Everyone worries about security, but most people define it in terms of guns and ammunition, and uniforms. Policy makers draw misleading inspirations from this pervasive sentiment, which constitutes a threat to proper conceptual definition of security and
security threats in West Africa.
The sub region grapples with many forms of threats to security in its midst as it boasts expansion in population unbalanced exploita-tion of resources at the disposal of the countries. Educated but unemployed citizens are veering off into crime as gerontocracies and kleptocracies ignore the legitimate existential needs of the populace. The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS’ resolve to emphasise human security in its longstanding quest for regional security is commendable but the details of the strategy require attention.
Security challenges border on misgovernance and uneven resource distribution. Conflicts between religious and political ideologies colour the violent manifestations of these social and political tensions, tending to eclipse the real issues such as poverty and low educational levels of society.
International dimensions to these internal conflicts have also emerged with drug trafficking in West Africa (accompanied by arms for protection), piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and general maritime insecurity, kidnapping of expatriate workers, to involvement of multinational companies in the importation of weapons into and across the sub region. The influence of private security agencies on insecurity has served as corollary for propping up the dishonest activities that herald these security threats.
And the prospects of sub regional security look bleak. Insurgencies and unpopular regimes litter the terrain through Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia to Nigeria. Immediate and concerted actions by ECOWAS, in cooperation with national governments and private sector companies are only likely to yield results in a decade, but forecast of such holistic concert simply does not exist. Early warning signals of threats to security such as high unemployment and low economic productivity evidenced by low power supply for businesses and the difficult fiscal climate buttress the sub regional intergovern-mental body ECOWAS’ newfound resolve to focus on human secu-rity. But, while the citizens await movement from resolve to action, insecurity remains a challenge for the individual.
–Odoh Diego Okenyodo