence and criminal behavior will naturally be reduced, because both economic security and social security will have been enhanced. Essentially, all of the solution approaches revolve round maximizing societal welfare.

The various factors which have been mentioned in the array of solutions as factors to be dealt with include, inter-alia:

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 ideal 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 on the entire citizenry of the federal republic” (Kufour, 2012). The argument for this is that such leaders “will help to mould 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 as Kufour (2012) suggests, “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

According to Oluwarotimi (2012), good governance is the panacea for the insecurity challenge in Nigeria. She 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 her view, security engagement cannot be separated from good governance. Many others have also linked security to governance system. The general view is that peace and security is determined by good governance. However, as Oluwa (2012) has pointed out, 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 programmes. The underlying principle of good governance is the focus on people as the ultimate objective of governance.

Socio-economic development

This factor is strongly considered as the major key to peace and security in Nigeria. In the view of Kufour (2012), 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 unequitable 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 governance system, leadership developmental goals, and behaviour 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. Thus, radical change in value system is paramount and imperative in restoring security to Nigeria. This is what the American president, Obama has called “a return to the truth.”

Development of a more balanced security strategy to counter violent crimes and local terrorism (Boko Haram)

This is one of the views of Reddick (Oluwarotimi, 2012). By this, she must have meant a strategy that is all inclusive and involving a combination of methods that would not only break their communication and interactive network , but also disarm them of resources by tracking their information inflow and resource mobility through higher technology that can also help to locate their base, their sponsors and intelligence power houses and systems (intelligence sources), identifying and isolating them for easy pick.

All the solution measures presented above are summarized in the view of Taekyoon (2009), who from a broader context of insecurity in developing countries contends that the solution to insecurity in developing countries is the maximization of governability. In his view, maximizing governability is the key to achieving security. To maximize governability, he points out three conditions as fundamental: (i) establishment of democratic governance (ii) promotion of economic development, and (iii) enhancement of institutional capacity to strengthen the two preceding conditions. He further explained that the establishment and consolidation of democratic governance is a necessary condition to reduce the incidence of ethnic and religious turmoil in developing world societies. We say here that this is very true for Nigeria. This is because, once democratic institutions are established, they contribute to slowing down ethnic conflicts by filtering them through democratic processes to find a way of narrowing widened gaps between different ethnic groups.

The promotion of economic development also enhances governability. The establishment of developmental projects tailored to the needs of the people would improve societal welfare and reduce the extent of social and economic insecurity which consequently would reduce social conflicts and aggression. Once people’s needs are met, they become naturally less agitated and confrontational, and the tendency to want to use illicit and criminal means to ensure their survival or try to force government to behave in certain ways or make certain decisions, would be reduced.

It is instructive to note that these two conditions or measures, “democratic governance and economic development, link the remote and the immediate sources of insecurity in Nigeria. However, these two conditions can get on the right track only under the condition that the institutional capacity are made very strong, that is, “they must be accompanied with the rich soil of institutional apparatuses” (Taekyoon, 2009). The poverty of transparent and sound institutions to deal with security threats is directly related to institutional failures in enhancing the effectiveness of security solution measures by either democratic reforms or development projects.

One point to note is that, in Nigeria, security management is treated with a lot of politics and politicking. This makes its success depend upon the degree of institutional control over politics. Therefore, it is necessary to make institutional capacity strong and efficient, not only as the fundamental foundation for promoting democratic reforms and economic developments in the country but also as the core of security management.

We agree with the proposers of all these prescriptions and joined our thought with others to recommend that the integrative efforts to diminish the state of insecurity in Nigeria should begin with the reinforcement of institutional infrastructure where democratic governance and economic growth projects can then be positively engrafted into the security management process.

However, we note that majority of these solution methods are long term oriented. There is also the need for a solution set that urgently addresses the problem and which has an immediate impact on the situation, in view of the revelation from the analysis of the dimension and levels of insecurity in the country, in the preceding sections of this paper, and the imperative to stem the situation, considering its implications for business operations and economic development. We therefore extend the solution approach by proposing a security management  approach that accommodates both long term solutions and immediate ways to address the problem right now to reduce the pressure; and besides, an approach that everyone has a role to play in ensuring that security is restored. This approach, we have called “Security (or Insecurity) strategic management approach” with structural components as shown in figure 3.

8.  The Security Strategic Management Approach and Models

This approach consists of a combination of two models, viz, the two way approach model, and the composite approach model. The two-way approach model aims at combating the creators and perpetuators of situations of insecurity, and simultaneously addressing and removing the causes or sources of dissatisfaction or discontentment which cause security breaches. The composite approach model aims at involving all stakeholders, both in public and private capacity – government, communities, business organizations, civil society, religious groups and individuals – to supply resources, expertise and information that are required to ensure a safe environment.

The two-way approach model

This model is two part model. One part is to remove the factors which cause people to engage in acts of insecurity, and the other part is to combat the perpetuators of insecurity situation. The first part considers and entrenches all of the solution methods from the various views presented above, under solution to insecurity in Nigeria.

The second part is to combat the criminals both with the long arm of the law and the force of arms. This is meant to stop or prevent criminals from creating and perpetuating insecurity. It involves being prepared at all times and being proactive, and pursuing them wherever they are. The objective is to protect innocent citizens from harm. A major strategy in this regard is to identify and map out black spots on physical insecurity. This requires vigilance on our environment on the part of security agencies, particularly with terrorist attacks of the Boko Haram.

We refer to black spots as such locations and areas where the sect can take advantage of political and economic vulnerabilities to safeguard their operations and attract recruits. They include those areas which are politically volatile, and with a large mass of uneducated and abjectly poor population that can easily be recruited as terrorist operatives; areas in which people have high level of attachment to opinion leaders, and the leaders-followers ties are very strong; towns and states on border lines with other countries, and which have cultural and language links with other societies outside the country, which allow for a network of transnational criminals and terrorists. Such black spots facilitate smuggling of illicit weapons and personnel through the borders without being detected. Black spots help terrorists and criminals in their insecurity flows, that is, movements of assets, people, services or strategic/sensitive know-how. Security agencies, therefore, should develop and adopt a scientific means to detect, map, and analyze such black spots in the country, and firmly understand their modus operandi in exporting insecurity into Nigeria. Being able to scan, pinpoint and monitor black spots on a continuous basis offers the possibility of tracking the movement of criminals and terrorists, their financial assets and illegal weapons, and their skills and expertise. Such a capability is critical to intelligence gathering and necessary precondition for threat interception and the prevention of the escalation of insecurity.

The Composite approach model

This model contrast with the traditional assumption that national security is solely the responsibility of government. While we agree with the view that security of lives and property is a primary responsibility of government (Ogbeche, 2012), we hold the view however, that the insecurity challenge in Nigeria is too enormous to be left for government alone. There is need for other stakeholders to be actively involved in ameliorating insecurity in the country. This is the basis for this model, as illustrated in the figure below:

The security management model (Figure 3) above indicates all the stakeholders needed to fight against insecurity in order to achieve enduring security in the country. When these stakeholders collaborate to tackle the insecurity challenge in Nigeria, the business environment will be safe for business investment and operation. As it is known, factors in the business environment enhance or hinder a firm’s ability to operate effectively and efficiently (Dionco-Adetayo and Adetayo, 2003). When the business environment is safe, the businesses will be sustained and sustainable development which is the desire of every nation will be sure. It is important to point out that insecurity is not a problem that is unique to Nigeria. The United States of America, the United Kingdom and many other countries, face the challenges of insecurity within their borders on a daily basis. The difference between them and our country is how they manage the threats, how knowledgeable and prepared they are, how they deploy resources against the threats, how effective they are, and how patriotic and united the people are against threats of insecurity.

In the United Kingdom, insecurity is managed through a strategy which is organized around four strategic workstreams each comprising a number of key objectives of pursue, prevent, protect and prepare (CONTEST, 2011). The pursue strategy is meant to stop attacks. This means detecting and investigating threats at the earliest possible stage and disrupting crime activity before it is carried out while Prevent strategy focuses on stopping people from becoming criminals or supporting crime. The aim is to strengthen people so that they will not be criminals. Protect strategy is meant to protect people from criminals while the Prepare strategy helps to mitigate the impact of a crime attack and also to be ready to deal with an ongoing crime attack. This includes attempt to bring a criminal attack to an end and to increase resilience to recover from its aftermath as an effective and efficient response will save lives, reduce harm and aid recovery. An analysis of the strategies indicates that the priority of UK is to stop criminal activities.  However, when it can not be stopped, prosecution is effectual   to people for criminal offences.

For effective implementation of the strategies, measures are put in place to ensure the accountability of the strategies and progress monitoring. The security, intelligence agencies and the police are adequately equipped to disrupt crime related activities. CONTEST (2011) stated that the police, security and intelligence agencies work tirelessly to keep Britain safe. They also recognized that, the growing use of inexpensive but sophisticated communications technology has made the planning of attacks easier and more secure and that it allows for instant communication between geographically disparate groups via email, web fora, social networking sites or by using the internet to make voice calls. Therefore, steps have been taken to keep pace with technological changes by making the internet a more hostile environment for criminals. They have tried to identify, investigate and disrupt criminal use of the internet; make it more difficult for them to exploit the internet for radicalisation and recruitment as well as counter-terrorist propaganda. They have also put in place enhanced communications and information sharing for criminal attacks. These are organized by coordinators, supported by Prevent Engagement Officers (PEOs) who connect the police, community police and neighbourhood police. They are instrumental in developing community contacts and an understanding of community issues. Their work helps to identify potential threats in the communities and generates prevention projects and information sharing with prevention partners to support strategic objectives. There is the challenge therefore to rethink and improve on the policies and institutional means of dealing with security concerns arising in the country. The roles of the stakeholders in the security management model are discussed below:

The Role of the Government

To overcome insecurity there is 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. As noted by Adagba, et al (2012) 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, it must, more than ever before, recognise the need to  devote  more  attention  to  security  intelligence, capacity building to meet the global best practice standard and acquisition of modern technology. Although, the Nigerian government has resolved to adopt the use of Computer-based Closed Circuit Television cameras in public places especially in Abuja to monitor and record events that take place in a particular location, (Ogunleye, et al, 2011) have argued that for it to be effective, government must ensure that the scheme is well managed, the cameras should be recording, with good quality images, and any incident caught on camera should be followed up by the police or other appropriate authority. Computer-based Closed Circuit Television cameras are cameras used to monitor and record images of what takes place in specific locations in real time. The images collected are sent to a monitor and recorded on video tape or as digital information. It is a surveillance technique that aims to prevent crime by increasing the perceived risks of potential offenders in engaging in criminal acts. They can be very effective in maintaining security through incident reduction or post-incident analysis, to act as a deterrent or to provide valuable support to security.

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 Nigeria security agencies by identifying avenues that would enable them 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 at the aftermath of attacks.

In addition, Government at all level 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 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. 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 enactment of laws are unlikely to succeed. Instead, a coordinated preventive measure is necessary in addition to military strategies and judicial institutions. Akpobibibo (2003) posited that there is a need to reorder priorities and to seek 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 programmes capable of addressing the root causes of insecurity in Nigeria are 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 as indicated in the first part of the two-way approach model.

The Role of Business Organizations

To be successful overtime, a business must be in tune with its environment. Environmental changes have significant impact on business operations and sustainability. As a result of the state of insecurity in the country today, we emphasize that apart from the government, businesses also have a role to play. According to Elumelu (2004) business enterprises can contribute towards the enhancement of security and safety in the country through long-term strategy of creating and providing jobs especially for the unemployed youths and cooperating with regulatory authorities and security agencies in the fight against crime. Apart from that, business organizations must be socially responsible. When a firm is socially responsible and does not exploit the community where it is operating, it may not experience some of the elements in the insecurity environment. The change that the society expects of businesses and what management believes is its role in society must be given priority by management. As such, businesses should not pursue profit only but should also consider social needs. It includes both ethical and discretionary responsibilities (Dionco-Adetayo and Adetayo, 2003). Also, problems of pollution, product safety, job discrimination should be taken seriously.

Multi-national companies and large businesses can also assist the government in sponsoring the provision of traffic lights on major streets in our cities and the electrification of towns and villages especially where they are operating. In addition, business owners, managers and employees should be security conscious and should deliver security through their everyday actions and decisions

The Role of Civil Society

Civil society is the arena outside of the family, the state, and the market where people associate to advance common interests. It is the aggregate of non-governmental organizations and institutions that manifest interests and will of citizens or individuals and organizations in a society which are independent of the government. As a result of the inability of government to provide adequate security, Ebohon, and Ifeadi, (2012) are of the opinion that Nigeria should move from a state-centric to a human security paradigm, move from an elite centered to a people centered security management approach and involve civil society in the state security project.

There is need for civil society to advance the importance of security in Nigeria. With the active involvement of civil society in security management, we should have less violence, human rights abuses and social injustice. One of the roles of civil society is to convince other stakeholders that action is better than inaction and that insecurity does not have to be accepted as a necessary evil. They have to play the roles of critic, catalyst and advocate of those interests. It is also essential to raise public awareness, to awaken society to the disastrous effects of insecurity and to get across the message that fighting it is possible. In many countries, civil society is the watchdog and the vanguard to warrant that other stakeholders respect their boundaries. They also play a major in the area of raising public awareness as well as in lobbying for concrete change or in helping to initiate and carry out a process of reforming national integrity.

The Role of Religious Groups

The two main religious groups in Nigeria have a major role to play in ensuring security in the country. The teachings of religious groups are one of the bases of value development in the contemporary world. The role of values in human security cannot be over emphasized. It is a known fact that values govern behaviour. Where social values and norms concerning fundamental human right in both public and private places have been distorted and violated, the people and government tend to live in an atmosphere of instability and insecurity (Clifford, 2009). If every religious group can tolerate the other, then religious crisis which has been a problem in this country will be abated. In addition, worship centres should not be used as avenue for instigating members to be violent or to engage in activities that can affect the peace of the country.

The Role of Communities

It is important to note that security management can be significantly aided by the cooperation of local communities. Depending on our perceptions and sincere feelings as regards our collective responsibilities towards lasting peace in Nigeria, communities should strive to live peacefully with other communities. They should also be vigilant of strangers in their localities to ensure that criminals do not have easy access to their communities.

The Role of Individuals

Security should be seen as everybody’s business. As individuals we need to cultivate the habit of security consciousness and to report any security situation to the appropriate authority (not only the police) immediately. Every individual must evince a high level of security awareness and alertness. This is because individuals understand their communities better and any report of suspicious behaviour or activity could lead to actionable intelligence leading to disruption of attacks. Through the early detection of impending conflicts and its prevention, it will help to provide a safe and enabling environment for the people to operate in, and for economic development to thrive.

9.   Conclusion

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.”The approach towards curbing this menace has been to respond when the crime has been committed and the harm has been done. This paper emphasizes a change in attitude and approach by being proactive. We must strive to get to a level were crimes will be nipped in the bud before they are perpetuated. Therefore, the government, civil society groups, business organization 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. To this end, we recommend that prevention and emergency response focusing on the rising state of insecurity since 2009 should be the main focus on insecurity management.


• The government at all levels must address the insecurity triggering factors such as poverty, unemployment, environmental destruction, unequal distribution of infrastructure development, and underdevelopment through good governance.
• The country’s security architecture needs to be properly trained and overhauled to be proactive through intelligence gathering in order to nip any perceived security threats in the bud since the reactive posture maintained by these security agencies in crisis situations has not curbed security challenges in the country.
• To serve as a preventative measure to that would mischief-makers, any person or group of people found guilty of acts of inciting people against the government or acts of insecurity should face harsh punishments.

About the Author:

– Prof. I.C. Achumba, O. S. Ighomereho

– M. O. M. Akpor-Robaro

Source: CORE

Keywords: Business environment, Security, Stakeholders, Sustainable development, Nigeria

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *