Nigeria’s security politics: Who rules or who governs

on   /   in Tuesday Platform 12:14 am   /   Comments

By John Amoda
THE  Guardian, Tuesday, June 19, 2012 carried the following story headlined: “Police unveil new strategy against terror”.

Vanguard, Tuesday, June 26, 2012 headlined its own story on the Police thusly. “Insecurity: Governors call for state police; make case for security intervention fund”. Vanguard, Wednesday July 4, 2012 presented the advice of former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav to the Federal Government on calls for state police.

Vanguard reports him in the following: “Alhadji Abubakar Tsav, yesterday urged the Federal Government to discountenance suggestions for the creation of state police in the country, warning that such a venture would worsen the security challenge facing the country.

Tsav who spoke to Vanguard against the backdrop of recent calls by governors of the 36 states for the creation of state police to enhance security in the country, warned that a police under the control of state governors would become instrument of intimidation and harassment of perceived opponents”.

The Guardian Tuesday July 10, 2012 headline in the front page the past weekend, “Plateau killings: Grief, fear reign in Plateau, Nigerians mourn victims”. Of the comments of Plateau State House of Assembly, that of the Deputy Speaker employed his stringent critique of the Federal Government to make the demand for a state police.

The Deputy Speaker summed the debate thus: “The violence in the State and in the country is getting to its climax. Is the Federal Government just there to supervise the killing of its citizens every day? We have resolved as a House that this President owes us explanation and he should tell Nigerians what is going on.

We have also resolved that this House is demanding for a state police because it is obvious the federal police have failed. We are also demanding immediate withdrawal of soldiers from the streets of Plateau and the return of the responsibilities of securing citizens to the governor who is the chief security officer of the state”.

The demand for a state police as expressed by the Deputy Speaker provides the logic for that demand. Alhaji Tsav did not address the issue as defined by the Deputy Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly.

The reason given by Tsav for opposing the creation of state police can be turned on its head to support the demand for the state police. The Federal Government can be accused of partisan use of the Nigeria Police Force and that allegation can become the basis of the demand for a state police force under state control.

The Deputy Speaker argues on another platform. He argues for a constitutional reform on the ground of government’s ineffectiveness in securing the citizens of Plateau State.

He argues for the transfer of the functions of the police from the list of functions assigned exclusively to the Federal Government to the list of functions to be exclusively discharged by the State Government. He argues for confederal restructure of the country’s security regime.

This time it is the police. Next, as it is indicated with demands for the evacuation of the Federal Forces from the streets of Plateau, can be demand for State Armed Forces. When this demand for the shifting of the locus of security maintenance from the President to the State Governor is coupled with calls for a National Conference, it is obvious that anxiety fed by what is now incidences of war is approaching a panic loss of confidence in the Federal security regime.

The issue then to be addressed in this present context of urban warfare is whether the security of society is established by governments, federal, state or local or by an agent that establishes an order that it secures. It is now reported that there are areas of the North that have become battle grounds and unsafe for citizens on occasions advertised and earmarked by the armed adversaries for operational purposes.

If this is the case, then it implies that the Nigerian sovereign space has become tactically partitioned and the rule of government, federal, state and local has ceased to prevail in areas under the operational command and control of armed opponents of government; it further implies that operationally that the insurgents presently constitute a defacto state and government in the portion of Nigeria that it commands and controls.

Within the context of the above scenario, it is easy to see that the creation of state police would be an irrelevant security expenditure, for where the federal security operations are presently constrained, the police, federal, state or local cannot assume the warfare security burdens of the Federal Government.

Those demanding the creation of state police want at best, that the functions of the police placed on the concurrent legislative list. It should be known that such demand for constitutional reform is an uninformed demand.

The security situation in Nigeria is a function of the contestation for sovereignty by the Boko Haram party. We must call a spade by its name. The Boko Haram is a party of state. It is at war to establish its rule over part of Nigeria. It seeks to establish itself as a sovereign by means of war.

Only parties of state conduct wars for the purpose of creating their own order. It is immaterial whether Boko Haram is the only anti-Federal Government party of state. The logic of contestation over sovereignty is everywhere the same.

Its outcome is zero-sum; one party prevails over the rest. It is the same in the contestation over who rules Nigeria; it is immaterial whether Boko Haram is the only anti-Federal Government party of state. The Nigerian state must prevail over all its adversaries or be effectively destroyed. The outcome of the overthrow of the Nigerian state is also the overthrow of Nigeria’s Constitution and constitutional structure of government and governance.

The overthrow of government is a consequence of the overthrow of the Nigerian state. The security challenge in Nigeria is not a challenge of government, it is a challenge of the Nigerian political class.

As long as the focus of the political class in the present crisis is on who governs at the Federal, state or local levels, Nigerian politicians are gravely mistaken for their survival is now the stake. The present security politics of the country must be correctly understood.

The security politics is now not that of who governs but one of who rules. The party that rules establishes the constitutions and the governments they institute on the platform of their sovereign military peace.

The Nigerian political class from Independence to date has been in the business of outsourcing their security: firstly, to the British Colonial Armed Forces; secondly, to the Nigerian Armed Forces. Now some in desperation want to outsource it to the Nigeria Police.

The Boko Haram insurgency has made sovereignty and therefore state making the issue of Nigerian security politics. If the political class must govern now and beyond 2015, it must first establish itself as the ruling class. Rulership is the basis and the foundation for governmentship, not the other way round.

 

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