By Dr. Adoyi ONOJA
As we begin to enact another round of Einstein Insanity in Nigeria’s failed and failing “security” and/or “national security”, let us pause and consider or reconsider the pertinent and urgent questions that are the focus of the title and article.
Of what use are the National Security Strategy (NSS) 2019 and the National Security Summit Report (NSSR) 2021 if they cannot drive solutions to the “security” and/or “national security” challenges in Nigeria?
Of what use were the dozens of seminars, conferences, symposiums, experts meetings convened by the executives, legislatures, universities and civil societies over the past years of the securitisation of “security” or “national security” if they cannot add to driving solutions to “security” and/or “national security” challenges?
Of particular interest to this article are the National Security Strategy and the National Security Summit Report. These two strategies were supposedly predicated on the existence of “security” or “national security” in policy legislation forms. In other words, they – the NSS and NSSR – were anchored on this “security” or “national security” vision.
What has happened to these – NSS, NSSR and dozen recommendations – as solutions to the “security” or “national security” challenges to warrant the attempt to begin another round of the search for solutions again? This is in view of the fact that the NSS was supposedly recalibrated in 2019 after its five years shelve life expired, the NSSR came on board in 2021 and the recommendations were of recent makings.
Of relevance in shining light on the issue of Nigeria’s failed and failing “security” or “national security” is the relationship between policy horse and strategy cart in the making of what is security or national security in Nigeria. The issue of policy and strategy is germane to governance whether of the public, private or personal types. In the case of public governance, there are three perspectives of governance. The first perspective sees governance as established processes and procedures; the second perspective sees governance as institutions and; the third perspective incorporate the first two perspectives to sum up the purpose of governance as “the effective and efficient utiilisation of human and material resources for the benefit” of ‘most persons’.
In arriving at this governance, policies and strategies are sine qua non. Policy comes before strategy. Strategy does not and cannot come before policy. Strategy comes after policy. Simply put, the horse comes before the cart. The cart does not and cannot come before the horse.
As far as the strategies called the National Security Strategy and the National Security Summit Report were concerned, the presumptions of their makers – the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and the 9th National Assembly – were that there was policy on “security” or “national security”. The presumptions included that the policy had asked and answered what I called Williams’ four fundamental questions (4fqs) on security or national security. They were what was security or national security, whose security or national security, what was security or national security issues and how can security or national security issues be achieved. The templates of the four fundamental questions should serve as guide to any and all issues of public policy.
When applied to the National Security Strategy and the National Security Summit Report, the first three questions were those of policy and the last question was that of strategy. For the executive and the legislature to come up with Strategies on “security” or “national security”, they had convinced themselves beyond reasonable doubt that there was policy on this “security” or “national security”.
What is this policy? What is the policy’s answer to the first question: what is security or national security? What is the policy’s answer to the second question: whose security or national security? What is the policy’s answer to the third question: what is a security or national security issues? The accompanying questions to what is this policy include when did this policy come into existence, who or which regime made this policy and where is this policy.
These questions are important in order to avoid the merry-go-round that characterised the portfolio called “security” and/or “national security” in the Fourth Republic. The merry-go-round strategy obsession dogging this “security” and/or “national security” became acute from the inauguration of the presidency that began with Umaru Musa Yar’adua to date.
Did the Fourth Republic inherit any security or national security narrative in policy and strategy that fits civil rule history, sociology and politics to warrant its continuation?
Has the Fourth Republic ever deem the issue of security and/or national security whether inherited or not existential and thus underpinning its survival and survival-plus as a system of government to address its philosophy and policy side using the instrumentality of legislation in order to drive all of its programmes?
Are the operators of Nigeria’s democracy aware that the conception of security and/or national security in a government of the people, by the people and for the people differs from other conception of security and/or national security applicable to other rule types?
Are the operators of civil rule aware of the etymologies of security which embeds its philosophy and history? Are they aware of the country-culture specific and history, experience and reality driven construct of security and/or national security?
Are the operators of civil rule aware of their roles as sanction by the constitution on the one hand and on the other hand the specific history, experience and reality that Nigeria’s nationalities’ saddled them in their mental construct of security and/or national security using the Williams’ template?
Do they operators of the democracy in the Fourth Republic know that the prevailing conception of “security” and/or “national security” are products of the views of few agencies (military, intelligence and law enforcement) of the executive developed when they illegally and immorally usurped political power and thus narrow on the one hand and on the hand the wholesale imitations of the outward appearances of the United States national security system?
Do the operators of democracy in the Fourth Republic know that the constitution, however defective in its present state, saddle them with operating all of its provisions as the building blocks to the construct of their perspective of security and/or national security? Not only do the civil rule operatives have the entire constitution as their canvass. The prevailing defence/law enforcement inclined “security” and/or “national security” rested on few sections of the constitution and other enabling laws which are equally part of their schedules.
Is there any time during the Fourth Republic administrations that the members of the legislatures, members of the executives, private individuals, and groups looked critically into the burning issue of the prevailing failed and failing “security” and/or “national security” and decide to inquire into their philosophy or nature, meaning and purpose by submitting a bill to address the Williams’ policy questions?
Arising from these questions, why has government after government, since it became imperative on the executive, led by the ONSA under the Jonathan administration, to have the National Security Strategy in 2014, chosen to have this Strategy and to ignore the Strategy’s recommendations in addressing what they termed “security” or “national security” challenges? Why did the Buhari government continued to ignore the NSS 2014 as they confronted their versions of the orchestrated “security” or “national security” challenges and even proceeded through the ONSA to recalibrate the NSS in 2019 only to shelve the NSS and look elsewhere for solutions to “security” or “national security” challenges?
In 2021, the House of Representatives, under the auspices of the House Committee on National Security Adhoc Committee, no doubt aware of the existence of the National Security Strategy 2014 and 2019, proceeded to solicit for memorandums from Nigerians on “security” challenges and restricted the content of the memorandums to “solutions only”. This intervention gave birth to the House’s National Security Summit Report which was a condensed recommendation of Nigerians on the way forward on “security” or “national security” challenges. There was a public presentation of the National Security Summit Report graced by the then Speaker of the House and others. I recalled the then Speaker’s face glowed in a self-satisfied smirk! Yet no sooner than the NSSR was launched, the NSSR began its journey into irrelevance for the House and for the agencies that should have used the document assuming they even noticed its existence and availability. The NSSR was a mere recommendation as I argued in my Monograph “SECURITY”: The House and their National Security Summit Report. The NSSR was not an act and there was no compelling reason for any agency to notice its existence let alone use it. The NSSR was dead on arrival!!!
The two interventions – the NSS and the NSSR – failed, assuming they were ever used by those they were created for, to address Nigeria’s so-called “security” and “national security” challenges. When have Nigerians ever heard the ONSA, the army, air force, navy, police, civil defence etc. and the intelligence agencies referred to the NSS in their activities? These outfits, under the prevailing narrative of “security” and/or “national security”, are the security for which the NSS specifically targeted. The NSS even had the effrontery to providing strategies for all other agencies of the executive. Yet the political and technical managers of this “security” and/or “national security” have persisted in looking elsewhere for solutions to “security” and/or “national security” challenges while the two documents gathered dust on the shelves of those that have them. It is unlikely that Nigerians have ever heard these managers mention these documents in their interventions at forums. It is equally highly unlikely that Nigeria’s media personnel that have helped securitise this failed and failing “security” or “national security” in discourses knew of their existence let alone used them to hold public officials to account.
Perhaps and this is for the NSS, the plausible reason for the compilation of the NSS, as I argued in my monograph A Critique of the National Security Strategy, was its face saving utility for the officials in the ONSA and others in Nigeria’s increasing engagements with bilateral and multilateral partners on security and/or national security. The partners must have consistently requested for Nigeria’s position on security or national security to necessitate the compilation of the NSS by the ONSA and by extension the executive as Nigeria’s defacto manager of “security” or “national security”. These engagements were almost always at the behest of Nigeria’s external partners as the recent engagement of the ONSA and the United Kingdom demonstrated. Nigeria’s only conception of what is “security” and/or ‘national security” begins and ends in the name and work of the military, intelligence and law enforcement. In this and in relation to Nigeria’s external partners from the developed and discerning developing worlds, Nigeria play the role of holding the horns while these partners milk the diverse cows that represented security and national security for them. The NSS was a document motivated by external stimuli and thus gets mentioned and used on these occasions only.
The making of the NSSR was evidence of the competition between the executive and the legislature over the soul of their “security” and/or “national security”. As for the NSSR, the document was buried upon its birth in 2021. The indication of this came when the incumbent Speaker, no doubt unaware of the existence of his predecessor’s the NSSR, announced on the floor of the House that the House would convened another search for solutions to “security” challenges. This followed the House’s Spokesperson tears-induced motion following the developments in his constituency specifically and other parts of Nigeria generally. The NSSR’s fate is not different from the executive’s NSS. The latter differ only in the fact that it would be renewed with its contents intact except for the names of the president and the national security adviser upon the expiry of its five years shelves life.
So, what is the use of having a strategy without a policy? Evidently, there is no policy on security or national security in Nigeria as on one official of the executive and the legislature can answer this question and/or show this policy. What is the essence of having a national security strategy without any idea of security or national security in policy form within the civil rule framework? What else do Nigerians require to know that the entire enterprise on “security” or “national security” under civil rule framework failed? What else do Nigerians require to know that the entire enterprise on “security” or “national security” under civil rule framework is failing and will continue to fail? What else do Nigerians require to know that the entire edifice called “security” or “national security” under civil rule framework is one big fraudulent scheme meant to fleece Nigeria’s resources always in all ways? Why have the operators of this “security” and/or “national security” serially ignored their own purported solutions documents – the NSS and the NSSR – and instead prefers to orchestrate public hysterias, sieges and debates whose results only change their all-round conditions and has never changed the conditions on the ground for most Nigerians?
Most Nigerians are glad to be part of the quest for this one dimensional solutions perhaps because they have been socialised into thinking and believing that this one dimensional conception of security as name and work of the military, intelligence and law enforcement is the only one available. Most Nigerians may have concurred to this one dimensional narrative because they have been so affected by the impact of the so-called “security” challenges. These grounds enable the puppeteers to justify and get most Nigerians’ buy-in for voting fund into addressing the “security” or “national security” challenges. Of the voted fund, two third almost always end up in the pockets of the political and technical managers of “security” or “national security”. Most Nigerians are part of the civic face of the making of what I called the political economy of “security”. While few Nigerians – the managers of “security” – are part of the primordial face of the political economy of “security”.
I will conclude with the submission I sent to one of the media houses at the height of the current phase of the public hysterias and sieges, the first of the many to come, under this administration’s “security” or “national security” challenges. The ORGANISED CRIME SYNDICATES called “security” is gradually building the momentum to eventually cash out big on “security”. This is even as Price waterhouse Coppers (PwC) Nigeria released its latest report that in the last nine years comprising the tail end of the Jonathan administration and the entire Buhari administration, Nigeria spent N14.8 trillion on “security”. This amount of money, according to Lasisi Olagunju, was spent without results.
The House of Representatives has proposed what would become another FRUITLESS search for “security” in Nigeria. The Senate proposed to meet with the National Security Adviser, Chief of Defence Staff, Ministers of Defence, Police Affairs, Interior and Finance and the Service Chiefs in order to have “wholistic discussion on the matter”. Constitutionally, these ministries and agencies with the exception of finance belong to the defence, intelligence and law enforcement wings and not security of the executive. The invitation to the ministry of finance is suggestive of the end-state of the deliberation. Most Nigerians contributed their quota to building the momentum as they wailed about the “security” challenges with what was tagged as the plan to overrun the Federal Capital Territory. The sequences of these developments represented another de ja vu in the fraud called “security” and/or “national security.”
In the history of this organised crime called “security”, the executives and the legislatures have competed with each other in convening symposiums, conferences, workshops, expert group meetings, seminars etc. on “security” and/or “national security” as the acted oblivious of their National Security Strategy and National Security Summit Report. This “security” failed and will continue to fail. We are set to embarking on another round of these meetings under this administration instead of reviewing existing documents and past engagements to determine the gaps and above all else to determine if what we called “security” or “national security” is security or national security, in its etymologies, philosophy, history and politics and within the civil rule democracy framework.
With most Nigerians suffering from individual and collective amnesia occasioned by the deadening impact of Lamido’s elite orchestrated poverty thesis and their abiding wait-in-wing and do-not-rock the boat emi lokan syndrome, insanity, defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different result is here to stay on “security” or “national security” in Nigeria.
I think we need to change our approach of investigating and interrogating this failed and failing “security” and/or “national security” by first beginning with the search for the philosophy or nature, meaning and purpose of security and the making of security policy legislation.
Of what use is a security CART (strategy) without a security HORSE (policy)? Do we have a philosophy and policy legislation on security and/or national security under the civil rule framework?
- Dr. Adoyi ONOJA is of the Department of History, Nasarawa State University, Keffi