Sarah, a young Nigerian girl, was among the more than 2 million people who remain displaced from homes in the Northeast region of Nigeria and now placed in a camp for Internal Displaced Persons (IDPs). In a 2015 UNICEF report, she explained how Boko Haram invaded her village and killed her stepfather and a younger brother, with her mother nowhere in sight. Read Also: Internally displaced persons and 2015 elections “The second night in the house, “the boys” forgot to lock the doors and a group of girls and young women managed to escape to other IDPs’ camp and in one of the camps I found my mother,” she said. Higher security spend is supposed to reduce insecurity, but in Nigeria, the reverse seems to be the case. Between 2015 and 2020, Nigeria budgeted on average N1.3 trillion on security, a BusinessDay’s analysis of the country’s security expenditure from the budgets shows. Read Also: Worsening insecurity under Mr President’s watch (1) This is the highest security appropriation when compared to an average of N880 billion under Goodluck Johnathan’s administration between 2010-2015; N454.9 billion under Umaru Yar’Adua’s government between 2007-2010, and N101.9 billion during the administration of Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999-2007. Read Also: Worsening insecurity under Mr President’s watch (2) The economic cost of insecurity is estimated at 2.5 percent of GDP in 2020 and N8,811.9 per head, which is much higher than 0.01 percent and N26.8 per head in 1999. However, throwing money at the problem has not been successful, because the 2020 Global Terrorism Index ranked Nigeria as the third most terrorised country in the world, after Syria and Afghanistan – countries at war. “Normally, when you increase spending you are supposed to see the impact, but because it is restricted to a sector, which is security sector, and unfortunately due to high level of unemployment, underemployment, inflation rate, and very low economic growth, there is no impact,” Paul Alajeh, an economic and financial analyst at SPM Professionals, states. Alajeh further notes that the real problem is not insecurity, but development challenges that the government has refused to put in place over the years. From armed robbery, during Obasanjo’s regime to militancy in Umaru Yar’Adua’s tenure and now the country is battling banditry, herdsmen attacks, kidnapping, and insurgency in the Northeast, leaving Nigerians the most terrorised in the continent. The naira has been devalued by about 50 percent in the last few years, making the cost of weapons and military hardware much more expensive to acquire, especially as the country imports these critical items. Security is very important for any economy to have sustainable growth and development. So, when an economy is insecure, it leads to lower economic growth, high volatility, uncertainty, and high unemployment. From 2007 – 2019, a UNDP study estimates that Nigeria lost $141.9 billion of production to security-related violence. With revenue shortfalls and the continuous increase in security spending, there are concerns that other important sectors necessary to create jobs and improve the standard of living of Nigerians might be affected, especially at a time where the country is facing high unemployment, inflation, fragile growth, and rising poverty. Adamu Kabiru, a security expert, says Nigeria is experiencing a very low economic growth rate of 0.11 percent because the impact of this spending has not been seen. He also alludes to the fact that government could tackle the issue of insecurity and economic growth by investing in other critical sectors like education. “Expenditure on education often spurs real economic growth both in the long and short term, and reduces criminality to some levels,” he states. On his part, Mike Ejiofor, a former DSS director, says even though it was very good for the spending on security to increase proportionally over the last decades, there are still concerns around corruption in the utilisation of the funds. It is more urgent that the National Assembly wakes up to its oversight duties, he says. Recently, members of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) said tackling the heightened insecurity had now become a matter of urgency. The Doyin Salami-led group, charged with the responsibility of advising the President on economic policy matters, suggested that in order to defeat Boko Haram decisively, there was a need to re-strategise on the way forward, looking at all options, including seeking the assistance of external powers. “Improve the implementation of policies aimed at improving access and quality of education in underserved areas, implement existing law on compulsory attendance of primary school to reduce the number of out of school children, a key recruiting ground for thugs, and resolve grievances around exclusion from access to power, opportunity, and representation through dialogue,” the advisory council stated.
As the world marks the 2021 World Telecommunication and Information Society Day with the theme “Accelerating Digital Transformation in Challenging Times”, telecommunication service provider 9mobile has restated its commitment to drive the pace of digital transformation in Nigeria through strategic investment in digital infrastructure. The telecoms company said in order to speed up Nigeria’s economic development and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in particular, there was a need to accelerate the country’s digital transformation. This, it said, could be achieved with the deployment of digital infrastructure across the country. Abdulrahman Ado, executive director, Regulatory and Corporate Affairs, 9mobile, while speaking on this year’s theme, noted that it is apt and timely going by the disruption that the pandemic has brought upon lives and businesses. “Today, access remains a big challenge. Nigeria, like many other developing countries, remains below the required level of investment in IT infrastructure that is necessary to achieve improved efficiencies and enhanced information flow for economic growth and innovation. It is critical that we intensify efforts in investing in the necessary infrastructure that promotes quality connectivity,” Ado said. READ ALSO: 9Mobile gains as telecom sector loses 15.4m subscribers in 5 months “At 9mobile we are constantly working towards bridging the connectivity gap as we work together with other stakeholders in the industry to provide innovative technology solutions that are life transforming,” he said. World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) is celebrated annually on May 17 to commemorate the founding of International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention in 1865. The 2021 WTISD provides a unique opportunity for ITU members to continue in their quest for an accelerated digital transformation agenda that is all-encompassing, by promoting national strategies on ICT development across the world.