The origin of the proliferation of private security companies (guards) in Nigeria can be traced to the systemic failure and inefficiency that adorn the public security sector, which exhibits blatant inability to meet the security needs of the people resulting from her agelong anti-people posture, inadequate training, official corruption, nepotism among other negativities. Indeed, the complementary roles being played by private security guards in mitigating the security challenges confronting the nation have been seen by many as a welcome development. In spite of the successes recorded, yet there exist some obstacles that undermine private security guards? operations in Nigeria. In meeting the objectives of this study, the article conceptualises private security guards within the context of Nigerian experience. It goes further to analyse the historical development of private security guards in Nigeria, their prospects, challenges and ways through which their operations can be improved.
There seems no contention regarding the strategic relevance that security holds in the development of any nation. Certainly, security of lives and property remains paramount to the evolution of state. This view finds its inspiration in the intellectual conception of Thomas Hobbes through his work on social contract painting a gory picture of the affairs of men in the state of nature where there was manifestly an absence of government to regulate relationships among men. The ruthless and disorderly nature of the Hobessian state compelled people to rise in unison and decide to surrender their individual powers to a central authority from whom they believed that their security and wellbeing could be actualised. Security can simply be defined as "freedom from danger, that is, protection from physical or direct violence, and freedom from fear, that is, a sense of safety and relative well-being in political, legal, socio-economic and cultural terms, that is, a measure of protection from structural violence" (Wairagu, Kamenju and Singo, 2004: 16). Undoubtedly, the issue of security remains important to the continued socio-economic survival of any people (Hyden, 1995). It is for this reason that there have been different efforts by stakeholders especially governments to develop frameworks to advance security of their people and develop strategies to mitigate the risks that both human and non-human threats can pose to the wellbeing of the people. One of such efforts in human history was the conception of the modern state crafted to enjoy all sorts of privileges and rights such as civil obedience as it is also expected to reciprocate such civil gestures of the people by providing them some protection against various kinds of internal or external threats (Tilly, 1987). The issue of security management has nevertheless experienced a shift from its traditional conception as an exclusive function of government (Hobbes, 1962) to a more accommodating security sector that encourages participation of private security organizations and citizens in security planning and practice.
In this paper, we shall be addressing the development and challenges of private security guards in Nigeria. In our attempt to achieve the overall aim of this paper, we shall begin the study by illuminating the conceptual meaning of private security guards with a view to address the problem of misconceptions and misapprehension about private security guards. The paper shall explain the development of private security guards in Nigeria. The study shall also encapsulate some of the problems or challenges arising from the activities of private security guards in the country. In the study, we shall make recommendations in addressing some of the challenges confronting private security guards in Nigeria.
Conceptualizing Private Security Guards in Nigeria
The use of private security guards is not a new phenomenon in Nigeria. In traditional African society, many rich people in various communities often hired the services of private guards in ensuring the security of their lives and property. …