Saturday, 18 October 2014

2015: National Security And Leadership Style

For obvious reasons, and due to the myriad of security challenges confronting the Nigerian nation, there is a mistaken trend that perhaps the best leader to infuse discipline and engender national security is a man or woman with a military mien, a person who can order people around.

In short, a fearsome leader, or a draconian despot, who forces people to cower under his breath and, at whose command, the endemic corruption that has perenially plagued the country would just fly away. These thoughts cannot but be naive; it’s like a man who thinks his wishes are horses.

But why do Nigerians seem to embrace this erroneous and troubling notion that their security or safety lies in the hands of a so-called “no-nonsense” leader? The reasons are both historical and contemporary. First, the governance history of Nigeria since independence in 1960 has been burdened by incompetent administrations and blighted by series of interventionist military coup d’etats, the consequence of which has brutally militarized the collective psyche of the citizenry. This makes people to believe, albeit wrongly, that it is only the man in uniform or his retired clone that is capable of re-ordering and re-orientating the Nigerian people.

So, let us seek another Praetorian guard to carry out a surgical operation for us, many people seem to be saying this time around! But history again, even from the Nigerian example, has fatally faulted this line of reasoning. It is incontrovertible that such an approach does not endure in instituting desired changes; its success is short-lived as it is enforced through coercive decrees, cruel, unjust and inhuman adjudication
processes. Human nature abhors oppression in any form. The second contemporary factor why many citizens thirst for a dictator, even though he is in a fake democratic garb, is multi-faceted.

One major reason is undoubtedly attributable to the agonizingly-embarrassing failure of the incumbent administration to frontally confront the numerous security and safety issues Nigerians face on daily basis.

Some of these are a break down of the law and order system, impunity and rampant lawlessness by both high and low, increasing rates of crimes, kidnappings for ransom, abductions, bloody skirmishes and tensions between rival ethnic groups across large swathes of the nation, and the unspeakable crimes being routinely committed by the murderous terrorist insurgents called Boko Haram. This ad infinitum list of security failures has justifiably made people to lose faith in the capacity of the current, clueless administration to carry out its first constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and property of the citizenry.

The tendency therefore is to seek out a man who as they say, “brooks no nonsense and tolerates no opposition.” But that will only compound the present security dilemma of Nigeria as the issue of sustainable national security is not achievable by fiat or by electing a ruthless leader with the swagger stick.

Issues of national security, in modern times, transcend merely installing a regime of local diktat; it involves building a nexus of collaborative military, paramilitary and civil institutions, and the gathering and sharing of national and cross-border intelligence to enhance safety and health of the nation and its citizens.

Most importantly, modern concept of national security is largely anchored on the economic wellbeing of a nation, while the military-industrial complex plays complementary but also vital role in the scheme of sustainable peace and tranquility in any country. In other words, the economic indicators determine, to a large extent, the level of peace and stability enjoyed by the citizenry. It is inarguable; therefore, that the major plank in any nation’s security platform is its economy. A nation’s security can only be enhanced when its labor force, especially its youth, are gainfully employed, and there is a creation of welfare schemes to serve as safety nets to those unable to work or are physically challenged.

This is what is operational in advanced, and young, stable democracies all over the world. It is a universal fact that when people are gainfully engaged, they have less or no time for brewing trouble. But the idle hand is the devil’s workshop. Also, modern thoughts and practices have since discountenanced the traditional notion that national security is limited to acquisition and warehousing of huge military hardware; neither is it just about displaying formidable military force nor traditional military activity, though all these may be included in the overall security architecture of a nation. 

It is essential to know however that development is nowadays sine qua non to any nation’s security.
Development in this context relates to the capacity of a nation to utilise its human and capital potential to optimally provide opportunities for its citizens to dream and realize those desires in a conducive and well-structured environment. It is when this is achieved consistently over a period of time or on a sustainable basis that the society experiences noticeable decline in disorder, violence and its security is subsequently and correspondingly enhanced. 

This holistic approach to national security has been the view of a one-time, but now late, respected President of the World Bank, Robert McNamara. In addition to the above, other means of boosting national security and arresting the current breakdown of law and order and the rule of law in the country are running a truly federal system of government where much power is devolved to the states, including the power to create state police. This means additional job opportunities and enhanced capacity to institute community policing to fight crimes, especially at local levels.

National security could be further enhanced through proper delineation of national, state and council boundaries to reduce communal clashes and needless inter and intra-ethnic tensions; to properly equip and train the police to fight crimes and internal disorder while the military should be well-funded and equipped to effectively dismantle and destroy the scourge of terrorism in the country. 

In conclusion, it is obvious from the above that a democratic Nigeria of the 21st century really doesn’t need an Orwellian Napoleon, who is always right and must be obeyed.

This is a federal democracy that is fostered through healthy debates, dialogues and discourse. It is not a command economy or unitary state that responds to the dictates, decrees and is ruled by whims and caprices of a single strong person, no matter how Spartan in stuff. That era is passé. Citizens are, therefore, enjoined in a nascent democracy like ours to be wary of politicians seeking their votes for the highest office in the land to know that what Nigeria mostly need, at this time, is not the emergence of a leader who rules by bravado, or creates hysteria among citizens but a well-groomed and well-grilled democrat, whose policy agenda is similar to the template above, and whose antecedents are well known as someone who is a bridge builder and is committed to strengthen the nation’s fragile key institutions.

Dr. Segun Olanipekun is an Associate Professor of Journalism, Warwick University, Washington DC,
United States.

Source:
New Telegraph