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NWOSU, Canice Chukwuma & NWOSU, Emeka: Nollywood and the Nigerian Security Situation

Nollywood and the Nigerian Security Situation: Prospects and Challenges of Alternative Security Outfits in Issakaba 1 & 2

Canice Chukwuma NWOSU

Department of Theatre Arts

Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU)

Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria


GSM: +234-803-741-5046



Department of Theatre Arts

Imo State University, Owerri


Peace and security are not only variables of national growth and development, but also panacea for sustainable development. Unfortunately, to put these variables in place constitute part of the puzzle and nightmare of almost every Republic in Nigeria. This is a truism since most Republics in Nigeria are characterized by incessant armed robbery, students’ unrest, religious riots, and most recently, militancy and terrorism. Individuals, organizations, communities, the media and various tiers of government in Nigeria have continued to experiment on how to ensure security of lives and property of the citizenry in Nigeria. Consequently, propositions like: the use of the traditional security system, state police, individual security outfits, the use of armed forces and even individualized security system which allows individuals the use of the gun for self protection have been made. The projection of these searches for lasting solution to national security challenges in Nigeria is obvious in Nollywood films. Therefore, the problem of this study is to assess prospects and challenges of these alternative security outfits to Nigeria’s security challenges using Issakaba 1 & 2. Case study and content analysis approaches of the qualitative research method are adopted by the researchers for the realization of research objectives                                                              


The Nigerian nation is a making of the colonial masters who as merchants were guided by obvious economic value judgment instinct. Hence, reasons for hemming people of diverse cultural differences together in a large umbrella they called Nigerian nation are not far-fetched. Consequently, the fate and destiny of over one hundred tribes that were before Lord Lugard’s amalgamation in 1914 independent pre-colonial institutions became forcefully re-shaped, re-defined, re-directed and repositioned. Historians and Theorist have come up with different evolutionist theories of states and nations to either explain, justify or condemn this historic, economic and political decision that produced the giant of Africa since its creation. However, it is the “… philosophy with the world’s outlook of revolutionary democrats” (Institute of Social Sciences 25) that best explains the Nigerian experiment. Institute of Social Sciences posits that: As a social phenomenon, revolutionary democratism is the product of the specific conditions in the countries which due to a number of causes, lagged behind the historical progress in the 19th and 20th centuries (25).

Predominantly, African and Asian countries constitute majority of the presumed backward nations of this era that require civilization and democratizations. These however were the logics of justification the reinforced colonialism, domination and imperialism. Despite their negative impacts, these concepts are not entirely divorced of elements of societal progress through economic and political amalgamation. The failure and success of colonial incursion and democratization of Africa is dependent on the culture and historical traditions of the colonial people. “Often than not the philosophical concepts of revolutionary democrats were inconsistent, combining most heterogeneous and contradictory elements” (Institute of Social Sciences 26).

            This trend in Nigeria produced new culture from the dilution of numerous residual cultures of the components units of the new Nigerian nation-state. Sequel to this, are emergence of new goals, targets, values, political groups contesting for limited resources. Moreover, inherent socio-centricism among individuals, federating units and the fragile but tilted federation became new cultural variables created from a crossbreed of homogenous and heterogeneous cultural coeternity that breed new national security challenges. According to Abdullahi S. Abubakar: “the fusion of the various cultural identities into megalopolis complex setting necessitates an emergent social system in which the end justifies the means” (1). This cultural syncretism evolved a cultural ideology similar to the American dream conditioned by materialism and capitalism. Hence, the new capitalist tendency displaced African cultural values, enthroned alternative culture that motivated alternative security challenges that require alternative security challenges. Therefore what constitutes threat to national security is determined by time and space, ideological pursuit and economic goals. For instance, during a particular period in world history, the Cold War, which was the geopolitical, ideological, and economic struggle between two world superpowers, the United States of America (USA) and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) that started in 1947 at the end of World War II and lasted until the dissolution of the Soviet Union on 26th December, 1991; constituted a serious threat to world security.

            As it were, continuous rivalry between the two former World War II allies made conflicts span from subtle espionage in the biggest cities of the world to violent combats in the tropical jungles of Vietnam. It ranged from nuclear submarines gliding noiselessly through the depths of the oceans to the most technologically-advanced satellites in geosynchronous orbits in space. This rivalry extended to arts and sports including: basketball and hockey, in ballet and pop music, from the Berlin Wall to the movies, the political and cultural war waged by Communists and Capitalists was a colossal confrontation on a scale never before seen in human history. The security challenge of this global calamity stems from the continuous alignment and realignment of third world nations with the two super powers. Hence, its impact on national security of allied nations, manifested as military interventions, annexations and indiscriminate establishment of military posts in third world nations. At the end pf the cold war, the variables of security challenges changed. According to Peter J. Katzenstein, …With the end of cold war, the mix of factors affecting national security is changing. Issues dealing with norms, identities, and culture are becoming more salient as factors that constitute new security challenges (1).

Nigeria is not left out in this changing trend, for instance the issue of identity is the major factor behind wars of self-determination raging on in the country: the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB); Odua Peoples’ Congress (OPC), Niger Delta Militants, and so on. The clash of interest among these identities motivated organizations with national interest affect societal norms and consequent break down of law and order. Though, government have put in place measures to tackle obvious security threats generated by these issues; the average Nigerian and Nigerian community are still exposed to the dangers of being kidnapped, robbed or killed by armed robbers, assassins; or have his wife and daughters rapped by rapists. The failure of the official security operatives to live up to the challenges of the present security situations force individuals and communities to resort to alternative security outfits in order to checkmate the precarious security situations.

            There is no gainsaying that the Nigerian security situations as well as efforts made by the government and individuals have provided thematic fixations for Nollywood films. Hence, this contemporary precarious national security situation has not eluded the modus operandi of Nollywood as video drama and theatre, according to Chijioke Agbasiere: … theatre arts can be used as an instrument for the enhancement of national security through the gains made from the Nigerian video film industry as has been exemplified in Nollywood productions… (1).

Film generally is a fall out of colonialism since the cinematic film came into the country through the activities of the colonial masters. Initially the colonist introduced the cine film into Africa and used it for propaganda and political conscientization. Cultural and economic factors repositioned the cine film and it metamorphosed into the home video film. Commenting on the evolution of Nigerian motion picture, Hyginus Ekwuazi posits that; the indigenous feature film made its debut in 1970 (Kongi’s Harvest); and peaked in 1986. Between 1972 and 1990, some 80 indigenous feature films had been licensed by the censor for public screening (5).

Initial scepticism surrounded the emergence of Nollywood regarding the name Nollywood, quality of films, contents and management principles. Jonathan Haynes reveals that, despite the controversies surrounding the name, Nollywood, it has came to stay. According to Haynes: “Nollywood” is here to stay because the term is irresistible to journalists and, more importantly because it neatly expresses powerful aspirations by people in the video film industry and by their fans to have a big, glamorous entertainment industry that can take its place on the world scene and appeal to international audiences (2).

Nollywood video films displaced the cine film and dwarfed the achievement of the live stage. Video film inherited the functions of the cine film as well as the attempt to tackle new responsibilities created by the emergent culture of modern Nigerian nation-state including the consequent security challenges. Hence, high crime wave, ritual killings for acquisition of wealth, kidnapping armed robbery that characterize Nollywood films remain more or less responses to emergence of a new culture and its consequences.

Evidently, Nollywood has not only captured these fallouts of a new cultural phenomenon, but has also attempted finding lasting solutions to these issues. This attempt is reflected in Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen’s Issakaba. The failure of the Nigerian police force to rise up to the sophisticated trend in crime, and lack lustre attitude of the police is satirized alongside the emergent materialistic, thievery and “dog eat dog” culture of contemporary Nigeria. Hence, in Issakaba, Imasuen interrogates the pros and cons surrounding the people’s decision to fall back to alternative security outfits for the protection of their lives and properties.

Conscientizing to Persuade: Persuasive Potentials of Nollywood Films

Film generally is among the most effective instruments of persuasion. Its strong persuasive potentials stem from the fact that it is among the channels of communication that can appeal to audio and visual sensibilities of the individual at the same time. Film is not the only instrument of persuasion; however, it distinguishes itself among others like: radio, television, newspaper and other social media; especially in Nigeria, where it has acquired very large audience fellowship. The concept of using film for education and conscientization is dependent on persuasion theories of mass communication. “Persuasion theory is a mass theory that deals with messages aimed at subtly changing the attitudes of receivers” (Persuasion Theory Definition and Description 1). Based on this definition of Persuasion Theory and the suitability of this theory to the researchers’ analyses; the researchers hinge the case study analyses of this study on the above Persuasion Theory because: Unlike the Hypodermic Needle theory, persuasion theory considers the stimulus Response model as interposed by a filter: individual specificities, i.e. psychological characteristics of an individual, in this perspective, persuasive messages are thus able to actuate an attitude change that can modify behaviours of consumers, voters and individuals in general (Persuasion Theory 1).

The Nigerian Security Situation: Prospects and Challenges of Alternative Security Outfits in Issakaba

The film opens to show a community and the precarious security situation facing her people. This community is under the siege of criminals sponsored and assisted by influential members of the community. To worsen the security situation, the police are adamant and unconcern as robbers terrorize the entire community. The insensitivity of the police climax when a woman is wounded and her car snatched from her. She runs to the police station with the hope of getting help. Contrarily she is highly disappointed as all her shouting and pleas fell on deaf ears. The two policemen on duty are very busy discussing pool staking. The policemen turned “poolologists” finally responded and reprimanded the woman for coming to the Police Station to disturb them. As the security situation further degenerate, the Igwe and members of his cabinet are seen deliberating over contracting and inviting Issakaba, an alternative security outfit formed and organized by the people for combating crime. The myth of Issakaba is that they went beyond the orthodox crime checking methods to evolve their own traditional but effective ways of checking crime.

            The invitation of Issakaba generates controversy among cabinet members as scepticism and acceptance characterize deliberations. However, the will of the Igwe and the majority prevails and Issakaba boys arrive the community, swing into action and criminals become restless. Issakaba fishes out a cripple who hires guns to robbers, a female Corn Seller and Chief Odogwu who are also in the gun running business. Arrests are made and criminals are executed. The final onslaught on the criminals is the arrest of Ikuku, the medicine man of the robbers.

            Events take a dramatic turn as patrons of criminals liaise with Nwoke, a rebel and fallen member of the Ebube led Issakaba to form fake Issakaba. Believing that Issakaba has stepped on their toes, these patrons of criminals in Issakaba 2 and 3 equip Nwoke with arms and money and instruct him to blackmail Issakaba. They impersonate Issakaba and carry out heinous crimes: robbery, kidnapping, rape, etc. The community, once more came under siege apparently by Issakaba. In Issakaba 4, Nwoke and his group are uncovered by Issakaba, their medicine man Igbudu is arrested.

            It is a truism that what led to the invitation of the alternative security outfit is because the town is taken over by armed robbers and everyday people are killed and deprived of their personal belongings: cash, cars, jewelleries and even loved ones are kidnapped and carried away. The effort to get the police to do something fails as seen in the DPO’s statement as the victim of the car snatching incident make a passionate appeal to him to go after the robbers:

DPO: you see this gun I am holding I have only two rounds of ammunition inside it and, and those armed robbers you want me to go after use machine guns. I don’t want to commit suicide (Issakaba 1).

This goes a long way to reveal the lacklustre attitude of the police and how ill equipped our security operatives are. This also shows that the government has not responded to the changing culture that produced sophistication in criminal activities. This is obvious in the Boko Haram terrorist attack that made ill equipped Nigerian soldiers loss their lives before a better equipped and much more informed terrorists. It took the Boko Haram attack to make the Nigerian military realize that they have been living in the past. Consequently, the lacklustre attitude of the police, corruption and lack of up to date security equipment and guns force the people to look for help elsewhere. Hence, the Igwe summons the elders to deliberate over contracting and invitation of Issakaba security outfit to their town to help them fight crime. Elder Odiwe supporting the Igwe, points out to the elders of the town that Issakaba boys helped the people of Nayaba to rid their town of criminals. Elder Mbanefo supports this proposal, though in Issakaba 2 it becomes obvious that he does this with ulterior motive. However, elder Odogwu vehemently opposes this proposal not because of any genuine reason but because he has a skeleton in his cupboard. Later in Issakaba 1, his first son is arrested as an armed robbery and he confesses his crimes, finally the elders agree that the Issakaba boys be invited. Ebube and his Issakaba boys arrive and clean up the town; but unfortunately, Nwoke the second in command to Ebube disagrees with Ebube and walks out of the Issakaba group. Driven by materialism, Nwoke starts the fake Issakaba to blackmail Ebube and the real Issakaba.

            The sponsorship of this group by the likes of Odogwu and Mbanefo society reveals what is happening in the contemporary Nigerian society. Robbers have patrons, god fathers who provide the arms, cars and money for these operations. However, events take a dramatic turn as Nwoke and his group impersonates Issakaba to torment the town once again. The people are confused and turn against Issakaba.

            This is one of the major challenges of proliferation of security outfits, because criminals can hide under the cover of private security outfits and steal. This particular challenge contributed to the abrogation of the Bakassi security outfit formed at Aba and Onitsha as criminals infiltrated the group and their mood of operation changed. They became debt collectors, political thugs and victimized political opponents and harassed innocent citizens.

            However, persuasively Ebube justifies the need for alternative security outfits. He says that they have better mood of operation than the police. He insists that the rigorous protocol of the Police is too slow to respond to the new crime wave produced by a new culture, even the Police testify in the film Issakaba 3 that the Issakaba boys are doing a good job. Ebube goes further to justify his position in Issakaba 4, where his group fishes out Nwoke and his fake Issakaba and destroy them. Ebube concludes Issakaba can never shed innocent blood, we stand for justice.


The researchers conclude that despite the challenges of alternative security outfits, the inadequacies, incompetence and inefficiency of the Nigerian Police Force make alternative security outfits desirable. The researcher work reveals that the level of crime wave and sophistication in crime, induced by the emergent culture requires alternate security outfits. Moreover, the criminals adopt alternative and unorthodox methods there is also need for the people to resort to alternative measures. It is also observed that the negligence of the Police Force by the Nigerian government led to the failure of the Police Force to wake up to the security challenges of the contemporary society.

            Finally, Nollywood is committed in its relevance to nation building. The interest of Film makers in these issues and their utilization for the thematic fixations of Nollywood films is not only interesting but also heart-warming that Nollywood has the potentials to educate, communicate, mobilize, persuade and conscientize the citizenry positively. Therefore the government and its agencies should contribute their quota towards repositioning Nollywood towards cultural re-orientation for security stability in Nigeria.


Works Cited

Abubakar, Abdulahi S. “Emergent Culture of Youth Restiveness in Socio-Political Dialectics in Selected Work of Soyinka and Osofisan.” The Parnassus, 8. Uyo: Department of Theatre Arts, University of Uyo, 2012: 1-15.

Agbasiere, Chijioke. “Harnessing National Security Through the Emerging Nigerian Video Film Theatre.” Global Journal of Arts and Social Science Education, 3(2). Accessed 28 June, 2015. <http://www.globalscienceresearchjournals.org/>

Ekwuazi, Hyginus. “Perspectives on the Nigerian Motion Picture Industry.” Ekwuazi, Hyginus., J. Sokomba & O. Mgbejume (Eds.), Making the Transitional from Video to Celluloid. Jos: National Film Institute, 2001: 1-11.

Haynes, Jonathan. “‘Nollywood’: What's in a Name?” African Cinema Conference. Accessed 25 June, 2015.

Katzenstein, Peter J. The Culture of National Security: Norms and Identity in World Politics. Accessed 20 June, 2015. <http://www.ciaonet.org/book/katzenstein/ katz01.html

Media Studies.Persuasion Theory Definition & Description. Accessed 20 June, 2015. <http://communicationmodel.blogspot.com/2010/01/persuasion-theory-definition.html>

Zakharov, F. I., V. V. Sushinsky & A. V. Shestopal (Eds.), Philosophical Foundations of Scientific Socialism. Moscow: Institute of Social Sciences, 1985.