ASIS International – Chapter Focus: Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Port Harcourt, Nigeria

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Matthew Porcelli, CPP speaks exclusively with McLean S. Essiene, CCIP, CPP, PCI, PSP of the ASIS International – Port Harcourt Chapter, Nigeria.

What are the most pressing security challenges you are facing in your region?

Africa faces two distinct and significant security challenges on a continental scale: The first is the ideologically motivated rise of radical Islam/Jihadism; the second is violent extremism, which is primarily driven in most cases by the increased extraction of the endowed natural resources, fuelled by unemployment, poverty and rising governance deficits with states themselves serving as sources of insecurity.

For instance, while Mali, the Central African Republic, Kenya, Libya, Nigeria etc. have recently been plagued by the threat of Islamic fundamentalism, empirical findings indicate that natural resources have a significant effect on violence in Africa.

Resource endowment is an enabler of prolonged war by providing a channel for looting rebels to acquire funds and advance combat rather than being defeated or compelled to compromise.

Conflicts in natural resource-rich African nations such as Angola, Nigeria, Liberia, Rwanda the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone are indicative of this process.

Other top level security challenges in Africa with the hydra-headed crime-terror nexus include state-perpetrated violent extremism as a result of human rights violations and citizens’ perceptions of unjust state treatment; transnational organised crime, maritime security/terrorism and cyber-crimes.

Can you describe your journey in the world of security?

The initial dream

I joined law enforcement shortly after completing my secondary education, but later returned to school for my undergraduate degree.

As a young geology graduate who initially desired a career in the oil and gas industry, I later tenaciously desired a military career.

The security challenges in Nigeria and around the world were a major factor in this decision.

I had applied for every military job opening for five years in a row, until I reached the minimum enlistment age in Nigeria. 

I later turned to online US Army recruiters but was also denied – I desired to support Operation Iraqi Freedom at the time. I was strongly motivated by a desire to render selfless service to humanity.

The journey so far

Earlier this decade, the Nigerian law enforcement workforce of 370,000 officers was insufficient to protect over 170 million Nigerians, a gross deficiency compared to the United Nations’ recommendation of 222 police officers per 100,000 people (1:450).

According to a 2013 study by ASIS International and the Institute of Finance and Management (IOFM), the US security market was worth an astounding $350b annually and employs up to 2.1 million people.

In September 2014, the Nigerian Senate approved former President Goodluck Jonathan’s request for external borrowing of up to N1b to address the country’s security issues.

The fields of asset protection and risk management continue to expand into substantial economic sectors and significant labour markets.

For example, G4S plc’s global workforce once totalled 800,000 people. Comparably, I founded ESSIMACS INTERNATIONAL SECURITY LTD in 2013 as a licensed private security business in Nigeria.

In 2015, the company employed more than 150 people in various locations across the nation.

As a young CEO, it was necessary for me to acquire organisational security management skills and business acumen to become a more effective manager and leader and to remain relevant in such a competitive industry.

Consequently, I earned ASIS board certification in security management and investigation.

Presently, I work as a Threat Intelligence Analyst and Risk Management Consultant for multinational oil and gas corporations.

In addition, I am a contributor to security magazines/journals and book chapters, a subject matter expert speaker on security management and a partner with a number of organisations within the security industry, including the IFPO.

Can you tell us about your journey within ASIS and how it has helped you in your career?

I began volunteering with the Port Harcourt Chapter 236 as a Young Professional Liaison in 2015, less than a year after joining the organisation, and my responsibilities have been expanding ever since.

I was elected Chapter Vice Chairman in 2016, making me one of the youngest people worldwide to hold this position.

My volunteer role grew from there, as I was appointed Chapter Certification Chairperson in 2017 and then founded and served as Pioneer Coordinator of ASIS Africa YP from 2017 to 2019, when I passed the baton but continued to support the fledgling organisation until it matured.

Notably, Mr. Peter O’Neil, CEO, ASIS launched the ASIS Africa Young Professionals (YP) in Lagos, Nigeria.

In 2019, I began serving concurrently on two communities, (then known as Councils): The Human Threat Management (HTM) Steering Committee (as 2nd Vice-Chairperson) and the YP, now NextGen Global Outreach subcommittee, where I served as Vice-Chair from 2019 to 2020 and then as Chair in 2020.

Currently, I serve as the HTM Chairman for 2023 and 2024.

Connect with Matthew Porcelli, CPP on LinkedIn.

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