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1.1   Background of the study

One of the fundamental human rights of the people in any given state is the right to security and this is why it is always provided for in the constitution of most sovereign states. Nigeria is not an exception, thus Section 14 (2) (b) of the Nigerian 1999 constitution states clearly that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of the government”. Although the problem of insecurity is not new in Nigeria, however since the confirmation of Goodluck Jonathan in February 2010 as the President and Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria following the hospitalisation and eventual death of President Yar’adua the nation has been witnessing unparalleled security challenges. Now, hardly a day goes by without a report of one security challenge or the other. Unfortunately, ordinary citizens as well as the nation’s economic resources are at the receiving end of this wanton destruction. The series of bombings and killings in the north; kidnapping and armed robbery attack in the south; political and economic related assassinations as well as the politically influenced communal wars has become a multi-hydra headed monster which security agents in Nigeria appear incapable of handling. 

Security has long been a part of human existence and sustenance and could be aptly viewed as freedom from threat or violence which could lead to the loss of lives and properties. That is, security is a situation in which citizens are free from any threats to their life and means of livelihood, safe from bodily harm, diseases, unemployment, and human rights violations wherever they may find themselves within a sovereign nation. This paper therefore examines the causes of insecurity, the effect of insecurity on the citizens and the nation’s economy and government efforts at fostering peace.

Since the return of Nigeria to civil rule in 1999 the South-East geopolitical zone, which is peopled by populations of people that still self-identify as Igbo, has been the site of arguably the worst forms of violent crime in the annals of the country. The five states in the zone have in varying degrees witnessed total breakdown of law and order as organized criminal networks have through deployment of a combination of stick and carrots undermined the operations of law enforcement agencies, especially the police.  At various points during this period, the people of the South East have resorted to self-help measures to stem the rising wave of crime, which gravely undermined their survival. For instance, faced by the threats posed to their life, property and prosperity traders in the commercial city of Aba introduced a vigilante group to face up to organized criminal networks that terrorised residents and visitors. The famed Bakassi Boys recorded impressive successes in checkmating the criminal groups leading to the adoption of similar structures in other cities in the region as well as contributed increasing political violence and egregious rights violations.

This period of heightened insecurity has contemporaneously been characterised by virtual collapse of governance. Some states in the zone were outsourced to political barons that turned government into their personal fiefs. As a group of concerned citizens observed, the zone has witnessed a ‘crisis of leadership’ and ‘criminalization of politics and governance’:

The Southeast has been afflicted by a group of political leaders who are mostly opportunistic, self-serving and lacking in vision for the public good… In most parts of the region, elections have become an organized crime in which political actors deploy violence, bribery and subterfuge to hijack state power for the sole purpose of diverting public treasuries to satisfy personal ends. This creates an environment in which governments are neither accountable nor responsive to the aspirations of the people (South East Summit 2011:3).

The zone has been consistently experiencing a downward slide in most development indicators, trailing behind other southern zones in measures of poverty and inequality.  The poor performance of the South East has been a source of concern because of the past history of outstanding performance in educational attainments, human capital, industrialization and growth in the region. Since the advent of colonialism which marked the agglomeration of peoples in the region under the shared Igbo identity, social scientists have been astounded by the progress recorded by the people in the region.

The first set of scholars attributed the progress of the Igbo to their positive orientation to modernization. For instance, Simon Ottenberg (1959:130) suggested that the ‘Ibo are probably the most receptive to cultural change and the most willing to accept Western ways of life, of any large group in Nigeria’. The progress recorded by the Igbo in the colonial period was traced to aspects of their culture, notably their appreciation of individual attainments and initiatives, equality of opportunity, competition in all fields of human endeavour, willingness to accept changes, pragmatism, materialist orientation and participant political culture (see Smock and Smock 1969:500). Compared to other groups in the country, the Igbo were said to have a high achievement orientation (see Morrill 1963, Le-Vine 1966).

There is no gainsaying that Igbo generally accepted these characterizations. Apart from the anthropological stereotypes engendering a self-fulfilling prophecy, it elicited among the Igbo a sub-conscious superiority complex. This explains the messianic aspirations of the emergent Igbo elite in late colonial Nigeria that in no small measure engendered envy and fear among their contemporaries from other identity groups in Nigeria and elsewhere in the continent. For instance, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, had at his baptism into the political vocation expressed the belief that the Igbo had a manifest destiny to lead the Black race (see Sklar 1963). It is hardly surprising therefore that he

became the only political leader in the continent who was identified with a continental sobriquet –‘Zik of Africa’.

The sense of grandeur, predilection for primus inter peres status and selfimposed messianic mission also explain some of the roles that Igbo political elites played in the First Republic and indeed why Igbo military officers played leading roles in Nigeria’s first coup de tat.  It was inevitable that in the context of competitive political ethnicity that prevailed during the period the cravings for leadership and aggressive materialism among the Igbo would attract envy, fear and resistance from other ethnic groups.   Frustrations over failure to fulfil the self-acclaimed manifest destiny to lead ultimately contributed to the decision to secede from Nigeria and prolongation of the secessionist mobilizations.

Since the end of the civil war, the Igbo have worked individually and corporately to recover lost grounds. By the end of the 1970s, it was evident that the region had, despite unfavourable politics and policies, made significant strides toward economic recovery. For instance, Brautigam (1997) shows that the South East was experiencing economic boom in the 1980s when the country as a whole was facing recession with manufacturing output falling. She argues that the economic growth and industrialization recorded in the region occurred in the midst of unfavourable state policies. The emergence of Nnewi, Onitsha, Aba and Enugu as veritable industrial centres was the product of the capacity for innovation and adaptation and extant social capital which produced low transaction costs. There was no doubt also that the commitment by the political elite in the then Anambra State and Imo State to import substitution industrialization played a key role. However, by the end mid 1990s economic recession had set in in much of the region. A review of public enterprises established in the 1980s indicated that many of them had packed up by 2003 (see AIEC 2006:20). Another assessment notes that:

 The region has become de— industrialised by bad governance and violent politics. At the last count over 30 state— owned and private investments located in the region have gone under (South East Summit 2011:2).

A clear indication of the decline of the region is that while scholarship on the region up till the 1990s has been inspired by attempts to explain the remarkable progress recorded by the South East before and after the civil war, most of the post 1990 studies have focussed largely on the descent of the region to anarchy, criminality and criminal politics (see Morrill 1963, Smock and Smock 1969, Brautigam 1997, Smith 2004).   . Another indication of the decline of the region is its declining performance on human development indicators when compared to other southern geo-political zones. For instance, the percentage of the population living in poverty in southern Nigeria in 2004 was SouthEast (26%), South-South (35%) and South-West (43%) (see UNDP 2009: 64). The 2010 poverty report shows that the other southern zones are performing better than the South East. It shows that poverty rates in the southern zones are: South-East (67%), South-South (63%) and South West (59%).

The socio-political and economic decline especially the insecurity in the region has become a source of concern to the people of the region. However, the post-civil war context of balkanization and marginalization of the Igbo has generated a tendency to attribute the woes of the region to external forces. Most of the analysts have blamed the federal government and specific Nigerian leaders for implementing policies that are injurious to the economic growth of the region and for starving the region of requisite infrastructure. This perspective to the crises in the region is evident in the suit filed by Mr. Olisa Agbakoba, former president of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) against the Federal Government. In the Fundamental Rights Class Action suit filed at the Federal High Court, Enugu the plaintiff accused the Federal Government of neglect in allocation of federal projects, non-maintenance of federal roads and bridges, non-development of oil and gas resources, abandonment of the Enugu colliery, poor development of ports and airports and over-policing that all negatively affect the investment in the region.  The petition which also alleged discrimination of the geo-political zone in successive state creation exercises and access to federal political appointments demanded payment of the sum of one trillion naira as compensation to the region.

While not discounting the salience of national macroeconomic policies and identity politics on developments in the region as elsewhere in the country, this book seeks to focus on internal factors and dynamics. It seeks to explore the extent to which the governance and security challenges in the region are interlinked and their implications for economic growth and human development.   The study is the first attempt to provide a holistic analysis of the development experiences of the region in the last 20 years. Previous studies have focussed on specific towns and communities in the region, especially the commercial and industrial triangle of Aba, Onitsha and Nnewi (see for example, Brautigam 1997, Meagher 2010). The research questions that informed the studies included the following:

It was envisaged that framing the questions in such broad formats would help the researchers to unravel different aspects of the governance and security challenges in the region.

The chapters in this book are based on case studies of the five states in the region. The cases studies adopted social survey methodology. Data was collected through a range of sources including interviews with key informants, focus group discussions, observation techniques and published and unpublished documents. Key informant interviews were conducted with government officials, security officials, leaders of civil society organizations and religious institutions, academics and community leaders. The objective was to elicit views of elites and persons in leadership positions. The focus group discussions targeted women groups, youths and groups of informal sector operators. The intention was to get a representative view of these social clusters that are often unrepresented in decision making processes. Observation was used to gather information from public events and meetings of civil society groups.

In the early 2000s, armed robbers laid a siege on important urban centres such as other semi urban communities. The impact of the security situation on the economy of the region, which is driven by commercial activities, was colossal. Lack of accountability in the years of military rule had encouraged entrenchment of a culture of political impunity.  Amidst economic crisis and rising unemployment, the public security system was utterly dysfunctional. The police officers were not only deemed to be ill-equipped, poorly paid and mal-motivated but also corrupt and treacherous with some officers alleged to be on the pay-roll of organized criminal gangs.

The findings of the study of Imo State were not drastically different from that of other state of the South East region. The mechanisms employed in the study were all the same, there is however some peculiar issues that need to be mentioned. The scholar mentioned that four major themes were discerned from his discussions and interviews with the respondents. These include: assessment of governance and security situation in Imo State, identification of contemporary challenges to governance and security in the State, analysis of responses of citizens to security and governance challenges and a review of the implications of these responses to the challenges in the state.

It is worth to note that Imo State adopted the following development objectives:

The security of lives and property of the citizens and the overall welfare of the people is the utmost and primary purpose and function of government.

Effectively harness the resources of the State, promote internal-prosperity and an efficient, dynamic and self reliant economy

Control of state economy in such a manner to secure the maximum welfare, freedom, and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity

The promotion of a well planned and balanced economic development

The material and natural resources of the State are harnessed and effectively distributed at best as possible to serve the common good of the people.

The economic system is not operated in such a manner as to permit the concentration of State wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of few individuals or of a group.

Government shall direct its policy towards ensuring that there are equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels.

The national ethics adopted by the government shall be discipline, integrity, dignity of labour, social justice, religious tolerance, self reliance and patriotism.

This study traced the efforts of past governments of Imo State to archive the State’s founding fathers’ blue prints and objectives and depended heavily on the National Crime Victimization Survey of CLEEN Foundation for 2012 for its thrust and findings. These include:

That the key informants and respondents believe that past Leaders of Imo State performed poorly in governance and security especially from Achike Udenwa’s tenure to Ikedi Ohakim’s time.

That the past governments of the State indicated deficits in governance of Imo State in terms of job provisions and infrastructural developments.

All respondents believed that the only existing facilities in the State were provided by Sam Mbakwe government. This belief is so popular and wide spread. It is also believed that the past governments could not expand, build on or maintain the Mbakwe’s development stride and agenda making then either moribund or privatized with numerous workers laid off from work thus aggravating severe unemployment in the State.

The State is often taunted to be unlucky in good governance as most of the past governments lacked the political will to improve standard of living of the people through reduction in the levels of poverty and unemployment. Job creating opportunities are scarcely available, resulting to high rate of negative net migration due to paucity of industries and corporate organizations to provide jobs to the teeming unemployed youths.

The security situation in Imo State could be described as the outcome of the insensitivity of the government, the socio-economic policies of past governments that exacerbated the sufferings of the people through exposure of the youth to poverty, starvation and joblessness.

Insecurity according the findings of the study in Imo State is engendered by uneven distribution of resources and commonwealth of the people, discouragement of culture of hard work even by government through favoritism, dishonest leaders, failed leadership, mass unemployment, negligence of the plight of the masses and ineptitude of the judicial system and security agencies.

The local government that could have helped the masses it is believed are highly irresponsible and mismanage the local government funds that they cannot provide security to the people. This is because the State gives only pittance to local councils for operations.

As in other states of the South East, the people and government of Imo State have responded in many ways towards security and governance challenges facing them in the State. These include:

Provision of shortfall of funding and equipment to Federal Police and other security agencies by State government.

At the community and local levels, local vigilante groups and outfits are set-up.

The State government has authorized the traditional rulers to supervise the vigilante groups in their localities and supported them with funds and other logistics.

The government has launched community policing in Imo State.

The government engaged the Joint Task Force of Army, Navy, Mobile Police and SSS to provide security in the State especially with the rising trend of terrorism and Kidnappers.

The government has promised to grant amnesty to any criminal who repents and pledges to drop the guns and live a better life.

The government of Imo State has concluded plans to demolish all illegal structures, uncompleted buildings and big forests and bushes in the State to clear all the criminal hideouts in Imo State.

The study identified few implications of thrusting the security of the communities upon the traditional rulers as follows:

The community leaders could easily identify the criminals in their domain.

Formation of vigilante groups involving youths and volunteers who have good character could reduce crimes in the local communities.

The community rulers who have criminal intents could appoint their stooges as vigilante group members and in essence obviate the very essence of forming the vigilante groups.

Cordial relationship between the President General of the town union and the traditional ruler is a functional pre-requisite for security in the communities.

The study finally recommends the following:

Government should expedite action at infrastructural development in the State.

The government should enlist the support of corporate organizations to site industries in the State as to create jobs.

Relevant reforms should be made to strengthen the relationship between traditional institutions [the traditional rulers and community development associations] to empower them for good governance and efficiency in provision of security.

The cutting down all big forests in the State is against the spirit of environmental conservation and must be reconsidered. It also against the survival spirit of our village folks whose source of livelihood is the forests.

State security and development policy must be deepening, broadening and encompassing.

There is need for robust State Security objective that affirms, promotes and sustains the overall well-being and happiness of the people and also encourages foreign investors in the State.

1.2 Statement of the problem

There is widespread belief in the region that the poor investment in public security in the region has adversely affected the capacity of security agencies to respond to reports of crime. For instance, the zone became a haven for bands of kidnappers throughout 2009 and 2010 without any effective response from the Federal Government, which constitutionally is responsible for internal security and controls the police and armed forces. The Federal Government was pressured to intervene only after the national consternation generated by the kidnap of officials of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ). The relatively poor security infrastructure is seen as symptomatic of the region’s marginality

in Nigerian politics. The South-East is also the least represented in federal executive posts (see Mustapha 2006). The widespread perception that the travails of region partly stems from political marginalization has inspired the advocacy for Igbo presidency in recent years. It has also promoted the tendency to look outwards for explanations and attributions for the region’s woes.

1.3 Objectives of the study

1. To understand the impact of human security to curtail insecurity in imo state

2. To identify challenges and causes of insecurity in imo state

3. To understand the relationship between human security and reduction or elimination of insecurity in imo state

1.4 Research Questions

1. What is the impact of human security to curtail insecurity in imo state

2. What are challenges and causes of insecurity in imo state

3. What is the relationship between human security and reduction or elimination of insecurity in imo state

1.5 Research Hypothesis

H0: There is no relationship between human security and reduction or elimination of insecurity in imo state

H1: There is a relationship between human security and reduction or elimination of insecurity in imo state


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