OPINION: The Challenge of Insecurity in Ilorin Emirate and the Role of the Community in Finding a Solution. By Abdullahi Imam Abdullahi

Date: 2014-08-15
According to Akin (2008) security refers to "the situation that exists as a result of the establishment of measures for the protection of persons, information and property against hostile persons, influences and actions". It is the existence of conditions within which people in a society can go about their normal daily activities without any threats to their lives or properties. It embraces all measures designed to protect and safeguard the citizenry and the resources of individuals, groups, businesses and the society against sabotage or violent occurrence (Ogunleye, et al, 2011).

The National President of Ilorin Emirate Descendant Progressive Union rightly identified the high rate of youth unemployment, chronic poverty, inequality, eroded value systems, weak security infrastructure, and drug abuse as some of the major contributing factors to the prevailing sense of insecurity within the Emirate.

However, this problem is not unique to Ilorin alone, much of Africa is urbanizing fast and its young population is projected to constitute the largest labour force in the world by the middle of this century. In this paper we look to review how the various definitions of 'youth' relate to three dominant discourses about poverty and vulnerability in urbanizing Africa:
(1) Food insecurity;
(2) unemployment/joblessness; and
(3) violence/insecurity.

By doing so, we seek to identify if and when these are responsive to youth needs and practical in terms of policy efforts aiming to reduce poverty and vulnerability in urban areas.

Over the last 15 year period, the nature of violence had changed considerably within Ilorin emirate. Violence has become a development constraint eroding the assets of residents and affecting their livelihoods and well-being.

To tackle insecurity, a key starting point should be to understand the causes of insecurity as well as to investigate their sources of social disorder and instability.

Causes of Insecurity

Lack of institutional capacity resulting in government failure: Over the last 15 years, succeeding administrations have continuously used young people as political thugs and they have wittingly refused to develop a sustainable youth empowerment program.

Pervasive material inequalities and unfairness: The political class does not live within their means and often times use their position to confer on themselves undue advantage. This is evident in their ostentatious lifestyle and unnecessary display of ill gotten wealth.

Weak Security system: This is evident in the inadequate state support to the local police authority. It takes all levels of government working together, federal, state, and the local governments to effectively curb crime.

Loss of Socio-cultural and communal value system: Here in the Emirate, there has been a gradual erosion of both cultural and communal value systems over the last decade. Many of our youths that have gone to other major urban centres to look for greener pasture upon returning home have brought with them attitudes that are alien to the ancient city of Ilorin and its surrounding environment.

Unemployment/Poverty: As a result of the high level of unemployment and poverty especially among the youths, they are adversely attracted to violent crime (Adagba, et al, 2012). The failure of successive local government administration to create enabling environment for businesses to thrive and generate employment has increased the chronic levels of unemployment in the emirate.

Solution to Insecurity in the Emirate

Having considered and understood the implications of insecurity in the Emirate for business operations and sustainable development, the question that arises before every one of us is on what to do to overcome this challenge? What can we do and what shall we do to put a stop to this menace of insecurity in our land? How can the Emirate be made safe for all of us? The answers to these questions lie in our hands as members of this society. One of the solutions is to embark on a strong fight against the removal of the sources and causative factors of insecurity. It is theorized that once these factors are eliminated, dissatisfaction and disaffection will be reduced and therefore the tendency for violence and criminal behavior will naturally be reduced, because both economic security and social security would have been enhanced.

Essentially, all of the solutions revolve around maximizing societal welfare. The various factors which have been mentioned in the array of solutions as factors to be dealt with include,

Leadership development: A program to develop young people into credible and responsible adults should be advocated. Here, I will call for the establishment of a Centre for Leadership Studies in both of our leading higher institutions in the state. The University of Ilorin and the Kwara state University, Malete. Responsible young people do not lend themselves to violence.

Good governance: According to Oluwarotimi (2012), good governance is the panacea for the insecurity challenge in Nigeria. She states that the war against insecurity would be won only by raising governance standards that is, cultivating the culture of good governance where the government is responsible and accountable to the people. In her view, security engagement cannot be separated from good governance. Many others have also linked security to governance system. The general view is that peace and security is determined by good governance. However, as Oluwa (2012) has also pointed out, good governance is a function of effective, visionary, transparent, trustworthy and credible political leadership whose driving force is an improvement in the collective wellbeing of the citizens through well conceived, effectively implemented economic policies and human development programmes. The underlying principle of good governance is the focus on people as its ultimate objective.

Socio-economic development: This factor is strongly considered as the major key to peace and security. In the view of Kufour (2012), the challenge in solving insecurity problems is to accelerate the pace of development. Development in this context consists of creating a local economy with relevant social, economic and physical infrastructure for business operations and industrial growth, to provide gainful youth employment, high level education facilities and medical care for the people.

Elimination of Corruption and entrenchment of social justice: Corruption is viewed by everybody as the cog in the Nigerian wheel of progress and development and can be acutely felt here in Ilorin Emirate also. It is the bane of our society. It is both a social and economic monster. It is the cause of inequality and inequitable distribution of the nations' wealth among its citizens, a situation that is the root cause of disaffection among citizens. It is theorized by many that fighting corruption and winning the war against corruption will bring about an egalitarian society, where fairness, social justice and equal right for all will reign supreme; where rights will not be privileges for some people, and for others, where every citizen will be treated and accorded position based on merit and defined in terms of the content of his or her character, mental capacity and ability to deliver.

Radical change in values: A paradigm shift of values from the current order is necessary and must be emphasized considering the role of values in governance system, leadership developmental goals, and behaviour towards corruption. It is argued that except our values are right, we cannot get it right as a people in all of the areas that we have itemized, and except we get it right in those areas, the people will continue to suffer deprivation and injustice which will cause dissatisfaction and disaffection and consequently create an insecure environment. Thus, radical change in value system is paramount and imperative in restoring security to the Emirate.

Development of a more balanced security strategy to counter violent crimes and local terrorism:

Taekyoon (2009), from a broader context of insecurity in developing countries contends that the solution to insecurity in developing countries is the maximization of governability. In his view, maximizing governability is the key to achieving security. The promotion of economic development also enhances governability. The establishment of developmental projects tailored to the needs of the people would improve societal welfare and reduce the extent of social and economic insecurity which consequently would reduce social conflicts and aggression.

Once people's needs are met, they become naturally less agitated and confrontational, and the tendency to want to use illicit and criminal means to ensure their survival or try to force government to behave in certain ways or make certain decisions, would be reduced. The poverty of transparent and sound institutions to deal with security threats is directly related to institutional failures in enhancing the effectiveness of security solution measures by either democratic reforms or development projects.

I therefore extend the solution approach by proposing a security management approach that accommodates both long term solutions and immediate ways to addressing the problem right now to reduce the pressure; and an approach that everyone has a role to play in ensuring that security is restored and maintained.

The Role of the Government: To overcome insecurity there is a need for intelligence gathering and surveillance so that law enforcement agents could be proactive and reasonably predict potential crime with near perfect accuracy rather than being reactive. As noted by Adagba, et al (2012) the menace of insecurity no doubt calls for a new approach that will be founded on credible intelligence gathering”. Government must not only continue to engage the security personnel, it must, more than ever before, recognise the need to devote more attention to security intelligence, and capacity building to meet the global best practice standard and acquisition of modern technology.

There is also the need to modernize the security agencies with training, intelligence sharing, advanced technology, logistics, motivation and change of orientation. This effort will enhance the operational capabilities of the security agencies by identifying avenues that would enable them respond appropriately to internal security challenges and other threats. Our law enforcement agencies must therefore be incorruptible and fair. To ensure all this, there must be incentives, good conditions of service and social security.

The Role of Civil Society: Civil society is the arena outside of the family, the state, and the market where people associate to advance common interests. It is the aggregate of non-governmental organizations and institutions that manifest interests and will of citizens or individuals and organizations in a society which are independent of the government. As a result of the inability of government to provide adequate security, Ebohon, and Ifeadi, (2012) are of the opinion that we should move from a state-centric to a human security paradigm, move from an elite centered to a people centered security management approach and involve civil society in the state security project.

With the active involvement of civil society in security management, we should have less violence, human rights abuses and social injustice. One of the roles of civil society is to convince other stakeholders that action is better than inaction and that insecurity does not have to be accepted as a necessary evil. They have to play the roles of critic, catalyst and advocate of those interests. It is also essential to raise public awareness, to awaken society to the disastrous effects of insecurity and to get across the message that fighting it is possible. In many countries, civil society is the watchdog and the vanguard to warrant that other stakeholders respect their boundaries. They also play a major in the area of raising public awareness as well as in lobbying for concrete change or in helping to initiate and carry out a process of reforming national integrity.

The Role of Religious Groups: The two main religious groups have a major role to play in ensuring security in the Emirate. The teachings of religious groups are one of the bases of value development in our contemporary world. The role of values in human security cannot be over emphasized. It is a known fact that values govern behaviour. Where social values and norms concerning fundamental human right in both public and private places have been distorted and violated, the people and government tend to live in an atmosphere of instability and insecurity. In addition, worship centres should not be used as avenue for instigating members to be violent or to engage in activities that can affect the peace of the country.

The Role of Communities: It is important to note that security management can be significantly aided by the cooperation of local communities. Depending on our perceptions and sincere feelings as regards our collective responsibilities towards lasting peace in the Emirate, communities should strive to live peacefully with their neighboring communities. They should also be vigilant of strangers in their localities to ensure that criminals do not have easy access to their communities.

The Role of Individuals: Security should be seen as everybody's business. As individuals we need to cultivate the habit of security consciousness and to report any security situation to the appropriate authority (not only the police) immediately. Every individual must evince a high level of security awareness and alertness. This is because individuals understand their communities better and any report of suspicious behaviour or activity could lead to actionable intelligence leading to disruption of attacks. Through the early detection of impending conflicts and its prevention, it will help to provide a safe and enabling environment for the people to operate in, and for economic development to thrive.


This paper emphasized a change in attitude and approach by being proactive. We must strive to get to a level where crimes will be nipped in the bud before they are perpetuated. Therefore, the government, civil society groups, religious groups, business organizations, community leaders and individuals must fight insecurity so as to create an enabling environment where business organizations will feel free and secure to achieve their full potentials and the Emirate will be safe and secure to achieve sustainable development.

Abdullahi Imam Abdullahi, PhD, writes from Ilorin



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