INTERNAL SECURITY STRATEGIES AND YOUTH POLICIES IN NIGERIA

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Ugowe Davies

Introduction to the National Youth Policy

Nigeria is currently ranked as the seventh most populous country in the world and the fastest-growing Nation with a population of over 180 million. According to the 2006 Census, Nigeria had 50 million people in the age group of 15 – 34 years, which covers the age bracket of 18 – 35 years that chronologically defined youth in the 2009 youth policy, with Lagos State having the highest percentage of youths (6.3%) (age 18 -35years) while Kwara State had the lowest percentage of youths (1.3%) according to the National Baseline Youth Survey undertaken by the National Bureau of Statistics in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Youth Development in 2012.

The current National Youth Policy encompasses workable strategies for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, Demographic Dividend, and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan of the current administration. The National youth policy represents a declaration and commitment to the priorities, directions, and practical supports that a country intends to provide for the development of its young men and women. It sets guidelines and provides the framework for all stakeholders to empower the youth to realize their potentialities and take advantage of the opportunities available to make positive contributions to the well-being of their communities across the entire country.

The policy includes five major strategies which are:

  • Productive Workforce and Sustainable Economic Engagement of Youths
  • Health and Health-Promoting Lifestyle
  • Participation, inclusiveness, and equitable opportunities for all Youths
  • Promotive and Protective Environment for Youth Development
  • Partnership-building and effective collaboration

Introduction to the National Security Strategy

Nigeria is faced with several insecurity problems ranging from terrorism to violent extremism, which according to the National Security Adviser to the President, Babagana Mogunu, seeks to undermine public confidence in government. Militancy and separatist agitations in the Niger Delta and South East also pose significant security concerns, including pastoralists’ and farmers’ conflicts resulting from the quest for land, grazing routes, water, and other resources mostly exacerbated by climate change, population explosion, and growth of new settlements. Transnational organized crime allowing for illicit financial flows, weapons, and other crimes having a direct impact on national security, fueling terrorism. Piracy and sea robbery, which include the hijacking of merchant oil tankers and fishing vessels, the kidnapping of mariners as well as increased piracy along the major shipping routes and sea lines of commission. Currently, Nigeria waters and the adjoining Gulf of Guinea (GOG) have been designated as a high-risk area and one of the most troubling global waterways. Porous borders which are inadequately manned include the border between Nigeria and the Benin Republic in the South West are known for smuggling vehicles and food commodities which undermines our economy. In the East along the Nigeria Cameroon border, criminal gangs and pirates actively operate within the border areas. The quest to use information technologies and networked capabilities for national development has made Nigeria vulnerable to cyber-attacks, cybercrimes, cyber espionage, cyber conflict, and cyber-terrorism.

The far-reaching effects of these insecurity challenges have necessitated a National Security Strategy in a bid to mitigate and fight crime. The National Security Strategy, as headed by Babagana Mogunu, is a comprehensive and coordinated means of responding to these threats. It links and brings together different statutory organs such as the National Security Council (NSC), National Defense Council (NDC), and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), all under the responsibility of the Federal Government.

Nigeria Internal Security Strategy

The internal security strategy is part of the National Security Strategy with a  goal to create a safe and secure environment for the pursuit of peace, personal well-being, prosperity, and development. Internal security is a complex multi-sectorial national endeavour that calls for concerted, proportionate, open, flexible, and effective application of political, economic, social, informational, diplomatic, intelligence, law enforcement, and military responses where they become inevitable. In specific terms, internal security will be promoted by an enabling political environment hinged on good governance, rule of law, human rights, and both credible and peaceful political transitions. Other goals are enabling social security environment; security consciousness; credible alternative dispute resolution mechanisms; viable technology-enabled intelligence infrastructure; law enforcement, effective criminal justice system as well as a viable and sustainable system of funding and resourcing, Mongunu (2019).

The Nigerian Youths and Security

Despite these policies, the Nigerian youths have in recent years become more restive and agitated regarding the quality of governance. The Nigerian Police Force and other Security agencies in the country, are probably yet to be informed of the National Security Strategy, and how it involves the observation of human rights, the rule of law, and creating a relationship of trust and cooperation between the Force and communities. The END SARS protest of October 2020 that began a few days after the Nation’s 60th anniversary was a cry by the Nigerian youths to end the incessant police brutality, high rate of unemployment, corruption in a country tagged as poverty capital of the world. The Orlu Killings of January 2021 carried out by the Nigerian military to stem out what was referred to as a terrorist organization, has once again reignited the feeling of oppression and brutality faced by many youths.

So far, it has been made known that the NPF whose strategy according to the NSS is moving from a reactionary to a proactive and preventive measure of mitigating and fighting crime, has failed and woefully so. For instance, Numbeo (2021) in their crime survey stated that Nigeria has a 68.44% level of crime, which has increased at a level of 60.22% in the past 2 years, and according to the World Press Freedom Index on human rights, Nigeria ranks 115 out of 180 countries in 2020. It has also become the second most corrupt country in West Africa, dropping from 146 in Transparency International rating in 2019, to 149 in 2020. Punch (2021).

The Buhari administration, through a thorough evaluation and monitoring scheme, needs to continually assess the activities of the Ministry of Youths and Sports and its National Security Strategy, especially with regards to the observation of human rights, rule of law, good governance among others.

Solution

Sometimes youths are left in the dark concerning matters that affect them. The government needs to involve them as stakeholders in the formation of relevant policies. Getting the youths actively involved would go a long way in keeping them interested, informed on the issues that do not only affect them as a demographic but us as a Nation. Through the use of various social media channels, celebrities, and influencers, improved and updated policies should be frequently communicated to the youths; school curricula and various civic studies should also be reviewed in line with these changes. As it is the responsibility of the youths to shun ignorance by searching for information that would benefit them as outlined in the Nigeria Youth Policy, so it is the duty of the government to ensure that this information gets to them in places where they can easily find.

The government should also do more to encourage youths to participate in the governance of their Nation either through political appointments or direct governance by occupying political posts through elections. More civic and social activities should be initiated for communal bonding, character, and Nation-building

Respect for the rule of law, the rights of every Nigerian irrespective of religion, ethnicity, or creed would create a sense of value and patriotism in the hearts and lives of every youth. Who values a country whose leaders send her military against her youths, the same group of people it claims to have spent years in constructing valuable policies and a supposedly stable and secure environment? “What you do,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson, “speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” Represents the current character of our leaders. Internal insecurity is a result of youths who are either unemployed, cheated, or angry by the same system and government that has over the years sworn to protect them and adequately provide the needed environment for their growth. The problem however is not the lack of sound minds or unique plans relatively tailored to suit our complex nature as peoples of Nigeria, but the unwillingness of those responsible for implementing and executing these great ideas in following through with them, observing standard practices in doing so. The character of each Nigerian agent needs to be properly evaluated before deployment or employment and over time, monitored.

Conclusion

  1. BabaganMongunu, Major General (Retired), National Security Adviser to the President: National security strategy, 2019.
  2. Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, 2019 Edition: National Youth Policy; Enhancing Youth Development and Participation
  3. in the context of Sustainable Development
  4. Amaka G. Metu, Chris U. Kalu and Olisa D. Maduka (2018) analysis of crime rate and economic growth in Nigeria: the institutional challenges and way forward. Journal of Economic Studies. Vol. 15, No. 1, 2018.
  5. Numbeo (2021), Crime in Nigeria. numbeo.com
  6. Punch (2021), Nigeria drops on Transparency’s corruption index. www.punchng.com

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