How secure is Nigeria?

Which is the proper question to ask? Is it how secure is Nigeria or how secure are Nigerians? This is because it does not follow that when a country is secure, the people are secure. To the extent that there is no direct external aggression, Nigeria is secure. But to the extent that every day appears to be the last day of an average Nigerian in most parts of the country, Nigerians are not secure. False alarm? How can?

Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, former foreign affairs minister is even of the belief that external forces are undermining the country’s security. It is therefore even inaccurate to say that Nigeria is safe. In a recent media chat, Professor Akinyemi noted that Nigeria is experiencing the worst level of insecurity.

How right is Thomas Hobbes in his state of nature where he said life of man is not only solitary, but also poor, nasty, brutish and short. What can be more nasty, brutish and short than the security happenings in Zamfara, Kogi, Benue, Plateau, Rivers, Taraba, to mention but a few?

Haven’t we always heard of the inexcusable paradox that Nigeria is rich but Nigerians are poor? Or the solitary state of every man to himself but God to us all?

What is security? It is said that Security is an all encompassing condition in which individual citizens live in freedom, peace and safety, participate fully in the process of governance, enjoy the protection of fundamental rights, have access to resources and the basic necessities of life and inhabit an environment which is not detrimental to their health and well being. Security has parameters as food, health, economy, environment, personal, community, territorial and political. How far or close is Nigeria to these conditions?

Nigeria is a peace loving nation. So how do we account for the pervasive violence or This infliction of injuries by deliberate means. We are witnesses to the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual against persons, groups and communities that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death , psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation. We are witnesses to aggressive behaviors that may be physically, sexually or emotionally abusive. 

Even ill treatment is violence. How on a daily basis we are confronted with violent behavior, either domestic, work place or at the official realm?

Hitherto, violence has been the exclusive right of government (monopoly of violence thesis) where social order agencies of government often coerce people in the course of ensuring law and order. This is tolerable under the social contract doctrine where individuals surrender their sovereignty for the common good provided that government ensures the safety of all. 

Some scholars believe that it is only the government that possesses rights to the application of violence. The essence of a state is to regulate the human conduct for the purpose of maintaining law and order. The fundamental basis of law is to restrain people from violence and violent crimes.

Present day realities have propped up the argument for just application of violence by individuals. That, it is not only the government that has right to the legitimate use of violence. They differentiate between Criminal homicide or justifiable homicide and that individuals can apply violence in the event of self defense, mental illness that one cannot control one’s actions; if government is repressive and does not respect the natural rights of persons and if government fails to meet the yearnings of the people, which forms the basis of social contract between the government and the people.

What we see that is escalating this violence is the self help going on given the perception that government is not rising to the occasion or is defaulting in its social contract.

The well respected former Chief of Army Staff and later Minister of Defence, Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma has called on communities to resort to self defense in order to counter the orgy of violence by the herdsmen that are troubling communities. Although this disposition may taste unsavory to some Nigerians, Professor Itse Sagay, a legal luminary has since validated this, noting that self defense is supported by law.

It is becoming a theory that when a state is externally aggressive, internally repressive, or too weak to govern effectively, it endangers the security of the people.

What do you think? Please join the conversation.

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