By John Amoda
INSECURITY of life in Nigeria has become the context of social life in the country. The wonder is that government is adapting to this condition of insecurity.
Governance is going on auto-pilot while societal insecurity is treated as an important issue. And this attitude to the societal condition reveals a staggering lack of knowledge of the nature of Africa’s post colonial social structure. It is the implication of this naiveté that is frightening.
The point is that government proceeds the state in the granting of autonomy to colonies of European empires. This fact is easier to appreciate in the case of the granting of independence to the Nigerian colony on October 1, 1960. Independence for Nigeria meant institutionally that the colony of Nigeria had now been granted self-rule through the terminal election of 1959.
The transformation of the colonial government into the Nigerian government was evolutionary. The colonial bureaucracy was increasingly transferred from British control to Nigerian control. Independence was through a process of Nigerianisation of the officeholders and not of the offices held.
Indeed the British officeholder had to be paid off, an issue that was raised by Margret Thatcher, the British Prime Minister, on her visit to Nigeria. The import of this fact is in the nature of the colonial government. The colonial government was different from the British government at home.
The colonial government was the institution for the administration of subject societies reconstructed into sectors of the metropolitan imperial economy. The colonial government was to contain rebellion and subdue armed opposition and resistance to the rule of the empire in the colony.
It was an instrument of order, that is an instrument of domination, first and foremost. And it played this role through the colonial security apparatus made up of the Army, the Police and the court system. The colonial government contained the society of the colony and was thus not a product of the society.
This was the structural difference between the metropolitan society and the colonial society. Government in the imperial metropole was dependent upon the metropolitan society and was the agent of the ruling classes in England.
In the colony, the colonial government was independent of the colonial society and was an instrument of conquest and domination. This was the nature of the government whose administration was Nigerianised.
The constitutionalisation of election into the offices of this government adapted for use as the government of an independent Nigeria did not change the nature of government that remained unchanged from the inception of independence. Nigerian government is a fusion of instruments of domination, pacification and administration. It exercises proprietary control of the society.
This is why it was easy for the military to shift control of government from the elected officeholders to the organisers of military coups. This is why coups can still be staged whenever such a project is deemed important to the ‘coupists’.
The reason why this is the case is because government still retains its nature as an instrument of domination and pacification irrespective of the constitutionalisation of competition for office holding among parties organised for that purpose. Electoral parties are not parties of state. Parties of state are organised to institute a state through which their sovereignty is established.
It is a state that secures the dominance of the party in the society as it uses the state to ensure its domination over all competitors for sovereign command of society.
Nigeria was created by the British imperial parties of state. The colony was a new structure of society secured by the British imperial state.
It was through the order defended by the state that the colony was constructed and its instruments of command and control established. Within such a command and control order of society the colonial government could be instituted for the development of the colony and for its administration.
Independence meant that British state would no longer be responsible for securing the colonial government as its administration was Nigerianized. From 1960 to date the government has had to function without the security provided by a state.
The only time in which the need for a state to be created for securing the society as envisaged by parties of state was the Civil War.
The war was however fought by Gowon as a war to defeat secession and to re-establish a united Nigeria, that is, Nigeria as transferred by the British to the electoral parties.
The military rule has since then been presented as a transition between eras of civilian constitutional administration of the offices of government.
As long as Nigerian politics was limited to competition for office-holding either between civilian politicians and military politicians, or between factions of these two governmental rivals, the structure of government has remained unaltered. Government has been able to secure society through domination and pacification.
This has been so because the sole aim of both categories of politicians, civilian elected or military coupists has been the holding of office, that is administration and “growing” government, not its change or transformation.
Now there is a change in the politics of Nigeria. The overthrow of government has become the context for multi-faceted threats undermining the security of the Nigerian citizenry. Government is the structure of the integrity of society.
Threats to the viability of the government’s command and control of society does not only result in the instability of government but in the likelihood of the unraveling of the social fabric. Somalia became a society of warlords through the process of the overthrow and fragmentation of government.
Somalisation is possible even when insurgencies fail because the capacity of government to remain the integrity and thus sustain the integrity of society is weakened or destroyed.
The collapse of government has more severe consequences than the failure of the state. State Failure results in the anarchy of contestations for power among parties of state each capable of maintaining law and order in the areas it controls.
Collapse of governments, however, results in the emergence of warlords, bandits, kidnappers, ethnic and communal feuds. We are seeing the course of collapse of governments as reported in the media.