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HUMAN SECURITY TO CURTAL INSECURITY (A CASE STUDY OF IMO STATE, SOUTH EAST ZONE)
- 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.
Against the background of the inefficiency and lack of public trust in public security, different communities and occupational groupings initiated self-help measures to provide security services. The most successful model appeared to be that introduced by one of the thriving businesses in Aba’s Ariaria Market, Abia State, which was called Bakassi Boys. The crime reduction results associated with the introduction of the vigilante group led to its replication in neighbouring Anambra and Imo States. However, the vigilantes also became dysfunctional due to politicization, privatization and erosion of public oversight and control.
. Governor Oji spent his entire first term in office seeking for political relevance and independence, which only became possible at the eve of the 2007 elections. To lesser degrees, both Ebonyi and Imo states were also victims of Godfather politics. However, the two states witnessed bitter factional party and inter-party conflicts that undermined security. Against this background, it is not surprising that the study found that the people of the South East considered politics as contributing to governance deficits and insecurity.
The negative impact of politics also manifested in rapid regime turnovers and policy inconsistencies. The bitter politics of succession engendered the tendency for successor administrations to throw away the baby with the bathwater. While some of the changes were informed by the need to dismantle and devalorize unfriendly patronage networks and political machines, others were simply aimed at charting new courses that would yield political capital for the new governor. This is because the personalization of government programmes by the governor produces the tendency for every governor to embark on new endeavours that would bear his own emblem. In some cases, this was costly for the sustainable development of the state as evidenced in the decision of the Elechi administration in Ebonyi to abandon the progressive investments in education and health pioneered by his predecessor.
Another important finding of the case studies is that some of the policies adopted by the government to improve governance and security were perceived to be achieving the exact opposite result. A key example which appeared to resonate in most states is the urban renewal and environmental sanitation programmes that often resulted in demolition of so-called illegal structures. Also counterproductive is the banning of commercial motor cycle operators (‘Okada’, ‘Inaga’) in major towns and cities in the state. These policies were considered regressive as they tended to throw more people into the job market and endanger livelihoods. The impact appeared to be greater on some of the cyclists and squatters who had returned ‘home’ after being sacked from their previous locations as a result of urban renewal programmes and religious conflicts. The programmes contribute to insecurity by creating young idle persons that can easily be lured into criminal networks. Moreover, the enforcement mechanisms that are adopted by state governments and local government councils are perceived as draconian and oppressive. Many governments outsourced enforcement to ‘task forces’ manned by political thugs and hired soldiers and policemen who often get involved in extortion and looting.
The enforcement teams are hardly accountable because they consider their appointments and selection as pay-off of roles they played for the election of the principal public office holder. The operations of the groups therefore tend to alienate non-partisans or members of opposition parties. This picture also holds for the employment and empowerment programmes initiated to tackle youth unemployment and destitution. The practice in most of the states is that the programmes have become instruments for dispensing political patronage. The privileging of partisan youths as beneficiaries promotes social exclusion which undermines security. The politicization of poverty alleviation and youth employment programmes increases the likelihood that unemployed youths would become political thugs in order to benefit from the largesse.
The case studies equally demonstrate that vigilantes and neighbourhood watch groups established with the expressed aim of combatting of crimes have had mixed results. While in some contexts the presence of these ancillary security service providers has contributed to reduction of crime it has also produced other forms of security challenges. Foremost, among these challenges is the privatization of some of the vigilantes by influential persons who use them to threaten, maim and kill their perceived opponents. The context of privatization is the arrangement whereby communities are encouraged to form vigilantes and neighbourhood watch groups who are then licensed by government to operate. Securing the government license often requires the imprimatur of a traditional ruler or prominent community leader. This registration requirement and the financial burden of maintaining the vigilante provide opportunities for elite capture of the community initiative.
The case studies show that the dominant response to the security challenges by both state and non-state actors in the region is to mobilize resources to fight crime by eliminating or containing criminals. This approach, which is based on the perception that persons involved in criminality are social misfits driven by greed, contradicts the key finding of the study that insecurity in the region is linked to governance failures. The complex linkage between governance and security suggests the imperative of adopting a human security approach. Human security is different from conventional conception of security, which is often conflated with state security. It aims to ‘safeguard the vital core of all human lives from critical pervasive threats in a way that is consistent with long-term human fulfilment’ (Alkire 2003:3). The approach is protective and seeks to respect the human person. It enjoins all institutions charged with security to offer protection in ways that are ‘institutionalized rather than episodic, preventative rather than reactive and responsive rather than rigid’ (Alkire 2003:4).
In terms of strategies, the approach necessitates involvement of institutions that are not only overtly established to promote security but also institutions whose effects unintentionally undermine human security. These institutions should be seen to be working to prevent threats from occurring, mitigating impacts of threats that have already occurred or are inevitable; and helping all victims to cope better. This, therefore, calls for a holistic intervention that seeks not only to fight crime but also to address structural and facilitating drivers of insecurity.
Partnerships between public and community security institutions are imperative The case studies rightly identify failures in both governance and security institutions as mainly responsible for insecurity in the region. Thus, the state governments and police authorities are blamed for both generating insecurity and being unable to address security challenges. Most of the studies suggest that community security initiatives and private security are gradually filling this vacuum. In this respect, the case studies seem to confirm experiences globally where the state, as conceived in liberal democratic theory, has since the end of the twentieth century demonstrated palpable incapacity for meeting its self-imposed role of maintaining public order. Analysts have pointed to the redrawing of boundaries between the public and private spheres that declining capacity of the state for law enforcement necessitates. As Crawford (1999:296) notes:
We are witnessing a redrawing of what constitutes the legitimate responsibilities of individuals, collectivities and the state. Community and partnerships constitutes the sites at which the re-articulation of the new socio-political relationships are being played out and contested and out of which new forms of local governance of crime are emerging.
The main features of this change are seen as the end of the era of monopoly where the police was solely responsible for public security and the increasing trend toward pluralisation of security provisioning (Baley and Shearing 2005). Intervention of other non-state security providers is seen to contribute to improvement in security provisioning in many localities. For instance, Asiwaju and Marenin (2009) report that a pilot assessment of a project on community policing in Enugu State showed that the project contributed to the decrease in citizens’ fear of crime, fall in citizens’ experience of crime, reduction in incidence of police corruption, and marked improvement in performance of the police. The experience of developed countries, however, is that crime and insecurity generally have increased rather than decreased amidst pluralisation (see Baley and Sheering 2005:726). This suggests that it is not enough to blame the police and other public security agencies for rising insecurity and recommend the intervention of private and community institutions.
Rather it is important to deploy a wider perspective that looks at the roles of what Jones and Newburn (2005) have called ‘natural surveillance institutions’. These are private and parochial networks and institutions that operate at the community level. While the parochial networks and institutions refer to those that service the needs of local residential communities such as the local church, the local school, community development association, the private networks and institutions are those involved in inter-personal friendship and kinship. Jones and Newburn (2005) argue persuasively that the challenge of policing need not be seen in terms of malfunctioning or overload of the public policing institutions but also dereliction of responsibility by parochial and private policing institutions. The decline of intermediate and secondary forms of social control is partly to blame and what is referred to as pluralisation and privatization is actually the formalization of intermediate and secondary social control activities.
The case studies in this book tangentially depict the decline of natural surveillance institutions in accounts of feuds in community development associations, corruption in town unions, decay of family values, erosion of social capital and the decline of moral fervour in the church. The tendency to resort to vigilantes and neighbourhood watch groups is also tantamount to formalization of the functions performed by intermediate and secondary institutions of social control. It is consequently evident that there is need to also focus on reviving natural surveillance institutions. The current security and justice sector reform programmes that aim to build capacity, discipline and morale in the public police and solicit community partnership through community policing should be extended to target these institutions directly.
Policy pronouncements on addressing the governance and security challenges of the South East should include designating the region as a post-conflict zone. The South-East qualifies as a post-conflict zone not just because of being the battlefront of the Nigeria Civil War but also being the constant destinations of internally displaced persons (IDPs) fleeing religious and ethnoregional violence in mostly northern parts of the country. No other zone in Nigeria has suffered the consequence of violent conflict as the South-East. The phenomenal growth of the informal sector of the economy of the zone is partly the product of adaptation and resilience that violent conflict imposes on its victims.
If seen rightly as a post conflict environment, adopting the requisite economic recovery programme would be necessary. As the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery of the UNDP (2008) has shown the most successful cases of recovery from violent conflict has been recorded in contexts where the focus was on strengthening the indigenous drivers of growth. Strategies that have produced the best results include prioritizing rehabilitation of infrastructure, emphasizing reinvestment in human capital development and investing in reintegration of former combatants and militants. It also requires enhancing access to financial resources, strengthening local institutions and emphasizing programmes that secure economic opportunities and create jobs. What these strategies amount to, is creating the enabling environment for individual enterprises to operate and enabling local ingenuity.
The case studies confirm that politics and governance have become major sources of security threats in the South-East. The transformation of election into organized criminal activity and governance into repression has engendered a low participant culture in a region traditionally reputed for the practice of village democracy. This low participant culture is evident in poor voter turnout and inertia towards collective action. For instance, the South East was reputed to have the fewest demonstrations against the removal of petroleum subsidy in January 2012. The commercialization of politics in the region has also engendered a patronage based state-citizenship engagement. The critique of current community development approaches which sees town unions taxing community members to develop projects to which the state only makes token contributions is that it undermines rights based state citizenship engagement. South-easterners are treated as second-class citizens at home by their governments and as ‘settlers’, ‘non-indigenes’ and ‘Christians’ in other parts of the country.
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.
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