If history is anything to go by, the human being is anarchical, prone to anarchy. The state is, therefore, formed and maintained for order and security. The challenge, however, has been how to actualise those goals. No human socio-political innovation has proved infallible. The centralisation of power through the divestment of the citizens and society of certain rights and prerogatives has turned the agency relationship between state organs and the people on its head. The methods and contents of the institutionalisation and concentration of power and state resources in a handful of state organs have themselves become threats to order and security. The origins and global spread of terrorism, insurgency and banditry are traceable to the refusal of certain people within a state to accept the suzerainty of – or accord legitimacy to – state organs and authorities. Those who characterise or view state political organs as organised criminal outfits do not have any compunction in taking up arms against them. Similarly, those who see political institutions as facades or sullying gangs and the law as a subjugation weapon are more likely to take up arms against the state.
State actors and beneficiaries of state power have also not helped or made genuine efforts to create a holy alliance between the state and the people. Although the state need not become a secular deity in the manner described by Johann Kaspar Schmidt (25 October 1806 – 26 June 1856), a German post-Hegelian philosopher known professionally as Max Stirner, in the following words: “State! State! So ran the general cry… The thought of the state passed into all hearts and awakened enthusiasm; to serve it, the mundane god, became the new divine service and worship. The properly political epoch had dawned. To serve the state or the nation became the highest ideal, the state’s interest became the highest interest, state service (for which one does not by any means need to be an official) the highest honor”, it is necessary to establish a faith-based order in which the people believe in and rely on the state for their physical and mental or spiritual security. Unfortunately, state actors often express the state as a satanic force that the people should run away from. Most times, the state does not only come across as a fierce competitor but as an enemy of progress. The centralisation of force and coercive power in the state and the undue reliance on the instruments of coercion by the state in maintaining law and order underscores the value placed on violence by political actors in political power struggles. Where the authority of the state rests largely or primarily or ultimately on violence or threat of violence, then the foundation is laid for counterforce from those who are unwilling to subject themselves to such a state of affairs. Of course, it is foolhardy for the state to believe that it can monopolise force and violence.
The foregoing is a chroma for our discussion on the persisting banditry, insurgency and terrorism in the land. I want to state right away that I am genuinely surprised that some people still live in denial about the reasons for the prevalence and centrality of these crimes in our lives. Whilst banditry may be motivated by economic factors, insurgency and terrorism are political crimes that are perpetrated to achieve political goals. They are carried out to challenge or undermine state political authority and drive civilian populations to insurgents and terrorists for protection through the creation of an atmosphere of fear, insecurity and mistrust in civilian society and hatred and spite for the government.
It may be difficult to map out their operational pathways; it is no brainer to say that they feast on governance and security gaps and the neglected or ungoverned parts of the country. Rural areas are less governed and secured. Most rural and rustic areas are without access to roads, water, electricity, public health facilities, schools, communication facilities and other necessities of life. They live in perpetual want that denies them capacity to protect themselves. This vulnerability is a spur for insurgents and terrorists. Like war, all is fair in the prosecution of insurgency and terrorism. Abductions for ransom and subjection of captured women to forced marriages are common terrorist and insurgency tactics. While the killing of farmers is to disrupt economic activities, attacks on vulnerable villagers highlight the inability of the government to protect every part of the country. The more desperate insurgents and terrorists are in the gust to achieve their political goals, the more sinister and dramatic they become in inflicting deadly injuries on the civilian population.
Political conflicts and contestations are often fought through such proxies and surrogates as insurgents and terrorists. The rising spate of insurgency and terrorism should be assessed against identifiable political agitations and perceptions. These vices cannot be defeated or contained by the security and intelligence agents of the state, but by the people through genuine and solution-seeking dialogues and negotiations. The governments at all levels must prioritise the security of the people and put out themselves to court the people with judicious and efficient distribution and utilisation of the resources of the state. Political discussions and compromises must be made at all levels of government. The executive arms of the government must open the political space and be attentive and tolerant to criticism. It is not in their place to determine which criticism is constructive and, therefore, to be accorded respect and attention and that which is divisive and could, therefore, be ignored. Criticisms are, in some cases, products of perception. Good or bad, it is in the interest of the government to address them either through impassioned rebuttals or education and meaningful clarifications. Combative or defensive rejoinders to criticisms are obvious signs of weakness and loss of confidence.
As a closing remark, the case is being made for governments at all levels to invest massively in security. The insecurity situation questions the economics of failing to enlist the teeming population of unemployed graduates into the security and armed forces of the country. No investment in security will equal what the country is losing to the present insecurity situation. The trauma that people are experiencing from the acute sense of insecurity will shortly translate into all manner of ailments and psychological challenges that can trigger further security challenges.