By Angela Atabo
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) on Thursday in Abuja called for a change in security architecture of the country to reduce level of crime in both the rural and urban centres.
Mr Auwal Rafsanjani, at a Multi-Stakeholders Consultative Forum on Peace and Security Challenges in Nigeria, said that the nation’s ungoverned spaces were a security challenge that needed to be addressed.
The forum was organised by CISLAC in collaboration with Friedrich-Ebet-Stiftung (FES) Nigeria with support from the European Union.
Ungoverned spaces are absence or lack of effective government presence in parts or places within its territory especially in terms of security provision among others.
According to Rafsanjani, ungoverned spaces are also marked by the absence or limited provision of basic social services, making such places vulnerable to the control of criminals.
“Since the return to democratic rule, the country has been confronted with a myriad of challenges in our security architecture.
“One major aspect that has resulted in great fatality is the issue of the governance, management and accountability of ungoverned spaces which are areas where conflict arises most times undetected until it escalates.
“There is currently no clear cut methodology employed by actors to respond to these security challenges.
“As a matter of fact, the new governor of Zamfara boycotted all our security actors to seek for answers in faraway Dubai; that is a clear `vote of no confidence’ in our security institutions.’’
Rafsanjani said the issue could be tackled when security actors with different perspective came together to forge a fundamental, but durable roadmap.
He said a multi-stakeholders engagement was necessary to enhance inter-agency coordination and citizens’ engagement to sustain the activities of the platform.
This, he said was for continuous dialogue between state and non-state actors in Nigeria thereby alleviating the security challenges face by the nation.
Dr Chris Kwaja, Centre for Peace and Security Studies, Modibbo Adama University of Technology Yola, Adamawa said that Nigeria’s fragile and unstable environment posed serious governance and security challenges.
Kwaja said that weak governance which contributed to poor development outcomes in the rural areas across the country constituted a major driver for conflict and crimes.
“The reality in Nigeria today is that the activities of bandits and other criminal groups as witnessed in the North western part of the country such as Kaduna, Sokoto and Zamfara continue to undermine public safety.
“These are particularly in rural areas where security agencies and other personnel are either weak or absent.‘’
Kwaja, therefore recommended the integration and amplification of the voices of the rural communities in governance and security and also strengthen community-level mechanisms for governance, security and justice.
He also said there was need to re-establish citizens’ confidence in security agency as a precondition for disarmament since many now have in their possession small arms and light weapons.
He called for development of programmes that targeted sustainable growth in rural areas and prioritise the emergence and strengthening of functional, transparent and accountable institutions at the local level.
He called for making of traditional and community leaders’ gate keepers for governance and security to be supported in the prevention and management of conflicts and crimes through the establishment of early warning systems.