A Call for Improved Security as Majority of Nigerians Feel Unsafe

A public opinion poll on security, conducted by NOIPolls has revealed that 7 in 10 (65 percent) Nigerians believe the nation is not secure, thus indicating a poor state of security in Nigeria. The North-East (55 percent) accounted for the highest proportion of Nigerians with a negative perception on security. These findings are not surprising considering the rising spate of violent extremism over the years which have been a major source of insecurity especially in the North-East.

 

The poll also sought to measure the perception of respondents on peculiar security challenges they are facing in their immediate environment and findings revealed ‘‘armed robbery’’ (25 percent), ‘’herdsmen/famers clashes’’ (14 percent) and ‘’kidnapping’’ (8 percent) as the top three security challenges in Nigeria. It is worthy to note that while armed robbery was mostly lamented by respondents in the South-East zone (38 percent), respondents in the North-East zone (48 percent) indicated Boko-Haram as the major security threat they are facing. In addition, respondents in the North-Central (33 percent) did not hesitate to mention “herdsmen/famers clashes” given the high occurrence of these clashes in this zone. 

Furthermore, since security is a critical component of governance and development, it was pertinent to ascertain the perception of Nigerians on the presence of security operatives nationwide and the poll showed that only 23 percent of Nigerians nationwide indicated that they ‘’always’’ notice the presence of security operatives in their immediate environment as opposed to 33 percent who indicated ‘‘sometimes’.  These were the key highlights from the national security poll recently conducted in the week commencing 7th May, 2018

BRIEF BACKGROUND

Right to life is one of the fundamental rights of every citizen as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and this section provides that every person has a right to life and no one shall be intentionally deprived of his/her life. Nigeria as a country since independence has faced a myriad of security challenges ranging from farmers and herdsmen conflicts, rituals killings, secession   and book haram insurgency. These challenges which comes mostly from within the country, have consistently disrupted governance, led to loss of lives, means of livelihood and wealth, created an atmosphere of insecurity, threatened the corporate existence of the nation and portrayed Nigeria poorly in the international community. At the moment, Nigeria is facing peace and security challenges occasioned by Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East; a resurgence of separatist movements in the South-East and South-South zones; the criminal activities of militants in the Niger Delta; violent attacks over farming and cattle grazing rights in the North-Central and  other areas, ritual killings in the South-West; communal violence in some parts of the country; proliferation of small arms and light weapons; and spates of kidnapping and armed robbery attacks etc. 

These security challenges, have dire consequences for Nigeria’s cultural and social core values, ethnic cohesion, social integration, stability and sustainable development. Further consequences include growing culture of impunity by individuals and groups resulting in avoidable violence that often lead to colossal loss of lives, wanton destruction of property and national assets. For example, it has been estimated that the spate of attacks attributed to the Boko Haram sect, has so far claimed over 20,000 lives in the last 5 years. It was also reported that over 7,000 lives were lost in 2014 to Boko Haram-related violence alone.[1] The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) report issued in January 2015 found that Nigeria has more civilian casualties than any other African country facing conflict, including Somalia, CAR and South Sudan[2]. On the Global Terrorism Index Rankings in 2017, Nigeria ranked 1st in Africa and 3rd globally, largely due to the activities of Boko-Haram and herdsmen attacks[3]. 

SURVEY FINDINGS

The initial question sought to determine the perception of Nigerians regarding the current state of security in the country. Based on this, the respondents were asked to rate the current state of security in the country. The poll results revealed that 65 percent (41 percent: Not at all secure + 24 percent: Not Very Secure) of Nigerians nationwide, stated that the current security situation in the country is challenging. This signifies that about 7 in 10 respondents nationwide were of the opinion that the security situation in the country is challenging as they either rated the state of security in the country as ‘’not secure at all or ‘’not very secure’’. This rated figure is not surprising due to recent and reoccurring security challenges in the country especially in the North-East. On the other hand, about 35 percent (26 percent: Somewhat secure + 9 percent: very secure) of Nigerians nationwide stated that the security situation in the country is without challenges. This is suggestive of the need for increased security activities by the security operatives and stakeholders especially as the general election approaches.

Furthermore, the poll sought to ascertain the perception of Nigerians regarding the current security situation in their various geopolitical zones of residence. Evidently, the poll results highlighted the South-South geopolitical (80 percent: 35 + 45), and the South-East (76 percent: 44 + 32) as the zones where majority of Nigerians felt most secure in their immediate environment. On the other hand, the North-East (55 percent: 29 + 26) and the North-West (20+23) accounted for the zones where more Nigerians felt most insecure in their immediate environment; as more Nigerians from these zones described the security situation in their immediate environment as “not at all secure’’ or “not very secure’’. This is not surprising as these two zones have over the past decade, borne the brunt of violent extremism which contributed to making Nigeria to be ranked as 1st in Africa and 3rd in the word in the global terrorism index[4]

Since the return of democracy in 1999, the security situation in Nigeria has been quite disturbing, and in the past fifteen years things have been worsening on a daily basis. According to the Harvard International Review, the most current existential threat to Nigeria’s national security is the violent extremism unleashed by the Boko Haram group which has its main base in the North-East[5]. In view of this, the survey gauged the perception of Nigerians regarding the most common security challenges experienced in their immediate environments and findings showed that the top three security challenges in Nigeria are; ‘‘armed robbery’’ (25 percent), ‘’herdsmen/famers clashes’’ (14 percent) and ‘’kidnapping’’ (8 percent). Interestingly, the poll revealed that 20 percent of interviewed respondents said that Nigeria presently does not have any security challenges. 

Interestingly, an analysis by geo-political zone revealed that the top four security challenges in Nigeria were most common in four different zones; North-East (Boko Haram 48 percent), South-East (Armed Robbery 38 percent), North-Central (Herdsmen and Farmers’ clashes 33 percent) and South-South (Kidnapping 11 percent)

The civilian to police ratio of 370,000 police personnel to 180 million civilians currently in Nigeria is quite low. The current workforce of the Nigerian Police does not meet the United Nations’ recommendation of 222 police officers per 100,000 persons. Nigeria currently needs an addition of about 155,000 personnel to be adequately policed[6]. Furthermore, the poll assessed the perception of Nigerians concerning the presence of security operatives in their various localities as an indicator to measure response rates to crime and security threats. Interestingly, the poll result pointed out that only 23 percent of Nigerians nationwide indicated that they ‘’always’’ notice the presence of security operatives in their immediate environment. Comparatively, 33 percent stated that they notice them ‘‘sometimes’’, 19 percent stated “often’’, 16 percent said ‘‘rarely’’ while 9 percent mentioned ‘’never”. This implies that there is a need for immediate and multi-pronged actions geared towards increasing the presence, efficiency and effectiveness of security operatives in Nigeria.  

 

In conclusion, the poll revealed that 65 percent of Nigerians do not feel secure in the nation due to the various security challenges mentioned such as ritual killings, armed robbery and banditry, kidnapping, boko haram insurgency, herdsmen and farmers’ clashes etc. These feelings of insecurity could also be attributable to the low civilian to police ratio in Nigeria which the poll revealed to be 23 percent, and equivalent of ratio 2:10 based on how often they see the security operatives in their area. This is indicative of the need for more concerted efforts targeted at empowering our security personnel across the spectrum, covering funding, training, equipment and investment in advanced technology to enable them secure the nation and improve the negative security indices in Nigeria. 

Interestingly, the poll also revealed that a majority of Nigerians (76 percent) mentioned various security challenges including armed robbery, herdsmen/famers clashes, kidnapping and theft amongst others, this large number indicates that there’s a need to increase the number of security personnel in Nigeria especially in the Nigerian Police Force according to global standards and enable them execute their duties adequately. Peace is of paramount importance and as we approach the festive periods and the election year, security of life and property must be ensured, and Nigerians should be able to trust the ability, capacity and responsiveness of security operatives. 

 It is also imperative that Government and law makers create and implement policies such as the devolution of power and creation of state Police as advocated by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo [1] at the Nigerian Security Summit to enable the security operatives and agencies perform their duties adequately. These policies must also cover permanent solutions to continuous herdsmen and farmers’ conflicts, porous borders and the unrelenting Boko Haram attacks in North-East Nigeria. 

Survey Methods

The Poll was conducted in the week commencing 7th May 2018. It involved telephone interviews of a random nationwide sample. 4,000 randomly selected phone-owning Nigerians aged 18 years and above, representing the six geopolitical zones in the country, were interviewed. With a sample of this size, we can say with 95% confidence that the results obtained are statistically precise - within a range of plus or minus 3%. NOIPolls Limited, No1 for country specific polling services in West Africa. We conduct periodic opinion polls and studies on various socio-economic and political issues in Nigeria. More information is available at www.noi-polls.com 

Disclaimer

This press release has been produced by NOIPolls Limited to provide information on all issues which form the subject matter of the document. Kindly note that while we are willing to share results from our polls with the general public, we only request that NOIPolls be acknowledged as author whenever and wherever our poll results are used, cited or published. 

NOIPolls hereby certifies that all the views expressed in this document accurately reflect its views of respondents surveyed for the poll, and background information is based on information from various sources that it believes are reliable; however, no representation is made that it is accurate or complete. Whilst reasonable care has been taken in preparing this document, no responsibility or liability is accepted for errors or fact or for any views expressed herein by NOIPolls for actions taken as a result of information provided in this report. Any ratings, forecasts, estimates, opinions or views herein constitute a judgment as at the date of this document. If the date of this document is not current, the views and content may not reflect NOIPolls’ current findings and/or thinking. 

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Email: editor@noi-polls.com

[1]This figure represents more than half the cases reported country-wide since May 2013

[2] http://www.acleddata.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/ACLED_Conflict-Trends-Report-No.55-February-2017_pdf..pdf

[3] https://www.proshareng.com/news/Nigeria%20Economy/The-Economic-Cost-of-Social-Insecurity-in-Nigeria/39430

[4] https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/249476-nigeria-remains-third-terrorised-country-boko-haram-killings-reduce-80.html

[5] http://hir.harvard.edu/article/?a=5711 

[6] http://dailypost.ng/2015/08/11/370000-policemen-to-170-million-nigerians-grossly-insufficient-lawmaker/