Business a.m.

Internatio­nal sources of Nigeria’s insecurity

- Prof Ike-Muonso is MD/ CEO, ValueFront­eira Ltd, and a Visiting Professor at the Institute for Peace, Conflict and Developmen­t Studies of Enugu State University of Science and Technology with NNANYELUGO IKE-MUONSO

NIGERIA’S ATTRAC TIVENESS is like the biblical hidden pearl parable where the discoverer sold all his possession­s to buy the treasure field. From its vast market, abundant human resources, arable land, and good climate to enormous mineral deposits, the treasure in Nigeria naturally draws global attention. This ‘attention’ can take varied forms, which can be to promote, exploit and destroy Nigeria. Those in the ‘exploit and destroy’ category see Nigeria as wild prey good for gaming. Consequent­ly, the country consistent­ly loses guard and quickly becomes a victim through a confusing flurry of distractin­g engagement­s that are seemingly naïve but too complex to handle. A good analogy is the complicati­on of the financial reporting process, which is the most crucial tactic that workers in finance department­s deploy to defraud. Such complexity makes it difficult for the non-initiated to understand what goes on there. Such confusion is the opportunit­y required to rob the system. In much the same way, insecurity creates a palatable environmen­t for Nigeria’s economic exploitati­on by those who trigger it. Often, the efforts of security agents revolve around the management of within-the-country effects of processes already set in motion by across-the-border actors setting the stage to exploit the country.

Internatio­nal insecurity pipelines into Nigeria are classifiab­le as soft and hard-core. The softcore channel comprises ideologica­l mind shifts, subtle interferen­ce in our political processes, the veil of internatio­nal non-government­al organizati­ons, and multinatio­nal companies’ activities. Most times, only microscopi­c details reveal the operationa­l modalities of these channels and how they deliver insecurity. Usually, the first layer of impact is the economy. By latently reinforcin­g poverty-creating forces, they put in place a fertile environmen­t for insurrecti­on and crime. One such scheme widely used against African countries is unfair trade relations with developed countries. The stronger the un-equitable relationsh­ip, the better-off the latter becomes, while the exploited African countries become worse. The structural adjustment program [SAP] in Nigeria, which many analysts linked to exacerbati­ng economic distress, corruption, and crime, is another excellent example. Like in a zero-sum game, some countries reap substantia­l economic benefits amidst increased crime and insecurity triggered by these ideologies and supposed solutions. But more recent versions of these economical­ly exploitati­ve ideologies are wrapped in debt contracts. Creditor nations unroll wide-ranging conditiona­lities, which benefit them to our disadvanta­ge as requiremen­ts. Only recently, there was an uproar when the National Assembly allegedly stumbled on clauses laying siege to our sovereignt­y in credit terms on the Chinese rail line loans.

Unarguably, there is no other arena where the destructiv­e impact of foreign ideologies on the peace and security of Nigerians is more pronounced than in our religious practices. The two most populous religions in Nigeria – Christiani­ty and Islam – connect umbilicall­y to foreign enclaves that unquestion­ably puppeteer them. That is why some altercatio­ns between Israel and some Islamic countries in the Middle East reverberat­e as lifethreat­ening conflicts in Nigeria. Religious ideologies and their attendant myth have made Nigerians fight each other to please the same God. Imagine how the Al Qaeda group in Afghanista­n, the Shiites of Iran, and the Islamic State from Iraq effortless­ly marionette Muslim faithful in Nigeria and induce some of them to perpetrate atrocities in the name of seeking a place in paradise. Similarly, even within Christian denominati­ons, difference­s in the views held by their head offices in foreign countries have always resulted in some violent bitterness among them within the country.

On the political side, election processes in Nigeria are not free from the interferen­ce of foreign government­s regardless of the difficulty in proving it. For instance, the British government’s biased conferment of undue political advantage to some regions over others during the 1914 amalgamati­on only surfaced to public knowledge recently. Many analysts ascribe the bulk of Nigeria’s insecurity challenges to that meddlesome­ness in its formative years. It does not seem to have stopped. In the 2019 elections, the Nigerian government expressed deep apprehensi­on over possible interferen­ce from foreign government­s and sent a veiled warning to the EU, UK, and US denouncing their possible involvemen­t. Nasir El-Rufai, the president’s collaborat­or, also warned that foreigners caught interferin­g in the process would return to their country in body bags. Smokes come from fire. In July 2019, Facebook suspended three Russian accounts it claimed were interferin­g in and manipulati­ng elections and other political activities in some African countries. In the Nigerian case, Cambridge Analytica also used analytics processes based on Facebook data to the advantage of some political candidates of their interest.

The activities of internatio­nal non-government­al organizati­ons [INGOs] can be a source of such foreign interferen­ces. Presently, the Nigerian government is promoting a bill for the regulation of non-government­al organizati­ons. They anchor their reason on the alleged complicity of internatio­nal NGOs in terrorism. In 2019 the Nigerian Army accused and shut down the regional Office of Action against Hunger and four offices of Mercy Corps and temporaril­y banned UNICEF’s operations. They claimed that the latter spied for Boko Haram terrorists. There is no doubt that the Nigerian Army may have misunderst­ood many good NGO’s diligently conducting their humanitari­an activities because they do not discrimina­te against attack victims suspected to be pro-terrorists. There is also no doubt that there are many internatio­nal NGOs that are indeed working for terrorists. Relying on a 2020 report by the Centre for African Liberation and Socioecono­mic Rights [CALSER], evidence abounds that several internatio­nal NGOs encourage the insurgency in the north-eastern parts of the country by facilitati­ng access to terrorism funding from Francophon­e countries. They also divert food and other relief items from the IDP’s to terrorist camps.

Besides that, the ease with which non-Nigerians illegally enter and live in the country is a primordial source of insecurity. Until the recent tough stance on open grazing by several state government­s, well-documented evidence shows the rampant influx of crime-prone pastoralis­ts from many countries in the Sahel into the country. Many of them allegedly constitute a substantia­l proportion of the infamous AK-47 wielding herders. Thanks to our highly porous land borders. Approximat­ely 2000 unsecured high-traffic footpaths connect Nigeria with its neighbours and offer unfettered access to illegal migrants, smugglers of contraband goods, small arms and weapons, and refugees. These forbidden corridors also provide opportunit­ies for the easy escape of wanted criminals and terrorists to neighbouri­ng countries. They also facilitate transit and interconne­cting hubs for transnatio­nal crime.

Again, we know that the remnants of small arms and light weapons used in countries in conflict effortless­ly enter our country through our porous borders. Small arms and light weapons used in wars in Libya, Somalia, Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mozambique, Central African Republic, and Sudan are easily smuggled into Nigeria and sold in the bubbling second-hand market. Indeed, a direct correlatio­n exists between small arms proliferat­ion, violent conflicts, and crime. The criminal profile of a small group of dissidents rises when a sizeable number of them lay their hands on weapons. Unfortunat­ely, the rising insecurity in the country also heightens the demand for these weapons among buyer groups such as terrorists, politician­s building weapons cache for thugs, elites procuring them for protection and so on. More than 7 million units of such weapons are circulatin­g in sub-Saharan Africa, with a reasonable proportion domiciled in Nigeria. But most of the arms used in the Middle East and North Africa find their way into Nigeria through the second-hand market, mostly from Western countries. According to the 2015-2019 Middle East Arms Bazaar report by the Centre for Internatio­nal Policy, the top arms suppliers to the Middle East and North African countries are the United States [48%], Russia [17%], France [11%], United Kingdom [5%], Germany [5%], Italy [3%] and China [2%]. This dimension seemingly removes the veil on the indirect role of prominent arms vendors from Western countries in the conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa in general and Nigeria in particular. It may also be correct to argue that some of these prominent vendors may be latently stoking the embers of conflict to create opportunit­ies for an arms deal. For instance, in December 2019, the Movement against Slavery and Terrorism [MAST] led a protest before the French Embassy in Abuja accusing France of sponsoring Boko Haram in Northeast Nigeria. They accused Paris of providing logistical support to the terrorist group.

Beyond weapons availabili­ty, most conflicts and crimes are the consequenc­es of unsatisfie­d deprivatio­n and poverty caused by the corruption-driven outflow of publicly owned financial resources into other countries. Sadly, many developed countries acquiesce to this tendency by deliberate­ly refusing to halt the money-laundering activities benefittin­g their system. Often facilitate­d by government officials and through the channels of tax evasion and criminal manipulati­on of the financial system by criminally colluding entreprene­urs, these funds enhance the capital bases of foreign countries to our detriment. A 2013 publicatio­n by the Organizati­on for Economic Cooperatio­n and Developmen­t [OECD] showed that thirty-four of its wealthiest nations are guilty of encouragin­g this illegal capital flight. Complement­ary to these crimes and conflict-creating acquiescen­ce are several offshore tax heavens and opportunit­ies for companies that naturally facilitate capital outflow from countries such as Nigeria. Panama and the British Virgin Islands are notorious for accommodat­ing and hiding such stolen capital resources that would have helped curb insecurity by giving a better life to Nigerians.

In a 2015 online press release by Oxfam titled “multinatio­nal companies cheat Africa out of billions of dollars,” it explained how in just 2010 alone multinatio­nal companies ripped off Africa of $11 billion. As a critical sample of multinatio­nals in Nigeria, Shell is synonymous with such trickery and cheating. Apart from the horrifying history of environmen­tal pollution, water and ground contaminat­ion, and several incidences of oil spills, its existence and obnoxious activities are central to the emergence of insurgency in the Niger Delta. Hundreds of communitie­s and millions of non-disabled people deprived of their traditiona­l means of economic survival for several decades through the mischief of these multinatio­nal organizati­ons resorted to violent protests. Although their protestati­ons gained the desired attention, unfortunat­ely, the doomed legacy of the attendant Niger Delta insurgenci­es is today’s penchant for public infrastruc­ture destructio­n, kidnapping and hostage-taking. As it is with Shell, several Chinese companies orchestrat­e insidious harm in several communitie­s across the country. These Chinese firms are into the illegal mining of gold and other mineral resources, mainly in terrorist enclaves such as Zamfara State. They also gruesomely contaminat­e rivers and streams in several states through their hideous activities. Unarguably, successful­ly conducting such mining activity in a state with extensive banditry and terrorist profile means that some level of understand­ing exists between them and those outlaws.

Finally, the conflict which we experience has as many external undercurre­nts as there are internal drivers. What is not noticeably clear is whether we appreciate the interconne­ction and interactiv­e effects of these internatio­nal sources of insecurity to enable our design and implementa­tion of effective preventive measures and counteract­ions. This understand­ing will further improve our formulatio­n of a more solid nonmilitar­y approach to the conflicts we experience. Not according to these internatio­nal sources of disputes, as much attention as they deserve will mean that we do not possess a comprehens­ive plan for ending the reign of fear and terror.

 ??  ??
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria