Tuesday Platform

April 9, 2013

Implications of plans for tackling insecurity in Niger Delta

Implications of plans for tackling insecurity in Niger Delta

By John Amoda
PETER Ishaka’s Sunday Comment in ThisDay,  Sunday March 3, 2013 on the above subject is introduced by this summary excerpt:

“Instead of creating a special task force to tackle crimes, states in the Niger Delta should empower the Police and other security agencies”.

Peter Ishaka describes the pre-amnesty security situation in the Niger Delta in the following:

“The plan by the six states within the Niger Delta under the aegis of BRACED (Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Delta) to establish a special force to tackle the upsurge of kidnapping in the region is a dangerous proposal that must be stopped immediately.

According to the governors, the force will be made up of a structure set up by the BRACED states and the police with huge budget for the procurement of helicopters, gunboats, patrol vans and for coordinating digital coverage of the entire region.

While the idea may sound appealing on its face value, especially given the nature of the challenge it is meant to tackle, it nonetheless represents a potential threat to our national security and stability. To that extent, we call on the governors of the Niger Delta states to perish the idea. There is no doubt that until a few years ago the Niger Delta region, the hub of Nigeria’s oil and gas production was almost ungovernable. Hostage- taking of foreign oil workers, sabotage of oil pipelines and other petroleum production facilities as well as other vices were the order of the day.

However, with the proclamation of a blanket amnesty programme for the militants by the Federal Government which is already costing Nigeria something in region of N150 billion annually, the crisis in the Niger Delta seemed to have abated considerably.

Thus, while stories of kidnapping still abound, they are more common in other parts of the country where they have become a new industry as against, the earlier agitation in the Niger Delta region”.

Peter Ishaka has called attention to a major initiative the implications of which are nationwide. While I agree with him that the decision of the BRACED Governors need to be revisited, the threat posed by the BRACED Niger Delta Security Plan has not been identified.

We all agree that the Niger Delta security condition must be addressed as a threat to the national security but the plan to bring more security to the Niger Delta cannot be seen as a threat to a national security already breached by rampant conditions of nationwide insecurity. The BRACED plan for less insecurity in the Niger Delta cannot be faulted that by a fact that the Niger Delta security crises have become nation-wide.

An argument in Peter’s favour is the proclamation of the Federal Government Amnesty Programme that had purchased a measure of reduction of insecurity in the Niger Delta sub-region.

Peter Ishaka can argue that the Niger Delta insecurity situation is a national insecurity matter to be addressed by the Federal Government and can hang his proposal that the Federal Government empower the police and other security agencies to address the security situation nationwide. It is, however, a non-sequitur to argue that the BRACED states should divert their resources to subsidize the Federal Government that is constitutionally resourced to address the nation’s insecurity wholistically.

Nevertheless I agree with Peter that the BRACED’s decision has security implications for the Nigerian society as a whole and indeed complicates the security condition more than it mitigates it.

Why? The BRACED decision calls attention to the failure of the strategy adopted by Nigerian political parties to use control of governments for partisan projects of state creation. The BRACED governors are elected to administer government they temporarily control and to govern within the ambits of the Constitution.

No political party in any state is elected to use their incumbency for state creation purposes. It is unconstitutional for elected parties at the three levels of government so to do. State creation establishes rulers not administrators and that is the problem.

What the BRACED governors are organising is state creation capability irrespective of the policy intent. They are establishing a force armed to fight criminals and clear the Niger Delta of organised crime. That force can be deployed for war and its danger inheres in that fact. What if the BRACED Niger Delta Police Force is not deployed for war?

The possibility that it can alters the balance of power between the BRACED states and the Federal Government, for the Constitution assigns the responsibility for declaring war to the National Assembly.

Defence is item 17 in the Second Schedule, section 4 dealing with Legislative Powers Part 1 Exclusive legislative List. Defence embraces both external and internal security and the means for effecting these functions. Defence is not a concurrent function both of the state and the Federal Government and the precedent purposed by the BRACED states is a dangerous one. The North-East governors may also set about to create a North-East Police Force armed to combat the armed insurgents in their zone. The worrisome implications of such unilateralisms are fairly obvious.

The problem, however, is that such self-help retail capacity building does not deal with the root problem of societal insecurity in Nigeria. The symptom of the societal insecurity is the proliferation of groups armed with military weapons and employing the same without restraint for criminal and political purposes.

The proliferation of armed groups with diverse purposes and objectives in the employment of their militia capability is the indication that Nigeria constitutional society cannot be kept in peaceful order maintainable by the Nigeria Police Force.

The military has therefore been saddled with the three internal functions of (1) combating unlawful militias and disbanding them, (2) pacifying these militias, (3) securing the society internally and externally. These functions appear to be the reversal of the order of peacemaking in the Nigerian society.

Indeed, it is the reversal of state making, which begins with contestations among state creation rival political parties to effect the military supremacy of one or coalition of parties. Effecting this military supremacy entail, (1) the instituting of a monopoly of control of arms and means of war making; (2) a limiting of the use of force for resolving conflicts to agencies of the militarily dominant party; (3) and the subduing of all unlawfully organised groups, irrespective of their purposes; (4) securing this military supremacy externally.

These four functions are the functions of the state instituted in the cause of contestation by rival political parties to establish one or coalition of such parties as the militarily supreme in the society. It is in the course of state making wars that the military wing of state making parties are assigned territory to conquer, hold and control responsibilities.

This is the history of the British Empire making wars in Nigeria and of the origin of their colonial defence and security forces. The Nigerian Military is not the military wing of a Nigerian Military supreme state creation party but a post colonial constitutionally legitimated agency of colonial control and rule.

It is a force that has been politicized by its involvement in partisan state making politics and that instead of constituting itself into a state making party has used its capability to seize control of government to govern instead of creating a political order it can defend internally and externally.

It is the increasing deterioration of the capability of the Nigerian Military and Security Forces to secure Nigeria internally and externally that constitutes the crises of our Nigeria’s present insecurity. It is the consequences of the failing capability of the Nigerian Military and Security Forces to conquer and subdue privately armed groups who have become “proto states” in their own right that are being addressed by the BRACED States. No creation of state police capability or expenditures on enhanced security capabilities of the Federal Armed Forces can cure the political problem.

The one avenue open for comprehensive discussion of the current societal condition of near anarchy in Nigeria is a Conference devoted solely to multiparty dialogue on “constitutionalized” Nigerian state creation project. The conference should be One Item Agenda- namely effecting monopoly of control and management of war making capability- by whom, for whom and managed by whom.