Building a sustainable security in Africa—Abia State experience





 It is my pleasure to be here today, in this great city of Accra, Ghana to talk about the sustainable security of Africa, and the experience of my own State of Abia in Nigeria. This great and ancient city of Accra which endured series of colonial powers’ intrigues, has for more than six centuries prevailed as a shining star in promoting African historic interests. There is no better place to talk about the sustainability of the security of Africa, – of a people, and – of an enduring idea, than here in Accra. Africa will certainly endure despite its conflicts – just as Accra, Ghana has endured and prevailed.

I salute the people of Ghana; I salute the African Union (AU), which through its organizational activities has collectively given hope to Africa that its conflicts will be managed, if not totally resolved. I also salute the Board of Trustees of Security Watch Africa, for its indomitable spirits of survival and concern that Africa should enjoy a sustainable peace and security, so that our people will devote more energy to developing our human and material resources for the benefits of generations of Africans.                                                                           

I salute every person here who has not given up hope that Africa will get its acts together and take full responsibility to harness its abundant resources for the development of human security and improved democratization, rather than continue to support despotic and fragile regimes, that promote more conflicts. These search for solutions and optimism that Africa will survive must continue.

I bring good tidings from the people of Nigeria, and especially from the good people of my State of Abia, God’s Own State – which is now living out the true meaning of its captioned name, because we braved all odds to bring sustainable peace to our citizens and made it a haven of peace in Nigeria.

Our country Nigeria presents a clear case of many nations inhabiting one country, and we have been through and survived a series of conflicts arising from our complexity as a multi-ethnic Nation, welded together. We are still searching for sustainable peace and security, and despite an emerging democratic ethos, serious conflicts, including ‘boko-haram’ terrorism still remain parts of our daily challenges, especially as democratization has a tendency to generate its own series of demands and conflicts.            

My own State of Abia was for several years locked in violent crisis and criminal kidnapping, which almost crippled our State, our economy and our governance institutions. But through an integrated approach of security framework that focused on maximum policing, military force, improvement of the welfare of citizens, application of judicial and correctional measures, application of the rule of law and collective participation of the stakeholders in issues of conflicts, we have been able to restore peace and sustainable security in our State.

Today, and for close to three years, Abia State is ranked as the safest State in Nigeria. We are now rewarded as the fastest growing economy in Nigeria, with growing internal and external inflow of investments. Our confidence has been renewed in the belief that peace and security must necessarily precede, and re-enforces sustainable development of any State.

It is my belief that even the invitation to speak in this forum is a clear indication that our efforts to achieve human security and sustainable development in our State, is now getting the attention of peace watchers and peace lovers. I am happy to be here to share our experiences, and to further contribute to the sustaining of improved security of our continent. I therefore sincerely thank the Board of Trustees of Security Watch Africa for this rare opportunity of a continental exposure.

You have asked me to speak to this distinguished audience on ‘Building a Sustainable Security Structure in Africa – Abia Experience. I will say that our experience in Abia State insecurity has not been on a straight line, but show a curve in learning process.                                                                                                                  We first re-learned to review our own understanding of the desirable approach to maintaining security of a State in a volatile environment. We came to know that the ‘control paradigm of achieving security though maintaining the status quo, cannot always produce a reliable security.

We learned that a better security framework can be achieved through a structure that focuses on integrated approach, seeking not only to control the consequences of insecurity, but attempting to galvanize the resources and interests of all stakeholders in a participatory framework to fight the symptoms of the conflict. This approach combines both the rule of law, application of strategic force, and commitments to the welfare of the citizens, to reach a sustainable peace. This is just what we did in Abia State.

We will approach this Lecture in six segments. First, we will look at the state of Insecurity in Africa – what are the drivers? We then address the dominant aim of African security structures and the approaches to dealing with the challenges.                                                              

This is followed by a look at the alternative approach, i.e.: Sustainable security framework – ‘what difference does it make’? We then attempt to project the future of African security within the sustainable framework paradigm. This is followed by our review of our Abia State experience; our security challenges, and how we responded to that. We finally conclude the lecture with our recommendations on the way forward for African security.



 Africa’s security challenges are characterized by a great diversity; and these range from conventional challenges such as insurgencies, border conflicts, resource and identity conflicts, post conflict stabilization crisis, violent extremism, and terrorism (See, African Center for Strategic Studies, 2005).

 In recent times, these challenges have become more complex and dynamic. As major transitions begin to reshape African economic and political development, especially after the decades of military rule and authoritarianism, the new democratic institutions, have on their own generated new types of conflicts and violent situations.                                                                                                              Also, rapid urbanization in Africa have brought with it, competing socio-political disruptions, that encourage domestic militancy, and other new violent criminal activities, which now challenge domestic and continental security.

Suddenly, militants of all shades and diverse beliefs, kidnappers – political and criminal, and terrorist groups, have added to the lexicon of security discuss in Africa. These, together with the management of State natural resources, markets, illicit goods movements, border administration, and many other subtle factors, have now become new drivers that shape Africa’s regional security challenges.

 These major drivers that determine the state of insecurity in Africa, have been properly articulated by Chris Abbot and Thomas Philips (See Chris Abbot and Philips, Beyond Dependence and Legacy: Sustainable Security in Sub-Saharan Africa), as follows:

1.   The Nature of the State

2.   Legacies of War and militarism

3.   Resource Management Issues

 African States emerged as creations of European colonial powers, which shaped the nature of the new States.

 From the period of independence, the new States bore within them the seeds of conflict, especially as many diverse Nations were fused into incompatible unions of one State. These new and weak States were further characterized by weak institutions, poor governance, and predatory leadership in the post-independence era.                                                          This is why the initial spate of ethnic based and border conflicts dominated the African region in the first two decades of independence in the 1960s and 70s. The postcolonial interests and the ideological divide of the cold war era further fueled these conflicts.

The initial ethnic based conflicts in Africa, and the divisive power struggle that followed the politics of the new States, on their own, created legacies of wars and militarism in Africa. Since power struggle and conflicts always rewarded the strongest, African States acquired the tendency to employ counter violence to settle all issues of disagreement, even where dialogue can subsist. This favored the ruling and despotic elites

The implication was felt in the militarization of Africa, increased arms trading, and obtrusive resort to force, even in the midst of decay and underdevelopment. The emergence of military regimes in Africa merely compounded the problems of regional violence and the promotion of conflicts, especially in the development of war economies.                                                                                                                                                                            The struggle for control of the resources of the State, which had been heightened by militarization, further stressed the African conflict environment to the neglect of its increasingly decaying economy. Many analysts, that this period when African States were enmeshed in violent conflicts constitutes a major factor in its low economic, have observed it political and social development.

It is also a known fact that Africa is richly endowed in many natural resources, which include large deposits of oil, gold, diamond, and many other rich minerals and exploitable resources. Ordinarily, these and its abundant human resources should make Africa the most developed, peaceful and enviable continent.                                                                                                              

Instead, these natural endowments have become the curse of Africa, as the poor management of these resources has become major drivers of conflict. As despotic States and their cronies appropriate common resources of their States, for personal enrichment, and often supported by foreign powers, regional arms race escalated and conflicts became more endemic in Africa.

Many African States that are endowed in resources, have also failed to use them to promote the welfare of their citizens, thus creating internal divide that encourage militarism as alternative politics. As Africa acquired a perception as a conflict prone environment, both local and foreign investors, refused to invest in Africa in the long term, living the region to remain perpetually a haven for extractive investment and suppliers of raw materials. These contribute to further underdevelopment Africa.

In recent years, African population has been growing exponentially, and under severe Malthusian threat. This is heightened by the threat of climate-change, which devastates agricultural activities and impoverishes the land. The cross migration of African people in search of arable lands for agriculture and cattle rearing have equally produced violent conflicts in the continent.

All these and many other drivers, now shape Africa’s regional security challenges, and attract diverse approaches in managing the challenges.



 The security objectives of Africa and its interests, especially after emerging from the clutches of colonialism, should ideally be focused on enabling Africans to go about their daily lives, – freely and with confidence that their lives and property are secured, in a stable and just State of self-rule; that ensures their prosperity in an environment and beyond. This was expected to be the essential first principle for the emerging States and their governance in a post independence status. But ironically, this was not to be in the consideration of the security framework of post independent African States.

The truth is that African security doctrines have focused mainly on the security of the ruling elites, and the maintenance of the status quo, in what has been termed as the ‘control paradigm’. This approach, very often relies on military force to produce compliance of conflicting parties, while ignoring the underlying issues that caused the conflict in the first place.                                                              

 In this framework, the security of despots, their governments, and those of the collaborative elites, have been foisted on the national Interest of States, and become the defining character in resolving conflict challenges.

A major characteristics of this concept and its perception of security, is that it relegates to the background, the issues of global justice, equity, and people centeredness in the analysis and pursuit of security challenges. This approach has been witnessed where despotic rulers exploit ethnic divisions and neo-colonialism to remain in power while crushing all forms of opposition as security threats.                                                                                                                   Equally, the growth of military dictatorships with false legitimacies, touting themselves as purveyors of the national interest, have resulted in the acceptable use of force to eliminate all challenges to ill-conceived insecurity. The results have been in more internal disagreements, more conflicts, more violence and more insecurity in Africa.

 It was also in the pursuit of a status quo based security, that African corrupt leaders and regimes were protected and supported by western democracies during the cold war era, while prevailing conflicts and violence were forcefully suppressed. These were only to re-appear in other forms to the greater damage of African security.

It is informative to note that over the years, some attempts have been made at the regional and continental levels to address the ‘control paradigm’ of Africa’s perception and approach to dealing with its conflicts, especially through the efforts of African Union (AU), the ECOWAS and the South African Development Community (SADC), through its various more people centered interventions.

These interventions have been well reflected in the Organizations’ Guidelines on democratic free and fair elections, and the collective approach to security management and peace keeping interventions, as well as norms setting for dealing with conflict situations.                                                                                                              The AU has equally established a peace and security Directorate, to provide enhanced institutional capacity for achieving security and stability in Africa, beyond the control security structure that aims at only maintaining the status quo (See, Peace and Security Organization, AU Untitled Document, 2004).

But change and implementation of security structures in Africa continent, remain the prerogatives of individual African States, which very often lacked the will power to implement them. But of greater significance in the security management of African States, has been the prevalence of excessive corruption, weak leadership, and poor institutional capacity of States, which all combine, to encourage the State centered ‘status quo’ conception of security in Africa.                                                     These issues define why the interchange between endemic conflicts and economic development in Africa, remain difficult issues to deal with, and demands alternative approach for effective management.



 While the ‘control paradigm’ has dominated security thinking and management in Africa in the past six decades of African statehood and independence, many conflicts continue to fester. The United Nations Development Programme Agency links these conflicts to the declining and low economic, infrastructure and social development of Africa. This has combined with other changing political, economic and security circumstances, to force most African governments to begin to consider some forms of reform in their security institutions, funding and perception, especially how security can integrate with civilian constituents and other stakeholders (See, Eboe Hutchful and Kayode Fayemi, Security System Reform in Africa).

 This need to move to a new security paradigm in Africa has been driven by a variant of trends, some of them conflicting. These include reforms in the external securities of foreign Nations, globalism and the end of the cold war conflicts, the process involved in the rebuilding of States and the demands of Donor Agencies. All these now impose the imperatives of change in the old military oriented structure of African security perception.

The drivers to leading to this desired alternative approach to security challenges in Africa have been extensively discussed in Eboe and Fayemi (Ibid), to include the followings:

1.   The peace agreements, which brought an end to some African conflicts, also, imposed some changes in security perceptions and the way forward.

2.   The growing democratization and dismantling of African authoritarian regimes and political structures, most of them military, began to suggest expansion of security views and new perception.

 3.   The drive to fiscal restructuring and monitoring of public expenditure, now becoming mandatory in African security structures, now call for reduced weapon accumulation and use as dominant approach to conflict situations.

4.   Changing strategic environment brought about by end of the cold war, and its associated conflicts, equally suggest changes in the attitude of developing countries in dealing with their conflicts.

5.   The growing importance and reach of regional and sub-regional collective security mechanisms, also suggest the need for new strategies in conflict reduction.

6.   The deteriorating security conditions of many African States in the face of global and State economic meltdowns, have induced the need for collaborative consciousness in managing all forms of conflicts.

 Under these new conditions, dialogue over security issues have become more acceptable as a strategy, and the need for reform of old thinking and application of security principles in Africa, has become both urgent and imperative.



 This new approach and reform to African security structure, in which focus is more on ‘human security’ is being given prominence of new thinking, and is acclaimed to be the basis of building a sustainable security for Africa.

Sustainable security in Africa and indeed in any other part of the world is built on the premise that we cannot successfully control all consequences of insecurity, but must work to resolve the causes. In other words, fighting the symptoms will not work, instead, we need to focus on curing the disease, and focus our analysis of security threats on an integrated approach that seeks to prevent the causes of conflicts.                                                                                                                 Such an approach will need to deal with long term drivers of insecurity, including competition over resources, marginalization of minorities, and even management of climate change and its implications to Africa (See Ben Zala, Looking for Leadership, Sustainable Security in Latin America and Caribbean, Oxford Research Group, Norwegian Peace-Building Center).

Sustainable security in Africa will also take into consideration the justice and equity issues in African States and shift defense spending to human needs, including creation of jobs, and food security.                                                                                                                  As African States imbibe the concept of sustainable security, they will begin to focus on the root causes of our domestic threats, using the most effective means of doing so, and making cooperation and collaboration with citizens, the police, military and intelligence agencies, the new basis of building trust in a people centered security.

 This approach is equally in recognition, that the protection of individuals is critical to both domestic and international security, and implies that the security needs of citizens for their development are not always enforceable through military means. Therefore, national defense, law and order, need to incorporate the broader political, social and economic issues that daily affect citizens’ lives.                                                       

Within this wider focus, sustainable security structure, will in responding to security challenges use the instrument of force, only in a manner that is consistent with democratic norms and supportive of human development (See, Security System Reform and Governance, OECD, 2005).

African States, in adopting the sustainable security structures that focus on the entire security of their citizens, suggest agreement:

1.   That the security structure must reflect local needs and priorities of all stakeholders

2.   That security must be seen as a policy issue that invites input from a larger population, beyond the needs of the elites.


 3.   That security must move beyond the use of force, and develop integrated policy approaches and responses that cut across other sectors of public action and interests.

4.   That application of security, both operational, capacity and design must be accountable to the people, if it will provide lasting solutions.                                                                                                                       


We have tried to demonstrate here, that sustainable security does not mean preserving a ‘strong-man State’, where stability lasts as long as the leader is in power. Just as African leaders were supported in power during the cold war, and gained ideological advantage that gave false impressions of security and stability, but ended as fragile weak States, prone to more conflicts. Africa’s survival in the next century will depend on its ability to conduct its security challenges within the sustainable security structure.

 This requires that African States, through collective actions, seek first to identify the risks of many State failures, through early warning of conflicts, and know where collective regional intervention will make the difference in resolution. This is because the ECOWAS and the AU in Africa’s security system management, has been important in the collective security approach of the region, especially in containing military coup de tat, peace keeping, and humanitarian intervention, and also in norms setting of Africa’s security system.                                                                  

But it is also important to further drive these concerns to protect the poor, women and other vulnerable groups, through the collective improvement of governance of African States. This will not only improve the weak States, but also equally assist in the area of poverty reduction (See, Security Reforms System and Governance, OECD, 2005).

 Also, both the African States and the regional organizations, need to develop strategies to reduce the pressures on at-risk States, by both addressing urgent problems that affect such States, especially in the building of long term capacity and institutions in ‘the core five areas’ of State policing, modern military, strong Civil service, effective judicial system, and responsive leadership (See Pauline Baker, Fragile States, Not destined to be Failed States, Courier, George Town University, 2012).

It is time that African Peer Group Monitoring, begin to track conflict potentials of the region, by recognizing how individual States fulfill their functions in providing ‘human security’ through protection of human rights, insuring the rule of law, fighting corruption, reducing poverty, growing their economies and fostering the well-being of the population. These are required to operate a people centered security, prevention of conflicts, and achievement of sustainable security (See, Pauline Baker, Ibid).

It is also evident that poor application of the democratization process, in many African States, has in itself encouraged political violence in the continent, and the resort to physical security to provide order. Attainment of sustainable security, will on its own strengthen and re-enforce democracy, through the attainment of social justice, safe environment and economic development.



 Abia State is one of the 36 States of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, excluding the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja. It is located in the South East region of Nigeria, and inhabited by the ethnic Igbo race. It is a core State of the defunct Biafra of the Nigerian civil war of secession, which ended after three years of violent and destructive crisis, on the basis of ‘no victor, no vanquished’. But this was after more than one million lives were lost. The implication of this is that the people of Abia State are no strangers to debilitating conflicts and its security challenges.

Abia State is a peripheral oil producing State, and its people are mainly dependent on agricultural activities and commerce, they are also considered as the major trading and middlemen in the merchandizing of local and foreign goods in Nigeria and throughout the West African Coast.                                                                                                 

The State’s major commercial city of Aba is reputed as ‘the Japan of Africa’, and the base of ingenious entrepreneurs, whose locally manufactured goods, comparing with world standards, are famously marketed all over Africa and the world; often under foreign labels. As naturally restless and well-travelled people, Abians constitute the major traders in the ECOWAS States and value freedom of movement.

All of these, make a peaceful environment extremely important for the survival of the people of Abia State of Nigeria, and underlies our perception of security threat.

The entire South-East Region of Nigeria, including Abia State, has a long history of security threats. These have been allowed to fester and remain unresolved, over the years. The watershed of these many threats came in the period of the Nigerian Civil War, when the South East Region, for three years, was locked in a war of secession with the Federal Government of Nigeria. Until that period, other minor threats were not considered threatening enough.

During the Nigerian Civil War, the South-East Region was able to survive the Federal might through the collective use of ingenious forces for both offensive and defensive action, until secession was defeated by the Armed Forces of the Federal Government of Nigeria. This resulted in the break-up of the region into smaller ethnic States, and re-absorption into a 21 State structure of a post war Nigeria.

In a post-civil war reconstruction of Nigeria, the proclamation of ‘no victor no vanquished’ was only partially applied, as whatever remained of the people of the South East region, was further marginalized and relegated to the background.                                                                          

The struggle for ‘individual security’ and resource competition, which emerged in the post civil war South East Region, foisted on the region, violent activities ranging from armed robbery, massive fraud syndrome, and collapse of the values of integrity and enterprise, for which the region was known.

Further balkanization of the region, through the creation of more new States, of which Abia State was a beneficiary in August 1989, became the source of heightened conflicts in the region. All these were further allowed to fester, until tension grew in dimension in the region.

But it was the extended search for social and economic justice in the major Nigerian oil producing areas of the Niger Delta, which created the massive security challenges in the South-South region, and filtered into Abia State. This created the security challenges that tested our ability to create a sustainable security environment for our people.

 In the search for social and economic justice in the Niger Delta Areas, militant youths contested the exploitation and utilization of the resources of oil available in their area, and this promoted the massive use of force and political violent agitation in the region. This subsequently degenerated into the use of kidnapping of foreign oil workers and multinational collaborators, as a form of political protest. The later demands for ransom money became the untidy extension of this justifiable political agitation.

In no distant time, this misguided use of violence and kidnapping for ransom money, spread like a wild fire into Abia State, even though our peripheral position as an oil State could not justify any political coloration. In our State, kidnapping and other forms of violent crimes soon became exaggerated to obsession, and as the latest avenue for rapid wealth creation, for both amateurs and professional criminals. Even our unemployed and partially employed youths were ensnared into the business, constituting a complete collapse of social values and massive insecurity.


Our cities, especially Aba, became dreaded and deserted areas, as foreign and local businesses fled the towns and relocated to other areas. The circle of poverty and unemployment grew larger in the land. For close to three years, Abia citizens lived in fear of kidnappers, as people went into hiding. The State governance was helpless in providing security and performing its developmental functions, as citizens cried out for rescue.


In our attempts to address these security threats facing our State, we were conscious of the fact that security threats, no matter their magnitude, do not emerge over-night. They arise as results of accumulated stresses and unsavory developments, some of them long ignored. In Abia State at that time, we were aware of accumulated public policy failures of past governments, and their implications to security threats.

More than in any other region of the Nation, public policy failures were glaring in our State, as evident in the poor infrastructures and social services, abandoned government projects, especially roads, massive youth unemployment, and declining educational standards.                                                                                                              In fact, the self help attitudes of the Igbo man, which in the past provided safety bridges for our citizens, had itself been stretched to its limits, and the belief that individual citizens can do everything for themselves, had imploded into self and societal exploitation, and sometimes, desperate criminality.

It was these realizations that drove our State Government to do its duty to provide ‘human security’, and directly attack those issues that we saw as causing our security threats:

1.   We sought to first re-unite the divided political elites of our State, both within and outside the State, and renewed their confidence and trust in Government. We insisted on inclusion of all citizens in the affairs of the State, based on equity in the sharing of State legacies, devoid of interventions of godfathers.


2.   We then adopted dialogue as a security approach, by engaging kidnappers and all those involved in criminal violence. We called for the trading of kidnappers’ weapons in exchange for money, and eventual amnesty, re-training and re-integration into the society.

3.   We chose to collaborate with all stake-holders in the society, including Traditional Rulers, Religious Organizations, Active Youth Groups, the Police, the Military and other security agencies, through the sharing of intelligence information, and monetary rewards for information leading to arrest of kidnappers and violent criminals.

4.   We embarked on inter-State collaboration in the monitoring and tracking of kidnappers and other criminals, with the aim of isolating them, for apprehension and legal prosecution.

5.   We applied social reform in the State to check gun production  ad weapon running, popular in some of our areas, and assisted them to find other areas of gainful employment.

 6.   We chose to embark on massive developmental projects that target the youths for self-employment, and creation of recreational facilities to engage them to re-invent their energies.

We did all these to re-focus our security challenges on the protection of human beings, and these may have led to the massive cooperation we received from citizens. But in some quarters, it may have given the impression that some crimes do pay.

This perhaps was what encouraged some kidnappers to renew their boldness and callous approach to the level of intimidation of the entire citizenry of our State. This led our State to introduce the collective use of Federal military force in dealing with our security threat. This special moment came, when 15 innocent and vulnerable pupils of our Abayi International School in Aba, were kidnapped, and this worsened the exodus of our people from Aba. The exalted fear was that nobody was safe in the State.

It then dawned on our Government that beyond all measures taken to deal with our security threat, we needed to do our first and most basic job as a government, which is to protect our citizens, their property and their ways of lives.                                                                     

We honored that contract and successfully collaborated with our Traditional Rulers, the Armed Forces of the Federal Government of Nigeria, our Police and the support of all the willing members of our society. We waged a decisive attack on all the known dens of kidnappers and violent criminals, successfully capturing many of them, while the most notorious kingpin ‘Osisi ka’nkwu’, died in the process.                                                                                                                  Our inclusion of military force in dealing with our domestic security challenges, merely addresses  the perceived weakness of the Nigerian Police, which is under-equipped, poorly trained, and often incapable of withholding the challenges of well-armed criminal kidnapping gangs. But even the raid of kidnappers’ enclaves enjoyed the collaboration of all stakeholders of our State, who both supported and complemented the efforts of Government.

Since this post conflict era of our insecurity in Abia State, our State Government has adopted the strategy of further building the peace by directly contributing to the funding of the Nigerian Police in our State, and providing equipment and logistic supports in vehicles and other movements. These have contributed to the maximum policing of our State and improved joint surveillance of both police and military detachments. The result is that since 2010, Abia State has enjoyed a predictable peace and security.

We are proud to say that both local and foreign investors have returned to our State, and economic activities, including nightlife and hospitality industries are now booming in Abia State commercial cities, which were dreaded areas in the past.                                                                  

The people of Abia State, especially the youths, are the guardian angels of our new security. We continue to work hard in streamlining and refining the politics of our State, into a merit based standards, where all our citizens can aspire to the highest positions in the State, without mortgaging their conscience to godfathers’ support.

 Our merit-based system in the State has marked us out as the pillars of support for democracy and security in Nigeria, and attracted support of the Federal Government and the Nation’s Ruling Political Party, the PDP. Today, our State is the number one safest State in Nigeria, a complete 180 degrees turnaround from three years ago.

Our lessons from what we have achieved in sustainable security of our State, is that Nigerians and any other African nationals, will always be frustrated with governments, which fail to do what governments do, which is to protect their lives and property; their ways of lives, and their environment, for sustainable development of their economies.

We may not have achieved a completely free and non-violent environment in Abia State, but it is our dream that our children will inherit the same free, safe and prosperous State, that we have tried to create in Abia State.

This will only be possible, if we continue to make policies that ensure ‘human security’, that is, the welfare, safety and prosperity of our people, especially the youths, vulnerable women and children. This will not only restore the care value of our society, but also deal with those issues that sometimes make kidnapping and other violent crimes, preferred options.

But more important, we need to ensure an elective democratic system that is honest, accountable, accurate, just and equitable. If we are able to insist on these, we will certainly build a State, where all stakeholders feel obligated to support both the government and security Enforcement Agencies in promoting a sustainable security framework for all citizens. The same goes for all African States.


Sustainable security structure for Africa must of necessity, combine three approaches (adapted from Gayle E. Smith, In search of Sustainable Security):-viz.

1.   National security, or safety of the States

2.   Human security, or the well-being and safety of the citizenry

3.   Collective security or the shared interests of the entire African continent

None of these should focus only on the preservation of the status quo, where the interests of a few elites are dominant.

Our analysis of the security trends in Africa, and review of what we did in Abia State in attempt to achieve sustainable security, leads us to believe that reform in African security can equally be achievable and sustainable African security attained, if pursued within the above three-pronged integrated approach.

But African States must have the confidence to move beyond the control paradigm of security framework, and reduce emphasis on the State, individual leadership, and on military strategy. They need to begin to see security as an all encompassing condition in which individual citizens live in freedom, peace and safety; participate fully in the process of governance, enjoy the protection of fundamental rights, have access to resources and the basic necessities of life and inhabit an environment not detrimental to their health and well-being (See, South African White Paper on Defense, cited in Hutchful and Fayemi, op.cit).

Equally, effective leadership and governance of African States will serve as the best prop for improving African security framework. While we cannot eliminate conflicts and violence in Africa, the quality of leadership and governance of African States, will dictate the extent that adopted security management approaches can move from the ‘control paradigm’ to a focus on human security and sustainability.                                                                                                        Where there are strong and committed leaderships, reduced corruption, strong State institution s and political will to reform, African States are capable of creating a sense of cohesion that can reduce interminable conflicts and violence. The benefits can be in the improved development and social growth of Africa.

But by and large, sustainable security structure of Africa can be attained through the followings commitments of African States:

1.   Collaboration between the major civilian stakeholders and relevant security agencies, especially in the sharing of soft human intelligence information, appropriate and well funded State policing, and policy dialogue at all levels ( local, national and regional).

2.   Increased regional cooperation across Africa to provide integrated trade, strengthening of regional and domestic institutions, and improved legitimacy. Intra regional cooperation in transportation will also facilitate job creation in member States, and reduce internal frustrations of citizens that lead to violence.

3.   Implementation of regional collective security as provided in the Peace and Security Directorate of the AU, should be applied on specific objectives that are African driven, with the cooperation and assistance of non-African bodies, tailored only towards the areas of capacity building, training and security reforms of States. This will reduce the direct externalization f African conflicts.

4.   Also, the role of the AU in providing a common vision of defense and security of Africa, which include recognition of human security and promotion of mutual trust and confidence, as stated in the AU’s Inaugural Assembly of July, 2002, and passed in February 2004, in Libya, must be fully pursued and implemented by member States.

5.   Nations like South Africa and Nigeria need to sustain their regional leadership roles, by strengthening their domestic institutional mechanisms, and through that, drive a more coherent approach to Africa’s sustainable security.

  6.   African States need to formulate sustainable economic policies that address the growing poverty of their population and other issues that impact on their population, especially the creation of jobs to absorb the youthful and idle minds of Africa. This will be necessary in attaining a demilitarized polity and reduce continuous reliance on military solutions to conflicts.

7.   Widespread availability of dangerous weapons among the African public, do lead to the massive response of use of force by security agencies, any time African security is breached. This must be addressed, to enable sustainable security of Africa focus on long-term drivers of conflict.

8.   Democratic reforms and accountability of African States should equally reduce corruption and other unsavory tendencies that create inequity and produce resource conflicts. Also with democratic improvement in the rule of law, reform of the essential process of security will equally follow.

9.   Climate change and other environmental issues, are new emerging threats to Africa’s security, and must begin to attract adequate collective African attention to address them. Otherwise, these will put greater pressures on African lean resources, escalate competitions, and produce more violence in the region.

Violence and conflicts represent grave threats to life, security and prosperity of Africa, just as sustainable security precedes and re-enforces development. That is why the last decades of low economic, social and infrastructure development in Africa, have equally witnessed concomitant deteriorations in the internal security of many African States.                                                                                                                                                               

The above problems may be pressing, but African States can only have the security they deserve, if their security structures are accompanied with changes in thinking; and when that new thinking transcends the status quo, and focus less on the use of institutional privileges to secure the positions of only the minority elites. Instead, all security structures and emphasis, should be on the building of a socially, politically and economically just Africa that focus on ‘human security’ and other real drivers of Africa’s instability.