Nigeria: Poverty Eradication Is the Solution to Insecurity

opinion

By poverty eradication, I mean real poverty eradication targeted at the real poor, not the cosmetics that has been put up as poverty eradication since 1999. Both Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and APC have been guilty of channeling money to men and women in power without ever reaching the vulnerable poor. The mounting and galloping poverty escalation is clear evidence that the ruling elite have never really developed any real policies to grow the income and productivity of the poor. Indeed, the excruciating poverty in the country has called to question the claim by political leaders that they have been providing dividends of democracy for Nigerians since 1999. Such claims by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for 16 years and the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the past seven years are not backed by the reality on the ground. As many Nigerians on the streets or anyone who goes to the normal Nigerian markets and pays out of pocket would tell you, basic foodstuffs and other essentials are beyond the reach of most Nigerians.

Most Nigerians are sleeping with empty stomachs at night, while poverty like its 'twin brother' corruption are working on four legs and fueling insecurity all over the country. Here I am not going to be labor you with stories of insecurity that abound in our newspapers both online and offline as well as the social media. I don't want to talk about the bandits' attacks on Kaduna-Abuja train, or the razing of local government headquarters in Imo and Anambra states in South East Nigeria. I don't want to lament about the insecurity enveloping the country.

I prefer to talk about solutions. What the country needs most now are solutions to insecurity! First of all, I want to state un[1]equivocally that there is no justification for the predilection to violence that appears to have become a norm in our country. The opinion expressed hereunder does not in any way condone or justify insecurity under whatever guise. That said, we cannot extricate the present insecurity in the country from the endemic poor governance in Nigeria.

Poor governance of the country alongside widespread corruption in high places have put the resources of the country in the hands of a privileged few at the expense of the vast majority. The wealth of the country is therefore concentrated in the hands of less than one per[1]cent of the population, while the rest are barely surviving. The solution to this is the institution of good governance. If we have good governance that ensures that the wealth of the country reaches everyone through the provision of electricity, good roads, functional hospitals, access to education to all children irrespective of the circumstance of their birth, the security of the country can be guaranteed.

One is not saying that crime will be eradicated because even in the best of countries that have provided some of these facilities, we still get those doing drugs and other criminalities. However, no one can deny that if the amenities that the British, Americans and Chinese take for granted are made available in Nigeria, insecurity will not be this widespread. No one can dispute the nexus between poverty, illiteracy and insecurity. Northern Nigeria has the highest illiteracy rate as well as the highest number of out of school children in the country. It is not surprising that it has the highest rate of poverty and therefore the highest insecurity. The South is not immune to illiteracy and poverty that is why insecurity is also a big challenge in the region, even though the scale is not to the le[1]vel of Northern Nigeria.

The solution is to eradicate poverty by first educating the children and ensuring that they leave school with lifelong skills that ensure their productivity and assure their earning capacity. Educating all children and equipping them with skills can make their future more reassuring and secure, thus eliminating or reducing antisocial behaviour. The opportunistic elite who are sitting atop the wealth pyramid of the country share in the blame for the insecurity in the country. They have the wealth but they don't share it. That reminds me of the incident that happened recently where a driver drove his boss to Makurdi along with the boss' girlfriend. After the trip the boss gave his girlfriend newly minted two hundred and fifty thousand naira. The driver asked the boss to assist him with money to pay his children's school fees and the boss got upset. He retorted, "don't you receive salary?"

These are the kinds of attitude by the wealthy in the country that builds up resentment. A hungry man is an angry man and an angry man is a violent man. The criminals have become merciless when dealing with the people because criminals see themselves as victims of an un[1]just system while seeing the elites as the perpetrators of the un[1]just system. The wealthy must learn to support and build the poor and to create a beneficial Nigeria for everyone.

The neglect of the citizens' welfare which created the almajiri, area boys, cultists, and militants need to be addressed. The welfare of the ordinary Nigerian should be prioritized. The constitution of the country states that the welfare and security of the people shall be the essence of government. This is observed in breach by successive administrations since the 1999 constitution became the law of the land. To stem the insecurity tide, government at all levels should give more attention to the welfare of the people and less on government officials. We have to reduce the amount allocated in our budgets to service the greed of corrupt government officials and contractors to have more money to provide the dividends of democracy that could be accessible to all. It cannot be said enough. It therefore needs repeating that there is a need to decentralize the security architecture by bringing the police closer to the people in the form of state police.

The successes that the local vigilantes have had in containing criminality in their localities are pointer to the success that awaits the emergence of state police to con[1]front local security challenges. Finally, the country is not only at war with insurgents that want to turn the country to another Somalia where warlords have carved out territories for themselves, but also on ideological war with them. This means that the country needed a rejuvenated and reinvigorated National Orientation Agency (NOA) to counter their narrative that promotes violence and killings. The NOA should do more in enlightening the youths on patriotism and steer them away from actions that promote insecurity. Security of the country is everyone's business. Security of the country calls for our collective efforts. Let us stop too much lamentation over insecurity and do something about it. If you see something, say something!

Aluta Continua!

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