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To start with, the Niger Delta militant crisis began as far back as the late 1950s when Adaka Isaac Boro threatened to pull the Ogoni people out of the rest of the country and was quelled by the military government of the time. Ever since the seeds of violence have grown into a gigantic insecurity problem that has continued to create unrest in the region. During the military era, especially under General Sanni Abacha (1993-1998) and later Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (1999-2007), the Niger Delta crisis raged to a boiling point which claimed thousands of military and civilian lives. The reason for the agitation in the region was associated with not receiving adequate dividends from the oil explored on their lands, and environmental pollution caused by oil exploration, among other social, political, and economic issues. Relative peace might have returned to the region courtesy of the Umaru Musa Yar’adua administration (2007-2010), however, there are still pockets of violence such as secessionist movements and illegal oil bunkering. In the north, religious fundamentalists of Boko Haram and ISWAP have seized the northeast areas of Maiduguri, Bornu, and Adamawa states among others. These terrorist groups have continued to thrive as a result of complicity on the part of unnamed sponsors within and outside the political class as well endemic illiteracy plaguing the north. On the other hand, the region also suffers from banditry, especially in Zamfara, Kano, and Kaduna states. While in the middle belt, the farmers-herders clash reigns supreme. Villages in the areas of Jos, Benue, Kogi, and its neighbouring states have suffered at the hands of killer herdsmen who ravage their farmlands and kill farmers and villagers. This has led to food insecurity in Nigeria.
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The eastern region is no better. The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a secessionist group have threatened to break away from the rest of the country. Starting as peaceful protesters, this group has gone bonkers by taking up arms and enforcing a sit-at-home order in the whole region. Its military arm, Eastern Security Network (ESN), has deployed violent means such as arsons, murder, and civilian intimidation in sending their message home. No region is spared from the ravaging craze of insecurity. Experts have attributed this menace to faulty foundational problems of the country such as mutual mistrust among the ethnic groups in the state, the corruption of the political class, poverty, unemployment, and the inability to co-opt and cooperate among various stakeholders within the country. Worst still, some of these agents of insecurity have been used by politicians as a tool to score some political goals. Insecurity in Nigeria has been politicized. Despite how the national government has deployed the use of force to crush these insurgencies, it has failed woefully. Bringing an end to these pockets of this statewide unrest will require strategic approaches pursued radically. The first approach to solving insecurity problems in Nigeria is the establishment of strong leadership that will require the contribution of men and women of goodwill from all nooks and crannies of the country. The leadership will be all about having an inclusive government, bringing all regions into the important sphere of governance. As seen in times past and the present, most of these agitations have been linked to both perceived and actual marginalization of the said agitation group. For example, studies have shown that the resurgence of Biafra has been traced to the ethnic marginalization of the Igbo people.
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Similar issues were said of the Niger Delta militants whose agitation was associated with socio-economic deprivation. To this end, it is very paramount that the Nigerian state rethinks its option of restructuring where all regions should pursue their own goals and objectives, have their governments, army, and police, control their resources, and build their economy. Secondly, in a society where youths are not productively engaged, they tend to become instruments in the hand of the devil by getting recruited into these terrorist and resurgence groups. Should they be employed or engaged productively in the areas of agriculture, education, talents and service, science and technology, and other productive endeavours, the problem of insecurity will be solved to a greater degree. Thirdly, to curb the problem of insecurity, the Nigerian government needs to engage religious, traditional, and grassroots leaders who have direct access to the people. These leaders can be instrumental in addressing security issues through local means such as carrying out reorientation programs, teachings, and sermons in religious centres as well as town hall meetings. Lastly, there is a need for the Nigerian state to reconstruct its military system and renovate its security machinery. The government should digitize its military apparatuses through state-of-the-art satellites that can monitor conflict zones and transmit information – both in audio and videos – to the data centre of military headquarters, from which data can be transmitted to military battalions in the field. Featured Image Source: The Guardian Nigerian News
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