Tuesday, March 28, 2023

The socio-economic effects of insecurity in Nigeria

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By Ibrahim Lawal Ahmed & Abdulkadir Sulaiman

Arguably, more than ever before, Nigeria is faced with enormous challenges that are straining its ability to enforce law and order as well as ensure peace and stability in the country. Over the last decade, there is increasing emergence of insurgencies which are no longer limited to a region or material interest, but rather, questioning the legitimacy (or sovereignty) of the state as an institution of governance that has monopoly of violence. For sovereignty, in a necropolitical context, is the power of the state to decide who lives and who dies using the police and the military who are the two institutions of the state that legitimately wield the instrument of violence. This monopoly of power is being audaciously challenged.

In this regard, there are three worrying factors: One, the increasing number and strength of criminal groups. Criminal groups in Nigeria are now as armed as the security agencies, thus, criminality is turning into insurgency against the state. Two, increasing number of security personnel being killed, police stations being burnt and the number of civilians casualties. For example, according to the then Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, 22 Police officers were killed, and 205 Police Stations/formations were torched during the ENDSARs protest in October 2020. Similarly, in May 2021, PremiumTimes reported that 29 police officers were killed across the nation. According to SBM Intelligence, 10,366 Nigerians were killed in 2021, which is 47 percent increase over 2020. That is on average 28 persons were killed every day. In addition, an estimated N10 billion was demanded as ransom for kidnapped victims. Three, increasing emergence of armed non-state actors such as vigilante groups, hunters and ethnic militias to ensure safety of lives and property. These non-state actors, as helpful as they may be, due to lack of training, are compounding the problem of insecurity in Nigeria. This is particularly pronounced in Zamfara State where the ‘yan sakai vigilante group have compounded the rural-banditry into an ethnic conflict.

These three factors point to the scale of the internal security crises in Nigeria as well as the seemingly inability of the state to manage the internal security crises. The question is, what is the implication of insecurity to the socioeconomic development of Nigeria?

First, forceful displacement of people from their towns and communities. As  at December 2021, the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) in Nigeria rose from 2.1 million in 2018 to 2.9 million (UNHCR website). According to United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), there are 1.9 million IDPs in Northeastern Nigeria as at of May 2020; 60 percent of the IDPs are children. From May 2 to 8, 2022 alone, 1,912 people were displaced in Northwestern Nigeria according to Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM). As at December 2021, the DTM had registered 969,757 IDPs across Northwestern and central States of Nigeria. Most of the IDPs are women and children. It is important to note that the number of unidentified displaced persons who are living in urban areas across the major cities in Nigeria far outnumbered those in the camps who are registered by organs of the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies. However, because they are hard to track, there is hardly any reliable estimate about their number. These IDPs, both identified and unidentified, live a life of penury and misery with limited or no access to basic amenities such as health facilities and potable water.

Second, increasing number of out-of-school children. A study conducted by Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) in 2018 revealed that there was estimated 10.2 million out-of-school children in Nigeria. However, according to UNICEF, as of 2021, there was about 18 million out-of-school children. The UNICEF (2021) also revealed that in Nigeria, a total of 11,536 schools were closed since December 2020 due to abductions and security issues, noting that the closure has impacted the education of approximately 1.3 million children in the 2020/21 academic year. Most boarding secondary schools in Northwestern Nigeria were turned into day school which result in some students dropping out due to distance. Moreover, some schools in remote areas are closed indefinitely due to precarity of the areas.

Third, discouraging investors from investing in Nigeria. According to Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), the value of investment in the country has fallen in Q1 2022 compared to Q1 2021 by 69 percent. The value of investment in Q1 2022 was $8.41 billion which is $2.58 billion lower than Q1 2021. Similarly, according to National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has fallen by $332 million to $698.7 million in 2021 from $1.028 billion in 2020. This is the lowest Nigeria has recorded in 10 years. Insecurity scares foreign investors and discourage domestic investors from re-investing their returns.

Fourth and finally, breaking family ties and increasing cases of psychological trauma among IDPs, and communities experiencing regular criminal attacks. On April 25, 2022, HumAngle published a very sad story on how insurgency destroyed a family titled, A Father and Daughter Went Missing, Then Worse Things Happened. It is a story of Amina Amodu, a 60-year-old IDP in Maiduguri, Borno State, whose village Kumshe, in Bama, was plagued by Boko Haram. One midnight in 2014, Amina and her family seized an opportunity to escape to Cameroon from the Boko Haram terrorists who have captured their village. In the process of their escape, they got separated from her son and her granddaughter in the forest. Her husband, when they moved to Maiduguri, while looking for their son, had an accident and died. Her daughter-in-law, afterwards died of heartbreak. Amina was grieved and cried until she got blind! Most people that had an experience of Boko Haram and banditry complain of being sensitive to sound. This is an indication of psychological trauma. Unfortunately, only few get to have proper counselling therapy. And without overcoming the trauma, such individual cannot effectively function.

In essence, the above are not exhaustive effects, but rather, major effects of insecurity in Nigeria. For in the final analysis, insecurity is a destruction of the future; a disruption to progress and development. It results in the loss of lives, property, means of livelihood and psychological incapacitation. It is high time Nigeria devised all means possible to re-assert its dominance as the only institution with the legitimate monopoly of violence so as to ensure peace and stability in the country.  Moreover, Nigerians need to appreciate the value of peace and unity, cooperate with security forces to rout insurgent and criminal elements across the nation, shun violent and divisive narratives, promoters of violence and violent means of pushing their demands to government.

Messrs Ahmed and Sulaiman write from Abuja.

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