Commemoration Of World Peace Day Calls For Reflection On The State Of Security And Restoration Of Peace In Nigeria.

The 21st of September each year is observed around the World as International Day of Peace. The United Nations (UN) general assembly declared the need to observe this day during their 77th plenary meeting of 30th November 1981. The idea for this day is to strengthen the ideals of peace both within and among all peoples and nations through education and public awareness on issues related to peace. The UN Secretary General-Ban Ki Moon declared that the theme of this year’s commemoration is ‘partnership for peace-Dignity for All’ which seeks to engage all segments of society to work for peace.[1]

The commemoration of the World’s peace day calls for reflection on the state of security and peace in Nigeria. The importance of peace and security in national development cannot be overemphasized. The absence of peace has a lot of negative socio-economic implications which leads to underdevelopment, depopulation and lack of social integration. Nigeria as a nation has suffered and is still suffering the negative consequences of terrorism and conflict. The need to tackle insecurity and ensure national security has remained at the top of the pyramid of the expectations of Nigerians from the federal government over the years. Similarly, tackling insecurity has remained a major reoccurring issue in the agenda of the federal government; as such, huge sums of money are budgeted annually for the fight against insecurity in Nigeria, although insecurity still remains an issue of bother to Nigerians.[2]

As part of its contribution towards the addressing of insecurity in Nigeria, NOIPolls Limited over the years conducted several security polls to gauge the perception of Nigerians on the issue and the need for national peace and cooperation. One of such polls conducted in 2014, revealed that on the one hand, Nigerians (76 percent) generally perceived the country to be insecure, while on the other hand, they perceived their local communities to be secure.

The Boko Haram terrorist group has over the years remained Nigeria’s top source of security threat. It is important to recall that in May 2013 the government declared state of emergency in some Northern parts of the country to allow the Nigerian military the ease to fight the insurgents.[3] The federal government also increased the security budget in order to acquire military arms and equipment.[4]  In line with this, another security poll conducted by NOIPolls in 2013 revealed that almost 3 in 10 Nigerians (26 percent) suggested that the Federal Government should dialogue with Boko Haram, while only 1 in 10 Nigerians suggested amnesty as a way forward. Also in 2014, the top key measures identified by Nigerians to help tackle security challenges in Nigeria were ‘unity among religious leaders’ (18 percent); ‘Increased security within the country/borders’ (15 percent) and ‘better motivation of security personnel with good pay, better equiping and raining’ (15 percent).  These findings are further discussed below.

Excerpts Of Findings From NOIPolls State Of Security Polls:

In a security poll conducted in April 2014, respondents were asked to rate security in the country and in their local communities. Survey results revealed that with regards to security in the country, majority (76 percent: 37%+39%) had a negative perception of security in the country as a whole, describing it as ‘Not very Secure’ and ‘Not at all Secure’. Conversely, 24 percent (5%+19%) had a positive perception about security in Nigeria. The North-East accounted for the highest proportion of residents who described security in the country as ‘Very Secure(13 percent) and ‘Somewhat Secure(28 percent). It also recorded the lowest proportion of Nigerians who described the country as ‘Not very Secure(24 percent) and ‘Not at all secure(35 percent).

However, with regards to security in their local communities, the majority of Nigerians had a positive perception about security within their local communities rating it as secure; 66 percent (39%+27%). On the other hand, 34 percent (21%+13%) had a negative perception about security in their communities describing it as not secure. The North-East and North-Central had the highest proportion of residents (29 percent each) who described it as ‘Not very Secure’.

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A trend analysis on the state of security in the country revealed that the proportion of Nigerians who perceived the country as ‘Somewhat secure’ declined by 10-points from September 2013. On the other hand, those that indicated ‘Not at all secure’ increased by 7-points. This percentage increase could be as a result of the increased cases of insurgency recorded in the year 2014.

In 2013, Nigerians were asked how they think the Federal Government should handle the Boko Haram Issue and overall, the majority of respondents (26 percent) were of the opinion that the Federal Government should dialogue with Boko Haram sect. This is followed by 16 percent who indicated that the matter should be investigated further. 14 percent indicated that the federal government should create employment for the youths in the Northern region; while 13 percent believed military force should be employed against them.

Nigerians also suggested strong laws should be put in place to combat the issue (10 percent), members of the group should be granted amnesty (9 percent), foreign assistance should be solicited (6 percent) and prayers should be employed or tackle terrorism spiritually (6 percent). It is worthy to note that prior to this poll, the same question had been asked in a poll conducted in 2011 and findings revealed that the larger proportion of Nigerians (44 percent) were of the opinion that the employment of military force was the best approach to handling the issue of Boko Haram; however, changes in perceptions was observed in 2013, as more Nigerians suggested dialogue as a way forward.

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Also in 2014, Nigerians were asked what should be done to tackle security challenges in Nigeria and the slight majority (18 percent) indicated that ‘unity among religious leaders’ will help tackle security challenges in Nigeria. Other popular suggestions include ‘increased security within the country/borders’, ‘better motivation of security personnel with good pay/equipments/training’ (15 percent each) and ‘everyone should be security conscious’ (13 percent).

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In conclusion, the findings from the polls conducted by NOIPolls Limited on the issue of insecurity in Nigeria are the actual representation of the opinion of an average Nigerian with major concerns of insecurity centered on terrorist activities of the Boko Haram sect. The need for security in Nigeria would continue to be a major concern for the Federal, state and local governments until peace is restored.  While President Muhammadu Buhari promised to curb internal communal conflicts through active dialogue and ensure an atmosphere for peace, dignity and tolerance for all Nigerians; there is need for a collective effort from all stakeholders’ even individuals to ensure the restoration of absolute peace across all geo-political zones in Nigeria.  

Survey Methods

The security polls were conducted in May 2013 and April 2014. It involved telephone interviews of a random nationwide sample. Phone-owning Nigerians aged 18 years and above, representing the six geopolitical zones in the country, were interviewed. NOIPolls Limited is No1 for country specific polling services in West Africa. We conduct periodic opinion polls and studies on various socio-economic and political issues in Nigeria. More information is available at www.noi-polls.com

Disclaimer

This press release has been produced by NOIPolls Limited to provide information on all issues which form the subject matter of the document. Kindly note that, while we are willing to share results from our polls with the general public, we only request that NOIPolls be acknowledged as author whenever and wherever our poll results are used, cited or published.

NOIPolls hereby certifies that all the views expressed in this document accurately reflect its views of respondents surveyed for the poll, and background information is based on information from various sources that it believes are reliable; however, no representation is made that it is accurate or complete. Whilst reasonable care has been taken in preparing this document, no responsibility or liability is accepted for errors or fact or for any views expressed herein by NOIPolls for actions taken as a result of information provided in this report. Any ratings, forecasts, estimates, opinions or views herein constitute a judgment as at the date of this document. If the date of this document is not current, the views and content may not reflect NOIPolls’ current findings and/or thinking.

[1]  http://www.un.org/en/events/peaceday/

[2] http://www.dailytrust.com.ng/weekly/index.php/within-the-nation/21030-insecurity-and-change-in-nigeria.

[3] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/nigeria/10057720/Nigeria-declares-state-of-emergency-in-three-states.html

[4] http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/boko-haram-nigeria-s-defence-budget-gulps-32-88bn-says-apc/188650/