Udom Emmanuel: ‘Job insecurity is one of the greatest threats’ to Nigeria

The governor of Akwa Ibom helped keep it one of the safest states in Nigeria

May 25, 2022

Udom Emmanuel took governorship of the Nigerian state Akwa Ibom in 2015. Since then he has transformed the southern coastal region from a civil service state into an attractive destination for private enterprise; one of the best states in the country for bringing in foreign direct investment. In this third video from the hour World Finance spent in the studio with Governor Udom Emmanuel, he addresses security: how to ensure collaboration between different agencies, the importance of giving hope and structure to the youth, and what needs to change at the national outlook to improve security across the country.

World Finance: One of the other most serious issues that the country as a whole is facing is security. How were you able to keep Akwa Ibom the safest state in Nigeria?

Udom Emmanuel: The first thing to do on security is to acknowledge the role of the Prince of Peace. That’s number one. That critical for me.

And number two: you need collaboration among different security agencies in your state. There’s a whole lot: the police, the DSS, the army, the air force, the navy, the civil defence, and a whole lot of other paramilitary agencies; they all have a role to play. And you must acknowledge that, and try to bring them together, pull them together. Make sure that we are moving towards the same goal.

Then, the engagement of the youth, and that sense of ownership: that they can actually protect lives and property. That determination by the youth has a huge success story to tell. Because in this case you see where the youth can even volunteer intelligence. You know, local intelligence can really help a lot in terms of security.

I think we’ve been able to secure that understanding, and that loyalty, from our youth. And that’s really helped a whole lot.

World Finance: What would you say are the biggest security challenges that Nigeria faces as a whole?

Udom Emmanuel: As a country? Banditry. I would say kidnapping, separately.

Security threat? Unemployment. It’s major.

I believe if a young man is engaged, and he leaves home in the morning, he goes to work, comes back in the evening tired. By then he takes dinner, he wants to sleep so he can make work the next morning. He will never remember any other thing that could cause insecurity in the system.

You must build a system, you must build a structure. You must also create hope for these youth. If they just wake up in the morning, no good news anywhere? It seems a hopeless situation. And that’s a major insecurity.

Job insecurity is one of the greatest threats of the security situation in a developing nation.

World Finance: Is there anything that needs to change in the national outlook to dealing with these challenges?

Udom Emmanuel: A whole lot. Because you see, everything is evolving. Even… things change! So we must adapt to those changes, and we must create change.

What worked for us 20 years ago is not working today. 70 percent of security is about intelligence. So we must adapt to that as soon as possible.

We must also look at the systems that we are running. I think if we look at that, at the national level: systems, strategies, structures, shared values, styles, all of them! A global review.

We need to reassess, we need to redefine. And adapt them, also, to our environment. Not just taking them into an environment, a system, a social, cultural structure that might not work.

Let’s also take what fits. I think with that, we can move a little bit forward. And then there must also be sincerity, in delivery and in execution. I think with that we can achieve a lot more.