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National security in post-military Nigeria

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National Security, Democracy and Good Governance in Post Military Rule Nigeria (Author House, U.S.; 2016) is Dr. Dan Mou’s latest book. It is in two volumes. It follows Mou’s tracts on Nigerian politics and society after military rule. In it, Mou argues that Nigerian security, economic, political and social problems have been intractable since the civil war. He says Nigeria’s challenging security, democratic and governance problems would get better depending on what happens to the 71 per cent of the population still living below poverty line.

This is so, he states, despite the billions of dollars realised from crude oil over the past 50 years. This volume reveals that one does not have to be a prophet to predict that without good governance, teamwork and inclusive growth, Nigeria may witness civil disobedience, insurgency, kidnapping and the breakdown of law and order. Besides, more of her citizens will try to check out of the country to better societies, where things work. Sadly, Mou’s predictions have come true on the migration score, as thousands of Nigerians are perishing trying to cross to Europe through the Mediterranean.

However, under such intense pressures for self-preservation, the Nigerian government will be forced by objective conditions to move against groups and classes in the country. This is just as it is happening now, with President Muhammadu Buhari exposing corruption such as the Ikoyigate and the likes. Those who have long captured and hijacked the Nigerian state and its resources for their exclusive use are now being exposed.

The author shows that Nigeria’s social classes, which hitherto have been very docile, are now very active, even nearly becoming militant and now demanding the dividends of democracy. These new militants countrywide, he argues, have long eluded the 71 per cent of Nigeria’s population now languishing below poverty line. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, in spite of the billions of petrol dollars Nigeria has garnered as revenue over the years, the majority of the people are still so poor that Nigeria is rated the worst country for a child to be born in as at 2016.

This book warns that the demands of the downtrodden such as poverty alleviation, inclusive growth and equality before the law, if not met, will culminate in social fragmentation in the years to come. Thus, Mou is sounding like a prophet. And, as militancy is growing by the day, organised by the Oodu Peoples Congress, Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

Indeed, Mou continues in his testament that within the Nigerian reality, the Federal Government will be forced to move against the corrupt elite, which has ruined the country to the detriment of the Nigerian people. He also argues that it is only after political, social and ideological reforms have taken place that national security, democracy and true federalism will become internalised by the Nigerian people.

It is after this projected social transformation that Nigeria would started on the road to actualising its destiny’s role due to its size and prosperity, as the authentic African giant. And we’re living witnesses to the collapse of despotism around the world, he says, which has aggravated agitation for political participation of the youth and the poor.

However, Mou has addressed in his book, the form this revolution has assumed within Nigeria. Particularly limited is our knowledge of how and why these agitations and the demands for autonomy have come to affect national security.

Indeed, this widespread dissatisfaction has brought about great challenges to the government. But it is noteworthy that the army voluntarily relinquished power to civilians, saying they did not wait till Nigeria had its own Arab Spring before doing so. More so, Mou is able to resolve some mistaken views of Nigerian politics. The first mistaken view is that national security cannot thrive in a democracy. That is to say, only the military can guarantee security.

Secondly is the view that the economic conditions affect national security. Here, Mou asserts that a democratic environment is a conducive place to pursue the goals of national security and good governance. Finally, poor security arises due to weak political institutions and poor leadership, contends, adding that leadership determines the quality of national security, democracy and good governance.

He states that severe economic conditions such as depression generates cleavages and class-based conflicts, which undermine security, with each group attempting to capture state power to favour their exclusive interests. As the prosperity of a nation shrinks, these cleavages increase and the struggle becomes more intense. Corruption also exacerbates instability, as public servants engage in primitive accumulation of capital for their private benefit.

It is such failings, Mou contends, that have culminated in Boko Haram insurgency and militancy in the Niger Delta. Mou reveals that in Nigeria, good governance means social welfare. Consequently, not only corruption is ravaging the country, disparity in income is also subversive of national security. Unfortunately, Nigerians have come to realise the fallacy of prosperity trickling down to cushion their suffering. What is more, the state managers are restrained by the thieving elite from taking drastic measures to provide succour for the people.

To that end, budget surpluses are venerated and used to slow down economic development. This practice of hoarding money slowed down industrial growth and Nigeria’s growth has been declining since 1993.

Mou is currently the chair of Centre for Poverty Eradication in Abuja. A graduate of political science of University of Ibadan, he obtained his PhD from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, U.S., retired from public service as Adviser to National Security Advisers of three different administrations in Nigeria. He has written seven books on public policy analysis.


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