By John Amoda
REFLECTIONS in the media marking years of Democracy in Nigerian are by definition the microanalysis of Nigerian Democracy.
They address the epochal event in the corporate history of societies in Nigeria, namely the events of despotic rule, the result of spoils of conquest.
First was the despotic rule of British colonial government and administrations followed by the despotic rule of the Nigerian Military government and administrations. Independence from the British Empire on October I 1960 ushered in the First Republic of civilian rule.
From 1966 to the present, civilian rule, has suffered rude and crude interregna of Nigerian military governments. Until 1999, political administrations of Nigerian society could be said to be the interruption of long spells of despotic rule by short periods of civilian rule.
Reflections in the mass media on years of civilian rule are informed by underlying apprehensions about its sustainability.
These apprehensions can be phrased as questions. Are we transiting from a system of military administrations interrupted by civilian rule to a system of stabilised civilian rule?
Are we in a transition between military and civilian rule made possible by the democratic and constitutional restructure of the Nigerian political system with a purpose of entrenching civilian rule and delegitimising military rule?
Are we in a transition between military and civilian rule effected through the constitutionalist reform of the Armed and Security Forces in Nigeria? These three questions address the present as a transition.
Transitions by definition are periods of change in which a present system is being replaced by another in a moment of time in which both systems co-exist, one in ascendance, the other in decline, yet in the moment of time fraught with the possibility that which is in ascendance can give away to that which appears to be in decline.
And this is the point, that transitions present two possible readings of facts – the first reading being the description of change of systems; the second reading being the confusing of contestations for change of systems with the facts of change of systems.
Which is the case with Nigeria? We must therefore first address the fact that Nigeria presently exist in a period and context of transition. It exist in a context of the transition of the decolonisation of the British Empire, and it exist as Nigeria in the period of transition between the system of military rule and the system of civilian rule.
Periods of existence are determined by contexts of existence. Contexts must first change before present periods are replaced by emerging periods.
The Nigerian military order could become so quickly the predominant governmental authority after the emergence of Nigeria as an independent country because Nigeria existed within the context of transition of change of the British colonial empire.
The empire was a state, polity and economy on the basis of conquest. The provinces of the empire were constituted as sectors of the metropolitan citizenry and of the subjects in the colonies.
The colonial security forces were not destroyed by the departing British colonial administrators with the end of colonial rule.
The management and control of these forces were officially transferred through a process of tutelage to Nigerian officers trained by the British Government in their military academics exemplified by Sandhurst. Movements for reform of the British Empire contained within them the possibility of the escalation of reform into revolutionary change of the British Empire.
To avert this possibility, the British post colonial party and government have managed the change of empire so as to avert the development of reform into revolution.
Thus, the sectoral structure of the British Empire has been maintained while the relations between the imperial citizenry and subjects have been reformed. The structure of the British Imperial Society was its economy sectorally organised.
The British State secured the British Imperial Society while the British colonial government provided internal security for the sectors of the Imperial Economy. Nigeria was a sector of the British Imperial society secured by the British colonial government. The Armed and Security forces in Nigeria were agencies of the colonial government. Independence from British Colonial rule did not entail a revolutionary restructure of the British Imperial Society – it involved only the reform of its administration.
The juridical expression of independence was in the change of the administration of the sectors of the British imperial economy, the economic structure or the society was not affected.
Thus, as long as Independent Nigeria was sustained as a sector of the British imperial economy, even nationalist expectations of the Nigerian administrative class could be contained within the context of reform politics and as intra-Nigerian pressure group politics.
Thus, as the cocoa farmer went about producing cocoa; as the growers of oil palm went about producing their palm oil and palm kernel; as the grower of cotton and groundnuts followed their colonial calling to produce for export, these activities maintained without coercion the British imperial economy under Nigerian Aaministrators of the institutions government. The economic activities maintained the imperial purpose of the colony.
The colonial social structure consisting of (I) producers for export (2) the producers for the sustainance of producers for exports (3) the vast majority of the rural subsistence producers and their complimentary artisans remained the social structure of a post-colonial Nigerian society. Over a society thus structured reigned the Nigerian independence administrative class made up of (a) the Post Colonial Government (b) the Nigerianised colonial Armed and Security services (c) the Nigerianised colonial administration.
The above is the societal structure, the frame that was dressed up as a new nation separate and equal to that of Great Britain. This reconstitution of the British Empire into Great Britain and colonies granted their independence constituted a transition between orders – that is the changing of the Order of British Empire into the Order of the Commonwealth.