ENVIRONMENTAL SECURITY IN NIGERIA: AN ASSESSMENT
Over the years, governments at different level have made spirited efforts at curbing urban crime and violence through established institutions. Unfortunately, the war against urban crime and violence has been largely unsuccessful. This study is an attempt to assess the institutional framework for managing environmental insecurity in Gusau using the urban governance indicators with a view to make proposals for improvement. The data used for the study were obtained from a semi-structured questionnaire, participant observation and document review. Two types of surveys were conducted for the study; an institutional survey of the agencies responsible for environmental insecurity in Gusau, and a household survey to assess the activities of the security agencies from the view point of public respondents. The study also prepared security profile of Gusau town, this served as the basis for understanding the security situation in the study area. Since a profile is a description of what is? The method of investigation relied on published and unpublished materials and sundry informal investigation from various stakeholders that affect and are affected by the insecurity problem.The study revealed that there are various agencies responsible for managing environmental insecurity in the study area and the key players are federal agencies with no single agency responsible for coordinating their activities which some time leads to conflict, duplication and overlaps. The frequency of meetings among these agencies is monthly and on emergency situations which signifies low cooperation and collaboration. The study also revealed that the existing institutional framework does not include all the relevant stakeholders which make it ineffective. To improve on the existing institutional framework, the study outlined some policy recommendations and proposed institutional framework under the existing Local Government Council. This is with a view that crime and violent activities mostly take place in the local community, therefore such local solutions are most likely to solve local problems.
The essence of security, as noted by Nwolise (2007), is to ensure human safety and freedom. Without the security of life and properties, life is meaningless. People will not be motivated to work, produce, save and invest. Security is also vital for economic production, growth and development. Investors (Domestic and Foreign) require a secure environment to invest their capital. Nobody wants to invest his hard-earned resources in a place in which he is not sure or assured of his personal security and the security of his investments.
Tackling urban insecurity is an issue of good urban governance. Good urban governance and secure cities are reciprocal and a building block of a vibrant urban environment where inhabitants are free from fear and where security is improved for citizens and neighborhoods, interaction among people, among groups and with public institutions becomes possible Agbola (2001). This in turn creates an enabling environment for the inhabitants in the city, for the quality of their lives and at large the socio-economic development of cities.
The international conferences on the theme urban violence and safety, held successively in Barcelona (1987), Montreal (1989), Paris (1991), Vancouver (1996), Johannesburg (1998), and Naples (2000) reaffirm that the role of local authorities as leaders of local partnerships is crucial. Mayors and city councilors are in strategic and better position to initiate and coordinate local action and adequately address the social demand.
Efforts aimed at addressing security challenges have since received the attention of various governments including Zamfara state but these efforts have not been able to produce desired results. City managers have a primary role in coordinating the activities aimed at reducing crime and violence. Urban managers are the key actors in coalitions and in development of community–wide planning strategies for crime and violence prevention Ellen B. (2002).
The institutional framework for environmental insecurity consists of formal laws, regulations, and procedures that shape activities of security agencies. It also describes a range of possible roles and functions for federal, state and local governments for the effective delivery of security. It is an effective tool for managing security in urban areas. It is also internationally recognised as an important tool for building viable cities Dennis (2006). Evidence from several countriesAccording to Manar, (2010) shows that implementing and sustaining effective institutional framework can contribute significantly to the achievement of safe and secure cities by reducing the level of crime. Well-planned interventions can prevent crime and victimisation, promote community safety and make a significant contribution to the sustainable development of vibrant communities.
According to Anderson (1988), Effective institutional framework can reduce the long-term costs associated with the criminal justice system and the costs of crime, both economic and social, and can achieve a significant return on investment in terms of savings in justice, welfare, health care, and the protection of social and human capital. A safe and secure society is an important foundation for the delivery of other key services. Community safety and security is a prerequisite for sound economic growth through continuing business investment as well as community well-being and cohesion.
Weak institutional structure basically explains why institutions can be in a position that is significantly below expectation. Furthermore, the existence of weak institutional framework has implication for the institutional capacity to deliver and cause friction and high cost of operations Buvinic (1999).
1.1 STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
According to UN-Habitat Safer Cities (2002) urban insecurity threatens quality of life, human rights, social, economic stability and sustainable development of cities around the world. As observed by Vanderschueren (1996), urban crime and violence had increased worldwide at a rate at which has largely surpassed that of urbanization. This is particularly the case in Nigeria, where there is growing trend of religious uprising, sectarian violence, political thuggery clashes, cult clashes, shooting, stabbing, kidnapping for ransom, armed robbery, armed bank robbery, theft, burglary, rape, rioting, vandalism, ethnic militancy and so on. These pose serious challenges to socioeconomic development in most cities.
The lack of long term solution to social, economic and governance issues and the failure to promote inclusive policies targeting the most vulnerable groups is at the root of persistent increase in urban violence and crime (UN–Habitat, 2005). As rightly observed by Kolstee (1994), the social discord created by huge contrasts in economic well-being, that is, abject poverty in close juxtaposition with great wealth, and the frustration produced by marginalization and the inability to do anything about it are perhaps the most significant motives for crime and violence.
Vanderschueren (1996) also identified other major causes of insecurity to include lack of prospect and/or opportunities for upward social mobility; negative socialization; poor education; peer pressure and poor job prospects; absence of strong legal deterrents; general break down of family values; lack of social control within the anonymity of cities, which tends to cancel out community influences in dealing with deviant behavior; qualitative and quantitative insufficiency of social housing programmes and community amenities; the lack of respect for authority and law; the provocative and poorly protected urban environment, which lack adequate surveillance or social control facilities; excessive violence in films and videos, and the pervasive influence of the mass media. Some of these causes have helped to make Nigerian cities quite unsafe to both residents and visitors.
Gusau the capital of Zamfara state has also been affected by this insecurity problem. Criminal activities and violence are not only on the increase but also assuming tendencies that threaten lives and properties, the state sense of well-being and community coherence. These problems, affect the quality of social life of residents and the ability of the city to develop its economy.
The Nigerian governments have made spirited efforts at curbing urban crime and violence through established institutions. Unfortunately, the war against urban crime and violence has been largely unsuccessful. The failure of these institutions in ensuring security also gave impetus to the emergence of non-state institutions including Vigilante groups, Religious Vigilante groups, Ethnic Militias, and Private
Available information do show that: the cost of crime and violence in terms of human lives and materials are rising; the country does not have a coherent crime and violence prevention policy neither is there a single agency responsible for crime and violence prevention or management; the existing criminal justice system are geared toward processing offenders; and the responses of the governments, the police and the civil society are largely duplicated, uncoordinated, conflicting and therefore largely ineffective Agbola, (2002).
Studies conducted on environmental insecurity include Ahmed and Sulyman (2007) on the relationship between safety and security as well as urban planning; Salau and Taibat
(2009) on security consciousness in city planning practice in Lagos megacity;
Ezenwa, Felix and Haruna (2013) on security and safety planning in slum areas of Jimeta; and Mitchell (1996) on crime control through effective urban planning and design.
The fore mentioned focused on the inter-relationship between environmental insecurity and urban planning and design while integrating the various security agencies and relevant stakeholders have been left out which constituted the gap in knowledge that the study set out to bridge. Therefore, this study is set out to; assess environmental insecurity management framework in Gusau, with a view to making proposals for effective institutional framework for environmental insecurity in the study area.
1.2 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The research will seek answers to the following questions;
- What is the level of insecurity in Gusau, Zamfara state?
- What is the existing institutional framework for environmental insecurity in Gusau?
- What is the resident’s perception on the activities of the security agencies in Gusau?
- Can an appropriate institutional framework for environmental insecurity be developed in Gusau?
The aim of the study is to assess the institutional framework of environmental insecurity in
Gusau, with a view to making proposals for effective institutional framework.
1.4 THE OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
- To review the concept of environmental insecurity as well as its management strategies.
- To prepare security profile for Gusau town.
- To assess the existing management framework of environmental insecurity in Gusau
- To make proposal for improvement of the management framework for environmental insecurity in Gusau.
1.5 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
This study focuses on the assessment of management framework of environmental insecurity with emphasis on the performance and interrelationship among various agencies and relevant stakeholders in Gusau. Access to information has been the major limitation of this study. For instance, the expenditure profile of the security agencies, man power and equipment are categorised as classified information. Formal and informal attempt to get this prove abortive.
1.6 JUSTIFICATION OF THE STUDY
The rate of reported crime and violent incidences or cases in Nigeria urban areas, vide the police periodic crime and violence review bulletin, clearly indicates that, armed robbery, houses and shop breaking, car theft, willful murder, kidnapping, bombing, suicide and homicide, cases of breach of trust are rising at alarming rate and speed (NPF, 2015). Research of this nature is of significance based on the fact that Government spend huge amount of money on security. Therefore, there is the need to understand the dimension of the problems and to seek for ameliorative measures.
ENVIRONMENTAL SECURITY IN NIGERIA: AN ASSESSMENT