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Preventing Nigeria from becoming a “failed nation”

By Dan Mou
30 April 2019   |   3:43 am
These findings that the autonomy or independence of the Electoral Commissions and National Security Agencies matter, have also been replicated...

PHOTO: AFP / STEFAN HEUNIS (Photo credit should read STEFAN HEUNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

These findings that the autonomy or independence of the Electoral Commissions and National Security Agencies matter, have also been replicated in the Electoral Integrity Project undertaken by Pippa Norris, Thomas Wynter and Sarah Cameron in their report titled “Electoral Integrity and Campaign Media” dated August, 2018. Their findings that the lack of autonomy of the Security Agencies and Electoral Bodies does remarkably affect negatively the electoral integrity of Nations is particularly interesting, because their focus was not even on the African Countries. They studied electoral integrity in Italy, Russia and Venezuela. Yet, they came to this same conclusion. This confirms that the nature of the national security system or architecture dramatically affects the Electoral Performance Index (EPI) of Nations across the board. It is not simply an African phenomenon. For example, Norris, Wynter and Cameron concluded with reference to the electoral integrity of Venezuela as follows and we quote them here at length:

The Venezuelan Presidential election held on the 20th May, 2018 was widely denounced as a ‘farce’ and a ‘show election’, with the Organization of American States stating that in the electoral process, ‘the dictator Maduro tried – without success – to give a democratic, veneer to his totalitarian regime’. The legitimacy of the contest, which Maduro won easily with more than two thirds of the valid vote total, was further undermined by an opposition boycott and record low turnout. Incumbent President Maduro inherited and expanded upon Chevez’s mechanisms of political control; which empowered him to suppress political opposition and critical press.

It was, of course, the fact that the Venezuela Nation operates a classic case of a captured national security architecture. This gave the wide room for the control of not just military and other security agencies. They went further to also control the electoral bodies to accomplish the task they did, by simply “awarding” the “votes” they wanted to the President of Venezuela, Maduro, and declaring him and his party the winner. Under such situation, any talk of electoral integrity or the Electoral Performance Index (EPI), is a waste of time, to say the least. This is the predominant fate of electoral integrity in Africa, as already stated above. The Venezuelan Society is now in terrible internal security crises as a consequence of these electoral mal-practices.

c. Relatively Autonomous National Security System (RANSS) or Architecture: This position presupposes that the national security apparatus is neither captured nor autonomous. In most advanced democracies, national security is relatively autonomous because they cater to some extent, for the common good of all citizens. The state operates a policy of freedom of information as the media have access and are empowered to seek for information. However, laws of secrecy exist and not all information is available at all times to the public. Within the electoral integrity context, such countries where the national security architecture is relatively autonomous, will certainly score higher than the ones in which the national security systems are totally captured. It should not come as a surprise therefore, that in the Electoral Integrity Project undertaken on twenty eight (28) African countries by Gromping and Martinez (2014), different African countries performed differently in their overall rating on Perception of Electoral Integrity (PEI) score. They found that the average PEI score in Africa is fifty four (54); while the global average is seventy one (71).

Yet, even within Africa, countries where the national security system is relatively autonomous have higher PEI scores than others. That explains why Mauritius, Ghana and South Africa had better overall PEI index compared with others such as Equatorial Guinea, Djibouti and Mozambique. The national security systems and electoral commissions in Mauritius, South Africa and Ghana are relatively autonomous, whereas the ones in Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea and Mozambique are fully captured by the powers that be in those countries. In the later countries, electoral results are therefore given based on the directives of the leadership rather than actual voting patterns in the field during elections.

The second broad approach, is the Organizational Determinant Categorization of National Security Systems or Architectures. This second approach also categorizes National Security System or Architectures into three types. These are: (a) the Segmentary National Security System (SNSS) or Architecture; (b) the Coordinated National Security System (CNSS) or Architecture; and (c) the Integrated National Security System (INSS) or Architecture. The three key distinguishing words are: Segmentary, Coordinated and Integrated. Each of these National Security Systems or Architectures has its advantages and disadvantages, and different effects on electoral integrity as well, which are considered briefly below.
(a) Segmentary National Security System (SNSS) or Architecture.

The Segmentary National Security System (SNSS) or Architecture tries to apply the principle of federalism or even Confederalism to the security of a country. Under this arrangement, the country’s security arrangement is left to the individual military or security services or their special units. In the event of security threats, each Service adopts its own strategy in repelling the threat. Individual Service Chiefs or Heads of Security Agencies therefore, mobilise their men and weaponry in the defence or securing of whatever target is threatened. There is little or no harmonization of efforts by the various Services or Agencies and no coordination of their attack/reaction to the enemy or enemies.

There is usually little or no communication and reporting across Services or Agencies during the operations. With the exception of South Africa and Libya (during President Gadhafi), all other African countries (including Nigeria) have adopted the Segmentary Security System or Architecture at one time or the other, even though the degree of application varied from one country to the other.

Because this approach is not effective, it allows room for internal security threats and creates fertile ground for the emergence of insurgencies. These internal crises and insurgencies become serious obstacles to the conduct of elections and diminishes electoral integrity and good governance, as a whole. This is the current situation in Nigeria right now. Hence, several insurgencies have emerged, as we shall see below, which affected the conduct of the 2015 national elections in Nigeria negatively. It will in fact create even more serious problems for the forthcoming 2019 national elections in Nigeria as well, if they are not stopped or curtailed before February, 2019, when the general elections are scheduled to commence.
In Nigeria, for instance, under the administrations of former Presidents Shehu Shagari and Goodluck Jonathan, the Military and other security Agencies all operated separately, with little coordination and integration between them and other Security Agencies. This became more visible in their different strategies and operations regarding the control of Boko Haram Religious Insurgency and the Herdsmen and Farmers conflicts and clashes all over the Nation, but especially in the North Central Zone of Nigeria. In the event of any security threat, as is the case with the Herdsmen and Farmers clashes, therefore, these Services reacted differently, with little coordination and integration of their efforts.
To be continued tomorrow

•Mou, Executive Chairman, Centre for Poverty Eradication, Development and Equal Opportunity (CEPEDEO), Maitama, presented this paper at a conference on the theme “Sustaining the Integrity of 2019 General Elections in Nigeria with the sub-theme “National Security and Electoral Integrity” organised by the African Electoral Integrity Initiative (AE2i), in collaboration with other international and local organisations, Abuja.

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