It is with utmost pleasure that I stand before you in honour of one of Nigeria's leading intellectuals, Journalist, author, Legal Practitioner and civil society Icon, Richard Akinnola, who turns 63 today.

I have been asked to present a paper of my choice, and following the mood of the nation, the near collapse of civil authority in the country, the recurring issue of national security is still in the front burner of national discourse. Consequently, my presentation is on “Security Challenges in Nigeria and its Implications for Sustainable Development”.


Security envisages a situation where measures are taken to protect the lives, property and infrastructure of citizens and the State from hostile actions and activities. It is a state of affairs that enables citizens in the society to live their normal lives in tranquility and safety without undue interference, threats or harm.

Security is thus, protection against all forms of harm with respect to the physical, economic, psychological and the wellbeing of people in a given environment.


"The security and welfare of the people is the primary purpose of government”, so says the Nigerian Constitution in its Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy (S.14(2)(b)).

Indeed this principle is of great antiquity and its purpose is a positive duty imposed on government at all levels to protect the people from violence and harm, while enhancing their welfare. It is usually expressed in the Latin maxim: SALUS POPULI SUPREMA LEX (“the safety of the people is the supreme law”). The principle envisages that any government that fails in this primary test of security and welfare of its citizens, loses the moral authority to govern. Such a government breaches and breaks the SOCIAL CONTRACT with the people and loses all legitimacy in the eyes of its citizens. Indeed, the reciprocal duties of the citizens to the government suffers a fundamental breach. 

“It shall be the duty of every citizen to -

(a) abide by this Constitution, respect its ideals and its institutions, the National Flag, the National Anthem, the National Pledge, and legitimate authorities; 

(e) render assistance to appropriate and lawful agencies in the maintenance of law and order. (S. 24, CFRN)

Indeed the doctrinal foundations of this principle was explored at the Common Law and by other great philosophers such as, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Rousseau and Thomas Paine. Indeed, one of the Fathers of American constitutionalism, James Madison, had written that "the protection" of "the faculties of men" and of "the rights property" to which these faculties give rise “is the first object of government."

Accordingly, the Constitution of the United States of America, 1787 which regulates the relationship between the federal and state governments and defines the sphere of influence of each tier of government contain provisions in support of the security responsibilities of government to the people.  

The duty and responsibility imposed by S.14(2)(b) of the Constitution derives from the fact that sovereignty resides with the people, and all governmental powers and authority is derived from the people.

Indeed the Constitution says in S. 14 -  “(1) The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice.

(2) It is hereby, accordingly, declared that -

(a) sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority;

(b) the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government; and

(c) the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution”.

Thus in Oyelaran I. Olaro of Oro Vs Olayioye, the Court of Appeal said: “…any government worth its calling must live up to the mandate and aspirations of the electorate, the owner of sovereignty in a democratic dispensation such as ours… A government at any level in the Nigerian Federation will be found wanting in its social and constitutional duty if it fails to provide the needed clement atmosphere where peace, progress, harmony and security will reign supreme. No electorate will desire and relish in an environment fraught with rift, rancour, upheavals, chaos and insecurity which may snowball into anarchy. Indeed, I believe that the maxim, Salus populi est suprema lex, the welfare of the people is the paramount law, as an ideal which every government in the Nigerian Sovereign State must strive to achieve.”


That security situation in virtually all parts of Nigeria poses a great challenge to policy makers is perhaps an understatement. The reasons are many:

i. Government failure or collapse of governmental institutions.

ii. Feeling of inequalities, marginalization, unfairness and injustice.

iii. Ethnic prejudices

iv. Religious conflicts

v. Weak or inadequate security system 

vi. Lack of appropriate equipment and Technology to fight insurgency and crime.

vii. Weak intelligence gathering mechanism

viii. Loss of Nigeria’s value system and weakening of traditional authorities

ix. Corruption

x. Porous Borders, including the fallouts of the ECOWAS Treaty on Free Movement of persons.

xi. Herders/farmers conflicts

xii. Rural/Urban drift

xiii. Cattle Rustling

xiv. Unemployment/Poverty

xv. Lack of access to education, Healthcare and welfare

xvi. Inequitable distribution of resources

xvii. Ransom payments for terrorism, banditry, and kidnapping etc

xviii. Civil wars in neighbouring countries e.g. Libya, Congo etc

xix. Influence of foreign terrorist groups like ISIS, ISWAP, Al Qaeda etc

xx. Lack of good governance 

xxi. Weak and inept leadership unable to unite the country for common purpose.

xxii. Parochial world view

xxiii. Economic challenges as a result of hostile business environment, weak foreign direct investment and fear of harm to personnel of businesses and foreign companies and weak productive base of the economy.

xxiv. Terrorism financing


Insecurity has been found to be a leading obstacle to sustainable development.

Sustainable development has been defined as “development which meets the need of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Brundtland Commission, UN 2010).

Most indices of development as are now encapsulated in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as ending poverty, ensuring food security, good health and well-being, inclusive and equitable education, gender equality and empowerment of women, availability and sustainable management of water, etc., are current national challenges. These have not been sufficiently achieved as far as we can see. The insecurity in Nigeria not only competes with actual development items for budgetary funding, it also distracts government from concentrating on strengthening our institutions, which in turn would ensure the attainment of these important Sustainable Development Goals. In the 2020 budget, 190.65 Billion Naira was allocated to security alone. A total of 212.32 Billion Naira have been allocated in the 2021 budget, an increment of 11.13%. Nigeria has one of the highest military budgets in Africa. The remote causes of insecurity must therefore be identified and tackled headlong if we are to succeed in our bid to achieve national growth, cohesion and development.

Development is one of the major goals of any government and it is unsustainable when the foundations are not strong enough to endure. The principle behind sustainability is to make life meaningful for all citizens.

Security and development are also related in the sense that being a public good, the imperative to maintain security competes with other public goods such as education, health and infrastructure for public funds. Expenditures on security are therefore an essential component of the development process. For instance, the use of resources to strengthen a country's security system could have been useful in other relevant areas. Insecurity therefore, becomes a drain on state and national resources at the expense of development and peoples' well being, thereby having adverse consequences on economic growth and development. Thus, in the absence of any real threats to security, expenditures on security can be reduced significantly, allowing national and state governments to channel more resources to other areas of need to improve the quality of life of the people. In addition, insecurity destroys existing infrastructure and also prevent an environment for the development of further infrastructure; and a safe environment for economic activities by individuals to give them economic empowerment that will enable households not only to cater for their present generations but also to provide for future generations.

One of the key underlying causes of insecurity is poverty. The BORGEN Magazine, a US based media house described Nigeria as ‘the poverty capital of the world’ in 2020. Similar indices such as the poverty rate of 40% published by the National Bureau of Statistics have also confirmed Nigeria’s unenviable position. The average Nigerian is poor, hungry, angry and frustrated. Unfortunately, Nigerians in this category outnumber others. This population in turn furnishes a feeling of disdain for the state and disenchantment towards  governance and development programmes that involve the participation of the people, creating a nationwide camp of potential terrorists, criminals and bandits.

Unemployment is another cause of insecurity. Crime is sometimes the product of an idle man’s brain. Unfortunately, Nigeria has seen a sharp increase in unemployment rates in recent years. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, total unemployment rate jumped from 10.44% in 2015 to 33.3% in 2020. Bloomberg has ranked Nigeria as second in unemployment in the whole world in 2021. These are indeed embarrassing figures.


Allow me to share with you some solutions I personally feel can help resolve our security challenges.

i. Appropriate Leadership: 

This is one of the most crucial requirements for vanquishing insecurity in our land. Chinua Achebe in his seminal work, THE TROUBLE WITH NIGERIA says: "The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership,” ... “There’s nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership,” he concluded.

Nigeria needs a leader that is versatile. One that has friends and associates across the length and breadth of this country.

A leader with a broad world view and not a parochial and provincial politician. We need an incorruptible leader who understands that the best way to fight corruption is by personal examples and also by the building of strong institutions that can withstand shocks and manipulations.

Nigeria needs a leader in tune with the times who is reasonably aware of the modern demands of technology in solving societal problems.

Yes, Nigeria needs a bridge builder. A compassionate leader, sensitive to the needs and aspirations of the poor and needy. A leader whose words count and can be counted on. Indeed, a leader with courage. An accountable leader who can be trusted to face the challenges of nationhood squarely without sentiments or pandering to interests that are inconsistent with national goals. A visionary leadership imbued with a sense of patriotism will go a long way in changing the narrative of insecurity in Nigeria. A leadership that is nationalistic and not tribalistic. A leadership that promotes national unity not disunity.

A leader required by Nigeria is one that will regard Nigeria as his constituency, not his State, tribe, religion or region. A leadership that inspires the nation to achieve greatness. A leadership that galvanises, mobilises and directs Nigerians on the path to sustainable peace, progress and development. Such a leader will not regard any part of the country as conquered people.

A leader with these qualities will reach out to all and sundry and ensure that insecurity ravaging the country is put to flight. There is no short cut or magic wand to curtail insecurity other than the deployment of relevant tools of good governance, proper technology, necessary military and police equipment, a well trained and properly remunerated manpower, and lowering of tensions in the country through enthronement of a government that serves all and not a section and group. A leader smart enough to realise the imperatives of restructuring our security and governance structure. 

Finding such a leader is a task for all and I challenge you all today to find and support such a leader in 2023 so that Nigeria can begin the long walk back to peace, security and prosperity for all her citizens.

ii. Good Governance is yet another major panacea for curbing insecurity in Nigeria. This requires that Government at all levels must take deliberate steps to ensure good and accountable governance that focuses on the needs of the people.

iii. Socio-Economic Development factor is also key to peace and security.

Examples and researches have shown that with good governance and strong institutions, most people are less likely to become enemies of the state, or embrace crime when they can see development and opportunities.

iv. Elimination of corruption and entrenchment of social and economic justice, is yet another. Corruption gives rise to both social and economic problems. It is one of the major causes of inequality and inequitable distribution of wealth among the people. This leads to dissatisfaction, frustration and consequently agitations that lead to insecurity.

The war against corruption must be fought with various tools.

When the PDP Government created the EFCC and ICPC from the Nigeria Police Force, it was envisaged to be an answer to the menace of corruption since the agencies were expected to concentrate their activities solely on fighting corruption and especially economic crimes. 

A plethora of court cases ensued as to the constitutionality or otherwise of these agencies, which were designed to cover the field with respect to not just the Federal Government and its agencies but also the States and Local Governments. In Attorney General of Ondo State V Attorney General of the Federation (2002), it was argued that in a federation, an agency of the federal government should not investigate or prosecute officials and agencies of States and Local Governments. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of these agencies, anchoring its decision on the provision contained in S.15(5) of the Fundamental Objectives and Directive  Principles of State Policy which says that: “The State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power”. The apex Court further relied on item 60(a) of the Exclusive Legislative List of the Federal Government which gives Legislative Power to the National Assembly for: “the establishment and regulation of authorities for the federation or any part thereof – (a) to promote and enforce the observance of the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles contained in the Constitution".

The point being made is that the Court bent over backwards to validate the ICPC Act as a policy decision to check the cankerworm of corruption which causes insecurity in the country. If money voted to acquire military or police hardware to fight the war on insurgency and general insecurity is stolen through corrupt practices, it has a decisive negative effect on the security situation in the country.

v. An ethical revolution involving fundamental shifts in our value system is also absolutely necessary to secure our country. A situation where ill-gotten wealth is celebrated by society leads to a culture of desperation and winning at all costs. This may lead the youths in particular to crime, such as kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery, cybercrimes and the like. A change in value system that rewards hard work, honesty, diligence and trustworthiness will lead to a better and crime free society.

vi. The Role of the Government:

To overcome insecurity, there is 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. 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 improve the performance of the security personnel, it must, more than ever before, recognise the need to devote more attention to security intelligence, capacity building to meet global best practices.

vii. There is also the need to modernise the security agencies with training, intelligence sharing, advanced technology, logistics, motivation and change of orientation by security personnel. This effort will enhance the operational capabilities of the Nigerian security agencies, enabling them respond appropriately to internal security challenges and other threats. In addition, there should be a complete overhaul of the security institutions in the country to reflect international standards of best practices that aims at pre-empting these security breaches. There should be an institutionalised approach rather than the episodic and reactive response adopted by  government in the aftermath of attacks. 

viii. Synergy among Law enforcement and the role of the Judiciary: The need for security coordination and cooperation across and among security agencies is of paramount importance. Furthermore, the prosecuting Agencies of State and the Judiciary must prioritise issues of national security. Prosecutorial Malpractice, incompetence and inordinate delay in prosecution and adjudication weakens the fight against crime.

ix. The role of civil society: There is need to involve members of the civil society in security management. They play the roles of critics, catalysts and advocates. They raise public awareness of the excesses of the security agencies, human rights abuses and most times engage and hold Governments and stake holders to account.

x. The role of religious groups: Time has come for adherents of our main religions to deliberately ensure religious harmony and peaceful co-existence without which insecurity will continue to ravage the land.

xi. The role of Communities: The community is where most Nigerians reside.  And crime must be fought at this level, if we are to achieve success. Traditional rulers and our old and time tested security mechanisms must be activated at the community level. To this extent,  many State Governments have passed legislation requiring landlords and various community associations to adopt the KNOW THY NEIGHBOUR POLICIES. This ensures that any new stranger that enters a community is tracked and monitored. 


To achieve our goals, it will be necessary to review our security architecture.


In a democracy, the Police Force is the major instrument for the security of lives and property. Thus the CFRN establishes the Nigeria Police Force in S.214. The Constitution provides that “no other Police Force shall be established for the federation or any part thereof”.

The Constitution vests the command of the Police force in the Inspector-General of Police, and not in the President, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. Mr. President has ultimate command only with respect to the Armed Forces. 

With respect to the maintenance of Public Order and Public Security, both Mr. President and the Governors have roles to play with respect to their spheres of influence or territory. (S.215(3) & (4) CFRN.

S.215 (3) provides that: “The President or such other Minister of the Government of the Federation as he may authorise in that behalf may give to the Inspector-General of Police such lawful directions with respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order as he may consider necessary, and the Inspector-General of Police shall comply with those directions or cause them to be complied with.”

(4) “Subject to the provisions of this section, the Governor of a State or such Commissioner of the Government of the State as he may authorise in that behalf, may give to the Commissioner of Police of that State such lawful directions with respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order within the State as he may consider necessary, and the Commissioner of Police shall comply with those directions or cause them to be complied with Provided that before carrying out any such directions under the foregoing provisions of this subsection the Commissioner of Police may request that the matter be referred to the President or such Minister of the Government of the Federation as may be authorised in that behalf by the President for his directions.”

In the exercise of security powers, cooperation and not supremacy or flexing of muscles should be the watchword. Indeed where lives, property and wellbeing of Nigerians are in issue, there is really no room for partisanship or turf wars.


Unlike the 1979 Constitution, the 1999 Constitution re-establishes the Nigeria Police Council in the Third Schedule, Part 1, Item L of the Constitution.

Sections 27 and 28 of Item L provides:

"27. The Nigeria Police Council shall comprise the following

members –

(a) the President who shall be the Chairman;

(b) the Governor of each state of the Federation;

(c) the Chairman of the Police Service Commission; and

(d) the Inspector-General of Police.”

"28. The functions of the Nigeria Police Council shall include -

(a) the organisation and administration of the Nigeria Police Force and all other matters relating thereto (not being matters relating to the use and operational control of the Force or the appointment, disciplinary control and dismissal of members of the Force);

(b) the general supervision of the Nigeria Police Force; and

(c) advising the President on the appointment of the Inspector-General of police.”

Indeed the Nigeria Police Council has not been playing its constitutionally assigned role perfectly. The council has very wide powers and in a federation, the federating States could use their membership of the Council to drive reforms in the sector. Indeed the Nigeria Police Act, 2020, for the first time sought to operationalise the NPC.

However, the Constitution specifically exempts the NPC from operational duties of the Police Force as this is the sole responsibility of the I-G of Police. However, the NPC has supervisory authority over the entire Police Force.

It is also obligatory for Mr. President to consult the Nigeria Police Council before appointing or removing the IG of Police (S.216(2) Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN).


The Third Schedule, Part 1, Item M – establishes the Police Service Commission as follows:

S. 29. “The Police Service Commission shall comprise the following members –

(a) a Chairman; and

(b) such number of other persons, not less than seven but not more than nine, as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.”

S. 30. “The Commission shall have power to –

(a) appoint persons to offices (other than the office of the Inspector-General of Police) in the Nigeria Police Force; and

(b) dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over persons holding any office referred to in subparagraph (a) of this paragraph.”

Other Security Agencies in Nigeria include:

D. THE STATE SECURITY SERVICE (DSS) whose functions include:

a. Protecting the country against various internal security threats.

b. Law enforcement

c. Counter-intelligence, counter terrorism and security surveillance duties

d. Protection of senior government officials


They are responsible for foreign intelligence and counter intelligence operations in Ngieria.


They are mainly responsible for obtaining military intelligence for the Nigerian Armed Forces and the Ministry of Defence.

G. NIGERIA SECURITY AND CIVIL DEFENCE CORPS (NSCDC) is a paramilitary and Security agency responsible for providing measures against attack or disaster against the nation and her citizens; protection against pipelines and other national assets from vandalism, among others. 


The Constitution establishes the Nigerian Armed Forces, comprising of an Army, Navy, Airforce and such other branches of the Armed Forces of the Federation as may be established by an Act of the National Assembly. S.217(1) CFRN). Their functions are provided for  in S.217(2)(a)-(d), CFRN:

"(2) The Federation shall, subject to an Act of the National Assembly made in that behalf, equip and maintain the armed forces as may be considered adequate and effective for the purpose of -

(a) defending Nigeria from external aggression;

(b) maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea or air;

(c) suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the president, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly; and

(d) performing such other functions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly."

It is Mr. President that has powers to determine the operational use of the Armed Forces of the Federation as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. (S.218(1)).

This is however, subject to the powers of the National Assembly to make laws for the regulation of the powers exercisable by Mr. President as C-In-C.

It is only by virtue of S. 217(2)(c) earlier stated that the Military can get involved in normal policing in a democracy such as Nigeria's. However, in Nigeria of today, the Military is deployed in virtually every State of the Federation on a permanent basis. This shows that Nigeria is effectively IN A PERMANENT STATE OF EMERGENCY, even though not formally declared.

There is a crying need therefore, to adequately equip and man the Nigeria Police Force to play its constitutionally assigned responsibilities.

It should be noted that there is only one Armed Forces set up for the Federation. No State has powers to set up any branch of the Armed Forces. It is an exclusive federal subject as shown by Item 17 (Defence) and Item 38 ( Military) in the Exclusive Legislative List.

I. NIGERIA IMMIGRATION SERVICE ETC.  They play a major role in securing our borders and checking the influx of illegal migration and emigration to and from Nigeria. The Federal Government should support the Service with adequate funding, skilled manpower, adequate technology and other necessary tools to perform their responsibilities, as their role is critical in securing the country.

J . The office of the NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER (NSA) is also relevant for coordination of some security Agencies of government on behalf of Mr. President. I have contended elsewhere, and I so repeat here, that the office of the NSA should be elevated in the Constitution to Cabinet rank because of the nature of his duties. He shouldn't be outranked by other Defence officials of state.


After reviewing extant constitutional provisions, it is clear that the main coercive forces of the nation is controlled by the Federal Government, ranging  from Arms and Ammunition, to Defence, to the Police, to the Armed Forces and other earlier named security agencies.

The State Governments are a fully autonomous tier of government complete with Executive, Legislative and judicial powers. They have primary jurisdiction for the lives and property of all citizens within their domain. Apart from the limited authority granted by the Constitution to the Governor on issues of Public Order and Public Security, the plenitude of most of the powers lie in the hands of the Federal Government.

This state of affairs have made it difficult to detect and control crime, criminality, banditry, kidnapping, terrorism and armed robbery in various States. The State Governments are sometimes hamstrung in dealing decisively and timeously on security matters.

Lives and property can be better and more effectively secured by people closer to the grassroots. Hence, the clamour for some form of State policing or constitutional decentralisation of Police powers. There is a near consensus on this across the country. But the form it should take and the details have not been properly interrogated. Some advocate for a federal police, and a State police working side by side, with clearly delineated and defined responsibilities. Others argue for a highly decentralised federal police structure, where State Governors would appoint or dismiss when appropriate, Commissioners of Police in their respective states who report to them, among other provisions.

A National Conference on policing and security involving all stakeholders have become imperative to flesh out the constitutional questions involved.

But before we reach there, States can through creative administrative engineering play a decisive role in the security of lives and property in their various States. Many States have set up neighbourhood Watch Agencies, Forest Guards, Vigilante services, OMOTEKUN, EBUBE AGU, HISBAH and other like Agencies to meet the security need of various communities for grassroots or community based policing. 

The current initiative of the Nigeria Police Force, on Community Policing should be strengthened.

In Sokoto State, we are struggling to develop synergy between the local communities and Federal Security Agencies. Furthermore, only last week, we set up a Committee to tackle security challenges in the State, headed by no less a personality than His Eminence, Sa’ad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto. We have routinely provided some funding and equipment such as vehicles, some security equipment and operational support to the Federal  security agencies. And many more. Indeed in Nigeria today almost all the State governments spend a significant part of their budget on the equipment and operational needs of the Security agencies, even when they do not have operational control.


It bears repeating to once again congratulate the celebrant, Richard Akinnola and urge him to continue his good works for the benefit of Nigerians and mankind. For as John Wesley said: 

"Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can."

It is my submission that Nigerians can still unite for the common good. Nigerians can still live together and strive for nationhood. A nation built on not just equality of opportunities but love for one another. Being each other's keeper. A caring and compassionate nation is still possible. We must build a country where no man or woman, group or section is oppressed. A nation where your tribe, tongue or religion wouldn't matter. We must build a nation that rewards talent and innovation and also ensures that no one or group is left behind. I believe strongly that we have the capacity and ability to vanquish all centrifugal forces that divide us. I leave you with the  parting words of Nelson Mandela, one of the greatest gifts of Africa to the world and whose conduct in office is recommended for Nigerian leaders: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

Thank you for your patience and may God bless you all and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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