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Fighting insecurity with emerging technologies

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Despite all efforts to fight insecurity challenges in the country, the menace has kept reoccurring and increasing, while government seems to have exhausted various tactics and weapons, all to no avail. However, experts have counseled that technology is the last weapon to fight insecurity challenges for positive results. ABOLAJI ADEBAYO reports

In Nigeria, insecurity has remained the major factor affecting virtually all sectors, especially the socio-economy, retarding development. Apart from killing the economy, many potential youths and people who could drive growth of the country are daily murdered by insurgents. This act has continued to be the bane of development in Nigeria. Social observers believed that if insecurity challenges could be tackled, the economy of the country would bounce back. Although government and other security stakeholders have been making frantic efforts at fighting insecurity, their efforts seem to be fruitless as the menace has refused to abate. Meanwhile, experts said government needs to deploy other tactics to fight insecurity especially when the initial strategies and weapons seem to have failed.

Effects of insecurity

Despite the fact that security agencies are struggling to tackle the menace, the country’s security architecture has arguably been hijacked in many parts of the country. The insecurity challenges have grounded governance and businesses across the nation, while socio-economy is being paralysed. Even the technology and Telecoms sector are affected by the insecurity challenge as operators lose infrastructure, workforce and revenue to the menace. The escalating level of insecurity in Nigeria has resulted in the loss of over N1.4 billion to N1.6 billion in business and commercial assets between 2015 and 2018, as well as a decline in daily oil production from 2.2 million to 1.5 million barrels per day in 2018, leading to low government revenue generation. As of 2020, over $40.6 billion worth of foreign investments were diverted from the Nigerian economy as a result of insecurity, according to the Global terrorism index. This had implications for job creation and economic prosperity as purchasing power declined. Insecurity challenges in Nigeria have also led to underdevelopment, poverty, hunger, kidnapping, armed robbery, fear, drug abuse and political

thuggery, among others.

The effect of terrorist activities such as suicide bombings, kidnappings, destruction of lives, public infrastructure, private and entrepreneurial investments, the climate of fear, panic and confusion and a heated and ungovernable polity has continued to make Nigeria an unsuitable bride for foreign investments.

Earlier efforts

The Federal Government initially asked the police, being the security agency primarily charged with the responsibility of maintaining internal security, to fight the insecurity. However, the police were overwhelmed with the power of insurgency, making government to deploy the armed forces to support the fight. As part of efforts by government, the National Assembly, on several occasions, engages with the National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Baana Monguno and other top security chiefs, to understand what was required to put the security agencies in a position to defeat terrorism and other security problems plaguing the country. The consultations led to “appreciable improvement in budgetary provisions and acquisition of modern equipment for our security forces, thus enhancing efficiency and performance”. After passing several resolutions in response to various security breaches, which often led to loss of lives and properties, the 8th Senate, on November 30, 2017, inaugurated an ad-hoc Committee on Review of Security Infrastructure, led by the incumbent Senate President, Dr. Ahmed Lawan, who was then the Senate Leader. The committee was saddled with the broad mandate to study the problem of the farmersherders crisis and prepare a report outlining approaches for dealing with the issue. Also, the 8th Senate initiated many legislations aimed at putting the security agencies in a position to successfully tackle the problems. Prominent among such laws are the Nigeria Police Reforms Act and the Police Trust Fund. The Police Trust Fund Bill was passed into law before the expiration of the tenure of the Eighth Senate in 2019, while the Police Reforms Act has also become a law under the present National Assembly. There are other Bills passed by the Senate to tackle the security crisis, which includes Defence Space Agency (Establishment etc) Bill 2015, Air Force Institute of Technology (Establishment, etc) Bill 2015, Fire Arms Act Cap F.28 LFN 2004 (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Alteration of the Constitution to delete the National Securities Agency Act from the constitution, National Security Agencies Protection of Officers Identity Bill, 2018, and Maritime Security Operation Coordinating Board Act (Amendment) Bill 2018. Other security-related bills passed by the National Assembly between 2015 and 2019 are Immigration Act (Amendment) Bill 2018, National Institute for Security Studies (NISS) (Establishment, etc) Bill, 2019, Police Procurement Fund Bill, 2016, National Intelligence Agency Pension Bill 2017, Vigilante Group of Nigeria (Establishment, etc) Bill 2017, Abduction, Wrongful Restraint and Wrongful Confinement for Ransom Bill 2017 and Prohibition and Protection of Persons from Lynching, Mob Action and Extra-Judicial Execution Bill, 2017. However, all the efforts seem to be fruitless as the rate of insecurity keeps rising. Concerned with these trends, experts and other stakeholders said there is a need for the country to diversify its strategy in fighting insecurity, insisting that deploying the emerging technology would be effective in fighting the menace.

Technology as a weapon

Technology has continued to present opportunities to create solutions that meet societal needs, including the security of lives and properties. The Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, while reacting to the recent attack on St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State, said technology should play significant role in security operations. “We need to be measured, we need to be focused, we need to be driven by data and facts, and we need to ensure that technology begins to play a much more significant role in our security operations,” he said. Also being aware of the potential of technology as a modern weapon to fight the ravaging insecurity, Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, has ordered compulsory installation and use of Close Circuit Television devices in all public and private institutions in the state. According to the governor, the order became imperative in the light of the increased spate of insecurity in the country and the need to ensure security of lives and properties in all public and private institutions and centers throughout the state. Other experts have continued to advocate the use of technology in fighting insecurity in the country, urging the Federal Government to deploy the needed technology and experts into the country.

Needed technologies

Technologies are of different forms and categories used for different things. World leaders are setting up integrated frameworks to allow them adopt and deploy technology, particularly Artificial Intelligence (AI), to strengthen their national security infrastructure. In the emerging field of AI, modern tools like surveillance cameras, social network analysis, biometric surveillance, data mining and profiling, corporate satellite imagery, RFID and Geolocation devices have become available to combat insecurity.

Experts said investing heavily in such technologies will evoke a level of seriousness and readiness of any government to crush criminal groups and networks. At present, Nigeria has a growing technology ecosystem that churns out innovations that are designed to fit into its local realities.

As such, indigenous technology community could offer digital solutions to the nation’s security woes. For example, a locally based AI technology firm, Robotic and Artificial Intelligence Nigeria, has developed a Carbon Emission Detection (CED) tracker that has capacity to track, find and apprehend kidnappers, bandits and other criminal elements holed up in caves and forest areas. According to the founder, Olusola Ayoola, the designed tracker uses carbon emission sensors to detect carbon dioxide emitted by humans as they move from one location to another within any terrain, saying this will make it difficult for kidnappers to hide their locations.

“If things go the right way, this could present a way to put to rest the terrors of kidnapping and banditry. Rather than wring its figurative hands in defeat, government should engage with players in the tech space and create platforms that foster collaboration and innovation.

“By leveraging cutting-edge technologies, government can ensure that there is proper cooperation and coordination amongst security agencies to reduce duplication of efforts, guard against the mishandling of information as well as enhance information sharing among them. “Although deplorable, herdsmen attacks, kidnapping for money or ritual killings, ethnic cleansing, cybercrimes, human/material trafficking and endemic acts of corruption are the realities today. Now is the time for leaders to wake up to the realisation of the need to mobilise resources — human, financial, technological — to address the diverse issues of national insecurities. After all, we are building a nation, not only for the present generation, but for the future as well,” a social analyst said.

Last line

With the digital revolution going on across the world, there is the need for Nigeria to key into the new trend and deploy the emerging technologies to solve many of its challenges, including security, economic and educational, as well as other challenges truncating socio-economic development of the country.

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