The Cost and Effect of Insecurity in Nigeria

The socio-political and economic landscape in Nigeria has been blighted by the endemic twin evil of crime and violence. The abysmal failure of successive administrations in Nigeria to address challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequitable distribution of wealth among ethnic nationalities, ultimately resulted to anger, agitation and violent crimes against the Nigerian state by some individuals and groups. Such crimes include militancy, kidnapping, bombing, armed robbery, destruction of government properties, among others. The activities of various militia groups consequently resulted in low income for government from oil revenue, moderating the Gross Domestic Product growth rate, low participation of local and foreign investors in economic development and insecurity of lives and properties of the citizens.

Since the last four years, there has been a dramatic twist on the wave, dynamics and sophistication of insecurity in Nigeria. Insecurity which used to be one of the lowest concerns in the hierarchy of Nigeria’s social problems has now assumed an alarming proportion. A time we thought that corruption and power failure have the crown of our problems, insecurity in the country has now taken the centre stage.

However, those that believe insecurity in the county is an exclusive reserve of a particular region are not in tune with the current realities. The pattern of insecurity in Nigeria has been regionalised: militia groups’ insurgency in the north, kidnappers in the eastern and southern part of the country, ritual killing in the west, political and non-political calculated assassinations across the nation. The regionalised structure of insecurity has also given rise to regional unlegislated security formation in the country in a bid to curtail the alarming rate of insecurity.

The frequent occurrence of bomb explosions, orchestrated by the acclaimed religious extremists in the northern part of the country, has assumed a worrisome dimension. An estimated number of about 2,000 lives have been lost to bomb explosion from 2010 till date. According to security information released by Crime Guard, a security monitoring group, between March and December 2012, there were a total of 153 successful explosions in the country which claimed several lives.

Thus, the inability of the security agencies to address the country's security challenges during these inauspicious periods raised yet another critical question on the preparedness of Nigeria to attain desired political, social and economic heights in the year 2020. It further poses serious threats to the unity and corporate existence of Nigeria as a sovereign state. Therefore, addressing the security challenges in Nigeria ultimately requires not only the causes of threats but also a critical evaluation of the performance of security agencies in handling the situation in Nigeria.  

These security agencies include;

  • The National Security Agency (NSA)
  • The National Intelligence Agency (NIA)
  • The State Security Service (SSS)
  • The Nigeria Police Force (NPF)
  • The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS)
  • The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS)
  • The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA)
  • The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps

Although  the  achievement  of  total  or  absolute  security would  be  an  exercise  in  futility as no country in the world is an alien to insecurity. The contemporary security challenges in the country have not only raised critical questions bordering on formulation and implementation of Nigeria’s internal    security policies, but also the recruitment and effectiveness of the security agents to perform their statutory responsibilities.

The Cost
Moreover, the cost of life and material resources lost to insecurity in the country since the past few years is unquantifiable. According to Human Rights Watch, a security monitoring agency, between 2009 and 2012, about 2,800 lives had been lost to militia insurgency; within the first nine months in 2012, 815 people were killed in 275 suspected attacks, and more than 60 police stations were attacked in 10 northern states, excluding the bombed police headquarters in Abuja. Tens of dozen are still nursing various degrees of injuries. The data base of orphans and widows caused by the rampaging sects has grown vastly.

Money from some international organisation and funds raised locally from governmental, non-governmental agencies, charitable organisations and individuals which is supposed to be channelled to human capital development has been deployed for the rehabilitation of families of the casualties and the renovation of properties destroyed.

Yearly, unspecified millions of naira is being paid as ransom for the release of victims of kidnappers; not forgetting the Central Bank of Nigeria’s ₦100 million cash donation, the ₦200 million donation from the combined effort of the opposition governors, and the $50, 000 from the Christian Association of Nigeria, America chapter, to reduce the suffering of the victims of regional militia.

The cost of insecurity in Nigeria could also be seen on the percentage of annual budget allocated to security agencies on yearly basis. Infrastructure and human capital development are almost foregone alternatives; hence, capital expenditure is struggling from the rear.

The Effect
As Nigeria struggles with the army of unemployed youth of about 24%, companies in their numbers are closing down operations in the north and relocating to other African countries for fear of loss of lives and properties. And the few remaining companies operate on skeletal bases. For instance, a top management of a manufacturing company disclosed that their production plant in the North, which in recent past operated three times a week, now operates once a month because of fear of insecurity. Construction workers and expatriates providing specialised services on various projects in some northern states had fled the region. This development has multiplied the number of unemployed youth roaming the street and has become an easy tool for violence. This scenario has not only deepened the existing unemployment rate but also paints a gloomy picture of poverty.

Education they say is the bedrock of social economic development. The Islamic militants have serially attacked students and facilities in educational institutions in different northern states of the country. Over time, a lot of schools have shut down their academic programmes. This has drastically impacted the teaming number of students seeking admission into academic institutions at all levels. For example, University of Maiduguri, one of the most affordable universities in Nigeria which is known for turning down admission of student because of quality and to avoid overcrowding of facility, now solicits for admission through deferent media outreach.

Also recently, a respondent survey shows that a lot of students have vowed never to participate in the compulsory one year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme if posted to the northern part of the country. Those who were inadvertently posted to the north redeployed immediately after three weeks of mandatory camping. This development therefore defeats the core mandate of setting up the Act of NYSC in 1973.

The growth of foreign direct investment in tourism sector had been adversely affected as some immigration departments of countries in Europe and America have issued warnings to their citizens who wish to visit Nigeria to be aware of the security problem in the country. Not only did insecurity in the country affects foreign direct investment, it also affects business confidence as many companies lost confidence in establishing businesses in some parts of the country.

This report shows the confidence of entrepreneurs on the destination in the country they wish to expound or establish new business with Lagos as an exception. Abuja and Port Harcourt accounted for 50% of alternative business destinations in Nigeria in 2013. Sadly, no northern city made it to the top 15 alternative investment destinations in 2013. No doubts, the northern region has overtime, enjoyed the lion share of insecurity.

As security situation in the country becomes more worrisome, the respect of Nigeria in the eyes of the international community diminishes. It engenders stiffer conditions in bilateral relations. If urgent steps are not taken to address this ugly trend, it will negatively affect all the indices of development and the quest for millennium development goal, and vision 2020 will be a mirage.


  • The Federal Government (FG) should formulate and effectively implement policies and programmes capable of addressing the root causes of insecurity in Nigeria –such as poverty, unemployment, environmental degradation, dearth of infrastructural facilities, uneven development, among others.
  • The FG should reorganise the country’s intelligence system and build a capable and more proactive security apparatus in Nigeria. This will add more values in checking incessant bombings, robbery, kidnapping and violent crimes/crises by hoodlums in the country.
  • The government should phase out the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) and establish a more viable and result-oriented agency capable of addressing the problem of abject poverty among large population of Nigerians, particularly those residing in the rural areas.
  • The government should resuscitate the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) and reposition the agricultural sector so as to play active role in job creation for Nigerian youths.
  • There is the need for collective security arrangement by the federal, state and local governments in Nigeria. This arrangement should produce a committee at village, community, local, state and federal levels with the responsibility of providing sensitive security information for security agencies at their areas of operation. This will ultimately assist in identifying criminals, their sponsors and hideouts in the country.
  • The issue of citizenship or who is qualified to be an indigene of a particular community or state should be urgently reviewed by the federal government. This is important because, a Nigerian who has lived up to 20 years in a given community should not be regarded and treated as a non-indigene in the area. This step will ultimately reduce discrimination and crisis in many parts of Nigeria.