THE IMPACT OF SECURITY ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF RIVERS STATE OF NIGERIA

Everywhere in Nigeria today, security remains the most topical issue on the lips of the citizenry. Many are yet to come to terms with the concept, nature and scope of security in economic growth and development. But, that believe security is a necessary paradox, providing platforms to support and legitimize repressive state powers in one side and instruments for maintaining law and order in society in the other.

Security is life and life is security. Security is at the core of human existence, human development and human living and important in human living standard. Security is also the pillar of wealth creation and value preservation. “From the stone age man to the computer age man, man’s progress and development has been contingent on his ability to safeguard things of value”, Ollorwi (2009).

Any modern society cannot be seriously addressing the issue of development if such consideration is not based on the foundation of adequate security. The concept of security implies to be secure from war and terrorism, crime, pandemics, want, fear, and environmental damage. It measures the absence of threats to acquired values and the absence of fear that such values will be attacked, (Lack 1997). Security, law and order are the major preoccupation of any government. Once a government gets this priority right, it has made the very first right step. Development of such a concept on which other development critically depends requires collation, collaboration, cooperation, coordination, vision, foresight, long range planning, consistency and continuity. In other words, security is an imperative for any community, any society, and indeed, any nation’s development.

The villagisation of the globe has further made security an all-important desideratum for all peoples and nations. Regrettably, poverty, ignorance, illiteracy, marginalization, unemployment, oppression and the likes have continued to fuel insecurity in Nigeria and slow, or do I say, hunt economic growth and development?

Questioning the object of security in human endeavors, (economic-growth and development) leads inexorably to questioning the exclusive focus on the threat, use, and control of military force. Such exercises have led to the killing, maiming, and incarceration of many freedom fighters and activists in the past and present Nigeria. The widespread human-rights abuse of the late General Sani Abacha, who served as the de facto President of Nigeria from 1993 to 1998 is still fresh in our memory.

Rivers State

Rivers State is the hub of the oil industry in Nigeria and very rich in hydrocarbons, from which the nation derives its major revenue. Sadly, the state is confronted with security challenges, especially illegal oil bunkering, pipeline vandalism, terrorism, piracy, kidnapping, armed robbery, cultism, militancy, etc. The consequences of insecurity in any given society are usually disastrous. Apart from the aforementioned crimes, Rivers State is presently beset with a different array of political, communal, and criminal issues, including cultism and gang-related violence, protests and gang war.

The strategic importance of Rivers State in the socio-economic and political future of Nigeria cannot be over-emphasized. Apart from evolving as the oil and gas nerve-center of Nigeria over the years, the State has to its credit a growing population of about 5.1 million (the sixth most populous state in the country) and an impressive GDP of over 21.07 billion USD – which is bigger than that of most African countries, including Botswana, Rwanda, Namibia, Lesotho, etc.

Impact of 2015 General Elections in Rivers State

The enviable economic and socio-political scorecard of Rivers State has made electable positions in the state more attractive. And because elections in Nigeria determine who controls and allocates resources coupled with the strategic nature of Rivers State in the socio-political and economic calculus of the country, security impacts greatly on election processes of the State more compare to other States of the federation.

Therefore, one need not be surprised by the political intrigues and maneuvers currently going on in order to capture the soul of the state. But, I must add that the use of violence or political bullying to achieve this, is corruption and its consequences are detrimental to development of the State.

The State was a pivotal state in the 2015 general elections and experienced elevated levels of election-related tension and violence throughout 2014. Over a year now after the general elections in the country politically-induced violence is yet to abate in the State. Instead, subsequent remediation elections are tagged “inconclusive”. However, results of these cancelled/inconclusive elections are presently being cooked up for release; perhaps to prevent further violence and bloodshed, (sic)?

Elections are meant to be one of the democratic processes of electing leaders at all branches and levels of governance in the society; but, in Nigeria, elections have posed more security threats to the corporate existence of the country and widened the gaps among the citizenry. Election violence and unnecessary waste of scarce resources arising from election litigations in the country are lamentable. The Independent Electoral Commission’s Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu recently declared that conducting elections in the country comes with so much trouble of litigation. He said INEC “had been taken to Court 680 times by litigants over the last general elections”.

The Rivers State Governor, Chief Barrister Nyesum Ezenwo Wike, CON envisioned a State that is secured, safe and peaceful. This, the administration intends to achieve through collaboration with the Federal Government, the security agencies and all stakeholders to combat crime and guarantee the safety and security of lives and property in the State. Lofty goals and good intensions anticipated to transform and reposition the security and development of Rivers State.

But, let it be pointed out here that these goals are achievable only within the framework of well refined national and international security arrangements, since no community is an island in the current global village.

Besides, the development in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) make nonsense of the idea of Rivers State embarking on wholesome security under the present unitary system wherein power at the center is not separated and devolve among the three arms of government – the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary – but concentrated not also in an institution but in an individual – Mr. President. Secondly, the resources that the State can devote to security in the face of increasing social needs are increasingly diminishing to the point where there is no alternative than reliance on federal government who determines what resources comes to the state at any point in time.

Again, the dwindling future of the State finances arising from the current national economic crisis that has reduced federal allocation to the lowest in recent times; depleting internally generated revenue caused by inability of numerous taxpayers (corporates and individuals) to meet their social obligations to the State combined to frustrate development efforts, as security continue to feed fat on available scare resources.

The human and physical development we are seeing today in the State is the extra efforts of a Governor determined to deliver dividends of democracy to his people.

For states of the federation to provide security and develop at its own pace, they must be given commiserate powers and allow to develop natural resources within their domain and create the necessary infrastructure that would attract investors. The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode make a point on Thursday 24th August, 2016 in Kaduna at the 4th Progressives Governors Lecture organized by the All Progressives Congress (APC), when he said that State Governors be allowed “to develop their potentials; to unbundle the potentials of each state; take the comparative advantage of each state and fuse them together for the needs of our people”. This also would necessitate national restructuring, dismantle obnoxious laws such as the Land Use Decree of 1978, Pipeline Act CAP 145 Vol. VI of 1958, Mineral Act of 1990, Exclusive Economic Zone Act of 1978 (and many others), and enact appropriate legislations to enable the states own both the land and natural resources in their lands and waters.

The lopsided unitary system that operates in Nigeria is the cause of our problem. It is a curb in the wheel of individual state’s development efforts.

Without a genuine commitment to true federalism and democracy security will continue to rob development of vital resources. Besides, the Nigeria political classes who control and allocate the resources respect no rules but those of power, its indiscriminate and unconstitutional application, which is already degenerating to a monstrous absurdity. The process of nation-building is being halted as politics has assumed the winner-take all syndromes, as demonstrated by the political appointments and development projects distribution national standard formula of 92% north and 5% south.

Back home, the incident of 17th August, 2016, in which the Police and DSS sealed up the Shark Stadium venue of the People’s Democratic Party’s National Convention due to conflicting courts judgments won’t have occurred if State Police was functional. Therefore, it is time we sit together and amicably restructure Nigeria either along regional autonomy or natural boundaries. Each State must be allowed to be in charge of its police and other functions as practiced in the USA and UK from where we copy almost everything.

Costs and Impacts of Insecurity

The socio-political and economic landscape in Nigeria has been blighted by the endemic twin evil of crime and violence. The abysmal failure of successive administrations in the State to address challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequitable distribution of wealth among the different nationalities that constitute Rivers State, ultimately resulted to anger, agitation and violent crimes against the State and the nation by some individuals and groups. Such crimes as earlier mentioned include militancy, kidnapping, armed robbery, bombing, destruction of government properties, among others.

The activities of various militia groups consequently resulted in low income for government from oil revenue, moderating the Gross Domestic Product growth rate, low participation of local and foreign investors in economic development and insecurity of lives and properties of the citizens. Since the last four years, there has been a dramatic twist on the wave, dynamics and sophistication of insecurity in Rivers State in particular and Nigeria in general. Insecurity which used to be one of the lowest concerns in the hierarchy of our social problems has now assumed an alarming proportion. A time we thought that corruption and power failure have the crown of our problems, insecurity in the country has now taken the front seat. However, those that believe insecurity in the State is an exclusive reserve of a particular nationality are not in tune with the current realities on ground. The pattern of criminality in Rivers State has been zoned: militancy and piracy in Rivers West Senatorial Zone, kidnapping in Rivers South-East Senatorial Zone and ritual killing in Rivers East Senatorial Zone, illegal oil bunkering, cultism, armed robbery, political and non-political assassinations across the State. The zonal structure of insecurity has also given rise to unlegislated security formations in all the villages, towns and communities in the State in a bid to curtail the alarming rate of insecurity. At the national level, the frequent occurrence of bomb explosions, orchestrated by the acclaimed religious extremists in the northern part of the country, has assumed a worrisome dimension. An estimated number of over 30,000 lives have been lost to bomb explosion and other violence from 2010 till date. According to security information released by Nigerian Institute of Security, a frontline security institution, between March and December 2012, there were a total of 156 successful explosions in the country which claimed several lives. On the 20th of August, 2016, Daily Post, an online news media quoted Ambassador Ahmed Shehu the Chairman and Executive Director of Network of Civil Society Organization (NECSO) as saying that 23,000 people were killed, and 2.2 million displaced in Borno State alone.

In fact, I agreed completely with the Former Head of State General Abdulsalami Abubakar when he said that there was no need for national security threats to arise from Boko Haram, Niger Delta Avengers and Biafra agitators currently threatening the peace of the country Thus, the inability of the security agencies to address the country’s security challenges during these inauspicious periods raised yet another critical question on the preparedness of Nigeria to attain desired political, social and economic heights in the year 2020. It further poses serious threats to the unity and corporate existence of Nigeria as a sovereign state. Therefore, addressing the security challenges in Nigeria ultimately requires not only the identification of the causes of threats but also a critical evaluation of the performance of security agencies in handling the situation in Nigeria. These security agencies include:

  • National Security Agency (NSA)
  • National Intelligence Agency (NIA)
  • Department of State Services (DSS)
  • Nigeria Police Force (NPF)
  • Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps
  • Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS)
  • Nigeria Customs Service (NCS)
  • National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA)
  • Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Moreover, the cost of life and material resources lost to insecurity in the country since the past few years is unquantifiable. According to News24, a Nigerian online news outfit, “The real estimate of Nigerians killed since the onset of the Boko Haram crises in 2011 is over 100,000; and the figure is conservative.” Between 2009 and 2012, about 2,800 lives were lost to militia insurgency; within the first nine months in 2012, 815 people were killed in 275 suspected attacks, and more than 60 police stations were attacked in 10 northern states, excluding the bombed police headquarters and UN office in Abuja. Tens of dozen are still nursing various degrees of injuries. In 2014 over 6,600 people lost their lives to Boko Haram attacks. In the first three months of 2015, 1,600 lives were lost. The data base of orphans and widows caused by the rampaging sects has grown massively. Money from some international organizations and funds raised locally from governmental, non-governmental agencies, charitable organizations and individuals which is supposed to be channeled to human capital development has been deployed for the rehabilitation of families of the casualties and the renovation of properties destroyed. Yearly, unspecified millions of Naira is being paid as ransom for the release of victims of kidnappers; not forgetting the Central Bank of Nigeria’s ₦100 million cash donation, the ₦200 million donation from the combined effort of the opposition governors, and the $50, 000 from the Christian Association of Nigeria, America chapter, to reduce the suffering of the victims of regional militia. The cost of insecurity in Nigeria could also be seen on the percentage of annual budget allocated to security agencies on yearly basis. Infrastructure and human capital development are almost foregone alternatives; hence, capital expenditure is struggling from the rear.
  • Although  the  achievement  of  total  or  absolute  security would  be  an  exercise  in  futility as no country in the world is an alien to insecurity. The contemporary security challenges in the country have not only raised critical questions bordering on formulation and implementation of Nigeria’s internal    security policies, but also the recruitment and effectiveness of the security agents to perform their statutory responsibilities within the framework of true federalism.

Figure 1: Weight of Insecurity on Nigeria National Budget 2009 to 2016

S/No Year Budget (N Trillion) Allocation to Security (N Billion) % On Budget
1 2016 6,060 965 16
2 2015 4,493 643 14
3 2014 4,964 968 20
4 2013 4,987 668 13
5 2012 4,888 922 19
6 2011 4,972 1,040 21
7 2010 4,239 448 11
8 2009 3,049 176 6

Figure 2: Percentage Weight of Insecurity on Nigeria National Budget 2009 to 2016

 

 

Figure 3: Cost of Security on Nigeria Annual Budget 2009 to 2016

 

 

As Nigeria struggles with the army of unemployed youth of over 25%; companies in their numbers are closing down operations in the country and relocating to other African countries for fear of loss of lives and properties. The few remaining companies are operating on skeletal bases.

In May, the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics reported that another 1.5 Nigerians became unemployed in 2016, worsening the already congested labour market and increasing the level of poverty, hardship and sufferings in the land.

Within the past few weeks SPDC has declared Force Majeure twice. A top management staff of a manufacturing company disclosed that their production plant in Port Harcourt, which in recent past operated three times a week, now operates once a month because of fear of insecurity.

Construction workers and expatriates providing specialized services on various projects in the State had fled the region. This development has multiplied the number of unemployed youths roaming the streets and has become an easy tool for violence. This scenario has not only deepened the existing unemployment rate but also paints a gloomy picture of poverty and pains.

The activities of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDAs) have brought oil production in the region to a 20-year low. The group onslaught began on 10th February, 2016, when it carried out coordinated attacks on the SPDC Bonny Soku Gas Export Line which is one of the country’s Gas Exporting Platforms in Rivers State.

Not relenting, the avengers bombed the SPDC’s vital underwater Forcados 48-inch Export Pipeline. On the same day, they blew up the Clough Creek Tebidaba Agip Pipeline Manifold in Bayelsa State.

In May this year, the group also attack the Chevron Valve Platform located at Abiteye, a Chevron Offshore Platform.

On June 2nd, 2016, the avengers blew up two major oil wells located at Dibi in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State. The Oil Wells are RMP 23 and RMP 24 belonging to Chevron Nigeria Limited.

The impacts of these attacks are glaring. Nigeria is in trouble. Nigeria is broke. As the Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu narrated, “Nigeria budgeted for production of 2.2 million barrels per day but the attacks have cut output to 1.4 million barrels per day”. Besides, the vandalization of pipelines worsens the environment in the region. There is going to be iron in the water, which would affect fish farming and aquaculture. The air quality would also be altered. There is also going to be a lot of hydrocarbon in the air, which would affect baseline studies of air.

At the 2016 Annual Conference of National Association of Energy Correspondents, in Lagos on Thursday 18th August, 2016, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu disclosed that Nigeria recorded 1, 600 cases of pipeline vandalism since January. He further revealed that the country recorded over 3,000 pipeline vandalism cases from 2010 to 2015. The impact of these attacks on oil and gas pipelines, he pointed out “was that there was no money to fund the 2016 budget.

The militancy in the Niger Delta was said to destabilize the country’s oil industry. According to the Minister, Nigeria needed to increase its production by 1.1 million barrels per day to meet its target. While vandals wreak havoc on oil facilities and cripple local production, over supply of product in the market is affecting prices and creating shocks to the economy.

Kachikwu said that about 850 million standard cubic feet of gas production had been lost from crises and power outage exposure of 2,700 MW to 3,000MW.

There is urgent need to draw global attention to the needs of youths in the Niger Delta in the face of failing programmes of the federal government of Nigeria (FGN) to placate them. The government must get the youths to be productive, to channel their energies in the right direction.

The security situation in the Nigeria’s northeastern States of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa is impacting negatively on Rivers State. Education they say is the bedrock of social economic development. The Islamic militants have serially attacked students and facilities in educational institutions in different northern states of the country over time, a lot of schools have closed down their academic activities. This drastically impacted the teaming number of students seeking admission into academic institutions at all levels. Most of these citizens desirous of acquiring education now relocate to Rivers State to seek admission into the few available institutions in the State. This has made the process of admission into these institutions more competitive and expensive. It is also one of the reasons our institutions are overcrowded nowadays. Again, some students posted to participate in the compulsory one year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme in northern part of the country are known to have redeployed to Rivers State immediately after three weeks of mandatory camping. This development also put pressure on security of the State and corporate organizations operating in the State that have to absorb more youth corps members than is necessary. This also negates the purpose of setting up the NYSC through the NYSC Decree No 24 of 22nd May, 1973 (as amended by CAP No. 84 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004).

 

On the other hand, the activities of the Niger Delta militants have also enveloped the State in fear and worry. The street cults in Rivers State are impacting educational institutions in different parts of the state negatively. For instance, in 2014 gangsters from Ogn sacked Ekporo community in Eleme LGA in what can be described as commando like operation, all private and public buildings in the community were burnt down and the place rendered desolate till today. In Etche, Emouha, Tobia, Omoku, Ogbakiri, B-Dere, K-Dere, to mention a few, it is the same story.

 

Over time, a lot of Primary and Secondary Schools in the State have shut down their academic programmes. This has drastically impacted the teaming number of students seeking admission into primary and secondary school in the State. Both Private and Public Schools in Rivers State that are known for turning down admission of students because of quality and to avoid overcrowding of facility, now solicits for admission through deferent media outreaches. To worsen matters, parents and guardians are also showing reluctance to send their children to Schools in the State for fear of being kidnapped or killed by flying bullets. The growth of foreign direct investment in tourism sector had been adversely affected as some immigration departments of countries in Europe and America have issued warnings to their citizens who wish to visit Nigeria to be aware of the security problem in the country.

On August 3rd 2016, the Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to 20 Nigerian States and recommends that U.S. citizens avoid all travel to Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states because the security situation in northeast Nigeria remains fluid and unpredictable.

The US went further to recommends against all but essential travel to the following states due to the risk of kidnappings, robberies, and other armed attacks:  Bauchi, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Niger, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, and Zamfara.

Few days later, in the same vein, the United Kingdom High Commission in Nigeria has also warned its citizens against travelling to 16 states in the country for security reasons. The mission advised its citizens against travel to Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, and Kano city. Others are riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River and within 20km of the border with Niger in Zamfara State.

Although Federal Government of Nigeria through Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture was quick to frown at the Western world description of Nigeria as unsafe, that changed nothing. Insurgency, militancy, cultism, terrorism and gang war perpetuated by pirates, warlords, terrorists, guerrillas, criminal organizations, tribal bandits, and terrorists have reduced our villages, towns and communities to theater of violence.

China Achebe (2012) posited in his book, “There Was A Country” that “Economic deprivation and corruption produce and exacerbate financial and social inequalities in a population, which in turn fuel political instability. Within this environment”, he argued, “Extremists of all kinds – particularly religious zealots and other …mischief makers – find a foothold to recruit supporters and sympathizers to help them launch terrorist attacks and wreak havoc in the lives of ordinary citizens”.

Worse still, the Federal Government of Nigeria has always tolerated terrorism. Over the years, the government has turned a blind eye to waves of ferocious and savage massacres of its citizens with impunity. Even in cases where their hands were found dripping in blood, the perpetrators have many a time evaded capture and punishment. The county has been doomed to witness endless cycles of inter-ethnic, inter-religious violence and gang war because the government has failed woefully to enforce laws protecting its citizens from wanton violence.

Whatever diverts resources from development constitutes national security threats. Actions and inactions that put undue pressures on security resources disinvest the economy and rob the nation of resources for quality development. Besides, I ask, why is “security vote” unaccounted for at all levels of government in Nigeria? This is the reason why President Muhammadu Buhari deserves commendation for fighting corruption head-on, even though more deserved to be done to convince Nigerians and the international community that the war against corruption is not selective and directed against perceived enemies. The President should take the war against corruption a step further by creating a structure and process to ensure that the national drainpipe called “security vote” is made truly transparent and accountable as well.

The “Dasukigate” is a tip of the iceberg of national waste in the name of security vote; and how a group of people entrusted with the management of national resources can rob the nation dry and frustrate development.

Corruption is a major security challenge in Nigeria and an impediment to development. Have we ever considered the billions of Naira plundered annually by federal law-makers through another waste channel known as “Constituency Projects”. Where are the projects? They exist only on papers! North, South, East and West, the story is the same. It is rather unfortunate that 56 years after independence, our leaders do not know whether the country should go.

Not only did insecurity affect foreign direct investment, it also affects business confidence as many companies lost confidence in establishing businesses in the affected place. It is rather unfortunate that Port Harcourt which accounted for 50% of alternative business destinations in Nigeria in 2013 is today listed among the most dangerous destination in Nigeria.

As security situation nationwide becomes more worrisome, our respect in the eyes of global community is diminishing. It engenders stiffer conditions in bilateral relations. If urgent steps are not taken to address this ugly trend, it will negatively affect all the indices of development and the quest for millennium development goal, and vision 2020 will be a mirage.

Just yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari sent a Bill to the National Assembly seeking Emergency Powers to stimulate the economy or tackle the economic crisis, as he put it. The basic aims of the action plan on the economy which is in recession are:

  1. To shore up the value of the Naira.
  2. To create more jobs.
  3. To boost foreign reserves (which has now fallen to an 11-year low, standing at $25.7 billion).
  4. To revive the manufacturing sector.
  5. To improve power supply.

Sounds patriotic and convincing, but is really a ploy by President Buhari to transform himself into a tyrant and impose dictatorship on the nation. Even without the Emergency Powers at his disposal, Buhari has continued to trample on powers of other arms of government – legislature and judiciary. Granting such request as presented is putting the nation on a suicide mission. Nigerians should not shy away from the truth. Once bitten, twice shy!

The Nigeria Government refusal to accept the lessons of history has compounded the problems. Intoxicated by its military might, concentration of power and domineering influence, the government fails to realize that no force of arms, and no amount of brutal repression, humiliation, and degradation has ever triumphed over a people’s just cause for freedom, equal rights, justice, and human dignity.

The Need for a Correct Perception of Security Dimension of Development Jeffrey H. Norwitz (2009) observed that the problems of socioeconomic development and concomitant improvement of level of living, or quality of life, is certainly one of the outstanding issues confronting mankind. Development tends to be a question not of national endowment, as are natural resources or population size, but of capabilities, such as the utilization of resources, technology, and socio-economic institutions.

 

A definition of development would include the process of more effective use of resources and increased efficiency in production and distribution, which results in a greater volume and diversity of goods and services for less human physical labor.

 

To this, I will add the distributional aspect within society as being, perhaps, the most important facet. That is, the distribution of wealth or the more equitable distribution of income constitutes the highest forms of development. In this sense, the issue of human rights transcends political and civil rights, to include socioeconomic rights, such as rights to health, shelter, education, housing, employment, and rights for minorities, becomes central development.

 

I agree with the United Nations that the notion of ‘human security’ is a concept for both understanding and assessing the notion of development (UNDP Report of 1994). The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) defines human security as encompassing two fundamental freedoms at the heart of the UN Chapter, namely: Freedom from want and freedom from fear.

 

Freedom from want describes a condition of existence in which basic material needs are met, and crucially in which there is a reasonable expectation that protection will be afforded during any crisis or downturn – natural or manmade – so that survival is not threatened.

 

Human security as freedom from fear describes a condition of existence in which human dignity is realized, not only embracing physical safety, but going beyond to include meaningful participation in the life of the community, control over one’s life, and so on. Human security embraces the whole gamut of rights – civil, political, economic, social, cultural, etc.

 

By contrast, human insecurity refers to a condition of vulnerability, in which human beings’ physical or material wellbeing is threatened. Such threats may be due to natural disasters like floods, storms, landslides, earthquake; or man-made disasters such as fire, or oil spillages, bomb explosions and so on. They may as well be due to political conflicts within the country, (Alan Collin 2010).

 

Also, they may arise from the fundamental structure of the world economy in which decision-making power is concentrated in the core capitalist states, commodity producers are continually disadvantaged, and billions of people live precariously on the edge, where life is structured by lack of reliable access to material resources.

Importance of Human Security to Development

Human Security emphasizes the safety and wellbeing of individuals, groups, communities as opposed to prioritizing the nation and its interests. Human Security shifts focus to individuals, to people, to communities as the referent object, and give most attention to those people suffering insecurities inside a nation. Whether it is a question of non-politicized, politicized, or securitized of development, our priority, which is the priority of Human Security is to plot issues where they belong.

It has been stated that the 1994 UNDP refers to Human Security as a condition where people are given relief from the traumas that besiege human development; first “Safety from chronic threats as hunger, disease, and repression”; and secondly, “Protection from sudden and hurtful disruption in the patterns of daily life – whether in homes, in jobs, or in communities”, (UNDP 1994).

It is believed that Nigeria will rethink its security and adopt the Human Security approach. Ensuring human security requires a seven-pronged methodology to address the following security components:

  1. Economic Security – Ensures basic income and employment, access to social safety.
  2. Food Security -Access to basic nutrition and food supply. Tackles issues of famine, hunger.
  3. Health Security – Access to safe water, safe environment, health services, family planning and basic support during pregnancy, prevention of HIV/AIDS, basic knowledge to live healthy.
  4. Environment Security – Covers prevention of water and air pollution, prevention of deforestation, irrigated land conservation, prevention of natural hazards such as floods, droughts, etc.
  5. Personal Security – Protection from physical violence, crimes, accidents, etc.
  6. Community Security – Ensures conservation of tradition and cultures, languages and commonly held values, abolishment of ethnic conflicts, and protection of indigenous peoples.
  7. Political Security – Protection of human rights and wellbeing of all people, protection of people from State repression by advancing Freedom of Press, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Voting, and abolition of political detention, imprisonment, systematic ill treatment, and disappearance, (Ollorwi 2016).

These approaches force attention to be focused on the issue of development, so as to move human and financial resources towards poverty relief and concrete development. You will agree with me that the focus that the concept of human security puts on the nexus between conflict and development is nonetheless very useful and important. The concept of human security also serves as reminder that many of the debates about the practical measures for managing internal conflict, such as those slowly evolving mechanisms for supporting the responsibility to protect and its other components such as:

  1. The responsibility to prevent,
  2. The responsibility to react, and
  3. The responsibility to rebuild

are intellectually founded on the concept which should not be overlooked again in Nigeria.

The concept of human security also highlights the view that the threats to humans, as well as to the State entities are changing and increasing. These changes have spurred the debate about the meaning of security, the link between security and development, and the argument for broadening and deepening security.

We are all aware that apart from violence within the State, there are non-military threats of environmental degradation and the effects of global warming, pandemics such as HIV/AIDS and people movements (refuges and Internally Displaced Persons). Examples include increasing inflow of people from all over Nigeria, especially the northeastern part into Rivers State in search for greener pastures or as a result of Boko Haram insurgency respectively. Other threats include those who come into the State with bad intentions to perpetuate crime and cause havoc; and the IDPs (like the people of Ekporo in Eleme L.G.A. of Rivers State, who were internally displaced from the ancestral homes since 2014; their homes damaged, their means of livelihood destroyed, and hope of returning home blink as government seems not to be perturbed about their plights).

The concept served to also highlight the essence of good global norms. It is an underlying motivation for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Chapter, the Geneva Conventions, the Ottawa Treaty, and the International Criminal Court. Human Security serves as an umbrella norm for various treaties and conventions that aim to protect vulnerable people from persecuting actors, notably the State. Developing good global norms is important not only for moral and ethical reasons but also because, as most democracies attest, they serve to enhance national and international security and balanced development.

As General Ibrahim Babamasi Babangida, the former President, said, “Business decisions should no longer reflect purely economic concerns; but they should also reflect the need for social responsibility”, (IBB 1990). One of the roles of business and industry in security and development is to get youths out of the street through employment and give them on the job training to make them employable today and tomorrow.

We need to revamp our entire concept of security if we are to solve the problems of development, especially as the conflict over resources continues to grow more intense.

Conclusions and Recommendations

In conclusion I offer a number of suggestions for creating a secure environment where peace will reign, the economy will boom and development will thrive:

  1. To adopt the human security approach in creating a framework for development in an atmosphere of mutual respect by abolishing all the negative factors which combined to arouse hatred, jealousy, wickedness, aggression, ethnicity, nepotism and denigration.
  2. Government to formulate and effectively implement policies and programmes capable of addressing the root causes of insecurity – such as poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, environmental degradation, dearth of infrastructural facilities, uneven development, among others.
  3. It is recommended that the Federal Government of Nigeria reorganize the country’s intelligence system and build a capable and more proactive security apparatus in the country. This will add more values in checking incessant bombings, robbery, kidnapping and violent crimes/crises by hoodlums in the country.
  4. The Rivers State Government should endeavor to phase out all moribund poverty eradication programmes and establish a more viable and result-oriented agency capable of addressing the problem of abject poverty among large population of citizens, particularly those residing in the rural areas.
  5. The government should establish an Agency to be known as Rivers State Agency for Youths Empowerment (RISAYE) and reposition the agricultural sector so as to play active role in job creation for Rivers youths.
  6. There is the need for collective security arrangement by the federal, state and local governments in Nigeria This arrangement, will require a structure or organization, which could be christened “Nigerian Cross-Cultural Council on Security”, with committees at village, community, ward, local, state and federal levels; charged with the responsibility of providing sensitive security information for security agencies at their areas of operation. This will ultimately assist in identifying criminals, their sponsors and hideouts in the country.
  7. The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) must as a matter of priority marshal the will to restructure the country and consider the State Police option so that States will be in position to recruit, train, equip, and motivate their own police force for effective policing of the States. The restructuring must be designed to heal our wounds, not provoke new divisions, noting that unity and the future are never constructed out of divisions, hatred and mischief.
  8. The issue of citizenship or who is qualified to be an indigene of a particular community or state should be urgently reviewed by the federal government. This is important because, a Nigerian who has lived up to 10 years in a given community should not be regarded and treated as a non-indigene in the area. This step will ultimately reduce discrimination and crisis in many parts of Nigeria.
  9. The government and peoples of Nigeria are advised to develop a better attitude and space for national and international cooperation to make Nigeria more of a welcoming and hospitable place capable of attracting tourists and foreign investors.

Reference

  1. A. E. Ekoko and M. A. Vogt et al.(1990), Nigerian Defence Policy: Issues and Problems Lagos, Malthouse Press Limited
  2. Alan Collin et al. (2010), Contemporary Security Studies, New York Oxford University Press
  3. Chinua Achebe (2012), There Was A Country, London, Penguin Books Limited
  4. Jeffrey H. Norwitz (2009), Pirates, Terrorists, and Warlords New York Skyhorse Publishing.
  5. Michael Benson, Danny O. Gulson, and Allan Swenson (2003), The Complete Idot’s Guide to National Security, New York, Alpha Books.
  6. Ollorwi M.O. (2009), The New Internationalism & American Foreign Policy Shift: Implications on the Third World, Port Harcourt, Nigerian Institute of Security Publications.
  7. Ollorwi Osaro (2016), The Need for Nigerian Cross-Cultural Council on Security, www.ollorwi.com.ng
  8. Richard W. Lack et al. (1997), Accident Prevention Manual for Business and Industry, Washington DC, National Safety Council.
  9. Tunji Olagunju and Sam Oyovbaire (1991), For Their Tomorrow We Gave Our Today, Jersey, Safari Books (Export) Limited.
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AGRICULTURAL RITUALS IN ELEME

Agricultural Rituals in Eleme

 

The people of Eleme have through the centuries lived by farming, fishing, and hunting. These activities are carried out based on their beliefs and perceptions of life. In the course of the people’s existence, many rituals have also evolved to cover all these means of livelihoods, incorporating beliefs and values they attach to these activities and the right procedures or behavior necessary for attainment of abundance and wealth. So many subsections were also added to achieve bumper harvest, success in hunting and fishing among others. These include rain making, ash ritual, growing rituals, harvest festivals, and communal feasts. These activities have also produced reverend priests, notable rainmakers, celebrated farmers and fishermen and women, including notable yam title holders and celebrated wealthy women (Ԑmεrε Owa).

Importance of Agricultural Rituals

Agricultural Rituals are one of the oldest and most celebrated forms of rituals in Eleme. Agricultural rituals are used for the following:

  1. To pay gratitude to the deities and ancestors.
  2. To solicit for improved crops and animals.
  3. To ask for the control of drought and famine.
  4. To pray for spiritual and physical blessings and prosperity of family members.
  5. To build bridge of unity, brotherly love and trust.
  6. To garner favour with deities and ancestral spirits.
  7. To communicate with the family deities and ancestral spirits.

Significance of Nsi Eji

Each extended family known as Oˈe owns a hall and maintains a shrine sets aside for these rituals. This shrine or hall or designated place is called Nsi Eji, and it is spread across Eleme. It is a thing of pride that your family owns its Nsi Eji.

Nsi Eji signifies the following:

  1. A place of Spiritual Fix.
  2. A place for meeting needs.
  3. A place of real presence of the gods and ancestral spirits.
  4. A center of communication with the deities and spirits.
  5. A place for family communion.
  6. A rally point or melting pot of the family.
  7. Nsi Eji is also a family mustard point in emergency.

The benefits derivable from possession of Nsi Eji are so much that no family wants to be left out. A family without Nsi Eji attaches itself to the one that has so as to have an Altar on which to offer sacrifices to their deities and ancestors. A family without Nsi Eji in Eleme is not only baseless and rootless family, but is also regarded as assembly of mere strangers or aliens. Perhaps, this account for the reason every family in Eleme endeavors to create its own Nsi Eji, irrespective of individual religious belief and social status.

Types of Agricultural Rituals

Agricultural rituals such as Agba Nkiken, Agba Etenchi, Owara Ebibi, Ajija, Agba Esu, Otebe Enu and Ogbo Nja provide the platforms for family to pay gratitude to the gods and ancestral spirits, individuals to make new friends, promote communal feedings and visitations. Agricultural rituals bring together communities and peoples and provide an opportunity for them to gather in order to celebrate the harvest or to prepare for the growing season.

As pointed out earlier, the basic aim of agricultural ritual is to garner favour of the deities and ancestral spirits. This is done by forming of a bond between the person(s) performing the ritual and the deity or spirit; communication with deities and other spirits is an essential part of the rituals.

Animal sacrifice based on ancient myths is usually an integral part of agricultural rituals in Eleme. The people of Eleme believe that sacrifice is part of the cycle of life which contains death and rebirth or sacrifice and renewal. The belief that Nnanīi, the Sun god sacrificed his energy through marriage to Nkikε, the Earth goddess thus ensuring crop growth is wide spread among the people.

The lunar calendar plays a significant role in hunting, fishing and growing seasons. These rituals are cycle rituals linked with the changing of the seasons and times going by agricultural festivals where people gather to plan and chart on the calendar future rituals.

Agba Nkikε

Many agricultural rituals are designed to invoke the deities and the ancestors and are very complex. Agba Nkikε is celebrated annually on Ochu within the second week of March in honour of Nkikε, the Earth goddess to mark the beginning of the growing (planting) season.

Agba Etenchi

Five days thereafter, precisely on the next Ochu another related ceremony called Agba Etenchi is marked to inform the people of the commencement of the year’s farming season.

NOTE: It is only the Oku Nkpͻrͻ and Oku Nyͻa (group of initiated elders) that participate in these two rituals.

Owara Ebibi

The clearing and burning of bush for planting in Eleme is followed by a ritual known as Owara Ebibi (Ash Ritual). This ritual is performed to improve harvest, and to urge the gods and ancestral spirits to bring about a successful farming season. Agbonchia is the only community in Eleme that still observes this activity.

Ajija

A special sacrifice is usually offered to Ajija, a deity in charge of food production to cleanse the land and appease the ancestors whenever an unmarried girl becomes pregnant in the community.

Ajija forbids an unmarried pregnant girl going to farm or any public place in that state. Apart from preventing other maidens in the community getting pregnant and committing abortions, it cleanses the land, guarantees bumper harvests and blesses the people.

Ajija also prohibits sex in the farm. Violation desecrates the farmland with severe consequences including rendering the land barren/unproductive, inflicting the people with poverty, failure, and difficulties in their individual endeavours.

There are two sections to Ajija ritual – Ojuri Ajija and Ͻlͻ Ajija.

The anger of Ajija extends the punishment to the entire community – both male and female. In spite of widespread Christianity, industrialization, and in-depth penetration of Western Civilizations into Eleme Ajija rituals are still observed in all the villages and towns of Eleme.

Agba Esu

Agba Esuu is an annual new yam festival. Agba Esu is celebrated in October every year (when it is believed that the gods and ancestors have entered the community from their spiritual abode) to express gratitude to them. The belief that the ancestors should first be presented early harvest before people start eating the yams is rooted in the people’s culture. Apart from the yams, other ingredients of the sacrifice are big dried fish (Ete Njira), fowl or goat and condiments with which the sacrifice is offered to the ancestors.

Because the Agba Esu sacrifice is offered to ancestral spirits, only men whose fathers have died are qualified to sponsor the sacrifice. It is also believed that where a qualified person fails to render the Agba Esu ritual either due neglect or rebellion, his father’s spirit will starve while others enjoy. It is also believed that such a person will sooner or later incur the wrath of the ancestors and will not enjoy their protection and blessings.

Otεbε Enu

Elaborate rituals are also performed with the first harvest. The feast is known as Otεbε Enu and is celebrated annually in October (Ͻˈε Aˈo Esu). The ritual referred to as Otεbε Enu is offered in the belief that the ancestors who have transformed to spirits upon their death are still very much around, seeing everything they are doing and trying on their part to guide and protect them. Another reinforcing belief is that the ancestors who labored to cut the virgin forests and gradually reduced them to farmlands desire the first fruits. The ritual revolves around the goddess of agriculture – Nkikε who doubles as the Earth goddess – to celebrate harvest and appeal for more blessings in the succeeding year.

Otεbε Enu is a concluding aspect of the Agba Esu ritual performed in the family hall before the shrine. It is the actual offering of the sacrifice to the ancestral spirits, before the family shrine.

 

Usually the family priests or Ekponε, who is the eldest man in the family, oversees the complex process of rituals, which hierarchies are quite rigid. Only the priest or Ekponε guides the elaborate rituals; which information is passed on orally. The benefactor(s) and other family members gather in the family hall (Nsi Eji), which is considered the earthly home of the deities and spirits during the ritual.

Otεbε Enu is normally performed by 12 noon by the family priest or Ekponε, on a specified date in the month of October. The materials for the ritual as stated earlier include one basin of good yams, one goat or fowl (cock), a big dried fish, one jar of palm-wine, a bottle of gin, pepper, salt, and a bottle of palm oil, among others. Men, women, and children participate freely in enjoying the meals with the ancestors. All present, in the hall, before the family shrine, the priest or Ekponε receives the items and presenting them to the ancestors as gifts from their son, calling the name of the benefactor and reciting his incantations, requesting for protection and blessings for the entire family.

The goat or fowl will be killed and its blood spilled into the shrine. After libation, the drinks are shared to those present. Then the food will be cooked and eaten, ponded or sliced. After the food, goat meat and fish have been shared to all those present, men, women, and children, they will return home rejoicing and hoping that the ancestors will continue to bring about a successful harvest.

Any family, community, or groups having difficulty with their crops or fortune blame it on the angry gods or ancestors. Civil servants, businessmen, professionals and technicians having problems with their works are also known to have blamed it on their ancestors. In such cases, divination rituals are undertaken to decide what needs to be done to gain favour from the gods or ancestors and remedy the situation.

There are ceremonies to bring about rains; to stop the rain if there is flooding; ceremonies for droughts; and ceremonies for infestation. The rain doctors in Eleme are known to promote agriculture by appeasing the gods when the Sun is withering crops as a direct plea to them to reverse the inclement weather.

Agba Esu and Otεbε Enu are two sides of the same ritual that is generally practiced in Eleme today. The highlights of this ritual are Egelege music and wrestling competitions among the communities, where they display their best wrestlers to compete for prizes.

Ogbo Nja

Ogbo Nja is Food Offering and is one of the most popular festivals celebrated across Eleme, irrespective of age, sex, social status, or religious inclination. It is the only agricultural ritual that involves the entire Eleme in which men, women, children and new brides participate and enjoy themselves freely.

Ogbo Nja is celebrated annually on Ͻkͻͻ between 13 and 17 July, depending on the position of the Moon. The feast is celebrated in two phases. Phase one is called Ͻkͻͻ Obibai Etoo and is celebrated by women.

The second phase which is marked by men the next day is known as Mma Agba Okundo.

In Eleme, yams, cocoyam and other foods items are reserved after planting for the Ogbo Nja festival. It is believed that only very good farmers can reserve the quantity and quality of yams, cocoyam, etc. that is required for Ogbo Nja at the time of the year.

The fish used for preparing Ogbo Nja meal are those valued by Eleme people for major entertainment and they include: Obui (Catfish), Nda (Tasty-Shynose), Njijoi (Snapper), Omεε (Barracuda), Ekoko (Stingray), among others.

Ogbo Nja is specifically dedicated to children and new brides. It is celebrated with friends in pair. Children are encouraged to make friends within or without their community and to arrange for their friends to visit them to participate in the annual celebration. New brides also seek for their partners to take active part in the occasion.

The occasion provides an avenue for clearing the house of old yams and cocoyam in anticipation of new ones. It also affords parents and in-laws opportunity to present gifts to children and new brides in appreciation of their assistance during planting and weeding. To be counted a good child and be presented with gifts and blessings, children exercise maximum obedience and discipline in anticipation.

In the morning of day one occasion, children usually wake as early as 4.30am to clear the compounds and town square in readiness for the celebration. The children will also fetched water into all available pots and containers. The atmosphere is charged as evidence Ogbo Nja festive period.

Parents will assemble their children and present them with gifts of clothes and wrapper. Gifts will also be sent to children of extended relations and friends to commemorate the year’s Ogbo Nja.

The recipients of these new clothes would wear them and go visiting friends and relations to display their gifts across Eleme. as the children move from compound to compound and from community to community filled with happiness, they receive words of encouragement and praise for being obedient and hardworking; and promising them of greater gifts next year. The new brides are also presented with new dresses and wrappers by their husbands, father-in-law and mother-in-law.

That evening the women will gather at the townsquare dressed in their best and newest attires to make a feast, singing and dancing to Egbe Mba music till night falls.

By 6p.m. or thereabout, they women will return to their various houses to dish out food to their visiting guests and family members. The food for the day is cocoyam.

The celebration is designed in such a way that children move from compound to compound and from community to community, eating and rejoicing. At the end of the day, they will return home with wrapped fish as proof of participation in Ogbo Nja feast of that day. The new brides will also do the same.

The day two celebration starts with the same preparation. It is the men’s turn to present gifts to children and others who were loyal, obedient and hardworking during the year according to his assessments. The food for the day is yam, which will be cooked and eaten pounded and/or sliced.

The women will continue their music, singing and dancing at the townsquare.

Later in the evening, the men will gather at the townsquare to eat together in groups, thereby bringing the Ogbo Nja festival of that year to an end.

Ogbo Nja is one of the finest agricultural rituals in Eleme that is now history. All attempts to revive it have failed. Several factors have been advanced for this including:

  1. Abandonment of agricultural activities in favour of nonexistent white collar jobs by the people. This has increased the level of poverty, hence inability to finance Ogbo Nja.
  2. Absence of arable land for farming due to rapid industrialization. The forceful acquisition of lands by national and multinational corporations has not only robbed the people lands for agricultural activities, but triggered laziness among the youths, increased idleness, hence widespread cultism and other violent crimes in Eleme.

Christianity, as is being practiced in Eleme undermines Ogbo Nja by branding it heathenish. Regrettably, any culture that has nothing to sustain and nothing to respect has little hope for corporate survival. One of the effects of this is that even the status of traditional rulers is badly affected by the level of cultural affinity among the people. The traditional rulers, chiefs, elders, youth leaders, women leaders, the elites and opinion leaders hide under this empathy to perpetrate all forms atrocities for selfish gains in the name of Christianity without any fear of retribution by the deities and ancestral spirits.

HOW TO COMBAT CULTISM IN EBUBU

How to Combat Cultism in Ebubu

Ebubu was once regarded as the most stable and peaceful clan in Eleme. Several factors gave credence to this perception. As the traditional headquarters of Eleme, Ebubu remains both the ancient rally center and melting-pot of Eleme. In times of war and crisis Ebubu provides the necessary manpower, wherewithal and strategies for victory. Ebubu is known in Eleme as “Unmovable Community”. During the several wars (including the Nigerian-Biafra War of 1967 – 1970) that have one way or another impacted Ebubu, the community withstood them all and stayed unmoved. It is unfortunate that the peace that Ebubu enjoyed from inception is being shattered by our own children in connivance with the enemies of Ebubu. People of all ages and background have continued to wonder the rationale behind the recent upsurge in gang violence and cultism, which is questioning the genuine efforts of the traditional rulers, chiefs, elders, security agencies and the government to contain.

 

The efforts of youth leadership and security agencies in checking the activities of these hoodlums are appreciative. Especially when considered from the backdrop that as soon as normalcy returned, these cultists will resume their evil activities. Today new dimensions are being introduced in to the ugly situation – the use of dynamites, and killing and burning. These developments have increased the level of fear and worry among the residents.

 

The concerns of some of the chiefs and elders is that when some of these cultists are arrested and taken into custody by the police, they are quickly released on bail by the same police that is looking for them; a situation that makes the cultists to return home to boast and threaten those who are said to have masterminded their arrest. “This unending circle of search for the criminals, get them arrested and released them on bail is frustrating”, said one of the chiefs who pleaded anonymous.

 

Policing is a shared responsibility between the Police and the People. Chief Olukanke (not real name), observed that while the police bear guns, the cultists carry guns; the people (Youths, Chiefs and Elders) do not. Therefore, the police have more to do to check violent crimes in Ebubu in particular and Eleme in general, since the people who do not bear arms are not expected to confront well-armed criminals bear-handed”, he reiterated.

 

The general opinion is that the police to be more active in their duties without assuming that the citizens are avoiding their own responsibility which include the provision of vital information.

 

Chief Olonta (not real name) also lamented the attitude of some police officers who compromise security by fraternizing with these criminals; and pointed out that some of these law enforcement officials have over stayed their usefulness in Eleme and deserve to be transferred out.

 

Chief (Mrs.) Ada, Emere Owa, described a situation where the cultists strike from the bush and retreat into the bush, yet the law abiding Chiefs and youths are arrested and detained by the police for no reason; and appealed for cooperation in the fight against cultism and other violent crimes in Ebubu. She warned against antagonism among security agencies and between them and citizens if the war against crimes and criminality must be won.

 

Explaining the efforts that the Ebubu Council of Traditional Rulers, Chiefs and Elders has made to solve the security challenges facing Ebubu since 2013, the Oneh Eh (Paramount Ruler) of Ebubu Kingdom, HRH Emere Emmanuel Osaroeke Bebe pointed out that the Ebubu Council of Chiefs and Elders donated the Old Primary Health Center Building in Ebubu to the Nigeria Police Force to serve as temporary site for Ebubu Police Station but wondered why nothing has been done to put the place into use by the police since then. He observed that when the police in Eleme came to inspect the place and the then Rivers State Commissioner of Police directed the matter to the State Police Anti-Cultism Unit in Port Harcourt, the people’s hope were raised. But, the matter died a natural dead. The people continue to live at the mercy of God.

 

He lamented that no sooner has a cultist been arrested and handed over to the police than the police release him into the community to continue terrorizing the residents, then turn around to blame the Chiefs and youths who these criminals are also after.

 

The royal father pointed out that the cooperation between the police and the people has already unveiled the identity of these known cultists. But wonder why nothing has been done to keep them out of the community. He questioned why the police should assume that unarmed Chiefs and Elders should chase and catch cultists that are well-armed.

 

Another prominent chief who asked not to be named said it is unfortunate that Ebubu, a once peaceful community, is today in anarchy and crisis, saying to rout these cultists from Ebubu, thorough understanding, cooperation and united efforts are needed to be harnessed by all stakeholders in Ebubu security. He said that one of the major challenges facing our efforts to fight crimes in Ebubu and Eleme is incessant transfer of Heads of Security in the area.

 

In his words, “Before an incumbent can familiarize himself with the terrain and be conversant with the environment he will be transferred. This is not good for the security of the place”.

 

Another important factor is the presence of a nearby seaport. Chief Obo observed that wherever there is busy seaport there is always high crime rate. He gave example of Apapa Lagos and Onne Eleme but was quick to add that the high presence of security personnel in these areas helps to check the activities of criminals.

 

Trailer Park in Ejamah Ebubu was also fingered as one of the depots and meeting points for all sorts of criminal elements in Ebubu. It is believed that “all the criminals that were dislodged from the various waterfronts in Port Harcourt are now in Trailer Park Ebubu from where they carry out their nefarious activities in collaboration with their local counterparts”.

 

Chief Obo also identified Dabor Swamp/Forest in Ebubu as one of the base of these cultists and queried why such places should not be dismantled and put into beneficial use. Also of concern are Eta Osaro and Okenwikoro villages in Egbalor that acts as possible hiding places for these criminals.

 

Our investigation revealed that releasing these cultists when arrested is the function of the police and this is due mostly to unavailability of concrete evidence to nail the criminal to the crime. Evidence is the foundation on which any criminal can be convicted and this is the working of the law. “If someone is arrested and taken into police custody, but there is no evidence for the law to take its proper course and the police are in one way or another induced with money to release the suspect on bail they will have no other choice because they cannot detail someone forever”, a concerned Elder narrated.

 

The parents are also accused of not paying proper parental attention to their children. “What are the parents doing to check their children between 12 and 15 years old that are being initiated into cultism?” queried CSC Joseph Gbarasung, DO, NSCDC, Eleme. He said if the parents say they are not aware, then they are being economical with the truth. They should check the chest and back of their children and they will be surprised how deep cultism has penetrated Eleme”, he instructed.

 

Fear of Personality was also identified as contributory factor to rising cases of cultism in Eleme. It was observed that while children of the poor are pointed out to the police or other law enforcement agents for arrest, children of the influential and well-to-do in society are covered and protected. This, it was observed, encourages crime and criminality.

 

The commander of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps in the area advised the community leaders and youths to “Inform the law enforcement officials about these cultists, their movement, and ongoing attacks and we promise you that we are equal to the tasks,” he assured.

 

Speaking on behalf of the Eleme Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of Eleme Division, SP Amos Olugbenga Taiwo, DSP Thompson Ebikeme, the Divisional Crime Officer 1, agreed that incessant transfer of Heads of Security Agencies in the area is a major problem as far as crime fighting is concerned; but observed that it doesn’t take too long for trained officers to adjust to their new environment. He promised that the police will continue to do their best to ensure a peaceful and stable Eleme. “I am aware that Ebubu is a volatile place, but the police are doing everything to reverse the situation, and return Ebubu to its original peaceful, stable and tranquilized state”.

 

Continuing, he said that the law must take its proper course, stressing that it won’t be business as usual. He further explained that police will sort out all black spots in Eleme and raid then to clear the area of criminals, and agreed that there is urgent need for greater police presence in Ebubu, saying the jobs of the police in the area are enormous and therefore require support and assistance to perform efficiently and effectively.

 

Our investigation discovered that lack of modern policing facilities, like communication gargets, vehicles; personnel and so on are some factors militating against effective police performance in Eleme.

 

The police boss solicited for regular information about crimes and criminals, and assured that any information made available to the police will be treated as secret, and the identity of the informant will be properly protected.

 

Security Challenge in Ebubu

The major security challenge facing Ebubu is cultism, which manifests in rival cult clashes with its accompanying violent crimes such as killing (mostly rival cultists), arson (burning of houses and properties belonging to rival cult group members), armed robbery, burglary, rape, kidnapping and extortion among others. This development has not only grounded the social and economic life of Ebubu but also led to the desertion of the area by residents – both indigenes and strangers.

The following salient challenges also emerged during the course of investigation, which we observed are very important that solutions are proffered for them if efforts to solve the security challenges in Ebubu are to be fruitful.

These issues require in-depth investigation by the various security agencies, especially the DSS. They include:

  1. Remote and immediate cause(s) of incessant violent crimes in Ebubu.
  2. Source(s) of their Funds.
  3. Source(s) of their Weapons.
  4. Source(s) of their Recruits.
  5. Means of their Transportation and Communication.
  6. Modus Operandi of each Cult Group.
  7. Their Base Before, During and After Operations.

1.      Remote and Immediate Causes of Violence in Ebubu

The collapse, destruction, and denial of those component elements that bind the people of the four autonomous communities of Ebubu namely: Ejamah, Egbalor, Agbeta and Obolo, together such as belief (common oracle, culture and dialect with which the communities halo and worship together no longer exists), is a major factor in rising cases of hatred among the youths and violence in Ebubu.

 

Closely related to the above as one of the remote causes of the violence in Ebubu, is the absence of the streams from where the four communities fetch their drinking water which are now history. Also connected are the people’s farmlands that have been decimated and forcefully acquired and the environment that is devastated by the activities of oil companies in the area.

 

In addition to the foregoing are festivals that used to bring the people together such as Ogbo Nja, Aken O’e, Agba Esaa, and Eso Mba among others which has been discarded due to the forces of Christianity, exploitative industrialization, and unorganized education, thus eroding the people’s age long ties, unity, cooperation, love, and communalism.

 

Other important remote causes of rival cult clashes in Ebubu include the struggle for supremacy, territorial lordship and control. Campaign for recognition as lord of the area, search for responsibility that will yield immediate financial benefits (such as being hired for a fee to terrorize electorates and political opponents during elections to create political advantage for the benefactor; or, during chieftaincy tussles, youth and CDC elections, etc.) and to satisfy their immediate financial and social needs and aspirations through the perpetuation of violence in society, are some of the causes of continues violence in the area.

 

The immediate causes are as diverse as there are events and human needs. The unprovoked murder of Emere on April 19, 2013 was said to be the immediate incident that triggered up the series of killings and violent crimes which has lingered until today. Since then, “you kill one of us, we will kill one of you” had been the order of the day.

 

Argument over girlfriend or boyfriend and other trivial issues also constitutes immediate causes of incessant rival cult clashes and violence in Ebubu.

 

However, the community is afraid that the crisis is gradually expanding and extending, and may eventually result to killing an innocent citizen thus bring more mayhem upon the community. “Our fears are that, if, mistakenly or otherwise, a non-cultist, an innocent person from any of these communities is killed, Ebubu will be plugged into total chaos and disarray. God forbid!” Chief Nsan, who asked that his real name not be used, said.

2.      Source of Funds

It is no gainsaying that cultist in Ebubu source for funds to purchase arms and ammunition, procure charms, and finance their operations through Kidnapping, Armed Robbery, Burglary, Theft of Motorcycles, and extortions from businesses in Ebubu and environs.

3.      Source of Weapons

The sources of weapons used by these cultists are diverse and shrouded in secrecy. However, during the course of study, it was disclosed that Trailer Park in Ejamah Ebubu is likely a ready market for arms for these cultists. Their counterparts in neighbouring communities are also suspected as possible source of supply of weapons. Some masquerading “do-or-die” politicians, chiefs and youth leaders, have also been accused of aiding and abetting the supply of arms to these cultists, perhaps to support their selfish pursue.

4.      Source of Recruits

Both rival cult groups scramble for recruits from the population of innocent children between the age bracket of 10 and 15 years old in the community. They lure these children with promise of protection, wealth, and fame. Where such enticement failed to convince the invitee, he or she is forced and initiated into cultism. After initiation, the neophyte is kept with threat of death or madness, thereby subjecting him or her to perpetual slavery, manipulation, control and life of crime.

Our investigation shown that these rival cult groups have seriously invaded and infiltrated all the secondary schools in Eleme – both public and private; and that most children between the ages of 10 and 15 are being initiated and used to perpetuate crimes in the neighbourhoods.

The situation is lamentable. Heads of Schools and Parents and guardians are advised to monitor their children, know the friends they keep, their acquaintances etc.; where they pass nights, and to regularly check the back and chest of their children for “marks” – signs of initiation in to cultism and report same to law enforcement agencies for proper investigation.

5.      Means of Transportation and Communication

These cultists are known to invade the community either in stolen cars or on captured motorcycles. During the course of our investigation, we discovered that the cultists usually abandon these cars when chased; while in most cases the motorcycles which they also stole at gun points and use for their operation are sold after the operation.

The GSM handsets remain the major means of communication among themselves and with their informants who are within the neighbourhoods and close to their targets. Girls between the ages of 12 and 16 are recruited and initiated; and they serve as road observers, spies, informants and arrowheads of these cultists as well as links between the cultists and the probable victim and the community. Underage boys also play these roles and in most cases security agents are not aware of this ugly development.

6.      Modus Operandi

They adopt the hit and run guerrilla warfare type tactics. During operation, they normally split themselves into two or three groups of four or five boys armed with sophisticated weapons and machetes. Their tactics involves carjacking, drive into the community, attack a predetermined target and pull out at the speed of light. After some days, weeks or month, they will seize motorcycles at gun point and the scenario is repeated again and again. The same techniques are applied during kidnapping.

However, during house to house robbery or burglary, they attack in large numbers, at times, between 8 and 15 persons, well-armed with sophisticated weapons, slug hammers, iron cutters, and so on with which they break walls or cut protectors to gain access.

It was uncovered that the cultists do not undertake attack at random. Rather, they gather intelligence information about their selected victim, conduct surveillance and reconnaissance operations on him/her before finally attacking.

We found out that underage children both boys and girls are used by these cultists to carry out these deadly activities. And because they are insiders, usually very close relatives to the victim, (children, friends, brothers, sisters, or repentant cultists who are still sympathetic to their former cult group), the information they provide is mostly timely and current and these cultists utilize it very effectively.

However, there is need to balance the above with case of friends and relatives who make honest mistakes by ignorantly disclosing details of parents, friends, or neighbours’ movements or whereabouts. Security awareness is recommended which is at its lowest ebb in the area need to be boosted.

7.      Hiding Places

Their hiding places are probably, Trailer Park in Ejamah, Eta Osaro and Okenwikoro in Egbalor, and Dabor Swamp/Forest. It is also suspected that these cultists also hide in Okrika, Ogoni and Amadi-Ama; and retreat to these places after operations. Only well-coordinated investigation can unveil their very hiding place.

There is therefore urgent need for the authority to facilitate the establishment of a Police Station in Ebubu without further delay, since on their part; the community has donated a place for that purpose since 2013.

One of the issues pointed out by the residents during our interaction is widening gap among heads of security agencies in Eleme. It is suggested that the Heads of Security Agencies in Eleme promote cooperation and sharing of intelligence information among themselves, and treat information delve out to them by citizens as confidential to reinforce the people’s confidence and trust.

The Youth Council on their part must be more vigilant to check the types of vehicles and motorcycles that come into Ebubu all round the clock, and alert security agencies as soon as they identify or suspect any criminal movements or activities.

Since these criminals are known to be stealing cars or motorcycles for their operations and abandon same when pursued, the police are advised to introduce stop and search on vehicles, and persons carrying either backpacks or front-packs. The stop and search to be extended to persons wearing clothes that are extra big for their body size.

THE ROLES OF BUSINESS IN PREVENTING VIOLENCE IN ELEME

images1Manish Mundra, MD, INDORAMA EPCLmgbeteEPCLEPCL1THE ROLES OF BUSINESS IN PREVENTING VIOLENCE IN ELEME

This article attempts to consider the appropriate role of the profit-making free enterprise system in helping to alleviate the causes of cultism and other violent crimes in Eleme.

The free enterprise system is a crucial element in any programme for improving conditions in any society. Eleme as host to over 200 multinational and national corporations has been described variously. Some authorities have christened Eleme as “The Industrial Hub of Nigeria”, some referred to Eleme as “The Capital of Nigeria’s Oil and Gas”, and while officially Eleme is known as “The Heart of Nigeria’s Economy”. Yet the primary problems of Eleme over the years have been chronic unemployment and underemployment, especially among the youths.

Agreed, Nigeria is a middle income, mixed economy and emerging market, with expanding financial, service, communications, technology, and entertainment sectors; but oil and gas remains the mainstay of the economy and still accounts for more than 90% of GNP. In 2014, Nigeria ranked as the largest economy in Africa and 21st largest in the world in terms of nominal GDP. This disclosure explained the contributions of private sector to Nigeria’s national economic development.

The concept that the private sector be involved in overcoming the challenges of poverty and crisis in urban and rural areas is not new. The civilized world testified to its potency in solving the problems of crimes and social decay. It is called “Private-Public-Partnership”. A partnership between the government and private industry to train and hire the hard-core unemployed persons helped solved American Whites and Negroes employment dichotomy, bridged the gap in their standard of living, and eliminated the falsehood and flimsy excuse that the Negroes are unemployable. It can also work in Eleme.

“Business and industry are our last hope”, said Dr. Kenneth B. Clark, the eminent Negro Psychologist and Educator. “They are the most realistic elements of our society. Other areas in our society – government, education, churches, labor – have defaulted in dealing with Negro problems”. These problems range from segregation, discrimination, slums, poverty to violence. The situation in Eleme today is no different. The crisis in Eleme is a result of nearly 60 years of inequities. The conditions that breed despair and violence in Eleme (in addition to the above) include ignorance, deprivation, poverty, unemployment capped with unending environmental devastation. The marginalization and subjugation of the hapless people of Eleme is enough to force the impatient youths to carry arms. Eleme suffers both local and national oppression. The Eleme people are not Negroes but in reality, we share almost the same experiences and problems due to our powerlessness and disadvantaged position, as minority-of-the-minorities endowed with abundance natural resources. Eleme is oil rich but deeply impoverished area.

The cult clashes and other violence crimes going on in Eleme today is an outbreak of a longtime suppressed anger against perceived abuse orchestrated by oppressive and exploitative maneuverings by business and industry operating in Eleme on one hand and the corrupt Nigeria government on the other hand. People naturally need decent lives, freedom of self-discovery, and not a kind of a forced all-good white-washed behavior. Poverty, rights infringement, frustration, cultural dislocation, social-economic marginalization, religious alienation, and environmental degradation are salient crimes that generate salient violence.

Unfortunately, Eleme and Eleme people are complicit in the whole episode. Eleme’s definition of “Host Community” is the most obsolete, myopic, and self-centered in the whole world; and this has always been to the advantage of corporate organizations. Our “Host Community” by definition is always limited to immediate family or two, exempting all other members of the larger Eleme community. We are blinded to the fact that it is the entire Eleme community at large that bears the brute of environmental pollution and social decay that arise from the company’s activities in Eleme.

The segregation and discrimination inherent in our concept of “Host Community” makes mockery of Eleme when considered from the backdrop that the population of Eleme indigenes is less than 200,000 people. “The smaller the size of the ‘community’ the better”, a Public Relations Manager of one of the companies in Eleme told me in a chat recently. Penny Wise Pound Foolish!

The private sector has the capacity to make a solid contribution that can address the ongoing violence in Eleme. Some of the areas in which they can contribute include:

  1. Job Training and Employment.
  2. Economic Development.
  3. Promotion of Entrepreneurship Culture.
  4. Provision of Low-Cost Housing.
  5. Education.
  6. Value Reorientation.
  1. Job Training and Employment Companies desirous of solving the security challenges facing Eleme could hire the so-called “hard-core” unemployed, and engage them in “on-the-job-training. The aim is not only to keep these youths off the streets but also to give them skill, make them earn a living, and equip them to be employable in the future. This deliberate policy to make the hard-core unemployables to become employable persons is economically viable and socially honorable compare to a situation where companies employ these persons and lay them off after sometimes without giving them skill or improving their educational standard to make them employable elsewhere. It is a disservice to the nation and also dangerous precedent when these persons that have been receiving monthly salary are rendered redundant without alternatives with which to move on in life. Another bad scenario that most companies operating in Eleme are guilty of is to place these youths on monthly salary, called “security fee”, for doing nothing. Experience has shown that once the payment is stopped, they take to arms to terrorize both their previous benefactor – the company – and the society; because they are neither useful to the company, nor to the society, nor to themselves.On the job training provides someone with what to fallback to after employment.
  2. Economic Development This involves corporate organizations creating a sort of “Eleme Economic Development Programme”, a joint central body to pull resources together to extend loans to indigenes to venture into viable businesses.Companies can also embark on infrastructural development such as roads construction, building and equipping of hospitals to render wholistic health services, provision of safe water and electricity among others.
  3. Promotion of Entrepreneurship Culture In order to develop and support the needed managerial capabilities in Eleme a number of small business programmes can be conceived and established, and loan programme made available to help institutionalized entrepreneurship culture in the area. This programme should be designed to enable companies: a. Participation with private lending institutions, b.Provide necessary guarantee for private loans, and c. Offer counseling and managerial assistance to grow and sustain the enterprise.
  4. Provision of Low-Cost Housing Poor housing is a major problem in Eleme. It is shameful to state that in oil-rich-Eleme people still live in Mud-Thatch Houses, with poor sanitary conditions. Companies can carry out joint ventures with public housing authority to construct low-income houses for Eleme citizens. This is more productive and beneficial than dishing-out cash on quarterly basis to people who only end up lavishing the money recklessly, with little or nothing to show for it.
  5. Education Education is a powerful instrument of socialization and individual refinement. Education is power. Eleme need education now and not further deprivations. Business and industry in Eleme will be creating a peaceful and stable society when they sponsor the provision of basic literary and mathematical skills training to their own disadvantaged employees and where necessary, to those of other companies.
  6. Value Reorientation Companies can act as institution of value reorientation and attitudinal change through the elimination of corrupt practices and exhibition of exemplary lifestyle. Eleme, a once disciplined and highly cultural society have been bastardized by the activities of some personnel of these companies. They indoctrinate our youths with money and questionable lifestyles. Their behavioural influences dictate social direction in Eleme. Therefore, the companies have an important role to play to ensure attitudinal change.   

 

Finally, companies can as well create a joint local clearinghouse groups to exchange experience gained with employment of “hard-core” unemployed and with investment in poverty alleviation. This will open up opportunities to those who are marginalized or restricted by the ill-conceived definition of host community, and eliminate all barriers to their choice of jobs, education, and housing.

All hands must be on desk to remove the frustration of powerlessness among the disadvantaged people of Eleme by providing the means for them to deal with the problems that affects their own lives.