Insecurity: FG’s launch of 5G technology

WHILE launching the national policy on 5G technology for Nigeria’s digital economy, President Muhammadu Buhari averred last week that as a matter of course, the Federal Government would take full advantage of the opportunities provided by the technology to enhance the country’s economy, security and well-being. In that regard, he directed all the security agencies in the country to immediately leverage the technology whenever it is deployed to enhance national security. While highlighting the benefits of 5G technology, President Buhari said it could support virtually every sector of the economy, including enhanced connectivity, improved healthcare, support for education while fostering smart cities and boosting agriculture, among other advantages. He added: “It will also support security institutions with real-time communication. 5G technology is significantly faster than earlier digital technologies and it provides near real-time communication. This can play a crucial role in boosting our efforts towards enhancing security across the nation.”

To be sure, the connection between national security and information technology around the world has been established beyond doubt. If crime and criminals are increasingly reflective of the realities of multi-media literacy and advanced technology, it follows that any government intent on the maintenance of law and order must deploy appropriate technology, and must be constantly abreast of developments in the information super highway. Failure to do so cannot be an option, and it is in this regard that President Buhari’s itemisation of the potential gains of 5G technology in the country cannot be faulted. In launching his advocacy however, the president omitted key factors that could determine the success of the initiative in the country.

Truth be told, it would have been hilarious to take the president’s directive at face value. Just how can the country’s security agencies immediately leverage 5G technology given the realities of the moment? For a country without consistent electricity, the directive actually sounded like a mirthful command from a comic book. If the country’s various security agencies have not been able to rein in the so-called bandits that have now been classified as terrorists with their national identity numbers and the telephone numbers with which they keep demanding for and collecting ransoms, how can they be relied upon to leverage such a state-of-the-art technology? Is that even a remote possibility given the country’s crude infrastructure?

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Certainly, 5G technology, like all technologies, works in tandem with basic infrastructure. Therefore, its excellently articulated benefits will not accrue to the country without this infrastructure in place. We have already mentioned consistent and adequate electric power supply and its smooth transmission and distribution, but the point needs to be emphasised again. Smart cities, real-time communication and other listed advantages will remain pipe dreams in the face of poor power supply. South Africa, one of the few countries on the Black continent that can utilise the benefits of 5G technology, has a power output of 58,095 megawatts. On the other hand, Nigeria’s power generation only increased year-on-year from 1,030.80 megawatts in 2013 to 3,008.18 megawatts in  2021. With this dismal power output, Nigeria should ideally not feature in any civilised discourse on 5G technology. But poor as it is, Nigeria’s shambolic power sector is only a tip of the iceberg when considering the myriad of challenges posed to the deployment of 5G technology in the country. The key issue is the lack of resolve by Nigeria’s leadership to tackle insecurity with single-mindedness.

There is palpable hesitation on the part of the ruling elite to muster the required political will to confront the country’s security challenges head-on. To say the least, the Buhari administration has not shown its resolve to go after criminals and defeat their pernicious objectives across the country. A steely resolve to end insecurity irrespective of whose ox is gored is required at this time. A leadership that could not use NIN infrastructure to trace and capture terrorists who use mobile telephones to demand ransoms from their kidnap victims cannot inspire any confidence in the citizenry. There can be no doubting the fact that 5G technology is good, but it is not sufficient to resolve  the problems created by an administration that lacks the required political will to fight criminality. In any case, there must be a re-evaluation of security strategies, particularly prioritising the human element, before any progress can be made. On current evidence, the centralised security architecture in the country is not delivering the expected results, so what is the guarantee that there will be a radical change with the deployment of 5G technology?

A diverse, ethnically and linguistically complex country like Nigeria requires a decentralised security set-up. At the very minimum, there must be state police formations across the country. That is the way to go.


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