By Chijioke Uwasomba
The issue of national security has become extremely important in Nigeria especially with the advent of the Boko Haram sect. The rampaging activities of the sect and other forms of violence witnessed on a daily basis in Nigeria constitute an armed critique of the state and the nation. The level of violence has got to a point that most Nigerians and even concerned outsiders have come to see Nigeria as a tinder box.
Given the importance of national security to the development of a country and the well-being of the citizenry, it is important to look at the following terms in the understanding and explanation of our concern. These terms are: the state, security and its obverse, insecurity and national security.
The state: It is a very complex term which has thrown up theories/theorists that can be fundamentally bifurcated into the bourgeois and the Marxian divides- the universal equality thesis versus the machine for the maintenance of class rule paradigms. According to Hegel(1953) the state, has as its very essence the universality of the purpose and interest, which stand opposed to the particular and private purposes of individuals.
Hegel goes further to reject the earlier theories of the state which regard it as the combination of individuals for mutual protection, or as contract whereby individuals do the same. The implication of the above position is that Hegel does not subscribe to the ‘contractual’ concept of the state postulated by philosophers before him. The state on the contrary, in the view of Hegel is the higher end.
Plato in his articulation of an ideal state in the Republic is of the view that rulers are supposed to live a communal life where personal interests and those of the state are merged. In furtherance of this conception, he argues that in the ideal state the potentially competing classes within the state exist in harmony under the leadership of the most rational: ‘ At present, we are forming the happy state, not by selecting a few of its members and making them happy, but making the whole so’ (Republic 114) 420c—421c.
Of note in Plato’s idea of the state is the centrality of the people and the roles expected of each member of the society. It must be acknowledged that the role of the elderly men is very important in the state conceived of by Plato for he says: ‘Rulers must be elderly men, and the subjects the younger. The rulers must be the best men among them’ (103). This conception might have influenced the notion of the doctrine that the state expressed the fundamental will of the whole community as reformulated by Rod Hague and Martin Harrop (1982).
Thomas Hobbes, in his 1651 work, The Leviathanexplains the doctrine of the social contract and its consequent by-product (state). His view is that given the state of nature with its solitary, nasty, brutish and alienating conditions; the need for a volitional collective agreement—social contract arose between the people.
This means that the fear of death and insecurity was instrumental to the formulation and institutionalization of both the covenant and the Leviathan. With the institutionalization of the Leviathan, the people automatically willed over some of their rights to this new sovereign: ‘Hobbes therefore, sees law as the command of the sovereign’ (Ndubuisi, 1999:72). Hobbes, according to Ndubuisi maintains that the sovereign is to be invested with absolute power purposely for the security of his subjects’ (81).
Another theorist of the state, John Locke, a British philosopher believed that life in the state of nature was pleasant, but that men were hampered by the absence of any socially recognized authority to adjudicate and settle disputes, conflicts between them hence the need for a state.
For Locke, liberty and law should work together. However, he emphasized the need for the powers of the sovereign to be checked by laws, contrary to Hobbes’s view. This is in order that the Leviathan –even though a mortal god – may be restrained from sliding into caprice and wantonness, which is of course natural to men.
Jean Jacque Rousseau shares almost the same view as Hobbes as he talks about the people’s surrender of their ‘natural rights’ for ‘civil rights’ as the basis of the emergence of a social contract, which created the general will of the people ( Khan et al 1972:27). By entering the social contract man loses his natural liberty and in return acquires civil liberty. Rousseau’s postulation means that the social contract protects man from all the problems associated with the state of nature as it provides a unifying symbol for all.
Niccolo Machiavelli’s thesis of the state is closer to the idea of Thomas Hobbes. This is because he opines that the Prince who wields power should be in a position to know how and how not to use it in accordance to the dictates of the time. He therefore argues that the Prince should not sacrifice the stability of his state by wanting to be loved by his subjects.
He goes further to posit that instead of expecting love from his subjects, the Prince should do all within his powers to instill fear in them. Machiavelli’s theory of the state, I dare say amounts to a support for absolute power. His postulation therefore, accords the Prince the same status as Hobbes’s Leviathan.
To ensure and guard against the abuse of power by the sovereign, Aristotle advocates the institutionalization of constitution. The essence of his advocacy is to bring about an improvement in the lives of the people. The constitution will serve as a guide in the selection of affairs of the sovereign, the administration of the commonwealth, as well as the delimitation of the power of the sovereign.
All these are aimed at achieving a measure of good living for the people, which, in Aristotle’s words, ‘is the essence of the formation of a state’. Like Locke, Aristotle, but unlike Hobbes, supported a revolution against a particular system, which operates in such a manner that does not cater to the needs and interests of the people.
On the other side of the divide is the Marxist paradigm which sees the state as the machine for the maintenance of class rule. According to F. Engels in his The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, ‘the customary holding of office in the gens by certain families developed into a privilege of these families’ (Engels1948:109). These families started owning wealth and became powerful. As a result they organized themselves outside of their gentes into privileged classes. This amounts to usurpation: ‘The first attempt to form a state constituted in breaking up the gentes by dividing the members of each into a privileged and inferior classes’.
Engels further states that the division of labour between the different branches of production — Agriculture, handicrafts trade, navigation, etc. in the Athenian society led to a division among members of the society. This development with the new commerce attracted even outsiders into Athens. These outsiders enjoyed neither rights nor the protection of the laws. The gentile constitution became weakened as the society was growing more and more out of its capacity, and in the midst of all these, the state quietly developed.
Similar developments led to the emergence of the state in Rome and Germany. The state has not existed from eternity. It was economic activities bound up with the split of society into classes that led to the emergence of the state. The state from this perspective arose from the need to hold class antagonisms in check.
Whatever the disagreement between the two schools of thought, there is no denying the fact that the state exists as a complex network of organization whose ultimate objective is to maintain power, stability, order, progress and development as conceptualized by the ruling class or group at whose instance the state exists. Citizens expect the state to maintain law and order; enunciate the directive principles and policies and ground norms required for the smooth running of the society; ensure that equity, development and respect for the sustenance of human values are maintained; see to it that there is unanimity of purpose among members of the society and such other functions and activities that will ultimately guarantee happiness and total enhancement of the people’s welfare.
Security: The on-line Free Dictionary defines security as freedom from weak; freedom from doubt, anxiety, or fear, confidence; something that gives or assures safety. In other words, when a person or group of persons or government adopts measures to prevent anxiety or fear, a crime or crimes, espionage, sabotage or attack, security exists. It also includes the state of being secure, assured freedom from poverty or want, guaranteeing a feeling of trust, protection, unassailability, precaution, defence, safeguards, surveillance, comfort, happiness, certainty, pleasure of mind.
Thesaurus defines security as a state of being free from danger or injury; safety; public security, peace, shelter and protection. For all these conditions to exist, measures must be taken by the state to protect itself and the citizenry against all acts designed to, or which may impair its effectiveness.
Insecurity:This is the state of being subject to danger or injury, uncertainty, want of confidence or that of safety. A state of insecurity creates danger, hazard, and unhappiness.
National Security:Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia defines national security as the requirement to maintain the survival of the state through the use of economic, diplomatic, power projection and political power. Lippman (1943:1) defines it from the perspective of war, saying that ‘a nation has security when it does not have to sacrifice its legitimate interests to war, and is able, if challenged, to maintain by war’. Lasswell (1950:79) conceptualizes national security from the perspective of external coercion. He opines that a state that cannot maintain its sovereignty by allowing itself to be dictated to by another power lacks national security.
Harold Brown, U.S. Secretary of Defence from 1977 to 1981 in the Jimmy Carta government argues that ‘National Security …is the ability to preserve the nation’s physical integrity and territory; to maintain its economic relations with the rest of the world on reasonable terms; to preserve its nature, institutions, and governance from disruption from outside, and to control its borders’ (5). Brown’s view was shaped by the U.S. National Security Act of 1947 which was set up to advise the president on the integration of domestic, military and foreign policies relating to national security.
National Security has for centuries been tied to the concept of defence and security forces. During the cold war era, the conception of security from this perspective gained currency. The cold war politics elevated security and its dependence on arms to the highest level. No wonder scholars like John Mroz, Walter Lippman and Jan Bellary conceive security in terms of arms armaments and military personnel. In fact, Lippman asserts that ‘security rises and falls with the ability of a nation to deter an attack or defeat it.’ But contemporary scholars like Ken Booth are of the view that non-military variables should be incorporated in national security calculus. In the words of Booth (1991)
One of the themes of new thinking is the idea that security should have political accommodation as a primary and persistent aim …the adverse effect of identifying security almost exclusively with military strength was evident throughout the cold war.The approach can be described as strategic reductionism that is, conceiving security in a technical and mechanistic military way, as manifested in an obsession with military balance, state of— the- art technology…order of battle.
In the same thinking, Sola Ogunbanwo asserts that:
Security is more than military security, or security from external attacks. For many of 4billion inhabitants in the developing countries, security is concerned as the basic level of the struggle for survival. Therefore, in order to provide an integrated African Security assessment, the non-military dimensions of security should be added.
Hence, African security as a concept should be applied in its broadest sense to include economic security, social security, environmental security, food security, the quality of life security, and technological security (10).
The argument of these contemporary scholars is that non-military variables like development, food availability, good education, employment generation, high level of production and per capita income and such other economic and social issues that promote good living and happiness should be included as necessary national security issues.
From the foregoing, one can say that national security is a multifaceted matter that requires strategic thinking and planning. As Nwolise (2006) has noted:
A country may have the best armed forces in terms of training and equipment, the most efficient customs men, the most active secret service agents, and best quality prisons, but yet (sic) be the most secure nation in the world, as a result of defense and security problems from within—bad governance, hunger, unemployment, or even activities of foreign residents or companies (25).
Arguing against the militaristic conception of national security, Robert NcNamara warns that: Any society that seeks to achieve adequate military security against the background of acute food shortage, population explosion, low level of production and per capita income, low technological development, inadequate and inefficient public activities, and chronic problem of unemployment, has a false sense of security.
Human needs, goals and aspirations, food shelter, clothing, health, progress, etc constitute security issues. This means that in a modernizing world, security is a developmental matter.
CAUSES OF INSECURITY
There are many causes of insecurity in any given country or society. The following are some of the causes of insecurity: Ignorance; poverty; frustration; corruption; porous borders; failure of governance; under-development; inefficient policy; ethnic politics (especially in a diverse society); unemployment; state failure; religious extremism; intra-ruling class rivalry; competition for power; political marginalization, etc. When a country is bedraggled by the above listed problems, such a country is in dire need of attention from within and without.
It bears repeating to state that the primary duty of the state is to protect the lives and property of its citizens. Any state that is not able to do this has lost its fundamental raison d’etre. History has shown that in those societies where the ruling classes use the apparatuses of their states to entrench their hegemony at the expense of their suffering nationals, all manner of insecurity is bound to erupt.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF INSECURITY
Insecurity hinders all facets of the society from prosecuting their democratic obligations as the authority of the state is challenged. Where there is insecurity, the diktat of the state is treated with routine contempt by the promoters of insecurity. The masses of the people who always bear the brunt of the mis-governance taking place in the society are further plunged into more existential crises. Violence, disorder and other forms of antediluvian displays and tendencies rear their ugly heads at the expense of the society. Where the state is unable to coherently articulate a national strategy to weld society together for the good of all, fissiparous groups cash in on the weakness of the state to create all sorts of problems.
Suffice it to say that in a state of insecurity resources are wasted and development takes a flight to the detriment of the people. This is because development cannot take place in an insecure environment with all the challenges that are thrown up. The world has become an insecure place because of the capitalist mode of economic production which emphasizes profiteering and accumulation at the expense of human values that are capable of guaranteeing order and justice. In this theatre of ‘dog eat dog’ which the society has become, insecurity with its accompanying greed, brutishness, nastiness and shortness of life are given free rein. The consequences to say the least are disorder, man’s inhumanity to man and all forms of lawlessness.
INSECURITY IN NIGERIA
As Hobbes rightly informs, the state, because of its capacity ought to be the focus of national unity, loyalty and stability. But this is not the case in Nigeria as the latter has done away with its toga of neutrality and got itself involved in the bitter struggle for primitive accumulation, and losing in the process the capacity to weld society together. The Nigerian state appears morally and politically weak to enforce orderliness and command authority. As a result of this shocking reality, every day in Nigeria presents us with a nightmarish and gory experience of insecurity manifesting in armed robberies, communal violence, political and economic agitations, militancy, kidnappings and the current Boko Haram insurgency.
The history of Nigeria after colonial occupation has been one of military dictatorship and corruption at all levels unimaginable. The nation also survived a 30-month civil war fought between the Federal government of Nigeria and the short-lived Republic of Biafra. In spite of the stupendous wealth that has accrued to the country since the discovery of oil in 1956, it has been missed opportunities as the oil resource has become a curse causing all kinds of insecurities owning to the inability of Nigeria’s rulers to manage Nigeria’s prosperity.
Ake (1981) captures the situation thus:
In Nigeria, for instance, the state has little influence on the lives of the rural people.Much development that has taken place in rural communities has occurred not because of the state but in spite of it. To many rural dwellers, the state exists primarily as a nuisance to be avoided in the daily struggle for survival (Ake 1981:38).
The problem of insecurity has gone beyond the daily and nauseating activities of armed robbers to those of insurgents who are even brazenly questioning the basis of the state. A new dimension was introduced by the Niger Delta youths who started with agitations over the criminal neglect of their region. These agitations snowballed into militancy and kidnapping of foreign oil workers and in some cases the killing of security personnel. The decision by the Y’ardua administration to negotiate with the militants has substantially reduced the criminal activities of the militants as some of their leaders have been engaged to secure oil installations in the Niger Delta region of the country.
It is important to note that kidnappings and other criminal activities associated with the Niger Delta militants have been copied by their neighbours in the South-Eastern part of the country. Gangsters whose activities aimed at satisfying their pecuniary ends are on the prowl killing, maiming and kidnapping people and asking for humongous amounts as ransom from the relations of their victims. The situation is such that this phenomenon has taken a national dimension as no part of the country is spared from this new craze that has gripped the country.
THE BOKO HARAM PHENOMENON
Of all the various forms of lawlessness in the country, the latest introduction known as the Boko Haram (Jam’atu Alissunah Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad) appears to be the most scaring. This is because the group does not only kill with impunity; it questions the secularity of the country targeting mostly Christians. The group which sees western education as a sin is doing everything within its power to Islamize the country. It is riding roughshod over many states in the North-Eastern part of the country especially Yobe and Borno states. Some have described its activities as class warfare but its operations do not suggest that considering the high level of terrorism informed by a type of Islamist orientation and ideology.
What started initially as a local initiative by a rag-tag religious militia has now mutated into an actual declaration of war on the state and Christians alike. Since 2009 when one Yusuf who was the leader of the group was killed by the police, the group has not relented in its declared programme of war on those that do not subscribe to its ideology. Below is the listing of the recent criminal activities of the group;
—– December 31, 2010—an explosion occurred at Abacha Barracks Mammy Market in Abuja.
—– Twin explosions at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Kabong, and the president Goodluck Jonathan fly- over in Jos.
—–On April 8, 2011, a bomb blast was recorded at the independent Electoral Commission’s office in Suleja killing at least six people, mostly ex- youth corps members.
—– On April 26, 2011, there was an explosion in Maiduguri
—– On May 26, 2011, the Mammy Market at the Shandawanka Barracks in Bauchi was thoroughly bombed killing thirteen people on the spot while some were wounded.
—– On May 30, 2011 an explosion occurred on Baga Road Maiduguri
—– On June 4, 2011, there was a blast at another market in Bauchi where thirteen people died and over forty people suffered various degrees of injuries
—- On June 8, 2011 another blast killed ten persons in Bauchi
—– On June 16, 2011, a suicide bomber detonated a bomb at the Nigeria Police Headquartres in Abuja killing himself.
—-On June 26, 2011, a blast killed twenty- seven persons at a drinking spot in Dala Kabonti in Maiduguri.
—-On July 3, 2011, ten persons were killed near a Police barracks in Maiduguri
—-On July 10, 2011, three persons were killed via a blast at All Christian Mission Church in Suleja
—- On August 5, 2011, three persons were killed via a bomb blast in Maiduguri
—-On August 25, 2011, a suicide bomber attacked the UN building in Abuja killing twenty –five persons while hundreds were wounded.
—-On September 13, 2011, seven persons died as a result of a blast in Bauchi
—–On October 2, 2011, two persons died as a result of an explosion in Maiduguri
—–On October 17, 2011, four people were killed in a blast in Gombe
—– On October 24 and 31, there were explosions in Kaduna and Borno states killing four people and co-ordinated gun and bomb attacks in Damaturu, Yobe State killing over one hundred people
—– On December 25, 2011, forty-two worshippers at Saint Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla town near Abuja were bombed to death
—– On December 30, 2011, four Muslim worshippers were killed in a bomb blast and shooting attack targeting a Military check-point in Maiduguri as worshippers left a mosque after attending Friday prayers
—–On December 13, 2011, there was a bomb attack on a Military check-point and a counter-attack by the soldiers in Maiduguri which left 10 persons dead and thirty injured.
—– On December 17, 2011, a shoot-out between gun men and the police in Darmanama area of Kano State left seven persons dead including three Police officers.
Source: The Nation, Saturday, August 11, 2012, p.10.
According to the United States Department of Status Country Reports on Terrorism, the number of deaths through terrorism carried out by the Boko Haram group in 2011 alone in Nigeria was five hundred and ninety, giving Nigeria the fifth position after Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Somalia. We note without hesitation that this reality has opened Nigeria to all manner of external interventions and interference. This is because apart from the killings, Boko Haram is suspected to have links with other known terrorist organizations such as Al-Quaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Al-Shabab in Somalia.
WHAT IS TO BE DONE
This paper has tried to make the point that the security and happiness of citizens are the responsibility of the state. Security is so important that Maslow (1943) states that ‘after the first stage of needs is satisfied, safety and security needs become the driving force behind an individual’s behaviour’ (370). They include order, stability, control over one’s life and environment, and certainty. It is a pity that backward nations like Nigeria in the guise of national security use power to impoverish and alienate the people while others provide good governance and qualitative leadership to their people. Factions of the ruling class use all devices at their disposal including religion and ethnicity to achieve their goals.
Most of the security challenges in Nigeria are as a result of the irresponsibility of successive wielders of state power. Nigeria has witnessed all sorts of security-related problems including communal clashes provoked by the indigene/ settler dichotomy. Even as this has not abated, the country has moved from armed robbery through militancy to terrorism as witnessed in the criminal campaigns of the Boko Haram sect to ‘Afghanistanize’ Nigeria. Again, part of the problem with the Boko Haram sect is the obvious absence of a reasonable, powerful, integrative, theoretical and intellectual paradigm for engaging it either in active combat or active dialogue. The Nigerian state appears ill-prepared and ill-equipped to deal with this menace.
Some analysts have suggested a negotiated settlement between the state and the Boko Haram sect as a way out of the current crisis. They cite the negotiation between the Niger Delta militants and the government of President Ya’rdua as a basis. This suggestion, if accepted has dire consequences for the nation as other regions with grievances could also levy war on the state with a view to getting their demands met by the state. The Boko Haram conundrum may have some economic undertone but it is purely driven by a brand of Jihadism that is sustained by hate and terror.
It is in recognition of the above that one offers the following suggestions as antidote to the problem of insecurity in our country:
a. The current economic system in Nigeria which lays emphasis on neo-liberation and market theology exacerbates various forms of insecurity. The economic system needs to be retooled in such a manner that focuses on the needs and aspirations of the marginalized in the society.
b. Most factories have collapsed and are collapsing and those who ought to be engaged meaningfully in a productive engagement have become tools in the hands of agents of destabilization. The industries and factories should be made to work again because poverty provides a fertile ground for the recruitment of criminals.
c. The federal and state government should strengthen the capacity of security agencies.
d. The Nigeria Police Force is constitutionally empowered to statutorily maintain the security of the country though with a proviso that the Armed Forces could, on invitation, assist the police in restoring public order as contained in sections 214, 215, and 217 of the 1999 constitution. The Police Force should therefore be funded adequately and made to discharge its responsibilities without let or hindrance.
e. Security votes in the budget of the states and federal governments should be properly utilized. Experience has shown that security votes are embezzled by those in charge. The Sanni Abacha and Tafa Balogun examples are cases in point.
f. State Governors should also be given more powers to deal with extreme cases of insecurity especially the Boko Haram type of insurgency.
g. There must be inter-agency co-operation among the security agencies. A situation where the agencies do not share information and allow unnecessary rivalries to undermine their activities is not good at all.
h. Often times, crime suspects are usually discharged on technical grounds by the judiciary. This encourages insecurity as those suspected criminals go back to their crimes. To this extent, it is suggested that the judiciary needs to be sensitized to be mindful of the security implications of granting bails to terror suspects.
i. There is need to checkmate the influx of illegal aliens who come into the country through our porous borders. The Immigration Service and other security agencies whose mandate is to man the borders should be made to take their job seriously.
j. In order to complement other security operations aimed at fishing out criminals, CCTV and bomb detection equipment should be strategically placed in areas that are prone to insecurity.
k. Other measures to ensure national security like the promulgation and implementation of strong laws, provision of good infrastructure and good governance must be pursued vigorously.
l. All organizations whose activities predispose violence should be prescribed.
m. Finally, in all these, education remains one of the best tools to fight insecurity in the land. Government must see to it that the youths are educationally engaged by providing them with unhindered opportunities to attain their educational goals. As the Ambassador Usman G. Galtimari Committee on insecurity which was gazetted in May, 2012, has shown, most of the foot soldiers of the Boko Haram sect were persuaded into joining the group because of their lack of education. The Committee recommended among other measures that both the federal and state governments should make adequate arrangements/provisions to send school drop-outs back to school.
For national security to exist, a nation must possess economic security; energy security; environmental security, etc. National Security is one of the major functions and in fact, the raison d’etre of the State. A State exists because of its capacity to wield coercion and command authority. The Nigerian State is gradually but in a consistent manner losing its relevance.
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Dr. Chijioke Uwasomba is of the Dept. English, Obafemi University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria