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Conflict prevention: Imperatives of reform Security agencies

By John Amoda
TWO changes have been made at the apex of government’s security management and development.

We situate these changes in the context of reforms necessitated by the insecurity of government and the nation caused by the ongoing insurgent activities nationwide. Boko Haram is one of many indices of insurgencies in the country.

Many reform proposals have been submitted to government from concerned foreign governments and interests; and the Nigeria media is awash with proposals with similar goals of conflict resolution and management.

In the November 15, 2011 issue of the Tuesday Platform I reviewed General Don Idada E Ikponmwen’s proposal for the reform of Nigeria’s defence and security sector.

He had argued for a coordination of the services through a new office. He argued that such a reform will improve the efficiency of the defence and security sector. In my critique of the General’s proposal, I argued that this new office will suffer the same fate as the extant coordinating offices of the National Security Adviser, the Chief of Defence Staff and the C-In-C.

I argued that “another Act creating a coordinating office will be informed by the logic of formal assignment of duties and detailing of functions” for this new office; that a new office “would only enlarge the sector of defence and security by addition with minimal impact of such addition on the effectiveness of the defence and security sector”. And I concluded thusly: “If reform will not result in greater effectiveness, it follows it will not result in improved efficiency of the sector”.

I recommended that “We must address the root cause of the lack of coordination, synergy and effectiveness of Nigeria’s defence and security sector. The root cause is that Nigeria’s security and defence sector is a bureaucratic sector and not a system of security and defence. A system exhibits internal differentiation of structures on the basis of internal specificity of functions.

The security system is a unity and not an agglomeration of units each with its own character”. The method of reform argued for by General Ikponmwen for the reform of the defence and security sector is the same being proposed for the merger of agencies of the Federal Government.

In this merger proposal the problems addressed and to be cured by merger are problems of overlap and duplication.

The Guardian Tuesday November 15, 2011 cover story is introduced in the following:

“A mixed grill of disquiet and approval is currently trailing the on-going holistic audit of federal agencies which aim at identifying those with overlapping functions with a view to merging them in order to reduce the cost of governance and making them more focused on delivering their mandates.

While proponents of the exercise argue that it is long overdue in order to cut down on huge federal expenditure, block drain pipes in the system and free up funds for development purposes among other grounds, those against the move insist that it is counterproductive as it would lead to job loss, muddle up the waters for emergent agencies and that the latter would have too much on their plates, hence would fail to deliver”.

Again as with the proposal for reform of a part of government, the defence and security sector, we find the same two variables, efficiency and effectiveness at play.

The growth of the defence and security sector of government has been informed by the logic of growth of government itself. Ministries and parastatals have been created by identifying a need, and functions of organs to meet the need have been invented and thus growth follows the demand for agencies to implement needs supported.

In the merger as proposed, units with powerful patrons with vested interest in their survival will survive the cut and paste process. In this process vital national interests may be sacrificed because there is no one to speak on the basis of strategic consideration for their preservation and protection.

We see once more that government has the same organisation as its defence and security sector. Government is made up of units legally established without an overall organising theme. The task remains- how to transform many policy units created for different purposes into a system informed by a strategic purpose.

System evolve out of the strategic purpose of sovereigns frustrated by existing functioning of established instruments of rule and governance and as they take corrective actions to assure the policy effectiveness of these instruments.

The above statement applies to actions taken to transform a sector of government or the assemblage of sectors constituting the government. Presently the extant condition of rule and governance in Nigeria is defined by contestations over sovereignty.

It is in the context of this description of the situation that the comments of the Minister of Defence, Dr. Bello Mohammed at the opening of the Defence Advisers Annual Conference is to be appreciated. Inter Alia, the Minister is quoted as saying:”…

The current security situation in Nigeria demands that all hands must be on deck to jointly put a stop to the increased activities of miscreants bent on destabilizing the country. This also means that the various security agencies in the country have more roles to play.

There is therefore the need for cooperation, collaboration and synergy of efforts among all security outfits, if we are to preserve peace and create an atmosphere that will attract foreign investors to Nigeria. As you are aware that without security there can be no national development.

It is for these reasons that I find the theme of the conference timely and apt. The various efforts of government at finding a lasting solution to the increased attacks on innocent citizens and security agents by the Boko Haram sect is a clear indication of government’s commitment to lasting peace and security required for national cohesion and progress” (The Guardian Tuesday November 15 2011).

Clearly evident in the Defence Minister’s description of the prevailing security situation of the country are enemy actions taken to:

*Destabilize the county;

*Cause harm to citizens and security agents;

*To demonstrate the existence of “an enemy force” bent on destabilizing the country;

*To show that government can no longer provide internal and therefore external security.

It is this current security situation in which the sovereignty of the Federal Government is challenged by armed opposition that it is evident that the functioning of the defence and security sector of government’s apparatus of rule and policy administration is under direct and strategic attack.

Victory over the opposing forces thus entails the strategic transformation of the established instruments of rule and governance to assure the policy effectiveness of the defence and security agencies.

The security situation is the context for through-combat transformation of the instruments of rule and administration from a security sector into a security system in the condition of insurgency. Nigeria’s current security situation is defined by insurgent challenge and opposition to the Federal Government.

Insurgencies have made evident the need for the transformation of the defence and security sector, a transformation that cannot be legislated but to be achieved in the very process of present conflict resolution and future conflict prevention, and management.



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