Poverty, unemployment, ethnic, religious prejudice, out of school children, amongst many others, have been identified as major drivers of insecurity in the South-south geo-political zone.
Some stakeholders and security experts stated this at a virtual stakeholder meeting with the theme: “Tackling security challenges in the South-south geo-political zone’’, organised by Cleen Foundation on Tuesday, in Abuja.
The meeting, which consisted of stakeholders from the six states in the zone, proffered solutions to the security challenges faced by the zone.
Barr Saviour Akpan, Executive Director, Compart Foundation for Justice and Peace building called on the various state governments in the region to address the core drivers of insecurity.
“The various state governments need to address pressing issues like poverty, unemployment, failure or collapse of governmental institutions, feeling of inequality, marginalization, unfairness and injustice.
“Ethnic prejudices, religious conflicts, weak or inadequate security system, lack of appropriate equipment and technology to fight crime, weak intelligence gathering mechanism and the loss of Nigeria’s value system,’’ he said.
He said that there was also the need to reawaken the country’s moral values and principles, as well as empowerment of traditional authorities.
Dr Roibito Ekpiken-Ekanem, Executive Director, Women in Action for Positive Development and Gender Enhancement Centre (WAPDAGEC), called for versatile leaders with a broad perspective and who were in tune with the times.
She said that leaders must be reasonably aware of the modern demands of technology in solving societal problems and not using same for mere sloganeering during political campaigns.
According to her, we need compassionate leaders who are sensitive to the needs and aspirations of the poor and needy.
“To tackle insecurity, we need leaders whose words count and can be counted on; leaders with courage, who are accountable and can be trusted to face challenges without pandering to interests that are inconsistent with state goals,’’ she said.
She urged the state governments to take deliberate steps to ensure transparent and accountable governance that focuses on the needs of the people, with the people as role players too.
This should as well include the making of laws to ensure that community issues are discussed at village squares and not at palaces of village heads, as is currently the practice.
Prince Efehi Raymond Okoro, a security expert in Edo state, said that there was a need for an ethical revolution involving a fundamental shift in the value system.
He noted that a situation where ill-gotten wealth was celebrated by society leads to a culture of desperation and winning at all costs which leads the youths to crime, such as kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery.
“There is a great need to change the value system to that which rewards hard work, honesty, diligence and trustworthiness, all of which will lead to a better and crime free region,’’ he said.
He called for good governance, a panacea for curbing insecurity in the south.
Mr Tokpo Edward, a security expert in Bayelsa State, stated that illicit drugs had been identified in the state to be a major enabler of insecurity.
He urged the state government to ensure the use of kinetic measures, by collaborating with relevant agencies to address drug abuse which exacerbates its negative impact on an individual, the community and the state at large.
Ms Rachel Misan-Ruppee, a security expert and analyst, said that displacement of people and separation from families had been recorded as a major security challenge in the state.
She recommended that markets and business centres that thrived at night such as bars, should be shut down early enough to discourage truancy and late night movements.
Misan-Ruppee added that the state government should boost community policing operations by providing necessary policing tools.