Has the pandemic produced a new type of security or are things just the same?
Examining the case of Nigeria
Chair: Martin Gill
Kabir Adamu, MSyI – ASIS International Abuja Chapter
Hon. Dauda Ageni – Nigerian Institute For Industrial Security
Buduka Julia Johnson – Association of Licensed Private Security Practitioners of Nigeria
Buduka Julia Johnson notes that attitudes to security have changed post pandemic as there is a sense that government has not been able to support the security sector. New threats have emerged as cyber security has taken on a new significance, and physical assaults including kidnappings have grown in prominence. Things need to improve but the security sector lacks funding to do this meaningfully. Buduka calls for a Board to be set up to regulate security incorporating its various stakeholders including the police and federal government representatives uniting behind a single policy. The security challenge in Nigeria is heightened because the pandemic has exposed inequalities where poverty has been commonplace in response to economic hardships that restricted the amount of work available.
Kabir Adamu notes that the first Covid case in Nigeria was identified in February 2020 and since then there have been over 167,000 confirmed cases, and over 2,100 deaths. This might sound low given the population but recording practices are not always good and the impact has been severe. Violence during lockdown increased, while the security sector had to adapt to new rules and new responsibilities, but it has shown its shortcomings in being less adept at responding to terrorism, gang violence and cyber fraud. Kabir agrees that the private security sector has been at the forefront, but it has the hard times have shown change is needed, standardisation is lacking, and the sector has to face the reality that some of the providers are not good enough. There is a lack of harmonisation of policies as well as pay rates, and there is a greater need to recognise security is a skill set which must be paid for. Security can play a role in engaging youth but it needs to present its case in a coordinated way, that is a major gap at present.
Dauda Ageni notes that the pandemic has changed the ways in which things are done, which he refers to as the good, the bad and the ugly. The good is finding that Zoom works which has reduced travel time and costs and generated other benefits. The bad is the wide variety of crime types that have increased, boko haram have been active, kidnappers have gained momentum such that movement across the country is difficult. The ugly refers to the lack of resources available, including for security such that people are fearful. He too calls for a new regulator who can generate standards, and institute relevant training specialised for purpose. This would facilitate better contact and collaboration with the police. He wants to avoid a situation where important strategic decisions are taken about security without an input from security representatives.
Nigeria is not alone in calling for better regulation. The lack of an effective regime, incorporating its key stakeholders and industry representatives is limiting. The role of the pandemic in exposing inequalities, and poverty, has brought the security sector into focus. The hope is that this will generate a rethink. That said the panel make an important point when they highlight the need for the security sector to take responsibility for leading the change and time is of the essence. We watch with interest and hope.
30th June, 2021