As in much of Africa, the vast majority of security threats facing Nigeria are internal, often involving irregular forces such as insurgents, criminal gangs, and violent religious extremists. Effectively combating such threats requires cooperation from local communities—cooperation limited by low levels of trust in security forces who often have reputations for corruption, heavy-handedness, and politicization. Tackling modern security threats, then, is directly tied with improving the governance and oversight of the security sector, especially the police. Key paths forward include clarifying the structure of command and oversight, strengthening merit-based hiring and promotion processes, and better regulating private and voluntary security providers.
Oluwakemi Okenyodo is the Executive Director of Partners West Africa — Nigeria: Rule of Law and Empowerment Initiative, which focuses on enhancing citizen participation and security governance. She is a former Executive Director of the CLEEN Foundation.