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The State and demand for state police(3)

By John Amoda

Continued from last week: Amoda argued that as a nation, we must continue to emphasise the need for local police.

THE colony of Nigeria was not federalist, the British did not co-ordinate contesting and putative rival sovereigns.

The structure of colonial sovereignty in Nigeria was unitarist and the Colonial Office administered the colony of Nigeria by expedient, effective and efficient methods from their viewpoint of imperial interest.

The transfer of ownership of colonial Nigeria by the British was to a successor government presumably representing the colonial subjects of the British Colonial Government.

There is a world of difference between the subjects of the British Colony of Nigeria and the peoples ofNigeria. Colonisation was the transformation of pre-colonial peoples of separate sovereignties, in conflict or co-existing through commercial or military or diplomatic relations in the territories, conquered and colonised by the British.Independence was not granted to the pre-colonial ruling classes or to the pre-colonial subjects but to British colonial subjects administered by the British. The government of the colony was not federalist, it was the government instituted for ruling colonial Nigeria. The point is that colonial Nigeria was not a federalist colonial empire, being part of the British Empire.

The British transferred administration of the government of colonial Nigeriato Nigerian politicians recognised as representatives of subjects emancipated from colonial rule. Federalism as the structure of independent Nigeriais a subject of post- colonial contestations for sovereignty and one of competing objectives of the politicians organised for sovereignty.

It is important to note the fact that a federalist structure of sovereignty is only one of several objectives of Nigerian post-colonial contestations for sovereignty. This contestation is not to be confused for electoral rivalry for office holding. Nigerian electoral politics is contextualized by Nigerian sovereignty politics.

The fact of this contextualization is evidenced in the fact that Nigerian electoral politics is also a platform for Nigerian sovereignty rivalry; it is a platform and not the exclusive platform.

What is important to note is that the outcome of sovereignty politics determines the relevance and life of the present constitution and for that matter of any other constitution.

Thus, the position of Dr. Kayode Fayemi on the outcome of Nigerian sovereignty politics is federalist, that is, that the structure of Nigerian sovereignty should be federalist. But can such an outcome as desired and envisaged by Dr. Fayemi be decreed or be prescribed?

More immediately is the question: Can the outcome of contests for power be limited to a co-equal balance of power? Can co-equal balance of power amongst sovereignty parties yield an unequal balance of authority amongst sovereignty parties? This is the dilemma of Nigerian prescriptive federalism implicit in Dr. Fayemi’s politics.

Practical as opposed to normative demand for co-equality will result in confederation, for co-equality of sovereign reflects confederal structure of sovereignty. To sustain and secure confederal structure of sovereignty will entail confederal structure of government and structure of administration.

Those arguing for federal structure of government are bound to struggle for an outcome which in this case is unequal structure of sovereignty reflecting unequal balance of power in the context of who rules post-colonial Nigeria.

Whether the outcome of the contest is co-equal or unequal balance of power in the politics of who rules, the preference for either outcome chosen as an ideal outcome carries with it consequent demand for separate security outfits, including separate armies and separate police systems.

The above can be illustrated with the decolonisation ofBritish India. In this case, the politics of independence was conducted pari passu with the politics of who rules post- colonial British Indian.

British India became post colonial India and Pakistan and Pakistan became post-colonial Pakistan and Bangladesh, with the vexing status of Kashmir serving as evidence of the unresolved question of who owns and therefore who rules Kashmir, India or Pakistan?

And even in India there are parties seeking the further partisan of the country for the creation of more countries out of India.

From the Indian example, we see that the politics of who rules determines the structure of government, the structure of administration and of the constitutions as the fundamental law of the ruling regime.

It is, however, the case for Nigeria that the conflict of who owns and rules Nigeria has been managed as conflict over who governs Nigeria.

But that this decision is a conflict management understanding and not conflict resolution consensus is evident in such legitimation maxims as Federal Character structure of office holders in the electoral parties and all institutions of government.

The demand for state police and opposition to such demand is thus a function of sovereignty politics and not of electoral politics. It is therefore not a constitutional issue.

The fear that the state police would be partisanly administered is not an issue resolved by faith in the doctrine of Presumption of Regularity. This doctrine is a rule of conduct in a politics where all are in full accord on who rules Nigeria.

There is as yet no such consensus on what Nigeria is or what it should be and whose values would be sovereign and hegemonic in the Nigeria to be politically determined. The continued demand for state creation is a sign of the fact that each  interest group seeks a state as the platform for its participation in the politics of who rules all or part of Nigeria.

Everywhere security issues are issues of sovereignty politics and therefore not constitutional issues. Sovereignty is institutionalized through government which serves the dual function of administration of sovereignty through laws and protection of the sovereign through the regime of security.

The Armed Forces and the Security Apparatus protect the sovereign internally and externally.

The police is an institution of security and its function is determined by the threats to the security of the sovereign, irrespective of the structure of the sovereign, whether it be unitarist, federalist or confederalist; or irrespective of its class character, whether it be monarchical, aristocratic, plutocratic, republican liberal capitalist or republican socialist, or republican populist.

Given all of the above, how do we characterize the present security challenges of the society in Nigeria? From the preceding analyses the challenges are expressive of the politics of who governs the same.

The PDP is a structure perfected for electoral politics outside of the context of the politics of who rules Nigeria. It is this disconnect that governs its relevance in the fundamental politics of Nigeria, namely, the politics of Who Rules Nigeria.

The electoral politics mastered by the PDP is only relevant in the present course of the Who Rules Politics. Its future will be the future determined by the outcome of Who Rules Politics and that includes both Nigerian and non-Nigerian sovereignty interest groups. It is the consensus of these groups as evident in the course of the Who Rules conflict that will determine Who Rules in Nigeria and whose Nigeria is.

Dr. Fayemi has helped us by his insistence on the federalist structure of Who rules Nigeria to explain the primacy of the politics of who rules Nigeria and the dependent status of who governs Nigeria.

The present security challenges advertise the course of the Who Rules Nigeria Politics and What the Government will be as determined by the Who Rules Nigeria Politicians.


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