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Preventing Nigeria from becoming a “failed nation”

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[FILES] Buhari

Whether one is concerned with value allocations or political system legitimization, how effective and efficient national security, electoral integrity, good governance and nation building are carried out in any society, have serious implications for the policing and prosperity of that society.

It also determines the extent of the peace, democratic rules, security and sustainable development such a nation will experience.

The failure to appreciate and handle these issues carefully, especially of National Security and Electoral Integrity, have created several problems for many nations in the world today and is still doing so. In fact, some have already become “failed states” or are about to do so, as a consequence of this fatal negligence.

We are now living witnesses to the collapse of despotic and unpopular regimes the world over, including those on the African continent.

Subordinate groups, classes and other social cleavages have sprang up with agitations for participation in the affairs of their nations and societies.

This has, no doubt, confirmed Almond and Verba’s declaration that: “If there is a political revolution going on throughout the world; it is what might be called the participation revolution”. This participation becomes more effective in situations where national security and electoral integrity are guaranteed.

What has been the impact of the quest for democratization and mass participation; or as Almond and Verba put it, the “participation revolution” on national security, electoral integrity, good governance and nation building in Nigeria? What other consequences and security challenges have arisen within Nigeria with respect to the different social cleavages and citizens? By social cleavages here, we mean those divisions in the Nigerian society that are based on ethnicity, classes, region, religion, gender, language, race and even caste.

What lessons can African nations learn from the Nigerian experience? What are the policy recommendations that can be put forward to address all of these issues, especially national security and electoral integrity? These are the questions that this paper attempts to answer.

More specifically on the Nigerian situation, we propose to demonstrate that national security, electoral integrity and good governance under a democratic setting, are opposite sides of the same coin.

As good governance under a democratic setting goes up or improves, national security and electoral integrity also go up in that challenges to national security and electoral integrity become lesser and lesser in such a society.

Whenever the other side suffers, the opposite side is inevitably bound to suffer as well. Exercising political power, becomes always striking a favourable balance between the imperatives of national security, electoral integrity and good governance in a democratic social order.

In all societies, when national security, electoral integrity and good governance go up, these are favourable conditions for nation building and development. However, when the reverse is the case, it also affects negatively nation building and development as well.

Under severe economic hardships resulting from natural or other causes, there tend to be more challenges to national security, electoral integrity, good governance and nation building. This is because deepening economic crises tend to generate more societal conflicts based on social cleavages.

Each one or a set of them attempts to capture and hijack the State and State policies for their exclusive interests. This tends to affect the autonomy of the State, the emerging policies and their impacts. National security and electoral integrity also suffer.

As the economic fortunes of a society shrink, these class and cultural pluralist cleavages tend to increase. The struggle for the scarce economic resources becomes more intense. All social cleavages or factions therefore, attempt to hijack the public policies or even the state for their exclusive use. Corruption also increases as office holders engage in primitive individual accumulation of capital for their private benefits.

These developments, greatly challenge the national security system, good governance and nation building. They also put undue pressures on electoral integrity or even democracy as a whole.

Further, the nature of the national security system or architecture in place, tends to affect both electoral integrity, good governance, nation building and the ease with which the society can be effectively and efficiently policed.

In effect, one does not need to be a “political prophet”, to predict that if these challenges are not successfully and effectively addressed through good governance and series of nation building efforts, such as inclusive growth, socio-political justice and equal opportunities for all the social cleavages and citizens, Nigeria will witness worse challenges to national security, electoral integrity, civil disobedience, violence, revolts, militancy, breakdown of law and order, increased kidnappings and more of her citizens trying to “check-out” of the country to other parts of the world in future.

As we shall see below, Nigeria has experienced all these trends and phenomena. Nigeria is an excellent case study because what she has gone through, particularly during this time period, is symptomatic of other African Nations. Lessons learnt in this case study can therefore, have some remarkable comparative import for most of the other African countries; systemic variations across the various nations in the continent, notwithstanding.

II National Security Architectures and Electoral Integrity
In my recent book, National Security, Democracy and Good Governance in Post-Military Rule Nigeria, I demonstrated that there are basically two broad approaches for classifying the different varieties of national security systems or architectures. They also have different implications or effects on electoral integrity. These are: First, the Dominant Ideology Classification of varieties of National Security Architectures. This approach categorizes national security architectures as follows:

a. Captured National Security System (CNSS) or Architecture: Under this situation, the dominant interests of a given social cleavage or a set of them in that society, have taken control of the State security apparatuses, so that the national security policy and objectives are influenced by the elite group. This group uses the nation’s security apparatuses as the oppressive tool for their economic and political exploitation of others.

The interests of the public, defined as whatever in the society that is for the common good of all, will not be a priority under this system or architecture of national security. The information for public consumption will also be distorted to suit the interests of that particular social cleavage elite. Opposition political parties and media houses tend to be oppressed with government machinery.

A classical example of the captured national security architecture is apartheid period in South Africa, where the government security apparatuses were used for the interest of the minority white people. It was also practiced in Germany during the rule of the Nazis, led by Adolf Hitler. In fact, it is a common security architecture or system that operates in most nations in Africa, in different degrees.

Under this national security architecture, electoral integrity is totally consigned to the dustbin. No matter how votes are cast, the electoral body and security agencies normally collude to announce whatever electoral results the dominant social cleavages or group of social cleavage that have captured them want.

b. Autonomous National Security System (ANSS) or Architecture: This, exists where the state security apparatuses are operating independently of the dominant elites or classes in that society.

National Security policy and its apparatuses, are more rational and objective in carrying out state policy, implementation and security policies that concern/cater for all its citizens. Security information management therefore, is easier since public interest and national security become similar. This type of security architecture currently operates mainly in industrialised nations, such as the USA, USSR, China, Germany and Britain.

In Africa, electoral integrity is highly correlated to the degree of autonomy or independence, the security agencies and the electoral bodies or even the governments have viz-a-viz, the dominant social cleavages, be they of ethnic, class, regional, religious and so forth.

It is certainly not by accident that in their comparative study of “Electoral Integrity in Africa”, Max Gromping and Ferrant Martiney reported that “the degree of threats to electoral integrity is more severe in Africa when compared to the rest of the world”.
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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