Chief Akande at the Oslo forum
Speeches

MIXED BLESSINGS FOR STABILITY IN NIGERIA: VIGILANTE IN NIGERIA

There had been two effective security arrangements in most parts of Nigeria. The traditional local volunteer hunters and the salaried conventional government’s military and para-military systems (i.e. the Army, the police etc). The traditional local volunteer hunters were most effective as forest guards, intelligence gatherers and fighters during the native authority days. The system dissipated when they feel preferred and replaced by the salaried conventional government’s military and paramilitary that are trained in the use of modern superior weapons. Unfortunately, the system of salaried conventional government’s military and paramilitary staffing, managements and deployments soon gave way to indolence, arm twisting and bribery taking and almost totally lapsed into ineffectiveness.

For reasons of poverty, since the advent of oil economy in Nigeria, some people accepted to be induced into something called ‘vigilante’ as self help protest groups against the oil explorers in the southern riverine area of Nigeria. It soon lapsed into kidnapping and extortion agents of the criminals called militants. This criminal system spread to the eastern states of Nigeria as Egbesu. In the western states, after the annulment of June 12, 1993 elections by the military authorities, Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) began; first as a protest group and later as security service provider for individual private and business homes. The system has no organised training but, as time went on, some of the operatives have access to illegal dangerous weapons which could conveniently be abused for criminal tendency.

When Boko Haram insurgency was becoming intensified and certain territories of Nigeria were being taken over as a separate Islamic state in the northeastern states of Nigeria, the partnership between the native ‘vigilante’ and military began. The vigilante group was founded in 2013 and comprising mostly youths, numbering over thirty six thousand (36,000) personnel. They were arranged as Civilians Joint Task Force (CJTF) by the state government in Borno to join the Nigeria’s security forces most of who are strange to the local terrain, culture and languages. It is a most expensive process. If care was not taken, such arrangements may get influenced by the unpatriotic habit of bribery and corruption of the salaried conventional government’s military and paramilitary staff. And the system would become weakened like the recently introduced well disciplined Road Safety staff that was now absorbed into the Nigerian police.

The ‘vigilante’ groups can only be needed because the salaried government’s military and paramilitary staff are strangers to the environment for which they are engaged. It is not always successful to police people whose culture, geography and language are strange unless you are out to dehumanize them. Until Nigeria is ready for community policing, the easiest way of improving the security challenge of the police is to allow indigenous youths to be trained to secure, at the grassroots levels, the community of their birth and upbringing the geography, language and tradition of which they are well conversant. After promotion above the supervisory level, they can move into the higher administration steps for larger national responsibilities.

Chief.Bisi Akande

At the 2019, Oslo forum