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Nigeria elite and the currents of political anarchy

By John Amoda
EMMA Amaize, Vanguard Regional Editor, South-South commented in his front page story titled “Derivation Formula: North fishing for trouble- South-South”.

“Prominent South-South leaders, a former governor, and ex-militants in the region, yesterday (February 29, 2012) took up the Northern governors in their agitation for a review of revenue allocation formula, saying they were either uninformed, fishing for trouble or have deliberately set out to provoke the South-South.

This is just as the umbrella body for employers in the country, Nigeria Employers Consultative Association, NECA, said only the principle of derivation otherwise known as “Resource Control” will return Nigeria to the path of growth and development”. (Vanguard March 2, Pp.1,6)

So much is currently reported on discussions, positions and zonal declarations of governors, interest groups such as Arewa Consultative Forum, NECA, etc. Their declarations are subjects of columns and news analysis. It is, however, only rarely asked what are the places of those groups in the structure of the Nigerian polity?

The anti-subsidy removal protests answered that question. Nigeria’s elites are not state power interest groups, they are pressure groups contesting for control of government through election- winning machines organised by them.

The incursion of the military in Nigeria’s government control politics is evidence enough that Nigerian civilian electoral politicians have not addressed the issue of the legitimation and institutionalisation of electoral parties.

The civilian electoral parties remain government patronage dispensing mechanicisms yet to be transformed into sustainable institutions. The lack of stable control of these patronage mechanisms is evidenced by the juggling for control between the National Assembly politicians, governors in their zonal and national fora, the President and the electing political parties.

These weaknesses in the structure of control is evident in the internal governance of the ruling party and in the relationship of the elected governments to the parties that elected them. Electoral parties are not ruling parties, for they do not run the governments that run the country. If this is the case with electoral parties and the governments they run, then we begin to have a clearer picture of Nigeria’s elite interest group politics and politicians.

Indeed it is not an exaggeration to sum up Nigeria’s elite interest group politics as pressure group, patronage seeking, lobbying politics. Pressure groups or lobbying interest groups assume the stable and legitimate existence of government whose decision-making they seek to influence in their favour.

Pressure groups seek not the power to establish orders of society and order in society both of which are the functions of state. State formation is a project and parties organising themselves for the implementation of such projects are state formation or state power parties. State formation parties come into being under the conditions similar to what currently now prevails in Nigeria- condition where seemingly there is No Boss, no-one-in-charge, where might is right, and disorder is the norm.

Disorder should not be seen as chaos, it is anarchy- situation where there is no one in charge, and where each man, each group is law-onto-themselves, answering to no other group. Nigeria is presently in a social condition of anarchy and Nigeria’s elite are attempting to continue with the only game of politics they are proficient in, the game of patronage politics.

Matters of disorder in society that give rise to state power parties that emerge to create an order of society are not perceived as such. Our elites fragmented into zonal groups, into occupational interest groups, into national electoral parties, yet to be harmonized into cohesive solidarity interest groups, struggle over spoils of office oblivious to the fact that their field of play have been limited to smaller and smaller enclaves that can only be protected by the national security force.

The emergence of Boko Haram and the desperate efforts of some pressure group governor politicians to make protection deals with the BH is evidence that the so-call zonal leaders exist in unsecured social spaces and are transacting their pressure group politics of resource distribution, a whole lot different from resource control politics, in the contexts of disorder in society. Nigerian governance politics show that the military are moré adept than civilians in governing under conditions of disorder in society.

And that same history shows that the Nigerian military politicians unlike their Turkish counterpart have not taken up the task of state creation, the task of establishing proprietary control of society. The anti-subsidy mass movement protests and the “rain” of terror of Boko Haram are indicators enough that the “musical chairs” replacement   of civilian office holders with military office holders cannot address the condition of societal anarchy.

Under the prevailing condition of society it seems only prudent that our zonal patronage seeking politicians exercise some restraint on their reckless contestations over who gets more of the cake. Likewise it behoves the advocates of Sovereign National Conference to appreciate the resource-distribution contexts of their prescriptions.

Distribution assumes an order, a society governed by rules. The conditions of anarchy recognizes only possession through plunder. What must be recognized in the present furious declarations of positions, is that conditions of anarchy are not the same as conditions of insecurity. Anarchies are eliminated, not resolved, by the creation of states and orders instituted through the state. Insecurity on the other hand is the endangerment of defensible positions or values.

The conditions of disorder in society describe situations in which the attempt is to establish positions that can be defended, a problem significantly different from that in which positions are assumed. The Government and its politicians are yet to appreciate how tenuous their hold on power is.



Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.