SECURITY and Dr Kayode Fayemi’s Latest Faux Pas on State Police – Dr Adoyi Onoja

9 min read

Not only is Dr Kayode Fayemi wrong in his belief that the inauguration of state ownership, control and use of police however long delayed will address what the governing political class and their military, intelligence and law enforcement (MILE) advisers variously described as “insecurity” in Nigeria. The entire clan of elected and appointed officials and their MILE advisers believe that the primary responsibility of government is the provision of “security” is WRONG and UNFOUNDED in democratic ideals, ideas, institutions and persons representing the framework on which they anchor their governance whether as process and procedure, institution and/or delivery of services.

The clan of elected and appointed officials have LIED to most Nigerians in the last twenty-two years beginning in 1999. They will continue to lie and be wrong for as long as they fail to investigate and interrogate the etymological, epistemological, philosophical and country-culture-specific construct of security.

In the latest statement on state ownership and control of police or decentralised policing in Nigeria, Dr Fayemi, in his convocation lecture at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, entitled “media, security and nation building, declared that “nothing can stop state police”. This is because “devolving policing to various levels including the local level is the only solution to the myriad of security challenges facing the country”. 

There are two ways to look at the elected and appointed officials’ sacrosanct belief that decentralising the police is central to curtailing the existential law and order crisis confronting Nigeria under the representative rule. This faith is hinged on their self-conceited interpretation and understanding of Section 14 Subsection 2B of the 1999 Constitution. According to this provision, “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”.

The first perspective relate to the utility of the Section in terms of the political and economic benefit it confers on the holders of political power under representative rule. Their faith in the ability of decentralise policing and/or the reliance of arm bearing agencies to address “insecurity” in Nigeria stem from the economic and political benefit it contain for them.

The second perspective arise from the political office holders socialised knowledge of security as having one meaning only and that meaning come from the name and work of the military, intelligence and law enforcement (MILE). With this in mind, there should be no going back in viewing the police and their ownership of the police when decentralised, as security or the route to enduring security.

However, there are plenty questions arising from this view. If “security” is the work of the military, intelligence and law enforcement and this “security” is what is lacking in the lives of most Nigerians, why would most Nigerians drive the military out of power and replace them with civil elected persons with little or no experience of this type of security? Is the military, intelligence and law enforcement not better in providing this “security” to most Nigerians if this is the security most Nigerians clamoured for prior to civil rule? Why should the elected and appointed officials constantly invoke Section 14 Subsection 2B as their primary duty to those that elected them if the Section is exclusively about the work of the military, intelligence and law enforcement? 

Do the elected and appointed officials know the philosophy or nature, meaning and purpose behind Section 14 Subsection 2B inserted by the military? Did the military, the authors of the 1999 Constitution, write the Constitution for the benefit of civil rule or the continuation of the domineering influence of the MILE in the course of civil rule? 

The recent rejection of the bill sponsored by a member of the House of Representatives to make the entire Chapter 2 or Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy with Section 14 Subsection 2B justiceable smelled rotten and smack of cover up at the highest level. What, in their rejection, are they hiding from most if not all Nigerians? There is cover up in the members of the House of Representatives recent rejection of the bill sponsored by one of their member to make the entire Chapter 2 or Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy with Section 14 Subsection 2B justiceable.

With the failure of Section 14 Subsection 2B and arguably a failure occasioned by the failed premise of the 1999 Constitution, should not the legislatures cause the review of the framework behind the 1999 Constitution in consonance with representative rule? 

Beyond Section 14 Subsection 2B serving their political and economic interests, do the elected and appointed officials truly believed that their primary task of governance or the effective and efficient utilisation of human and material resources for the benefit of most if not all Nigerians is in the provision of the “security” of the type the military, intelligence and law enforcement is saddle with? 

What happened to other spheres of human endeavours that secure or is security whose provision mitigates the descent to anarchy and thus the use of the MILE resources? These spheres include unleashing economic opportunity in all spheres for all demographic groups, education, health, housing, transportation infrastructures, social infrastructures etc.?

Have the elected and appointed political class ever enquire about the etymology of security which is secure? Have the elected and appointed officials ever enquire about the epistemology of security? Have the elected and appointed officials ever enquire about the philosophy or nature, meaning and purpose of security? Where is the place of country-culture-construct of security? This is arising from the fact that security is a social construct and as social construct security is what we make of it? What should representative rule make of security in the face of the successful failure of the MILE “security” construct? 

Where is the framework of representative rule in the construct of security if the particular perspective that informed their intervention and constitute Section 14 Subsection 2B derived from the military, intelligence and law enforcement worldview? Do the legislatures know that they can construct security in tandem with representative rule or democracy worldview taking into cognisance the reasons most Nigerians voted them into office against the military rule? What knowledge informs the conduct of the legislature and the executive in the last twenty-two years?

What is secure or security for civil rule? What is secure or security for civil rule if secure or security for the military is guns, warships, fighter jets and boots on the ground? Is it guns, warships, fighter jets and boots that most Nigerians lack in their lives under government elected by them? Should guns, warships, fighter jets and boots be the security that elected government should provide for their people?

Section 14 Subsection 2B should be rechristened the “security and welfare of the political and MILE class is the primary purpose of government.” In the last twenty-two years and in particular beginning in 2009, this has been the focus on the Section.

Each time the political class invoke the Section, it is to remind Nigerians of this hidden purpose as it seek to facilitate access to unending fund in name of providing logistics for the MILE. Most of the fund goes into the pockets of elected, appointed, bureaucrats and MILE drivers of this “security”. This assured the political class of the loyalty of the military, intelligence and law enforcement, the defacto opposition to their hold on power. For the MILE, having access to constant fund in the name of “security” assuages the feeling that the loss of political power did not amount to the loss of the accompanying access to wealth that political power conferred on them while they were the governing authority.

To enable the governing political elite to invoke Section 14 Subsection 2B on a rolling basis having provided the entry level constitutional provision for the military – army, navy and air force – participation in “internal security operation”, in Section 217 subsection 2C, the 1999 Constitution was manufactured to guarantee the perpetual creation of crisis and conflict in the polity. With most Nigerians socialised into the MILE narrative of “security” as the name and work of the military, intelligence and law enforcement, most Nigerians will lead the way in calling for the provision of fund for logistics to enable the intervention of the MILE in curbing crisis and conflict. This way most Nigerians are in accord with the demand of the political class couched in Section 14 Subsection 2B.

Thus with crisis and conflict in the polity, Section 14 Subsection 2B will remain the garden planted by the lake side – perpetually greening and relevant to the political economy of Nigeria under representative rule.

The primary reason persons enlist into the military, intelligence and law enforcement is to secure selves first before securing others and should decentralise policing begins, those that will enlist in the various state police will do so to secure themselves first before securing others. The reason persons enlist into the military, intelligence and law enforcement is the philosophy or nature, meaning and purpose of SECURE or SECURITY. Or to put this bluntly using the political class incessant demand for fund for “security” most of which lined their pockets, what they do – living well and large – is SECURE or SECURITY. 

Security is wellbeing in all of its forms. This is the SECURE or SECURITY most Nigerians asked for when they voted in civil rule in 1999. For civil rule to provide security or secure most Nigerians, it is to be involved directly or indirectly in creating and/or causing the creation of economic opportunity for most of its citizens. The creation of this economic opportunity on the short, medium and long term will keep its citizens busy causing the reduction and/or elimination of crime and criminality which Dr Fayemi and his clan of elected and appointed colleagues described as “insecurity” and for which they anchored their primary responsibility of governance on. The 1999 Constitution and Section 14 Subsection 2B must go in order to construct a constitution and a conception of security that truly reflects the yearning of most Nigerians to be secure within the ambit of representative rule and in tandem with the reasons they rejected the military, intelligence and law enforcement security perspective.

Dr Fayemi and his colleagues in the executives and legislatures should quit thinking that decentralise policing is the solution to “insecurity” and thus “security”. They should review and jettison their erroneous and dubiously double standard belief that “security…is the primary purpose of government”. After all the “welfare” bit in the Section is not reference each time they invoke this Section. The “security” they refer to is not representative rule construct. Representative rule has never had its own construct of security. The “security” they refer to did not represent representative rule worldview. We are not living in the pre Middle Ages Hobbesian condition. The Hobbesian condition we live in is the one the executives and legislatures inability, incapacity and criminal unwillingness to govern effectively and efficiently caused into existence for most Nigerians.

Nigeria should quit imitating aspect of the reality of the United States where security is externalised and in the pursuit of national security anywhere and everywhere in the world, the instruments of the military, intelligence and law enforcement is the visible representation of what President Biden described as economic security is national security. They should stop being holier than thou in a “security” worldview they have no idea of and is not their creation.

They should jettison the 1999 Constitution and above all else construct civil rule security framework. This security framework should be in tandem with representative rule, representative rule mandate to govern the entire country by operating the entire constitution and not particular sphere of the country and constitution as the military, intelligence and law enforcement and proceed to making this security, through legislation and policy, the cornerstone and end-state of every public policy. 

Unless and until the legislatures and executives construct representative rule type security – a chance the House of Representatives wasted in their ill-conceived and ill-motivated “solutions only” call for memorandum and thus the resulting hurriedly compiled National Security Summit Report – a thousand military, intelligence and law enforcement outfits, in all the tiers of government, will not address crisis and conflict or “security challenges” in Nigeria.


Our Take: Security is a social construct driven by the idea of welfarism in its entirety. The 1999 Constitution as amended; Section 14, Sub-section 2B makes provision for the security and welfare of the people being the primary responsibility of the government. In essence, for a government to govern effectively, the security and welfare needs of the people must be met. The erroneous representation of what security really entails in recent time has left ‘security’ in Nigeria in a terrible state. The quest for personal gains by the elected and by extension, the military, intelligence, and law enforcement (MILE) has defeated section 14 subsection 2B of the 1999 constitution. This has birthed a situation where a cluster of persons in the society enjoy security in its real sense. Given the failure of the representation of ”security and welfare” as enshrined in the constitution, there is a need to amend policy frameworks such that they speak to the security situations in the country.


About the Author: Dr Adoyi Onoja teaches history courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the Department of History and security courses at the graduate level in the Security Studies Unit of the Institute of Governance and Development Studies, Nasarawa State University, Keffi. He can be contacted through onojaa@yahoo.com and on www.adoyionoja.org.ng

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