Prof Adoyi Onoja: COVID-19 and ‘follow the money’ theory of security

There are two reasons people steal – Need and/or Greed. They steal to secure their lives; this is borne out of need. They steal because the opportunities to steal exist and/or because everyone with the opportunity is stealing; this is borne out of greed. People steal because governance and government is insensitive, inadequate or failing to provide and create opportunity for them through growing the economy.

Governance is not working effectively and efficiently to meet the growing needs of most Nigerians for well-being or security. So, people steal money for their well-being or security. They steal to access food, shelter, health, infrastructures etc. These are the items that secure or constitute security. With money in your pocket, one can have access to most if not all of these items.

Please look no further for the reason those who can steal. They steal money for their security or well-being. Examine every act of stealing in the public sector of Nigeria and the conclusion is that those that steal money do so to secure their lives and those of their families. They steal because there is no today and no tomorrow for them.

Therefore, any proposed security policy legislation that overlooks this Nigerian and indeed universal fact or that which I conceptualized as Nigeria’s History, Experience and Reality (HER) in its making is doomed to fail. Security is well-being and well-being or security is guaranteed with the possession of money – plenty money in the pocket.

In the last twenty years, the significance of security or well-being and the need to change the authoritarian enabling environment perspective of security as guns and boots has upped the scale. Nigeria’s legislatures have not woken up to the urgent reality of setting the legislative direction of what should be security, whose security, what should be a security issue and how security should be achieved within the context of the renewable mandate enabling environment.

In the last twenty years, the scale of deprivation has been increasing. In the last five years, deprivation heightened exponentially consolidating the country’s designation as the poverty capital of the world. Correspondingly, the quest for well-being or security amongst all and sundry particularly the elite with the means has taken on the character of warfare with different battlefields.

The current battleground is the management of coronavirus. The money trail is with the managers of COVID-19 and the enabling environments of the pandemic at the federal and states levels. The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the palliatives running into trillions of naira purportedly spent, the fire at the Accountant General’s office.

The over N13billion school feeding programme with schools closed, the activities of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, foreign and private sector donations to federal and state governments, various money guzzling measures instituted by the executives including fumigation of towns etc. This is the latest battleground for security or the pursuit of well-being for those opportune to be in this sector.

Even the so-called de-facto security or the Military, Intelligence and Law Enforcement (MILE) are in hot pursuit of money, money that guarantees wellbeing or security, the raison de’tre for the men and women that enlisted into the services. The latest example where the MILE set up shop, in the pursuit of wellbeing or security, is the border of Nasarawa state and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). This is the town of Nyanya.

Most, if not every security, representing the MILE is represented, involved and present in this border town. The strategy of operation targets the 8pm curfew when movement is restricted. A deliberate gridlock is orchestrated and begins to build up every 6pm in the evening to climax at 8pm when the payment of money or security to these officials in order to buy passage begins. This is making money at its best.

This money is the ultimate security that the MILE elite know and understand even as they have been pushing the failed and failing guns and boots down the throats of most Nigerians as security. Money is the only guarantee to accessing most if not all the good things that makes life and living enjoyable. Ask the farmer and the herders, the hired groups turned bandits that were sponsored and abandoned by the political class, the kidnappers etc.

Security is Money. Money is Security. Most Nigerians know and understand this language. This is the language their elite know, understand, keep close to their heart and are in serial denial to admit publicly. Still searching for a Nigerian philosophy of security? Follow the management of COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria’s public sector.

Professor Adoyi Onoja writes from Keffi State University.


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