MANY years ago, a legal luminary said that after God, the next most powerful entity in the world is government. This power, derived from the people, flows from government’s exercise of monopoly of legitimate violence.
With this fantastic power and right the men who act on its behalf have to openly wield military-grade weapons, even the smallest sovereign state on earth is more powerful than any other individual or group within its territory, no matter how wealthy that individual or group may be.
When the financial resources and bilateral relationship with other governments, especially with world powers, are factored in, one will begin to fully understand and appreciate the vastness of the powers of a sovereign government.
The concept of monopoly of violence as an attribute of a sovereign state was first described in sociology by Max Weber in his 1919 essay titled “Politics As a Vocation”, although it was present as a concept of modern public law in the 1576 works of French jurist and political philosopher, Jean Bodin, and in Thomas Hobbes Leviathan(1651).
In Nigeria, the Federal Government even wields more of this power of legitimate violence as a result of over-centralisation. Therefore, to be hearing stories of some rag-tag criminal groups or individuals overwhelming our army or police force is not only a misnomer, it is also laughable.
How can an armed group sponsored by individuals carve out and occupy a space within the territory ruled by a government? The criminals even impose taxes on the citizens living there. How can we be talking of armed individuals freely and confidently storming PVCs collecting centres, killing guards and successfully disrupting such vital exercises while a government imbued with the power of legitimate violence watches and appears helpless?
People ask: How can criminal herdsmen hijack trains and raid railway stations, using GPS and other communication supports without being detected in this hi-tech world? How do they manage the intimidation and kidnapping business using mobile phones in a country where government has a full database of all adults through BVN and NIN registration?
Definitely something is wrong somewhere. As a matter of necessity, the Federal Government has a lot of work to do to convince Nigerians and the international community that, truly, Nigerians are dying in the hands of criminals due to its inefficiency or the overwhelming of our armed forces, and not as a result of its complicity.
To even plead impotence or the overwhelming of its armed forces is a negation of the principles of monopoly of legitimate violence under discourse.
The Federal Government of Nigeria has no option but to rise up to the occasion of securing the country and the people between now and throughout the period of the coming general elections.
Insecurity must not be allowed to truncate the 2023 elections. History and posterity will not forgive this government if it fails Nigerians at a time when it is needed most to do its job.