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The insecurity challenge in Nigeria has assumed a formidable dimension that not only requires a multistakeholder approach, as it is being touted in various quarters, in quelling this conflagration threatening Nigeria’s statehood, but also necessitates a revival and reinforcement of moral values and virtues. The thirst for blood and the preference for violence in expressing pent-up frustration and disenchantment with the state, its citizens and national totems may be a pointer to the need to revive moral values and virtues within the socioeconomic, political, religious and educational institutions in the country. Nigerian leaders, politicians and their amen corners must be forced to evince and uphold moral values and virtues in all their conduct in order to lead by example and to avoid heating up the polity unnecessarily by their conducts and comments which sometimes incite violence in their followers. This study advocates that the country should begin to live by the credo that no leader’s political ambition is worth the drop of any Nigerian’s blood. It also argues that when moral values are subscribed to by leaders, they will not be involved in the manipulation of the electoral process, official corruption and other vices which fester the deep wounds already nursed by different segments in the polity. Consequently, the security challenge in Nigeria throws a moral challenge to all and sundry to live by high moral standards that place a value on life, that seek peaceful means to conflict resolution and that promote justice, equity, fairness and empathy in the country.



  Nigeria has been enmeshed in a firebox of insecurity leading to scores of deaths of innocent civilians, foreigners, some members of the nation’s security personnel, elected officials and many government workers. The insecurity challenge has assumed formidable dimensions forcing the country’s political and economic managers and, indeed the entire nation, to rue the loss of their loved ones, investments and absence of safety in most parts of the country. The number of violent crimes such as kidnappings, ritual killings, carjackings, suicide bombings, religious killings, politically-motivated killing and violence, ethnic clashes, armed banditry and others has increasingly become the Author : Senior Lecturer, Department of Communication and General Studies, Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, Ogun State. Author : Senior Lecturer, Department of Sociology, College of Development Studies, Covenant University, Ota. Author ρ : Research Assistant, Department of Sociology, College of Development Studies, Covenant University, Ota. regular signature that characterises life in Nigeria since 2009 (Imhonopi & Urim, 2012). Government has tried everything from “force-for-force” to carrot-and-stick approach to diplomacy but the problem seems to rise with greater monstrosity like the proverbial phoenix. There has also been strong advocacy for a multistakeholder intervention to the insecurity question rather than lean on military options alone (Imhonopi & Urim, 2013; Open Society, 2012; Ujomu, 2001), but the problem has defied the present medication it is getting. This may not be unconnected with the increasing ethnic hate, religious bigotry, political rivalry and a growing population of disgruntled citizens in the country who feel that they have been short-changed and given very limited or no access to the common patrimony. Egwu (2001) had made this observation when he argued that the primordial tendencies of various ethnic groups towards violence, the perennial eruption of various ethnic militias and the preponderant religious fundamentalism in place, given expression to by some sections of the dominant religious establishments in Nigeria, have inevitably aggravated the scale and propensity of insecurity and widened its scope in various ramifications. Not only has the continued state of insecurity threatened the very fabric of national integration in the country and created the ecology of fear, disquiet and anxiety, it has also meted a deadly blow or what Imhonopi & Urim (2012) call “spectral bite” to industrial development. The destruction of the badly needed infrastructure has taken the country many years backwards. The government has continued to trudge on in the face of this daring challenge and has continued to evolve strategies to contain or douse this conflagration. Meanwhile, academic writers, social researchers, scholars, security experts and consultants have also not rested in making diverse recommendations and probable solutions to address this national blight. In this paper, focus is on examining the contributions moral values and virtues can make in tackling insecurity in Nigeria. This study is helped by the groundbreaking scholarly work of Ujomu (2001) where he argued that examining the moral foundations of national security was all the more significant because the trend of events in the history of military and economic growth in Nigeria, L 202Glo bal Journal of Human Social Science Volume XIII Issue WII Version I ( ) F 532 Year 2013 © 2013 Global Journals Inc. (US) especially under the erstwhile military regimes of Babangida and Abacha, pointed to a familiar pattern of ethical degeneration and moral depravity which led to the systematic and institutionalised erosion of personal and collective peace, safety, stability and harmony within the Nigerian society. Close to this, the need for an α σ examination of the ethical basis of the problematic social relations in Nigeria was accentuated by former President Obasanjo in his October 1999 National Day speech, where he drew the attention of an anxious nation to the need to regenerate the moral foundations of all actions and to continue to search for the conditions that would make Nigeria a just, free and wealthy society (Obasanjo, 1999). His statement revealed that Nigeria was yet to achieve the much desired ethical conduct requisite for sound social relations which could guarantee the maintenance of security, peace and order in the country (Ujomu, 2001). This paper therefore seeks to widen this conversation by investigating the role a reawakening of moral values and virtues in the country can play in subduing the monstrosity of insecurity in the country.


To ably define insecurity, it is pertinent to have a brief discussion on what security is. The first duty of a government is to keep its citizens safe because like Hobbes observed, only the state has the wherewithal to guarantee security and save society from anarchy (and since government represents the state), the state through its government should provide adequate security to justify its raison d’être (Gaskin, 1996). In this wise, Omede (2012) sees security as a dynamic condition which involves the relative ability of a state to counter threats to its core values and interests. McGrew (1988) holds that the security of a nation hangs on two important pillars which are (1) the maintenance and protection of the socioeconomic order in the face of internal and external threat and (2) the promotion of a preferred international order, which minimises the threat to core values and interests, as well as to the domestic order. For Nwolise (2006), security is an allencompassing condition which suggests that a territory must be secured by a network of armed forces; that the sovereignty of the state must be guaranteed by a democratic and patriotic government, which in turn must be protected by the military, police and the people themselves; that the people must not only be secured from external attacks but also from devastating consequences of internal upheavals such as unemployment, hunger, starvation, diseases, ignorance, homelessness, environmental degradation and pollution cum socio-economic injustices. Citing Rothschild, Nwagboso (2012) argues that in the long sweep of history, security has been about people and without reference to the security of the individual, security makes no sense at all (McSweeney, 1999). Dike (2010) and Omede (2012) have taken this argument a step further by emphasising that Nigeria’s security should be based on a holistic view which sees the citizens as the primary beneficiaries of every security and developmental deliverable that the state can offer. Thus, Nigeria’s security will involve efforts to strengthen the capacity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria so it can advance its interests and objectives to contain internal and external aggression, control crime, eliminate corruption, enhance genuine development, progress and growth and improve the welfare and quality of life of every citizen. As Omede (2012) pontificates further, the nation’s security should include the preservation of the safety of Nigerians at home and abroad and the protection of the country’s sovereignty. Conversely, insecurity is the antithesis of security and has attracted such common descriptors as want of safety, danger, hazard, uncertainty, want of confidence, state of doubt, inadequately guarded or protected, instability, trouble, lack of protection and being unsafe, and others (Achumba, Ighomereho & Akpor-Robaro, 2013). Achumba et al argue further that these common descriptors point to a condition where there exists a vulnerability to harm, loss of life, property or livelihood. Therefore, they consider insecurity to be a state of not knowing, a lack of control, and the inability to take defensive action against forces that portend harm or danger to an individual or group, or that make them vulnerable. For Beland (2005), insecurity is “the state of fear or anxiety stemming from a concrete or alleged lack of protection.” It refers to lack or inadequate freedom from danger. This definition reflects physical insecurity which is the most visible form of insecurity, and it feeds into many other forms of insecurity such as economic security and social security. In this paper, insecurity is conceived as a situation where human and national security of a state is compromised by internal or external forces or interests exacerbated by the former’s weak or poor economic, military and/or human resource development conditions.


Drawing copiously from existing literature on insecurity in Nigeria, the aetiologies of insecurity within Nigeria is twofold: remote and proximate causes. The remote factors include such causes as follows: a) Absence of Institutional Capacity Resulting in Government Failure Fukuyama (2004) calls this the breakdown of institutional infrastructures. The foundations of 202Glo bal Journal of Human Social Science Volume XIII Issue WII Version I ( ) F 542 Year 2013 © 2013 Global Journals Inc. (US) Addressing the Insecurity Challenge in Nigeria: the Imperative of Moral Values and Virtue Ethics institutional framework in Nigeria are very shaky and have provoked a deterioration of state governance and democratic accountability, thus, paralysing the existing formal and legitimate rules nested in the hierarchy of social order (Achumba, et al, 2013). This view is collaborated by Igbuzor (2011) who sees the state of insecurity in Nigeria as a function of government failure. This manifests in the incapacity of government to deliver public goods to its citizens. This lack of basic necessities by the Nigerian people has created a growing army of frustrated people who resort to violence at the slightest provocation or opportunity. Although Nigeria has the resources to provide for the needs of its people, the entrenched culture of corruption in public service has resulted in the dearth of basic necessities, leading to what Hazen & Horner (2007) call a “Paradox of Plenty”. Because of this situation, the crime rate shoots up and the security of lives and property are no longer guaranteed. b) The Gaping Chasm of Inequality and Absence of Fairness and Justice The perception of marginalisation by many Nigerians is informed by the ostentation showed by the political class and elite vis-à-vis the grinding poverty to which citizens are subjected. Even security has been bourgeoisified by the elite. As Egwu (2000) contends, the security of the Nigerian nation-state has been reduced to that of the ruler and his immediate supporters, thus, the security calculus of the Nigerian state has failed because it does not include vital aspects of social and national development supported by the provision of basic social, economic or even military conditions necessary for effective national security. This state of inequality, unfairness and injustice has toughened the people, forcing them to take their destiny into their hands. c) Ethno-Religious Conflicts Ethno-religious conflicts have been identified as a major source of insecurity in Nigeria (Ibrahim & Igbuzor, 2002; Hazen & Horner, 2007; Salawu, 2010; Igbuzor, 2011). Ethno-religious conflicts exist when the social relations between members of one ethnic or religious group and another of such group in a multiethnic and multi-religious society is characterised by lack of cordiality, mutual suspicion and fear, and a tendency towards violent confrontations to settle grievances. These conflicts have also revolved around who gets what and how in the state especially as it concerns the distribution of scarce resources, power, land, chieftaincy titles, local government councils, control of markets and expansion of religious territories. These conflicts have resulted in large-scale killings and violence among ethno-religious groups in the country (Adagba, et al, 2012). d) Disconnect between the People and Government Over the years, there has been a growing disconnect between the people and government. Governments, whether military or civilian, have not tried to bridge this chasm, thus creating misunderstanding, mistrust and resentment. Consequently, because the people do not understand government or have a perception that government does not care about their welfare, they become easy prey to centrifugal forces who co-opt/incite them to vent their anger on perceived enemies of the people and sometimes go to the extent of destroying national totems. e) Weak and Poorly Funded Military Establishments In spite of the high security vote state governments receive on a monthly basis, there is greater insecurity in many states. Some of these monies find their way into the pockets of some highly-placed private citizens and the Chief Executives of the states, leaving the hapless citizens to the mercy of criminals and sociopaths. Also the armed forces, paramilitary establishments and the police under federal control are weak institutionally, heavily politicised and poorly funded. This status quo makes it easy for the nation’s security to be compromised. f) Interagency Rivalry The failure of security agencies such as the police, the military, state security services and paramilitary units to share intelligence information has been identified as one of the factors negating the quick apprehension of culprits (Omede, 2011). Also, the failure of intelligence gathering by the security agencies as well as the near passivity of security operatives in proactively policing the country, coupled with the non-apprehension of culprits, is also a contributory factor to the rising tide of insecurity in Nigeria. Of course, when the armed forces and paramilitary agencies are not well-tooled with modern fighting and security gadgets and their welfare is not given priority attention, they may not want to make any sacrifices for the nation. All of these factors point to a passive national security team that is not really committed to fighting crime or stopping the merchants of violence or terror envoys from having the field day in the country. g) Non-Prosecution of Perpetrators of Violence In Nigeria The lack of arrest and prosecution of perpetrators and sponsors of violence has encouraged many more social deviants and their godfathers to throw caution to the wind to perpetrate evil in the land. The Nigerian society has become a rigout of powerful 202Glo bal Journal of Human Social Science Volume XIII Issue WII Version I ( ) F 552 Year 2013 © 2013 Global Journals Inc. (US) Addressing the Insecurity Challenge in Nigeria: the Imperative of Moral Values and Virtue Ethics fiefdoms controlled by feudal lords who are almost as powerful as the state and maintain a rental economy within the larger national economy. h) Loss of Socio-Cultural and Communal Value System The collapse of moral values within Nigeria is one critical factor to the continued security challenges that the country is faced with. The disintegration of communal value system which placed high premium on human life and despised greed, oppression and exploitation of the weak, among others, has also contributed to the unpleasant security environment in the country. New values that are zero-sum, paternalistic, narcissistic, chauvinistic and corrupt in nature and that preach that might-is-right have all taken over. Endearing social values and morals have been traded off for western values.


 In existence are copious literature materials that chronicle elaborate case studies of insecurity in the country from different informed prisms (see Achumba et al, 2013; Adagba et al, 2012; Adesoji, 2010; Ibrahim & Igbuzor, 2002; Igbuzor, 2011; Imhonopi & Urim, 2012; Mijah, 2005; Nwagboso, 2012; Nwolise, 2006; Ogundiya, 2009; Ogundiya & Amzat, 2006; Okafor, 2011; Omede, 2011; Omotola, 2010; Onifade & Imhonopi, 2012). This study will not duplicate such efforts but will single out selected cases of insecurity in the country. Some of these security challenges have been briefly highlighted as follows: a) The Niger Delta Crisis According to Nwagboso (2012), the Niger Delta conflict arose in the early 1990s due to tensions between international oil companies (IOCs) and some representatives of Niger Delta minority ethnic groups who felt they were being exploited without due compensation from the IOCs (Osungade, 2008). Thus, ethnic and political unrest continued in the region throughout the 1990s and persisted despite the enthronement of democracy in 1999. However, competition for oil wealth in the region gave rise to agitations, violence and subsequent extra-judicial killing of Ken Saro-Wiwa and nine Ogoni leaders by the Abacha regime (Urim, 1999). This extra-judicial killing of Ogoni leaders by the Abacha regime was condemned both within the country and by the international community. This was followed by sanctions placed on Nigeria during the period. As Nwagboso (2012) observed, the inability or failure of the government, particularly during the military era, to address the root causes of the agitation (environmental problems, poverty, unemployment, lack of basic amenities, etc.), in the Niger Delta region, resulted in the spawning of ethnic militias of Niger Delta origin leading to the militarisation of nearly the entire region. Thus, the foundation was laid for the wave of insecurity that beleaguered the entire region and spread throughout the tentacles of power. Although in order to ameliorate the environmental degradation and the absolute poverty in place, the government established some institutions or agencies to douse the tension in the area such as the Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC), Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and Ministry of Niger Delta (MND); these intervention remedies, notwithstanding, the conflicts and insecurity in the Niger Delta region persisted. In fact, the region witnessed severe security threats and the emergence of other agitating groups affiliated to the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) like the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVF) led by Mujahid Dokubo-Asari and the Niger Delta vigilante (NDV) led by Ateke Tom. These groups purportedly joined the struggle to address the injustice by the Federal Government against the region and this move exacerbated the security problems not only in the region, but also in the entire Nigerian state (Nwagboso, 2012). While the leaders of the agitating groups were from the Ijaw nation, the two groups (NDPVF and NDV) eclipsed a plethora of smaller militias supposedly numbering more than one hundred in the Niger Delta region. These groups comprised mostly the disaffected young men from Warri, Port Harcourt, Yenegoa and their sub-urban areas (Aderoju, 2008). The Federal Government used a mixture of carrot-and-stick approach and force to cower the militants into accepting its proposal for amnesty which happened under the leadership of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, who had announced the granting of Amnesty and unconditional pardon to militants in the region (Rotimi, 2009). The militants were given between August 6 and October 4, 2009 to surrender their weapons to the federal government in return for training and rehabilitation. During the 60-day period, the militants led their groups to surrender their weapons which included rocket-propelled grenades, guns, explosives, 202Glo bal Journal of Human Social Science Volume XIII Issue WII Version I ( ) F 562 Year 2013 © 2013 Global Journals Inc. (US) Addressing the Insecurity Challenge in Nigeria: the Imperative of Moral Values and Virtue Ethics ammunition, gunboats, among others. Although the federal governments’ Amnesty Programme reduced the rate of militancy in the region, the incessant kidnapping activities in the Niger Delta region eventually spilled over into some states in the South-East geo-political zone of the country.

1.5  THEORIES and Discussions on Moral Values and Virtue ETHICS

In discussing morality and ethics, there exists a challenge bordering on relativism or absolutism. In this sense, some theorists belonging to the Indic and Confucian school of thought argue that morality is relative and should never be treated as absolute or universal. On the other hand, western scholars including those sharing the Abrahamic faiths, i.e. Judaism, Christianity and Islam, believe that certain moral values are concepts that have and should have universal application. For instance, human dignity, right to life and value for human life are concrete rights and values that human beings are supposed to enjoy and uphold when engaging in any form of relations within society. This must have informed the content of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations in 1948 to deter the exercise of absolute powers by states or their representatives or by groups or individuals within them against individuals or groups within the same state. Although, the moral power of the content and ideals of the UDHR and its embracement by many UN member-nations make it the most authoritative UN text to this day, some countries such as Iran have dismissed it as a document based on secularised Judeo-Christian values (Cairo, 1990). However, the UDHR as a text advocates for the universalisation of some rights which every human being should enjoy in spite of their colour, race, language, gender or social class. Rai, Thorheim, Dorjderem & Macer (2010) have summarised the 30 articles that make up the Declaration as follows: Article 1) All humans are born free and equal in dignity and rights; 2) entitlement to rights without distinctions of race, colour, sex, language, religion, politics, nationality, property, birth or other status; 3) right to life, liberty and security of person; 4) prohibition of slavery and servitude; 5) prohibition of torture and inhuman treatment; 6) right of recognition before the law; 7) equality before the law; 8) right to an effective legal remedy; 9) prohibition of arbitrary arrest, detention and exile; 10) right to an impartial tribunal hearing; 11) presumed innocence until proven guilty; 12) protection against arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, correspondence, honour or reputation; 13) freedom of national and international movement; 14) right to foreign asylum from political persecution; 15) right to a nationality; 16) right to consenting marriage and protection of the family unit; 17) right to own property; 18) right to freedom of thought and conscience, choice of religion and freedom to teach, practice and worship; 19) right to freedom of opinion and expression and right to seek, receive and impart information through any media; 20) right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association; 21) access to government, public service and genuine elections expressing the will of the people; 22) right to social security; 23) right to work, free choice of employment, equal pay for equal work and trade union membership; 24) right to rest and leisure; 25) standards of living adequate for health, well-being, security and child protection; 26) free elementary education and access to higher education on the basis of merit; 27) right to participate in the arts, science and 202Glo bal Journal of Human Social Science Volume XIII Issue WII Version I ( ) F 582 Year 2013 © 2013 Global Journals Inc. (US) Addressing the Insecurity Challenge in Nigeria: the Imperative of Moral Values and Virtue Ethics cultural life, with protection of author interests; 28) right to an international social order able to realise these rights and freedoms; 29) everyone has duties to their community and is subject to laws which respect general welfare and the rights and freedoms of others; and, 30) discouraging any act aimed at the destruction of these rights and freedoms.


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