State Policing and National Security in Nigeria

Undergraduate

Abstract

 

Nigeria is battling its worst level of insecurity since the civil war which ended in 1970. The need to reform and reposition the Nigeria Police Force has been topical in debates to improve security in the country. In fact, several high-powered committees have been set up and dozens of reports churned out on this subject. These efforts have been geared towards developing a formidable police force that will perform its constitutional duties of maintaining law and order and securing the lives and properties of all Nigerians. However, results have shown that the efforts of government have not delivered the desired results. The objective of this study therefore was to highlight the urgency in the need to establish a state police that will be capable of tackling the current challenge of gross insecurity in Nigeria. The study relied on secondary data in evaluating the feasibility of state policing in Nigeria. The analysis centred on variables like the reorientation of the force, insufficient budgetary allocation and judicious use of security vote, the practice of true federalism, the creation of employment opportunities and so on, in drawing its conclusions. Findings revealed that the current centralised system of administering the police force may not be tenable in adequately curbing the menace of insecurity in Nigeria. Recommendations proffered include the need to decentralize the police force forthwith. It is expected that the adoption and implementation of this among other suggested strategies will boost the operative capacity of the Nigerian Police Force to effectively carry out its designated roles and bring the mounting insecurity in the country under control. It is hoped that the results from this study will encourage Nigerian policy makers in formulating the right policies for national security. Besides, the results from this study will be useful to other researchers and students of public policy.

Introduction 
 
The rising insecurity in Nigeria in recent times has called to question the centralisation of policing in the country and advanced the need to decentralise the force, to ensure that states establish, maintain and control their police formations. Antecedent to this was the idea of community policing, based on the notion of cooperation between police officers and private citizens in communities to grapple with crimes and sundry social vices. Central to the idea is the neighbourhood principle that presupposes that everyone in the vicinity knows each other, thereby making it easy to monitor deviants in the community. Historically, Nigeria used to be one of the relatively secure nations in the West African sub-region. Unfortunately, the nation has suddenly metamorphosed into an abode of serial bombings, hostage taking, kidnapping, armed robbery, cold-blooded murders and ethno-religious conflicts traceable to militant groups with conflicting political and religious ideological leanings. 
Recently, political tensions are compounded by the reality that although the Nigerian economy has recorded some growth since 1999, this wealth has not been seen or felt by the majority of Nigerians. Nearly three-quarters of the populace live on less than one dollar a day in a country that has earned oil revenues (at least USD 280 billion) over three decades, including the past few years of high oil prices (Eme, 2009). Ethnic tensions, religious differences, limited economic opportunities, and numerous socio-political grievances are all fuelling the unrest in Nigeria and contributing to flashpoints of violence. Indeed many political analysts are of the opinion that Nigeria is fast degenerating into the Hobbesean state of nature where life is short, nasty and brutish and living has become an issue of survival of the fittest (Adebakin and Raimi 2012). Anarchy is closing in while law and order are losing their sting. Hoodlums, criminals and terrorists have virtually taken over the nation. According to Okechukwu and Anyadike (2013), most Nigerians now sleep with one eye open as those who are lucky to escape burglars are kept awake all night by booming sounds of gunshots or dins of bomb explosions by those too powerful to be stopped. 
Some of these groups are the Niger-Delta militants, campus cults, armed robbers and kidnappers, O’odua People’s Congress (OPC) Egbesu boys and most recently the Boko Haram insurgent group. The resultant effect has been the destruction of valuable government facilities, loss of lives and properties and an increase in budgetary appropriation and expenditure on security. This portends devastating consequences for sustainable economic development in the country. A study by Adebakin and Raimi (2012) indicated that Nigeria’s expenditure on national security is rising faster than ever before. The Federal government has continued to appropriate huge funds for defence and internal security in the national budget; a trend that has denied sectors like the education, health, agriculture and infrastructural the needed attention and capital. Nigeria ranks 57th in the global rating, 7th in Africa and is regarded as the largest spender on military expenditure in the West African sub-region (Adebakin and Raimi 2012). In all these, the government has not addressed the fundamental immediate and remote causes of these manifestations. All that have dominated the government’s security policy have been redeployment of police top brass and other security personnel without much attention to the issues of political/religious intolerance, high unemployment, escalating impoverishment and the population’s despondency, etc. that have become unbearable to ordinary Nigerians.
Nigeria’s military expenditure in 2009 was $1.864 billion or N276.5 billion, representing 0.90 percent of the Gross Development Production (GDP). In the 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012 fiscal years, the total expenditure earmarked for both internal security and defence in the approved budgets were N292.7 billion, N422.9billion, N563.2 billion and N 921.91 billion respectively (Central Bank of Nigeria, 2012). This is five times greater that the expenditure on security in Cote d’Ivoire and almost 15 times of that of Ghana (Oladesu, 2012). Apart from the expenditure on defence and internal security at the Federal level, the 36 states and 774 local government councils in Nigeria enjoy security votes, a fund that has come under severe scrutiny and criticism in recent times. Some public analysts including few serving governors have frowned at these security votes on the grounds that it is not economically viable in the face of the diverse challenges bedevilling the nation. Moreover, the security votes have encouraged monumental fraud and stealing of state fund by the political elites in Nigeria (Eboh and Obodoechina 2012). 
Furthermore, Okechukwu and Anyadike (2013) asserted that in the face of these expenditures, the security forces appear helpless to curb the insecurity trends. The internal security mechanism appears to have broken down completely as the state no longer has the monopoly of the means of violence. In addition, the involvement of very powerful individuals has escalated the problem, bringing an unprecedented sophistication to the vice, as their automatic weapons such as the AK94 and mode of operation have beaten the low ranging arms of the police hollow in the crime war. At least, ten to thirty lives are lost either through violent robbery, political assassinations, murders and religious killings in the north eastern parts of Nigeria on a daily basis. Other manifestations of threats to national security include drug trafficking, human trafficking, human sacrifice, ritual killings, sectarian and political violence, communal strife and natural disasters (Darmer, 2004). Indeed, the realities on ground are very worrisome. Even when government officials are targets of the violent attacks and some of them are kidnapped by hungry the federal and state governments have been unable to surmount the challenges.
These evidences lend credence to the fact that the insecurity situation calls for a reform in the security sector, because of the sole responsibility of government to protect the lives and properties of citizens. A government that cannot guarantee this, to say the least, has lost its essence. Apart from militancy, economic corruption gives impetus to the threats to national security. National security is a big-time business, as bureaucrats and military officials are said to divert security votes and expenditure on defence to personal coffers. They tactically fuel the insecurity in different parts of the country to get more funding from all levels of government (Eboh and Obodoechina 2012). Albert (2005) described the incidences of bombing and attendant threats to national security in Nigeria, as a political intrigue unleashed on the nation by the ruling elites to cover up corruption. These justify the clamour for an effective and preventive state policing in Nigeria (Tunde-Awe, 2005). Antagonists against the establishment of State Police argue that the country is not ripe for it and that the state governors might turn them into a personal army to fight political oppositions in their states (Ehindero, 2012). To provide for an evidence-based policy in this regard, this study critically examines the suitability of a state police within the Nigerian federal structure. It also seeks to proffer some workable solutions to the current security challenges in the country.
 
The Concept of National Security
 
Security is critical to the survival of any nation to forestall lawlessness, chaos and the eventual disintegration of the system. Security is considered as a dynamic condition, which involves the relative ability of a state to counter threats to its core values and interests (Omede, 2011). According to McGrew (1988), the security of a nation is predicated on two central pillars viz; the maintenance and protection of the socio-economic order in the face of internal and external threat on one hand and the promotion of a preferred international order, which minimises the threat to core values and interests, as well as to the domestic order on the other hand. Similarly, Nwolise (2006) states that security is an all–encompassing holistic concept which implies that the territory must be secured by a network of armed forces; that the sovereignty of the state must be guaranteed by a democratic and patriotic government, protected by the military, police and the people themselves. The people must not only be secure from external attacks but also from devastating consequences of internal upheavals, unemployment, hunger, starvation, diseases, ignorance, homelessness, environmental degradation and pollution and socio-economic injustices. Krahmann E. (2003) on his part defined security as activities that ensure the protection of a country, persons, and properties of the community against future threats, danger, mishaps and all other forms of perils. Here security is viewed only as a futuristic phenomenon. In all places and countries, security is a multidimensional subject of numerous debates and is considered a ‘first-order-value’ worth preserving. There is no consensus about a general definition of security. However, two contending perspectives provide the basis for the conceptualization of national security: the realist/strategist theoretical framework predicated on the primacy and centrality of the state in conceptualizing security and the non-strategic definition that relies on socio-economic factors.