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Reintegrating the Youths for the Security Challenges in Nigeria

In: Social Issues

Submitted By aadamu0315
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The primary objective of every country in the world is to have a sustained economic growth and development, a society where opportunities for good health, nutrition and increase in wealth, national security and religious tolerant, adequate and improved infrastructure among others abound. However, it is disheartening to note that what are experienced today are increase in crime rates, political and religious uprising, corruption and other social vices. The situation is further worsened by the level youth unemployment in the country.

Looking closely at the scenario, it is obvious that the ‘youths’ are the ones mostly involved. This group (youths), is supposed to be looked upon as the engine room of development in any country. Japan, China, India, USA, Great Britain and other advanced countries in the world made technological breakthrough because of the involvement of the youths. However, the Nigerian youths are yet to be recognized and their impact is yet to be felt.

It is in view of this that this paper is structured to explain the need for reintegrating the youth as a panacea for the security challenges in Nigeria.

Operational Definition of Terms

In order to make this article explicit, the following definitions of terms are given as used in the text.

Youths – These are part of the population who are active and their ages fall range between 18 – 45 years.

Reintegration – A process of educating, rehabilitating, accepting and engaging the youths to be productive and useful in a society.

Panacea – Solution to problem to socio-economic challenges.

National Security – Absence of threat to life, property, and socio-economic well being of the people.

Security Challenges – These are threats to the national security.

Conceptual Framework

In all academic circles, no definition is ever all embracing and perfect. Until the recent past, security was understood broadly as absence of insecurity as a result of actions of law enforcement agencies. Dasuki (2013) explains that national frontiers and of the police inside the country. This perception sums up security to equal a system of law and order maintenance.

The dynamics of our society have since altered that configuration of security to now include consideration for societal generated crises such as riots, demonstrations, secret-cult related criminal acts, terrorism, drug-trafficking, intra and inter-ethnic strife, religious intolerance, advance fee fraud, anti-government campaigns, arm robberies, hijacks and a host of others that threatens lives and property and indeed the peace and tranquility in the society. That is why, Obasanjo (1999) remarks that National security entails the ability of Nigeria to advance her interests and objectives, to contain instability, control crime, eliminate corruption, improve the welfare and quality of every citizen.

According to Torulagha in Mutiullah (2010), National security must also include:

“… good governance. Anything short of good governance minimizes the meaning of national security.”

In his interpretation of the aforesaid definition, Mohammed (2006) concludes that National security from any perspective is about safeguarding the interests of the citizenry and providing the type of atmosphere that is free of threats that could inhibit the pursuit of the good of all. It is about the processes and measures required to preserve law and order.

The State of Security in Nigeria Today

According to Mutiullah (2010), security in whatever form is a standard measurement of the viability of any state or nation. However, Nigeria in recent times has witnessed an unprecedented level of insecurity. Inter-communal and inter-ethnic clashes, religious violence, armed robbery, assassination, ritual killing, gender-based violence, bomb explosion, and Niger Delta crises have been on the increase leading to enormous loss of life and property and a general atmosphere of siege and social tension for the people. This thinking informed Rotberg (2007) to postulate:

“Since Obasanjo Became Nigeria’s civilian president in 1999,

Nigeria is remarkably less secure than when he took office. Its

External boarders are unchallenged, but non-state actors and

A variety of indigenous insurgent groups continue to attack

either the nation – state or the governments of individual states.”

Violence in the oil lands of the Niger Delta in the middle Belt between supposed native and alleged newcomers and throughout the whole country between Muslims and Christians continues to threaten Nigeria’s national sense of itself and to undermine democracy and development. In addition, crime against persons, including murder, rape and robbery, has grown in scale and viciousness. Nwolise in Mutiullah (2010) points out that a country may have the armed forces in terms of training and equipment, the most efficient custom men, the most active secret service agents and best quality prisons, but yet be the most insecure nation in the world as a result of defense and security problems within bad governments, alienated and suffering masses, ignorance, hunger, unemployment, or even activities of foreign residents or companies. The above scenario is not different from what currently obtains with security assessment of Nigeria. It is disheartening to note here that the state of security in Nigeria today is so devastating that the unity of this nation is threatened. That is why, Nte, Eke and Igbanibo (2010) sum up and remark that the weakening sovereignty of the states in political, economic and other areas, the weakening institutions, increased economic inequality and the breaking up of both social and political spheres have a devastating effect in many societies.

The youths and the Security challenges in Nigeria

A cursory examination of the topic evidently indicates that there is no better time to dwell on the security challenges we are facing today given the internal security challenges confronting Nigeria presently. No nation is free of security from security challenges. These challenges also vary from one country to the other. Thus, Nigeria’s security challenges would definitely differ from those in Egypt, USA or Russia. For instance, in USA today, the dangers posed by weapon possession are perhaps the greatest security challenges confronting the country.

Threats to a country’s security may range from low level disorder, large scale violence, even armed insurgency or terrorism. These threats may be directed against citizens or the organs and infrastructure of the state itself. Foreign powers may also act as a threat to a country’s security by either committing or sponsoring terrorism or rebellion without actually declaring war.

Some of the major security challenges confronting Nigeria today include terrorism, maritime insecurity, Niger delta militancy, kidnapping, illegal bunkering, Pipeline vandalization, Armed robbery and unemployment among others. For instance, as Dasuki (2013) puts it, the jama’atu Alis Sunnah Lidda’awatih wal-jihad, a religious based Islamic fundamentalist group, popularly known as Boko – Haram is the harbinger of terrorism in Nigeria today. The Niger Delta crisis that has been simmering for years is assuming another dangerous dimension. Mutiullah (2010) decries that the militia group in the Niger Delta popularly known as MEND is responsible for blowing up oil flow stations, abducting some foreign workers and disrupting oil business in the area.

Today, whatever part of the country you go, what is experienced are increase in crime rates, political and religious uprising, corruption, prostitution and other social vices. These are further worsened by the level of unemployment in the country.

Looking at the scenario closely, it is obvious hat the ‘youths’ are the ones mostly involved. This group (youths), is supposed to be looked upon as the engine room of development in any country. Japan, China, USA, Great Britain, India, and other advanced countries in the world made technological breakthrough because of the involvement of the youths. In fact, history has it that Chief Anthony Enahoro, moved the famous motion for Nigeria’s independence in 1954 and 1955 during the British – led conference in London and Lagos respectively at the age of twenty-six and twenty-eight respectively. Of a truth, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Alhaji Ahmadu Bello Sardauna of Sokoto and others who led Nigeria eventually to independence were all youths.

However, today, the Nigerian youths are yet to be recognized and their impact is yet to be felt. It is also evident that thousands of graduates from universities and other tertiary institutions are rumbling the streets of towns and cities in search of work. In the sub-urban and rural areas, the youths are deprived of education and social infrastructure. It is in this vain that Edokpolo (2013) stresses that the youths of this country are hardly equipped with sound educational and vocational skills for development.

The Nigerian youths are subjected to harsh way of life, poor income and aggressive and barbaric approach to issues. Politicians and other wealthy individuals in the country cease this opportunity to exploit them endangering the whole system in the economy. No wonder, today there exist different association in the country in which the composition are mostly youths. Associations such as BOKO HARAM in the north, MEND in the south, MASSOB in the east and OPC in the west are good examples. All the killings, kidnapping, oil-bunkering, bombings and other malicious acts are perpetrated by these organizations which mostly comprise the youths. The various sectors of the economy are gradually collapsing. The reason can partly be attributed to the inability of the government and stakeholders to appropriately integrate the youths in the developmental processes. This informed Edakpolo (2013) to decry that any country or society that relegates its youths from socio-economic and political leadership is sitting on a keg of gun powder.

Re-integrating the youths for a viable National security

The role of the youths in the economic development of this country is indispensable. What need to be done is for the government, civil society, non-governmental organizations and all stake holders to initiate functional programs aimed at reintegrating the youths so as to have a purpose of responsibility in the country. This is where the role of the National Youth Council of Nigeria becomes herculean, because it has constitutional duty to bridge the gap between the ruling elites and average Nigerian youths towards the overall development of Nigeria.

The amnesty program conceptualized by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua for the militant youths of the Niger Delta and the recent on-going amnesty proposal for the Boko Harams in the north initiated by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan might not be successful without the active participation of the National Youth Council of Nigeria. However, despite government’s efforts to successfully implement the first amnesty program, there are still vestiges of militancy amongst youths, be they militant from Niger Delta, infamous day light robbery, kidnapping or the obnoxious killings and bombings on defenseless citizens and their properties by the radical Boko Harams.

Therefore, to appropriately reintegrate the youths for a viable national security, the following recommendations are suggested:

- The level of Nigeria’s infrastructure needs to be improved upon significantly. Similarly policies on education, health, housing and transportation among others need to be reviewed. It is imperative to say that these infrastructures should not only be present but should of high quality in order ensure safety and security of the people, improved welfare and to give people the feeling of satisfaction regarding access to the dividends of democracy.

- Educational facilities should be improved upon and made affordable to further train and reorient the youths. The youths should be seen as valuable assets for development. As such, non-governmental organizations and all stakeholders should collaborate with the government at all levels to initiate vocational programs and to fund and sponsor youths’ education in the country. This will enable Nigerian youths to self reliant and contribute meaningfully to the economic development of the nation.

- The security and ant-corrupt agencies should be reinforced to discharge their responsibilities according to the provisions of law. Professionalism must be improved, recruitment and training need to be overhauled and the curricular reviewed to ensure that policemen and other security agents are in tune with modern technology and devices that can measure up to the standards of their counterparts in more develop countries. This will help to create an enabling environment for foreign investors to invest in the economy.

- Job creation is the solution to youths’ unemployment. Over the years, many laudable programs were put in place by the government to create jobs and alleviate poverty among youths. Such programs as National directorate of employment (NDE), Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES) and National Poverty Eradication Program (NAPEP) among others have not yielded the desired result. It is therefore imperative for government and all stakeholders to provide the enabling environment and infrastructure, such as, stable electricity, good access, roads schools, to mention a few.

- Finally, deliberate efforts should be geared toward diversifying the economy. The government, NGOs and all stakeholders should and direct resources toward modernizing agriculture to enable the possibility of our youths being integrated in economic development and nation-building of our dear country.


The role of youths in upholding national security in any society is very crucial. National security is anchored to the economic development of any country. As such, strategies for integrating the youths have to be carefully selected and implemented. This is due to the fact that the youths are delicate assets in nation building. The future of a country depends absolutely on the caliber of its youths. Hence, the manner in which a country nurtures its youths determines the present and future state of the country.

It is therefore imperative for the government of Nigeria and stakeholders alike to carefully design programs that are capable of reintegrating and sensitizing the youths to foster national security. This will go a long way in enhancing economic growth and development in the country.


Dasuki, S. (2013). Nigeria’s Security Challenges: The way forward. Leadership. Retrieved on February, 1, 2013 from

Edokpolo, A. (2013). The Role of National Youth Council in meeting Global Security Challenges. The Nigerian Observer. Retrieved from on April, 8, 2013.

Mohammed, A. (2006). “Meeting Current Challenges”. Lecture delivered to participants of National War College, Abuja, Nigeria.

Mutiullah, A. O. (2010). The imperative & Challenges of Agenda settings in Nigeria. Road map to Vision 20:2020. Abeokuta: Marvellous Mike Press limited.

Nte, N.D., Eke, P. & Igbanibo, S. T. (2010). Street children and the challenges of National security: Evidence from Nigeria.

Obasanjo, O. (19990. “Grand Strategy for National Security.” The Presidency, Abuja.

Rotberg, I. R. (2007). Nigeria Elections and continuing Challenges. The center for Preventive Action; Council on Foreign Relations.

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