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HomeGeopolitical CompassNile Valley & N.AfricaNigeria’s Diverse Security Threats

Nigeria’s Diverse Security Threats

Author: Mark Duerksen 

Affiliation: Research associate at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Organization/Publisher: Africa Center for Strategic Studies 

Date/Place: March 30, 2021/ Washington DC, USA

Type of Literature: Analysis

Number of Pages: 13


Keywords: Nigeria, Boko Haram, Violence in Nigeria, Nigeria’s security


An array of security threats faces Nigeria beyond Islamic terrorist groups. Breaking down these security challenges and contextualizing their socio-geographic features is critical in drawing customized solutions. Nigeria knows many security threats beyond Boko Haram. Despite being a critical security issue not only in Nigeria, Boko Haram and its offshoot Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) have been the most violent transborder groups. Nigerian military strategy of fighting down terrorism has proven futile against these groups’ updated strategic tactics. In this environment of insecurity, another threat to Nigerian security has surfaced with organized criminal gangs. These gangs have used different tactics like kidnapping for ransom from the government. After the decline of oil prices, kidnapping and getting control over gold mines has been marked by a renewed focus for these gangs to survive and maintain their operations against the government. Another threat has been a conflict between herders and farmers. The dispute over grazing lands between farmers and herders is not new in Nigeria, but the growing population combined with land desiccation and large land allocations to estate owners have minimized herders’ historical grazing routes. Due to that, a clash between herders and farmers has become one of the national security issues in Nigeria. The dispute over lands has incentivized ethnic militias, vigilante raids, and extrajudicial killings. Additionally, a separatist movement also has marked a security challenge for Nigeria. The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in the South East of Nigeria has established its Eastern Security Network (ESN) paramilitary group. This group of separatists not only demands independence, but also has become a challenge to the government after it has sought to put its dominance over lands in the southeast of Nigeria. Furthermore, ESN has had a series of skirmishes against the government, which has resulted in the deaths of a number of civilians. Piracy has also been a challenge for the Nigerian national security. Pirates have used the same strategy of kidnapping for ransom as other organized criminal groups. Security sector violence against civilians also remains a challenge for stability in Nigeria. Military and police violence against protestors in Nigeria has always been an impediment to peace in the countryAll these challenges need a multi-dimensional response from the Nigerian government. Since the security threats in Nigeria are diverse, these challenges need an innovative set of solutions adapted to each context. As far as all challenges being domestic threats in nature, citizen cooperation and engagement may be the most essential element of a successful response in each context. Removing security violence against civilians will build trust between civilians and the security apparatus. That would play a role in crafting any strategy against any threat. Additionally, expanding access to government services, social development, job creation and widening access to justice would help in calming down the tension of civilians against the government. Security presence is also needed in critical areas where civilians are threatened and organized groups are active. Finally, land management must also be managed to bring about stability and calm down tensions between herders and farmers.

By: Imad Atoui, CIGA Research Associate



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