A search on search engines using Nigeria as a keyword within the news category returns security and insecurity related content to the Internet users more than business opportunities, life and style, and culture content of the Africa’s most populous country.
This has been the trend since 2015, according to our analysis. Interests in security and insecurity are largely connected with the incessant crimes being perpetrated by certain individuals and groups of people across the country. Some of these crimes, according to social commentators and public affairs analysts, have political undertones and perceived social and economic injustices.
The Good and the Dark Side of Searching for Insecurity in Nigeria in 6 Years
As the political leaders and community leaders continue finding solutions to the issue, our analyst examines positive and negative consequences of what Nigerians and other nationals searched between 2015 and 2020. In all, analysis indicates that terrorists and bandits facilitated in their interest in understanding insecurity.
Our analyst notes that thousands of searches that related to security and insecurity were conducted by digital natives and immigrants during the period. Analysis shows that the more the news media picked certain issues and framed them towards policy agenda, the more people also searched the issues.
For instance, sources of danger and insecurity, definition of insecurity, factors contributing to insecurity in the country and sources of insecurity occupied people’s mind during the period within the insecurity issue. Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria, Fulani herdsmen attack, herdsmen killing, Fulani herdsmen attack Enugu and Fulani herdsmen killings in Nigeria were the bones of searching when they wanted to understand herdsmen.
Bandits were largely understood within bandits meaning and meaning of bandits. The killing of a number of terrorists in Borno State by the Military was the dominant issue explored by the people while hoodlums meaning and the meaning of hoodlums were the top issues within the hoodlums.
With these insights, it emerged that people wanted to know the key actors behind the insecurity, what the actors represent and sources of the insecurity. Analysis indicates that between 2015 and 2020, the higher people developed interest in insecurity the less they had interest in herdsmen [-56.4%]. On the other hand, the more they had interest in insecurity, the more they had interest in bandits, terrorists and hoodlums. These establish terrorists, bandits and hoodlums as the key actors, increasing the insecurity in the country.
Analysis further shows that the more they had interest in herdsmen, the less they developed interest in bandits [-19.9%]. This is also applicable to herdsmen and terrorists [-74.5%], herdsmen and hoodlums [-16.6%]. However, analysis reveals that the more they had interest in bandits, the more they had interest in hoodlums [71.1%]. This is not different from what was found when analysis of bandits was done along with terrorists [0.3%], hoodlums and bandits [71.1%], and hoodlums and terrorists [12.4%].
Our analyst notes that consideration of bandits and hoodlums by the people could be linked with the surge in the activities of the actors between 2019 and 2020, while the terrorists holding of ‘peace space’ between 2015 and 2019 contributed to the interest. In all, terrorists, bandits and herdsmen influenced insecurity in the last 6 years, analysis reveals.
Exhibit 1: Interest Over Time in Insecurity and the Key Actors [Percent]
For the next 6 years, analysis reveals key actors the security agencies need to focus on based on the expected interest of the people in them [key actors]. In 2021, people are most likely to consider terrorists and hoodlums as the key actors of insecurity. This would remain till 2024. In 2025 and 2026, herdsmen and bandits would be considered. In 2026, bandits and terrorists would be seen as the key actors. These suggest that political leaders, community leaders, individuals and government stakeholders need to devise better strategies and execution for ending the issue.
Between 2021 and 2026, the insecurity would be largely understood by the people within the activities of terrorists, hoodlums, herdsmen and bandits. Out of these actors, according to our analyst, hoodlums, herdsmen and bandits should not be difficult to contain by the security forces because they seem not be deadlier like terrorists. Concerned authorities need to explore social reengineering which must not exclude implementation of sustainable social net programmes and addressing of social injustice.
When it is obvious that internal security forces cannot contain the terrorists, external assistance should be sought. Behavioural change communication campaigns should be initiated and implemented by the government agencies saddled with the responsibilities of engaging with the public on socioeconomic and political issues. The National Orientation Agency should lead in this regard.
Exhibit 2: Predicted Interest Over the Next 6 Years and the Key Actors [Percent]