Ensuring Security Through Private Sector Initiatives

By Mukhtar Ya’u Madobi

Subject to its wider ramifications, the burden of maintaining security is too cumbersome to be single handedly by a solitary institution in a heterogeneous country like Nigeria.

Thus, multi-stakeholders’ approach is often more necessary where there is a rise in the level of security challenges. Therefore, security should be a collective effort of the government plus other state and non-state actors, including the private sector.

The word ‘security’ simply implies the protection of lives and properties of people from various forms of threat.  It occupies the highest level of priority in the hierarchy of responsibility by the government as one of the core values that state cherishes as non-negotiable, and that does not admit compromise.

The contribution of private sector in ensuring security can be rendered through various channels including construction of security facilities, donations of logistics to security services and providing equipment at their disposal during emergency response situations such as fire outbreaks, accidents, building collapse and natural disasters such as flooding, earthquake, etc.

Other alternatives include community participation in securing their locality in collaboration with police, i.e. the neighborhood watch or vigilante group, involvement of religious and traditional leaders in disputes resolution among their followers and services provided by the business enterprises to their host communities through corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

To that effect, the role being played by the famous Civilian Joint Task Forces (Civilian JTF), through collaboration with the security agencies in countering the violent extremism of Boko Haram terrorists in the North-East Maiduguri is very commendable. Such volunteer groups provide invaluable intelligence that led to the uncovering of many deadly terrorist cells and their subsequent elimination.

Now that the terrorists are surrendering, community leaders, civil society groups and NGOs have a greater job to embark in sensitizing the mindsets of the public in de-radicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration of the repentant terrorists into the society. This will go a long way in maintaining the security of lives and properties of people.

It is noteworthy that, the CSR initiatives of the Aliko Dangote Foundation donated 150 operational vehicles to the Nigeria Police Force in 2018, which was described as the single biggest gift ever by a private sector operator to the police.

In the Niger Delta region where the problem of insecurity is mostly attributed to the feeling of anger and frustration by host communities due to negligence of CSR initiatives, the oil companies have turned a good leaf by changing the narratives.

The multinational corporations are now actively involved in provision of infrastructural facilities such as schools, hospitals, roads, and water supply to their host communities. In the long run, they also designed a special scholarship scheme for the indigenes where they are provided with tuition fee, reading and learning materials to further enhance their educational careers. This initiative has no doubt contributed immensely in reducing the militants’ activities and other security tensions in the oil-rich Niger Delta region.

Moreover, several societal figures and organizations were known for their efforts in construction and rehabilitation of security outfits across the country. Recall that, immediately after the #EndSARS protests in which several lives of both civilians and security personnel were lost, many properties were destroyed, police stations looted, their firearms carted away and subsequently destroyed.

The giant private sector-led Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) procured new equipment for police officers and pledged to rebuild the burnt police stations that were destroyed during the civil unrest in a bid to restore security to the affected locations across the country.

Even the traditional institutions were not left out as Oba (Alhaji) Dauda Ajolola Adebimpe Akinfolabi of Ayedade Local Government Area of Osun State, built a divisional police headquarters as well as office for the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) office. The monarch noted that the gesture was necessary as part of measures to protect his people and ensure safety in his community considering the rising insecurity in the country.

In addition, the private security companies are also part and parcel of the security architecture of every country. The responsibility of a private security guard is ‘securing the lives and properties of the client’. The client may be an individual, organization, private institution, government, etc. However, experience has shown that guards can perform additional functions other than just protecting the lives and properties of the client.

Their large number and widespread presence makes them a critical part of the security system of the nation. The NSCDC is the ultimate regulator of all private guard companies in Nigeria and have so far licensed over 1000 companies. Almost all residences, offices, schools, shopping malls, parks etc. especially in the city are manned with private guards securing their location. To that effect, their number has even exceeded that of the entire Police Force in the country.

Therefore, the government and the security agencies can take advantage of this opportunity to collaborate with private guard companies, especially in areas of intelligence gathering and sharing, training and joint task operations towards securing the country from the activities of criminal forces.

Sequel to that, the Nigeria’s Policy Framework and National Action Plan for Prevention and Countering Violent Extremism, produced by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), retired Major General Babagana Monguno have succinctly acknowledged the role of the prominent private sector in national security.

As they say, Emergency Management is everyone’s business.

Mukhtar sent this piece from Kano via [email protected]