Socio-political violence as a threat to Nigeria’s Stability, By Ya’u Mukhtar
A section of our 1999 Constitution specifically states that “The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”. Unfortunately, government has failed to provide a secured and safe environment for citizens’ lives, their properties and economic activities to thrive.
The alarming level of insecurity in Nigeria has fuelled crimes’ rate and terrorists’ attacks in different parts of the country, leaving unpalatable consequences for the nation’s economy and its growth.
It is believed that most of these security challenges emerged partly as a result of “grave socio-economic injustices”, including, but not limited to marginalization, social inequality, political exclusion, corruption, economic deprivation, unequal allocation and distribution of state resources, among others.
Despite the plethora of measures taken to address the daunting challenges of insecurity, government efforts have not produced the desired positive result. This has compelled the Nigerian government in recent time to request for foreign assistance from countries such as USA, to combat the rising waves of terrorism and insecurity.
The latest version of National Security Strategy 2019, a document released by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Major General Babagana Munguno (retd.), clearly stated that socio-political threats to national security are best understood within the context of sociopolitical cohesion, demography, health and educational developments.
A key aspect of Nigeria’s socio-political profile is her demographic trajectory which carries both opportunities and risks. Nigeria’s population is one of the fastest growing in the world with a current estimated figure of 201 million and the demographics reveal an estimated 70 million youth between 15 and 34 years or 35 per cent.
Alas, a larger percentage of these vulnerable youth are unemployed and troubled with abject poverty, thus, do not have access to quality education, well health care system and social amenities. As a result, it is most likely that some of them may engage in various social vices and criminal activities such as cultism, kidnapping, thuggery, robbery etc. in order to make ends meet. Ethno-religious conflict which is characterized by lack of cordiality, mutual suspicion and fear, and a tendency towards violent confrontation among members of multiethnic and multi-religious society is also a daily happening in Nigeria. This is traceable to the inability of leaders to tackle development challenges, and distribute state resources equitably.
Other causes are accusation, and allegation of neglect, oppression, domination, exploitation, victimization, discrimination, marginalization, nepotism and bigotry.
In all parts of Nigeria, ethno-religious conflicts have assumed alarming rates and has occurred in places like Shagamu, Lagos, Abia, Kano, Kaduna, Bauchi, Nassarawa, Jos, Taraba, Ebonyi and Enugu State respectively.
These ethno-religious identities have become disintegrative and destructive social elements threatening the peace, stability and security in Nigeria.
Nigeria has a long history of politically based violence since the collapse of the first republic on January 14, 1966, and the incursion of the military into governance that same date. The electoral politics in Nigeria right from 1960s till date have been volatile and a “do or die” affair which is characterized with violent conflicts, political thuggery, assassinations and arson.
Most politicians in Nigerian do not accommodate dialogue, negotiation and consensus but rather opted for dissemination of fake news and hate speeches which serve as bedrock for post-election violence across the nation. A good example is the violent clashes that erupted in some northern states after announcement of Good Luck Jonathan as the winner of 2011 Presidential election.
This conflict is believed to be triggered due to the speech made by the flag bearer of the opposition party, Muhammadu Buhari of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). Recurring political violence in Nigeria could be attributed to over-zealousness and desperation of political gladiators to win elections or remain in office at all cost, even at the expense of the citizens’ blood.
These misadventures have often been catastrophic leading to decimation of innocent lives, disruption of economic activities, and the destruction of properties among others.
Political corruption is another evil and monster that has held the Nigerian state captive.
This has contributed to government failure and breakdown of institutional infrastructures. The state of insecurity in Nigeria is greatly a function of government failure, traceable to systemic and political corruption. It has been described as a cancer militating against Nigeria’s development, because corruption deeply threatens the fabric of the Nigeria society. Corruption hampers economic growth, disproportionately burdens the poor and undermines the effectiveness of investment and aid as well.
The presence of insecurity in any environment constitutes threat to lives and properties, hinders business activities, and discourages local and foreign investors, all of which stifles and retards socio-economic development of a country. The elimination of these threats should be the number one goal of governments in Nigeria at all levels as the country cannot achieve any significant development amidst insecurity and violence.
In order to curb these socio-political threats, promotion of social stability through national unity, cohesion, integration, social justice, gender equality, equitable representation, diversity, inclusiveness, equal opportunities, healthy competition and excellence as well as elimination of all forms of discrimination, favouritism and preferential treatment in our national life should be embraced.
All in all, Governments at all levels should ensure that rising poverty indices are reversed and a realistic social security program is pursued and systematically implemented to ensure that the populace meets their basic needs.
Ya’u Mukhtar writes from Madobi in Kano state. He can be reached via; [email protected], +2348062662147