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Defining the current security challenge of the country


By John Amoda

WHAT is the context of the present security condition of society in Nigeria? Is it one of continuity from the colonial to the post colonial or is it one of transition between the colonial and the post colonial? The process of decolonisation in Nigeria was one of change of the officeholders of the British colonial government. The statecraft of the Nigerian Independence Politicians, or more cryptically phrased, the Nigerian Political Class, from Independence to the present has been one of governance adaptation of the institutions of British Administration for the colony of Nigeria. Independence was instituted by both Britain and colonial Nigeria as succession in office. In the gallery of succession in the offices of heads of ministries or agencies, there is first the picture of the last British Office holder and then the picture of the first Nigerian successor.

When the constitution says there shall be for the Federation a Nigerian Police Force, an Armed Forces for the Federation, or a Government for the Federation- the context of these stipulations is the pre-constitutional existence of these institutions. There is already in existence the Police for the colony of Nigeria prior to the prescription for a police by the constitution. It is this Police for the colony of Nigeria that becomes on October 1st, 1960 the Nigeria Police Force; ditto for the Government for the colony of Nigeria September 30th, 1960 that becomes the Government for the Federation of Nigeria October 1st 1960.

The 1999 Constitution which apparently establishes de novo the Police for the Federation therefore assumes the existence of the Nigeria Police Force, an inherited Police Force which is adapted for the implementation of Section 214 of the Constitution. The point? It is that while the language of the framers of the Nigerian Constitution is that of transition between the British Colonial Order and the Post Independence Political Order, the fact is that of continuity; the British Government for Colonial Nigeria is adapted by the framers of the Nigerian Constitution as the Constitutional Government for Independent Nigeria. Nigerian Independence is thus not an outcome of Regime Change.

Regime Change as instituted by the American-NATO Forces in Saddam Hussein Iraq and in Taliban Ruled Afghanistan and is the case in the present Post Ghaddafi Libya and could be the outcome of the ongoing civil war in Syria, involves a foundation-to-roof replacement of one regime of power by another regime. It involves the replacement of the old political order by a new political order. Between the overthrow of the old order and its replacement by a new order, there is a transition that describes the process of replacement.

Nigerian Independence and Post Independence politics was and has not been a regime change politics. An old order, the British order for the colony Nigeria, had and is still being adapted because it was the decision of the Founding Fathers of Independent Nigeria to adopt and to adapt the British Order for the Colony of Nigeria as the order for Independence Nigeria. It is the British Colonial Order For Nigeria that has been adopted as the Nigerian Political Order. The present security challenges facing the Nigerian Government are thus challenges that define the limits of the adaptability of the British state for the colony for post colonial constitutional governance of Nigeria.

The Nigerian Political Class has “managed” to use the colonial state to resolve threats to government including the gravest security challenge of the 1967-1970 Civil War, without seriously addressing the fact that the colonial government of the colony was for the subjection and pacification of a conquered population comprising the colony of Nigeria. The Nigerian Political Class has addressed the issue of an Independence for a Sovereign People of Nigeria only in the preamble of constitutions premised on the continuity of reliance on the institutional capacity of the colonial government to sustain the interest in power of the Political Class in Nigeria.

The present security crises are direct challenge on both fronts simultaneously, the external and internal, and are directed to the overthrow of the Government. It is therefore a challenge to the power of the Nigerian Political Class whose members constitute the framers of constitutions. These challenges must first be correctly diagnosed.

They are not the result of a failed state. The Nigerian Political class are faced for the first time with the need to review the adequacy of the adoption of the British government for the colony for Nigeria’s post independence governance. What is referred to as state failure in Nigeria is thus not state failure by any means but the empirical facts of the failure of a strategic policy to adapt the apparatus of the British colonial state established for the subjection of conquered peoples of Nigeria for ruling of an Independent Nigeria. The list of security failures often addressed by the media are not indication of the failure of the British Metropolitan State but of the increasing failure of Nigeria’s Post Colonial government for the colony to contain threats to the Nigerian Government’s authority, both external and internal. These threats have taken the form of armed rebellion and ‘terrorism” that threaten the viability of constitutional rule in Nigeria.

The statecraft challenge that therefore confront the Nigerian Political Class  is that of defining what its security crises is. Is the Political Class faced with a problem of review of the 1999 constitution or a problem of change of the constitution? Is its task that of regime reform or regime change? The courage to determine what the issues are is also what will produce the wisdom that makes “a way” where there is presently no way out.


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