Governing the Security Sector in a Democratising Polity: The Nigerian Case                                               b...
(a)     The manifold legacies of Nigerias authoritarian past and the effect of the        culture of militarism on public ...
Second, while state military power was potentially enhanced by the post civil war "no victor,no vanquished" reconciliation...
creeping organisational inertia in which the armed forces had become embroiled. Militaryplanners and battle commanders wer...
dysfunction in the Nigerian military organization resulted primarily from this politicalinvolvement. Both played a mutuall...
fact that very little differentiates these political parties as platforms for change explains thedisillusionment with main...
role of private military companies in the activities of the intelligence services and in theoverall management of the regi...
fuelled corruption as this extra income was regarded as discretionary and it went on amassive spending binge that diverted...
beneficiaries of the bad loans allocated by these failed banks.11         Second, General Babangida went beyond the person...
The end of the civil war in 1970 offered the opportunity to redress perceived imbalance andthe subsequent introduction of ...
From the foregoing analysis, years of military rule imposed enormous costs on the Nigerianpeople. But perhaps the most end...
In themselves, these manifold legacies of military politics constitute major challenges thatneed to be grappled with by Ni...
the task of organising a national conference to produce a consensus document which willnow be the basis of governance in t...
determined to ensure civilian supremacy. It was also a careful balancing act in ethnic andregional juggling by ensuring th...
political power or the retirement of politically tainted officers. There is a need to redefine ournotion of the a-politica...
military itself, or on a small coterie of elected civilian officials close to the President. In thecase of Nigeria, this h...
shall upon conviction be sentenced to suffer death". In subsection 4 (a), the sameconstitution states that "All citizens o...
"dead wood", hence there was nothing significant about it. Again, because the desire fordemobilisation and or rationalisat...
provided; the situation in the barracks has not changed; as a matter of fact, it has       deteriorated…we did not get any...
poorly funded training institutions; and insufficient crime intelligence gathering capacity.19There is no doubt that the N...
capacity of the reforming police force;     •   Five, the psyche of militarism that is all-pervasive in society and that h...
disincentive, especially for security actors but ignoring concerns about the need to attend tosocial and developmental spe...
No doubt, all of the above constitute areas in which support can be rendered to the Nigerianmilitary, as long as local own...
demilitarisation can only occur as part of a concerted effort by the ECOWAS Community.Consequently, the Nigerian governmen...
5. International assistance is only helpful within the context of a clearly felt need;6. Recognition of the legitimate sec...
Security Structure in a Conflict Prone Society - Challenges and Prospects of Security Sector Transformation in Nigeria
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Security Structure in a Conflict Prone Society - Challenges and Prospects of Security Sector Transformation in Nigeria


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Security Structure in a Conflict Prone Society - Challenges and Prospects of Security Sector Transformation in Nigeria

  1. 1. Governing the Security Sector in a Democratising Polity: The Nigerian Case by J. ‘Kayode Fayemi Centre for Democracy & Development (Lagos & London) IntroductionAfter fifteen years of military/authoritarian rule, great expectation accompanied theresumption of civilian rule in Nigeria in May 1999. For a country that had suffered a severedeterioration in its economy and politics in thirty years of military involvement in the politics,the assumption that civilian rule will herald a dawn of peace and a deepening of democraticvalues and norms in society after a particularly venal military government wasunderstandable. However, it took very little account of the deep-seated nature of thecentrifugal fissures inherent in Nigeria’s body politic, which were not the products of militaryrule even if years of military rule exacerbated them.Two and half years into civilian rule, the scale, spread and intensity of conflict reflects theexaggerated link between military disengagement from politics and the demilitarisation ofthe Nigerian society. As Table 1 below shows, societal violence has clearly been on theincrease from the day the civilian government came into office. Although there are severalreasons for this increase in societal and state violence not least the expanded spaceprovided by democratic governance, the fact that public perception still casts doubt on thestate’s capacity for domestic crisis management and security of life and property(Consultation with the Poor in Nigeria, The World Bank, 2000) underscores why governancein the security sector is as critical as other issues in overall public sector reform agenda.As Nigeria drifts down the path of violent conflict on a rising scale even with its record ofrelative success in managing post-civil-war reconciliation and reconstruction agenda, the keychallenges to the democratising polity remain that of establishing effective and accountablesecurity agencies ‘in pursuit of individual and community security in tandem with statesecurity’ (Obasanjo, 2001), and, on the other, that of establishing effective governance ofthe security sector through the empowerment of civilian oversight mechanisms.Yet, these structural challenges could only be addressed within a historical context. Equally,to understand the nature of the challenges and proffer solutions to them, an assessment ofNigeria’s political environment is critical. To what extent, for example has the question ofthe nation been settled? What do the Constitution and other laws say about the control ofthe security forces; what is the mission, purpose and nature of the security forces; what isthe interaction between the composition of security forces and the composition of society asa whole; Does the mission derived from the security threat correspond to the size,composition and equipment of the security forces; Are resources used to fulfil the identifiedmission of the security forces, or are they misused in various ways including for rent-seekingpurposes; what is the role of non-state security actors – positive and negative and howeffectively do the key oversight agencies – legislature, civilian bureaucracy, civil society –function in general.This chapter seeks to assess the issues and options for security sector restructuring inNigeria from a nuanced investigation of the cross-cutting issues highlighted above byexamining:1
  2. 2. (a) The manifold legacies of Nigerias authoritarian past and the effect of the culture of militarism on public discourse, consolidation of civil politics and democratic governance;(b) The nature of political reform, governance and the democratisation agenda;(c) Policy prescriptions introduced for transforming security structure and the extent to which the policy prescriptions guarantee institutionalised democratic control without undermining internal autonomy and military professionalism;(d) The International & Regional Dimension of security restructuring; and,(e) Prospects for Reform and policy coherence.A. Legacies of Nigeria’s Military/authoritarian pastWhen the Nigerian military first intervened in politics in January 1966, their action wasacclaimed as a nation-building/transformation project aimed at eradicating corruption andreordering the State. Six months after, the Nigerian army had become the catalyst fornational disintegration as it broke up into ethnic and regional factions and exacerbated pre-existing primordial cleavages, which had earlier undermined its professionalism, eventuallyleading to the three-year civil war. The civil war was however significant in helping themilitary regain a level of legitimacy after the war ended. Strengthened by the favourableaftermath of a Nigerian civil war, the Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon utilised thelegitimacy provided by the favourable ‘resolution’ of the civil war to project the military asthe vanguard of the nation-building project. Consequently, the civil war which albeitfragmented the military as an institution now provided it with the best opportunity toredeem its image, albeit not necessarily on account of its sterling performance in theprosecution of the war. While the civil war per se is not the focus of this paper, it isimportant to highlight the degree to which it influenced the actions of the military regime,especially its claim to a pride of place in a nation-building project.The post civil war agenda of rehabilitation, reconstruction and reconciliation, which was toculminate in political disengagement in 1976, elicited a high level of consensus from withinthe military and the political society, yet it meant more of continuity of the old order thanchange. The support the military leadership’s agenda gained from civil and political societyderived from its underlying acceptance that power belonged to the people and this wasdemonstrated by General Gowon’s specific announcement of a timetable for militarydisengagement from politics. Although it was evident that the military had now becomepoliticised, General Gowon was able to involve credible politicians in the work of theadministration by keeping within their purview a political order to be soon controlled bythem. Even those who had concerns about the growing concentration of power at thecentre saw the benefits possible from wielding power at the centre. What destroyed thisoverwhelming support from both the military and political constituencies was the inability ofthe Gowon administration to consolidate the nation-building project, in the aftermath of thecivil war in spite of the opportunity provided by the expanded oil-fuelled economy.While State power was enhanced by the civil war, the improvement in the countryseconomy through oil wealth sharpened the predatory instincts of the military ruling elite andtheir allies in the civilian bureaucracy and business sector and this greatly undermined theinstitutional capacity for proper governance and, in turn the nation-building project. Eventhough corruption was rampant during the civil war, it was the rapacity of regimefunctionaries in the aftermath of the war that lay the basis for the level of corruption to bewitnessed in subsequent years.2
  3. 3. Second, while state military power was potentially enhanced by the post civil war "no victor,no vanquished" reconciliation policy, the Gowon administration failed to concentrate onreorganising the internal workings of the military institution. Although military plannerssought to improve service co-ordination and came up with suggestions for demobilising andmechanising a military which was now spending 90% of its budget on salaries for the250,000 strong force (from a pre-war strength of 10,000), there were no doctrinal principlesthat guided defence management. Indeed, as General Gowon’s official biographer noted, ‘asGowon settled to issues of state governance after the war, his contacts with the militarygradually decreased as his relationship with the civilian bureaucracy grew’1. More than anyother factor, the failure to seize the opportunity provided at the end of the civil war to re-organise the military institution lay the basis for the progressive decline of the entire securitystructure in the latter years.In its place, what became evident in thirty years of military involvement in politics is thedegree of sectional loyalties that existed within the military hierarchy. It is sobering to seeover the years the way this has been used to advance the ruling elites prebendalproclivities. While the political military consistently maintained the façade of a professionaland accommodational strategy that kept it in power for those three decades, the collegialnature of that strategy would appear to have assumed a far more segmental edge afterNigeria’s second republic. At this stage, professional camaraderie and institutional cohesionseemed relatively less important in the alliance used to sustain the military in power. On theone hand, it was possible for successive military regimes to retain power with some measureof authority in areas where the personal projects of the military ruling elite coincided withthe institution’s corporate interests. On the other, especially in areas where the rulers madeno attempt to respect institutional interest, military rulers hung unto power on the strengthof their coercive capabilities and co-optation strategies which depended on alternativepower centres outside the military - in the civilian bureaucracy, in intelligence units, businesssector and intellectual circles, all of which helped in the rupturing and de-institutionalisationof the military structure. To varying degrees, successive military regimes adopted thisstrategy – from General Yakubu Gowon to the recently departed General AbdulsalamiAbubakar, however the regimes of Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacharepresented two extremes in the continuum.To understand the impact of the inability of the post-war military regime to maximise itspost war legitimacy that it gained, it would be useful to examine the legacies in greaterdepth, especially in areas such as: (i) the politicisation and de-institutionalisation of thearmed forces; (ii) the personalisation of power and quest for the creation of a military party;(iii) the weakening of accountability and control mechanisms and the growth of theintelligence agencies; (iv) business-civilian bureaucracy-military links and corruption; (v) theemergence of the ethnic-regional factor in the armed forces and (vi) societal militarisation,crime and political violence.(i) The Legacy of a Politicised and De-institutionalised MilitaryMost observers of the Nigerian military in its thirty years of involvement in politics agree thatthe institution was riven by a variety of corporate, ethnic and personal grievances developedover time in the prolonged years of the military in government.(Ihonvbere, 1997;Adejumobi, 1999) Although the negative impact on professionalism and the operationaleffectiveness of the military had become noticeable – especially in the aftermath of the civilwar – given the confusion and lack of direction that attended the professional direction ofthe post-war military. Unfortunately, the euphoria of federal victory and the immediatepressures of rehabilitation, reconciliation and reconstruction of the political terrain fostered the3
  4. 4. creeping organisational inertia in which the armed forces had become embroiled. Militaryplanners and battle commanders were uncertain that the war was won by effectiveorganisation of the military2, and honest enough to admit that peacetime deterrence will beharder to achieve if renewed attention was not paid to professional/organisational issuesaround mission/role, doctrine, force posture, force levels, combat operational command,resource allocation and weapon procurement3.In spite of this recognition, Nigerias immediate post war defence organisation did not departmarkedly from what existed in pre-war circumstances, mainly because the preference forincremental, rather than radical change was overwhelming. Indeed, a wide gap existedbetween defence organisation and strategic purpose, in terms of the relationship between themission derived from threat assessment and force design, posture, weapons procurementprocedures, resource allocation and combat operational command. Although a few cosmeticattempts were made in restructuring the defence organisation (Fayemi, 1994), subordinatingthe service viewpoint became the main problem in the promotion of the defence view. Serviceinterests, service needs and service power continued to dominate the Nigerian militarystructure, frustrating all efforts to establish a rational system of strategic planning, forcedevelopment, resource allocation and collective military co-ordination throughout the period ofmilitary rule. The limited attempt made towards central coordination during civilian rulebetween 1979 – 84 was hobbled by the combination of civilian inexperience and military’scontinued inter-service rivalry.The implications of military involvement in politics however went beyond defective defenceorganisation and management. One aspect that deserves a particular examination is theimpact of military coups on corporate professionalism. By their very nature, coups are high-risk ventures, which in their success or abortion almost always result in the loss ofperpetrators or their targets, or both. The persistence of coups and the decimation of theofficer corps had a negative impact on the profession and invariably, national security. Forexample, the 1966 coups saw the loss of at least two thirds of the officer corps; the abortive1976 coups led to the execution of 116 military men, police officers and civilians; the 1986abortive coup resulted in the deaths of some of the countrys best pilots, and this in part ledto the near total decimation of the air-force under General Babangida, a situation whichfurther resulted in the avoidable deaths of 150 military officers in a defective C-130Transport plane crash in 1991. The April 1990 coup led to the deaths of at least fifty militaryofficers. Altogether no fewer than 400 officers lost their lives in or as a result of coupdetats. In addition to the loss occasioned via executions was the scale and intensity ofpremature retirements, unexpected dismissals and rank inflation that resulted from abortiveor successful coups. Ordinarily, retirements and promotions in the military establishment is aroutine thing. Yet despite the surface plausibility of “routine exercise”, “natural attrition” or“declining productivity”, that accompanied the dismissals and promotions of this period, theoverwhelming consensus was one of an exercise overtly politically motivated.By the time General Abacha died in June 1998, the military institution had suffered seriouslyfrom this blatant disregard of its structure and procedures and no fewer than 300 membersof the officer corps had lost their commission in the course of these haphazard retirementsand dismissals. The flip side of the above situation was the excessively rapid promotionsthat accompanied them which tended to create false expectations through rank inflation andthis had other implications for the countrys security as commanders kept changing and notenough time was given for familiarization in command and staff posts, the overallconsequences of which was acute disorientation and organizational dysfunction among therank and file. At another level, the political careerism resulting from successful coups alsoengendered resentment, rivalry and disunity amongst military officers. Thus, organizational4
  5. 5. dysfunction in the Nigerian military organization resulted primarily from this politicalinvolvement. Both played a mutually reinforcing role in their impact on professionalism andinstitutional cohesion. In the end, the political military failed to govern directly and/oreffectively without losing its professional attributes and without ceasing to be an army.ii) The Personalisation of Power and the Quest for a Military PartyIn the move from the collegial and institutional agenda of the military to the personalisationof political and military power, a variety of measures were utilised in turning the erstwhilegroup project to the personal wishes of the individual ruler. In the early days of militaryrule, extensive consultation and regular feedbacks within the military constituency was therule rather than the exception and the institutions established for the decision-makingprocesses did not function as mere rubber stamps for the whims and caprices of the militaryjunta’s head. Although the sheer force of personality and charisma of the leader influencedthe way his personal agenda cohered with the institutional project, the institutional agendaprevailed for much of the period preceding the Babangida regime in 1985. Right from theway he chose to be addressed as ‘President’ hitherto restricted to elected leaders, ratherthan the low key and traditional ‘Head of State’ to the regime’s political economy project, itbecame evident early on that the institutional project had lost out.This breakdown in institutional cohesion and espirit de corps in the context of thepersonalised nature of rule, especially under Generals Babangida and Abacha also hadanother strategy ingrained in it. Unlike in the past when it was anathema for serving officersto stake a claim to permanent political participation, many began to raise the stakes forconstitutionalising military involvement in politics in an institutional sense. Variousinstitutional designs were discussed, implemented and discarded for furthering this politicalproject, the most prominent being the establishment of an Armed Forces ConsultativeCouncil, comprising of officers from the rank of Colonels and above as a General Assemblyof military officers that fed into the ruling Armed Forces Ruling Council-the pre-eminentdecision making body.Another design was that of establishing a military party. Military officers and civilianintellectuals were assigned the task of studying a variety of institutionalised military politicalparty projects. Prominent models that attracted the regime’s attention included theNasserist/Baathist models in Egypt, Syria and Iraq as well as the foundational regimes inLatin America and South East Asia.7 Although it was General Babangida who put in motionthe idea of constructing a military party, it was his military successor, General Abacha whoeventually implemented the blueprint and through the brazen creation of artificial politicalparties. At the time of his death, all the five parties in his democratic transition project had"unanimously" adopted General Abacha as the presidential candidate. Although there wasstrong opposition to this phoney democratisation project in civil society, it is no exaggerationthat General Abacha had the presidency within sights even if his ascension might haveresulted in a far more pernicious state.While it is arguable that these personal political projects did not succeed in the mannerenvisaged, the legacy of constitutional/institutional engineering from above bequeathed bythe military is partly responsible for the stunted growth of the political party structure todate. Indeed, the limited success achieved by Generals Babangida and Abacha in thecreation of political parties by military fiat with imposed but quite pedestrian ideological toga– ‘a little to the left and a little to the right’ as General Babangida described the two partyarrangement he willed into existence underscores why the present political parties are stillcontrolled by the praetorian guard of erstwhile military era in an age of neo-militarism. The5
  6. 6. fact that very little differentiates these political parties as platforms for change explains thedisillusionment with mainstream politics and the popularity of ethnic and religiousconstituencies as a way of providing security and safety.(iii) The Weakening of accountability and the growth of the intelligence agenciesOne of the most deleterious consequences of the de-institutionalisation of the military wasits loss of monopoly over the means of coercion and management of violence in theNigerian state. One critical factor this loss could be traced to is the gradual and quitesurreptitious disengagement of other security agencies that were hitherto subsumed withinthe military hierarchy – especially as the military moved to a more personalised form of rule.For example, the rise in influence of military intelligence and associated bodies becamedirectly proportional to the loss of influence by the ‘constitutional’ military as a corporateinstitution and the Defence Ministry as the bureaucratic institution responsible foraccountability, leading to the development of an alternative power-centre around thesecurity/intelligence networks and used by successive rulers to undermine the militaryinstitution in order to remain in power. What suffered most in the process was theweakening of accountability and absence of transparent security sector governance. Tounderstand the depth of the crisis though, it is useful to trace the changes to the securityand intelligence sector of the Nigerian security structure over the last three decades.Consistent with the position of every post independence sovereign country in AnglophoneAfrica, Nigeria’s intelligence activities were largely conducted under the auspices of theSpecial Branch of the Nigeria Police Force, except for military related intelligence work –which was also coordinated with the Special Branch activities. The Special Branch, which wasresponsible for domestic security intelligence lost its pre-eminent role in the collection, collation,evaluation, analysis, integration and interpretation of information and intelligence after the 1976abortive coup detat in which the Head of State, General Mohammed was assassinated. Thenew Head of State not only set up a new intelligence outfit – named the Nigerian SecurityOrganisation (NSO), he also chose a military officer to head the body. Hence it took thesecurity of the individual heading the government for the institution to come to the realisationthat something had to be done about the intelligence aspect of national security. This becamethe rule subsequently as every change to the intelligence services reflected more a concernabout regime security rather than any rationally ordered need for institutional development.With every change however, the intelligence services grew in influence and relevance to theruler in particular. Indeed, by the time General Babangida faced down the bloody military coupthat nearly toppled his regime in 1990, the intelligence service had become the most powerfulentity in the institutional hierarchy of national security policy making – almost an alternativepowercentre, with the military institution consistently playing a second fiddle to it. The growthin influence of security agencies that are directly accountable to the Head of State also gavethe military leaders more room to manoeuvre and helped seal their distaste for institutionalarrangements that could mediate excesses of the Head of Government and make the rulermore accountable.This overwhelming influence however developed a non-institutional side especially under theBabangida and Abacha regimes, which turned out to be more pernicious. With theascendancy of the security/intelligence units, the associational and corporatist character ofthe regimes at inception assumed an authoritarian regimen for power consolidation as theleader’s dependence on the security and intelligence network grew. Whilst this practice hadstarted with the creation of NSO in 1976, it was institutionalised under General Babangidawhen he set up a plethora of security networks culminating in the creation of the alternativepara-military service - National Guard – to undercut the military institution. By this time, the6
  7. 7. role of private military companies in the activities of the intelligence services and in theoverall management of the regime security had become a source of concern within themilitary as an institution.4 Equally, a regime that had come into office espousing respect forfundamental freedoms and human rights had lost credibility with civil society and societalviolence against the state had increased exponentially by 1989. Through its responsibility fordiscovering and nipping ‘forces of destabilization’ in the bud, the role expansion of thesecurity services guaranteed it an autonomy and influence not hitherto accorded securityand intelligence services in Nigeria. At the same time, the measure of accountabilityexpected of the service within an institutional set-up equally disappeared.This growth in influence however took on more insidious dimensions under the late GeneralAbacha with the formation of the Libyan and Korean trained Special BodyGuard Services forthe personal protection of the Head of State as well as the Strike Force and K Squad –responsible for carrying out state sponsored assassinations of political enemies at a timethat the military-controlled Presidential Brigade of Guards was no longer trust-worthy. Thatthis alternative power bloc around General Abacha completely made a nonsense of themilitary institution and destroyed the hierarchy that is so central to the institution, is evidentfrom recent revelations at the Human Rights Violations Investigations Commission’s hearingsand in the trials of the junior officers who ran these alternative security outfits.5(iv) The Business elite-military links and Corruption-fuelled Institutional Designs The origin of what we have referred to elsewhere as Nigerias "bureaucratic-economic militariat" (Fayemi, 1999) could indeed be traced back to the central role of themilitary in the control and management of Nigerias post civil war oil wealth, especially afterthe promulgation of the Indigenisation Decrees of 1972 and 1977.6 If one traced thepersonal, political and financial links of business individuals associated with the military priorto their exit from government and in the immediate aftermath of civilian politics in 1979, theemerging trend of a network comprising the military, the civilian bureaucracy and thebusiness elite became immediately apparent.7 At this stage though, it would appear that theacquisition by the military personnel involved was largely in pursuit of personal wealth as anincreasing number of retired senior military officers ... combine chairmanships/directorshipsof their own private businesses, with part-time appointments to key governmental posts andparastatals relating to agriculture, commerce, and industry, in addition to interlockingdirectorships of many foreign companies incorporated in Nigeria.8 In no time though, thispursuit of individual wealth set the tone for a conscious institutional programme of wieldingpolitical influence.9With the arrival of General Babangida at the helm of affairs in 1985, the legacy of militarismhad been spread wide. One of the first measures that he adopted in a widely populist movepurported to have led to the rejection of the IMF strictures on Nigeria was the policy ofStructural Adjustment. As the country became sucked into the vortex of structuraladjustment programme under General Babangida, the elevation of finance over industrialcapital became the most significant feature of the period. Short term monetarist policies ofexchange rate devaluation, removal of subsidies, sale of state enterprises, freeing of pricesand generalised deflationary policies took precedence over structural reform of thatdebilitating economy which was the favoured national consensus for addressing the problemat the time. Deregulation ensured that the financial sector became the only growth sectorwith interest rates determined by speculators and the military controlling a large share offinance capital. At the same time, agriculture, manufacturing and industry experiencedsevere distress due to low capacity utilisation.Equally, the extra funds gained from the increased oil sales during the Gulf War in 1990/917
  8. 8. fuelled corruption as this extra income was regarded as discretionary and it went on amassive spending binge that diverted revenues into corruption funded patronage, sharplyexpanded extra-budgetary expenditure and bloated an already inflation ridden economy.Indeed, an official inquiry into the finances of the Central Bank of Nigeria, betweenSeptember 1988 and 30 June 1994 concluded that, “US$12.2 billion of the $12.4billion (inthe dedicated and special accounts) was liquidated in less than six years... spent on whatcould neither be adjudged genuine high priority nor truly regenerative investment; neitherthe President nor the Central Bank Governor accounted to anyone for these massive extra-budgetary expenditures…that these disbursements were clandestinely undertaken while thecountry was openly reeling with a crushing external debt overhang.10Little wonder then that the economic reform programme started by the military regime in1986 (under Genera Babangida) finally collapsed under the weight of the 1993 annulledelection and the massive capital flight that followed. By 1993, Nigeria, according to theWorld Bank, was among the 20 poorest countries in the world. The situation has sinceworsened under the present regime; GNP grew only 2.8 percent in 1994, inflation ran atover 60 percent just as the country experienced exponential unemployment growth rate andthe Nigerian naira virtually collapsed. As one commentator of that period noted, "virtually allpretense of professional economic management was abandoned, and the governmentcynically allowed the economy to become completely predatory in nature." As a result, thecountry stopped servicing interest payments on much of its $30 billion foreign debt, and themore than $7 billion in arrears on its debt to the Paris Club of Western creditors. Yet, inspite of this dismal record, a high number of retired military officers or fronts of servingofficers were heavily involved in the finance/banking sectors. Not only did many of themlack any knowledge of the industry, they possessed little aptitude to apply themselves to thehuge responsibilities their involvement demanded of them.But it was not just the economy that suffered in this ‘private good, public bad’ Stateretrenchment legacy of the era. The prospects for democratisation and meaningful politicsalso dimmed. Given the diffused level of autonomy exercised by the military institution thatresulted from the parcelling out of the state to private military interests, the class and groupproject engendered by previous military rule was exchanged with the rule of the benevolentdictator since many officers close to power had become beholden to the personal ruler asdirect beneficiaries of the financial incentives he distributed. In the larger society, privatisation exacerbated the prebendal politics with itsattendant pressure on ethnic relations as many who lost out in the scheme of thingsconcluded that the overwhelming power of the centre was responsible for their fate. But ifthese tendencies were simply limited to the government, it would be less disturbing. Byinstitutionalising favouritism and corruption as legitimate instruments of governance, themilitary regime headed by Babangida succeeded in breeding a myriad of anti-democraticpractices reproduced regularly in the world view of the ordinary Nigerian, either in the formof a common belief that everyone had a price, or in the disappearance of loyalty to the Stateas militarism became embedded in the psyche of the average individual. The restructuring of the economy along monetarist lines could be said to haverepresented an ambitious attempt by the techno-military authoritarian state under GeneralBabangida to generate a new hegemonic bloc and this was carried out on two broad levels -economic and political. First, as a result of the governments privatisation agenda, several ofthe state-owned industrial and commercial ventures were sold directly to ex-militarygenerals or to conglomerates linked to them.4 In addition, the new merchant banks thatemerged to take advantage of the liberalisation of the financial sector featured severalretired military officers on their boards. Indeed, many military generals were prominent8
  9. 9. beneficiaries of the bad loans allocated by these failed banks.11 Second, General Babangida went beyond the personal pecuniary motives of erstwhilemilitary rulers by ensuring that the stratification of the military from the rest of society didnot just exist at the level of personal arrangements, but also at an institutional level. Hence,by adopting a practice common to Latin American and some South East Asian militaryinstitutions, he announced the formation of an Army Bank (which never took off!), anindustrial armament city - (which also did not happen) and the Nigerian Army WelfareInsurance Scheme (NAWIS). To ensure that every military officer saw the stratificationproject as an institutional agenda, the government spent N550 million ($60 million in 1992)advertised to a hapless public as loans to purchase cars for military officers of and above therank of Captains. This was later extended to the non-commissioned officers in the form ofmotorcycles and the rank and file got bicycles. Whilst this provided additional respite to themilitary dictatorship, it ultimately failed in providing the platform for the elevation of GeneralBabangida to the civilian political space. If the political manipulation under General Abacha was unapologetically blatant; theNigerian economy became a personal fiefdom. The diminution of any official pretence of acollegial facade which military rulers always projected was total by the time General Abachadied in June 1997. Unlike General Babangida who parcelled out the State to friends andmentors within the military and political society with a view to consolidating his politicalbase, General Abacha kept the spoils of office for himself and his family, a coterie of hissecurity apparatus – mostly from his ethnic base, thus leading many to see a link betweenhis economic and political project and that of his ethnic base amongst Hausa-Fulani-Kanuripolitical elite. The context of his plundering of the national wealth in which the presumedwinner of the 1993 election and several other political and civil society leaders were stillbeing held in detention further fuelled this perception that the agenda was to use acomplete control of the economy to ensure a firm grip on the political terrain. The fact thathe made a conscious effort of ignoring the military institution12, which ordinarily ought tohave provided the cover for his political project, strengthened the notion that he had theaim of destroying the military as an institution, exacerbate ethnic tensions and shut out theinternational community from the country in other to consolidate the state decompositionproject.(v) The emergence of the ethnic-regional factor in the armed forcesIn discussing the emergence of the ethnic-regional factor in the Nigerian security structure,it is important to start by underscoring the fact that representativeness was not overlycritical in the establishment and recruitment process into the colonial army. Hence, adivision of labour emerged in the colonial army in which the bulk of the rank and file soldierscame from so-called martial race, mostly from northern minority ethnic groups, whilst theofficer corps in which the forces needed fairly well educated men, was dominated bysouthern ethnic groups.13 This early pattern of recruitment was replicated in the post-independence armed forces. Clearly, the political elite of the immediate post-independenceera was very sensitive to the fact that two-thirds of the officers by 1962 were from theSouth (and mainly Ibo), hence the 1962 quota policy was aimed at redressing the imbalancealready dominant in the officer ranks.14 Events surrounding the political crisis thatculminated in the civil war in 1967 exacerbated the ethnic-regional feature of the Nigerianmilitary, even at a time when it was the best example of a national institution in theunfinished nation-building project. In particular, the loss of at least two thirds of the officercorps from the East contributed largely to the secessionist plans of Lt Colonel Ojukwu,especially after the assassination of General Ironsi, the Supreme Commander of the NigerianArmed Forces at the time.9
  10. 10. The end of the civil war in 1970 offered the opportunity to redress perceived imbalance andthe subsequent introduction of ‘federal character’ in recruitment that guaranteed equality ofopportunity into military institutions helped in this regard. However, the involvement of themilitary in politics continued to strengthen the unitary characteristics of Nigeria’s federalstructure and seriously weakened the very basis of Nigeria’s federalism. From the creationof twelve states out of the erstwhile four regions in 1967as a way strengthening the federalcentre in the wake of the civil war, by the time the military left government in 1999, thecountry had thirty-six states – mostly weak and inevitably dependent on the strong centrefor its survival – thus defeating the agenda of autonomy that the states were also meant toserve. This led to the growing campaign for the deconcentration of power at the centre asthe politics of identity gained more legitimacy in the wake of a failed citizenship andnationalist project. The fact that the power-wielders at the Centre also lacked legitimacycontributed to the perception of the military as a fake national institution used to promoteparticular ethnic, religious and political interests. The fact that there had been no clearresolution of the national question made the perception of ethnic/regional tension morepalpable. Indeed, while the military rulers continued to project a nationalist outlook, thealliance used in sustaining the military in power looked increasingly regional or even ethnicto the casual observer.This failure to resolve the nationality question in an inclusive manner is evident in the variedresponses across country to conflicts over identity, nationality, self-determination andautonomy. The introduction of Sharia in many of the Northern states (and the recentkillings in Jos), the rising tide of ethno-nationalism (the OPC and Egbesu Boys uprisings),and arguments over the control of state and federal resources (particularly in the NigerDelta) are all examples of demands for “genuine federalism.” This increasing privatisationof violence in the country represents one of the main challenges to the reform of themilitary institution and the eventual transformation of the security structure. While mostNigerians still in favour of a federal nation, it is clear that the nation-state as it is constitutedis a source of violent conflict. The failure of the various institutional mechanisms adopted tomanage diversity and difference – federal character principle, quota system, rotationalpresidency and political zoning, to mention just a few – is an indication of a lack of socialcontract between the governors and the people with a view to devising politically legitimateand inclusive mechanisms that are consensus-driven. Many Nigerians now question thecountry’s future, especially if left in the hands of a centralised State. The challengeidentified by the variety of conflicts across the country, especially since the exit of themilitary, is however not a negation of the need for institutional processes to address thisdrift from nationalism to balkanisation, but a call for the search for that process to bebottom-up, rather than simply imposed by military fiat..Yet even as one acknowledges the clear perception that the national question remainsunresolved thus fuelling a regional-ethnic military outlook, it is important to make adistinction between the character of the military in government and the military as aninstitution. While the military in government clearly looked ‘regional’ and ‘ethnic’, themilitary continued to show evidence of even-handedness in recruitment as an institution.However, it is the perception that the national military is not there to serve the interests ofall Nigerians that underscores the prevalence of private armies and militias, mostly formedalong ethnic and regional lines in defence of particular interests. It is to this last legacy ofmilitary rule, and perhaps the most worrying due to the growth in societal and structuralviolence that we now turn.(vi) The Legacy of Societal militarisation and Violence.10
  11. 11. From the foregoing analysis, years of military rule imposed enormous costs on the Nigerianpeople. But perhaps the most enduring of all the legacies bequeathed is the level ofmilitarism and societal violence that has become rife in civil society. In spite of the varioussteps embarked upon by the civilian government since it assumed power, the intensity ofconflict in the country in the last two years underscore why military restructuring can onlytake its proper place within the context of institutionalised national restructuring. (See Table1 above)Without a doubt, military disengagement from politics represents an important first steptowards democratic control, even if it does not equate with or immediately translate tocivilian, democratic control. From the evidence available in Nigeria so far, formal militarydisengagement has widened the space within which concrete democratic reform is possibleand sustainable but it has also thrown up various centrifugal fissures, reopened old woundshitherto festering under the surface and generated new forms of conflicts in the country.Some of the conflicts have antecedents in old native-settler animosities, but many areresource-driven, spurred by perceptions of unequal distribution of government resources.Equally, incidents of aggression, impatience, and competition arise in domestic violence andother family disputes, over petrol queues, in the conduct of motorists, and in the behaviourof the armed forces and police in dealing with ordinary people.15 While the immediatecauses of increased violence and crime reside in a perception of inequality in society, at roothowever is the loss of a culture of compromise and accommodation in the resolution andmanagement of conflicts. This point cannot be overemphasised: Nigerians lost their cultureof dialogue in a period when militarization and the primacy of force had become state policyand it will require a return to consensus based, rather than the current adversarial characterof politics, to regain that culture of dialogue.Even so, the context within which politics takes place also affect the likelihood of a dialogueand consensus driven process. In a country where the political leadership automaticallyforeclose certain issues as ‘non-negotiable’ or in Nigeria’s local parlance – as ‘no-go areas’,it becomes difficult for those who want those options to be discussed, negotiated andbargained for, to regard imposed constitutional principles as legitimate – especially wherethese principles are not derived from agreed societal values and norms, but simply imposedby those who have the means to gain access to political power at the centre. Having brokenfree of years of repression and control under military rule, it is no surprise therefore thatconstituencies and communities have taken to heart the lesson of military rule – the use offorce as the bargaining chip for forcing negotiations of foreclosed agenda. Without seekingto justify these responses, it is important to understand the context within which they occur.Yet for the country to attain stable civil-military relations, a critical task in consolidatingNigerias fragile democracy and rebuilding stable civil-military relations in the polity isreclaiming the militarised mind, which has been fed by a deep-seated feeling of socialexclusion under military rule. Given the prevailing political culture - bred by three decades ofmilitarism and authoritarian control, the current political transition only represents areconfiguration of the political, economic and military elite, rather than an opening up of thepolitical system and broadening of participation. Indeed, what we have witnessed is thecreation of "shadow military and security hierarchy” in a certain sense.The greatest challenge to addressing the scourge of political militarism therefore isaddressing the psychology of militarism that has become reified in the context of Nigeria’spolitics of exclusion. Herein lie the paradox of democratisation and demilitarisation not justin Nigeria, but the rest of post-cold war Africa. How attainable is a complete overhaul ofpolitics from its military roots, especially in a body politic that has become so atomised and,in which the symbols, values, and ethos of the military are replicated in large sections of thecivil-society.11
  12. 12. In themselves, these manifold legacies of military politics constitute major challenges thatneed to be grappled with by Nigerians, but it is their impact on the post-military politicalreform project, especially its impact on the capacity for governance given the fact that thecountry’s escape from the grip of a damaging military rule was more of a lucky escape thana well ordered exit, that is critical to our understanding. The capacity of the succeedingadministration to address the negative impact of the legacies highlighted above is key toarresting the drift to violent conflict in the country.B. The Nature of political reform, governance and the democratisation agenda The nature of General Abachas exit and the arrival of General Abubakar on thescene arguably determined the outcome of the democratisation project in 1999. Howeverone may view the eventual outcome of the rushed transition programme, the fact that themilitary elite was not responding to a full defeat by the population could hardly bediscounted in understanding the pacted nature of the transition and the push for a gracefulexit for the military through a political machine closest and more sympathetic to itshierarchy. The dominance of the party hierarchy by the retired military and civilians closelyconnected to the military elite set the tone for party formation that paid little attention toideology. This compromised political settlement was therefore perceived in several sectors,especially in the civilian polity as a reason why military disengagement ought to be viewedwith a great deal of scepticism and not a sine-qua non of demilitarisation of the polity. Whileit is true that General Abacha failed to achieve his personal objective of transforming himselfinto a civilian leader, the fact that military influence still played a huge part in the choice ofpresident - albeit in a less blatant form - was regarded as an indication of the hugechallenge the country faces in the post-military era. For civilians, the overriding fact that theNigerian military has become entrenched in all facets of Nigerias social and economic lifewas seen as a major limitation on the ability of the new government to undertake anyfundamental transformation of an institution widely perceived as unaccountable. It wasagainst this background of widespread scepticism that the government was inaugurated. Indeed for many, the secretive nature of the transition, which saw a governmentelected with no public access to the fundamental law of the land in the form of aconstitution, was seen as a major problem. At a time when the constitution is no longerseen as a mere set of rules and laws regulating the state and society, but a social contract,an expression of the general will of the nation and that single document under whichdiverse and even ideologically opposed groups unite in defence of democracy, manyobjected to an imposed constitution and predicted that this eventual document was boundto contain booby traps for the new democracy. Hanging like a pall over the transition programme were the unresolved issuessurrounding the annulled 1993 election and the regionalist questions triggered by thatparticular election. Although the 1993 election itself was not free from accusations of elite-pacting since it did not really emerge from a broad based popular demand, but a largelypredetermined transition programme in which political parties were even formed and largelyfunded by the military, the brazen and inexplicable manner with which the election resultshad been annulled galvanised the opposition of the broad civil society and labour movementagainst the military. For civil society and pro-democracy forces in particular, who hadsuffered severe repression on account of their opposition to that annulment, what thecountry needed was not an election that will just reproduce status-quo, but a clean slatethat could only be brought about by an interim government and an interim constitution with12
  13. 13. the task of organising a national conference to produce a consensus document which willnow be the basis of governance in the country. In propagating this approach, they drewinspiration from the National Conference arrangements in Franco-phone Africa, especially inneighbouring Benin republic and the CODESA arrangement in South Africa. The fact that themain symbol of the annulled election – Chief M.K.O.Abiola - died in detention in rathermysterious circumstances elicited various claims about the role of external forces whoseinterest was mainly stability, rather than democracy, in influencing the shape of Nigeria’sfuture with relatively little input from the citizens. In spite of the vociferous campaign for an open debate on the constitution, the ideaof a people driven governance arrangement was largely ignored by the military. Instead,the Abubakar government established a Constitutional Debate Co-ordinating Committee(CDCC) to collate public comments on the draft 1995 Constitution, which was produced byGeneral Abacha. However, the CDCC had only two months to conduct this exercise and inspite of its members’ determination to do a good job, they were already hobbled by some ofthe central principles that guided their work – lack of transparency, openness and credibilityto mention the most critical. More importantly, even when they managed to produce a draftof the views gathered, they later discovered that many of their recommendations had beenignored by the ruling military elite, which was intent on its own agenda and wanted to avoidany issue that might come back to haunt them after their exit. The lackadaisical attitude ofpoliticians eager to gain access to office gave the impression of a tacit understandingbetween some politicians and the departing military elite. This seemed plausible given thepolitical elite’s non-challance and lack of interest in what the constitutional provisions wereon sensitive issues like the role and mission of the armed forces, oversight responsibility ofthe legislature and government, accountability of the military institutions to the state;relationship between levels of government, to mention just a few issues. This led to the eventual marginalisation of the civil society voices that cautionedagainst a rushed transition programme and an exclusive focus on electoralism. It alsopaved the way for the low quality of the elected representatives, majority of whom emergedfrom the shadows of the military parties created during General Abacha’s period in office.Since many of the protagonists of those parties controlled resources through various rentseeking activities perpetrated while in office, they were able to transfer these resources intothe newly registered parties. The fact that the political parties were cobbled together withno clear vision and relatively little distinction in their manifestoes gave an indication of whatto expect in the new political dispensation. In a sense, whatever the present government isexperiencing in terms of challenges to consolidating this fragile democracy could very wellbe partly traced to the origins of the political transition that produced the government. Thisis evident from the policy prescriptions that the government has adopted which basicallyoscillate between simplistic tinkering of the traditional agenda for reform and total re-imposition of the old order. It would not be wrong to describe the governance arrangementas one of incremental change amid a huge dose of continuity. It is useful to examine thepolicy prescriptions in the area of security sector restructuring to establish why we think thisis the case.(C) Governance in the Security Sector: Policy Prescriptions under theObasanjo administrationGiven the above context of military hangover, the election of an ex-military General withsignificant support from the military constituency, was seen in civil society as an extensionof continued military rule of sorts. His initial moves however surprised many and he wasable to turn the limited expectation of change and the perceived lack of room for manoeuvreto an advantage. His first move - the appointment of service chiefs the day he came intooffice - gave a strong impression of a government committed to military professionalism and13
  14. 14. determined to ensure civilian supremacy. It was also a careful balancing act in ethnic andregional juggling by ensuring that all the senior service chiefs came from minority ethnicgroups in the north and south. Yet, apart from a wish list of what the President wants tofocus on in restructuring the security sector in his inaugural speech to the nation, there wasno clear articulation of the new administration’s agenda until July, 1999. The presidentarticulated the governments stand on civilian supremacy in his first major speech to themilitary establishment when he addressed the graduating Course Seven of the National WarCollege on July 24, 1999. In the speech, he highlighted the following principles: • Acceptance of the elected civilian President as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, and the supremacy of elected officials of state over appointed officers at all levels; • Acceptance of civilian headship of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and other strategic establishments; • That decisions regarding the goals and conduct of military operations must serve the political and strategic goals established by the civil authority; • Acceptance of the application of the civilised principles to all military investigations and trials, and • The right of Civil (Supreme Court) authority to review any actions or decisions taken by military judicial officers.In line with the above, the administrations agenda for military professionalisation hasfollowed the traditional pattern embraced in countries moving from prolongedmilitary/authoritarian state structures to civilian, democratic structures. The focus hastherefore been on the (i) the De-politicisation and Subordination of the Military to CivilAuthority; (ii) Constitutionalising Security Sector Reform; (iii) Reorientation and Re-professionalisation Policy; (iv) Demilitarisation of Public Order and Increasing relevance ofCivil Policing; and (v) Balancing the demands of Defence with the needs for Development.Let us briefly look at what has been done in these areas.(i) De-politicisation and Subordination of the Military As indicatedthe administration was even more popular when "politicised" military officers were retired onJune 10, 1999 - two weeks after the government was sworn in. The retirement exercise sawthe exit of 93 officers in total (53 from the army5 20 from the Navy, 16 from the air-forceand 4 from the police). The third move which also elicited the support of the civil societywas the governments announcement of an anti-corruption crusade that saw the immediatetermination of several contracts awarded by the erstwhile military administration (manyawarded to companies associated with the outgoing military hierarchy) as well as the settingup of a judicial commission to investigate human rights violations under the military.Popular as the measures taken were, the government’s attention still appeared to havefocussed on the dominant model of civil-military relations, which assumes a level playingfield in which ‘autonomous military professionalism’ can be predicated on ‘objective civiliancontrol’, one that encourages an ‘independent military sphere’ that does not ‘interfere inpolitical matters’. In reality though, this perspective treats civilian control as an event, a factof political life, not a process that has to be negotiated within a continuum, especially instates emerging from prolonged authoritarian rule. In our view, civilian control should not beseen as a set of technical and administrative arrangements that automatically flow fromevery post military transition, but part of complex political processes, which must addressthe root causes of militarism in society, beyond the formal removal of the military from14
  15. 15. political power or the retirement of politically tainted officers. There is a need to redefine ournotion of the a-political military - a notion that has been central to the discourse of thedominant civil military relations literature. In Nigeria where the military has becomeentrenched in all facets of civic and economic life and where politics has just featured areconfiguration rather than a transformation of power as argued above, anchoring the needfor an objective civilian control to the notion of an a-political military underestimates theseriousness of the issues at stake. While formal mechanisms for control are not inthemselves wrong, the reality underpinning Nigerias crisis of governance underscores thefact that subordination of the armed forces to civil control can only be achieved when civilcontrol is seen as part of complex democratic struggle that goes beyond elections andbeyond subordination to the presidency, but also other oversight institutions. (Williams,1998; Fayemi, 1998). These processes are expressions of institutional relationships that areinherently political, subjective, and psychological.13 and it is only when the political andpsychological issues arising out of military involvement in politics are grasped that we canbegin to look at objective control mechanisms. One innovative way of integrating bothobjective control mechanisms and subjective political and psychological issues into a visionof change that is transformatory is the use to which the constitution is put in the quest forgovernance in the security sector. The fact that many of these steps are taken with nodiscussion as to the precise nature of security that the citizens desire underscore the needto locate improvements within a constitutional framework.(ii) Utilising the Constitution to Clarify and entrench the role of the security sectorIf the objective of creating efficient and effective professional armed forces is to beachieved, particular attention must be paid to the principle of accountability to the peopleand their elected representatives. The location of the military in terms of its accountabilityto the executive, the legislature and the wider society must be clarified in constitutionalterms. This is important for a number of reasons. First, accountability, transparency andopenness have become fundamental constitutional tenets and the Obasanjo administrationis leading the way in this respect. Second, as a national institution, the military relies on thepublic for support and sustenance in order to fulfil its constitutional mandate. Third, the ideathat security matters reside exclusively in the realm of military constituency is one that isincreasingly challenged by the broadened and inclusive meaning of security to society.Hence, the view that issues relating to the armed forces and security services must besubjected to public discourse is becoming acceptable. Therefore, if the state must resolvethe problems of accountability and address the current lacunae arising from the character ofthe postcolonial security structures as a result of prolonged military dictatorship, popularparticipation and organisational coherence, not exclusivity, are the crucial things needed toensure democratic control and widen national security perspectives.16Unfortunately, previous constitutions have tended to be nearly silent about the armed forcesand its role in Society. Although Section 217(1) of the 1979 constitution which stipulates therole and broad functions of the Armed Forces: namely, defending Nigeria from externalaggression, maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violations onland, sea or air; acting in aid of civil authorities to help keep public order and internalsecurity as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly; and performing suchother functions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly, was repeatedverbatim in the 1999 constitution, there was no attempt to even reflect on the problems thatarose from prolonged military rule in the intervening two decades. While it is arguable thatthis broad depiction of the roles of the security forces gives the political authority enoughflexibility to define what it seeks, this lack of clarity can also be a problem. This is more so incircumstances where civilians frequently lack knowledge and understanding of militaryaffairs, and the apportioning of civilian and military responsibilities often depend on the15
  16. 16. military itself, or on a small coterie of elected civilian officials close to the President. In thecase of Nigeria, this has led to a further lack of accountability and the assumption of an all-knowing President. Given the burden of its authoritarian past and the loss of credibility bythe military, it was thought that elected civilians will be allowed to play a key role in militaryrestructuring and redefinition of roles and missions. Yet, there is a conflict between asection of the populace who feel that legislative oversight should be central to democraticcontrol and others who are of the opinion that the President and his Defence Minister, asex-military leaders, should have the freedom to restructure the military without adequate ornecessary recourse to other checks and balances within the system simply because "theyknow what they are doing".As a result, the legislature has largely functioned as a rubber-stamp national assembly as faras military matters are concerned. Not only are they often unaware of developments, eventhe role of the legislature in terms of determining policy on the size and character of thearmed forces, overseeing the armed forces activities and approving actions taken by theexecutive branch, have been short-changed by an overbearing executive branch. There hasbeen widespread agitation in civil society about the need to constitutionalise in acomprehensive manner the role of the military in internal security issues, the use ofemergency powers and the limits of emergency powers vis-à-vis the citizens’ non-derogablerights, the place of international law in the practice and professionalism of the military aswell as the debate over the composition of the military. It is expected that the currentreview of the countrys constitution would provide an opportunity to re-examine theconstitutional dimension of military matters and a clarification of the role of the executive,legislative branch and wider society in ensuring a stable civil-military relations.Even on an issue that has become the most contentious with the Nigerian public – the questfor an anti-coup strategy – the current Nigerian constitution is severely muted in its content.A clause that is most worrying to many observers on the constitution is the rather unlimitedpowers it places on the legality of the security agency to ovethrow the constitution which isthe supreme law of the land. Section 315 (5)c of the 1999 constitution states that theNational Security Act (a body of principles, policies and procedures on the operation of thesecurity agencies) remains in law and cannot be overridden by the constitution unless thelegislature can muster two-thirds of its members to override it both at the national as wellas state assemblies. Opponents claim that for an Act that came into being via a militarydecree to still have this imposed legitimacy makes a mockery of the democratisation processand exposes the country to the whims and caprices of security agencies which operatelargely in the dark.As if to complicate matters, the "anti-coup" clause contained in Section 1(2) of the 1999constitution stipulating that "The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall not be governed, nor shallany person or group of persons take control of the Government of Nigeria or any partthereof, except in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution. Yet, as stated above,the National Security Act can override the same constitution, in which case an interpretationof the above clause could very well be that anyone who successfully removes aconstitutional government via the provisions of the National Security Act is acting in aconstitutional, or at least in a legal manner.Compare this section of the Nigerian constitution with Section 3 (1) of the Ghanaianconstitution which states that "Any person who (a) by himself or in concert with others byany violent or other unlawful means, suspends or overthrows or abrogates this constitutionor any part of it, or attempts to do any such act" or (b) "aids and abets in any manner anyperson referred to in paragraph (a) of this clause; commits the offence of high treason and16
  17. 17. shall upon conviction be sentenced to suffer death". In subsection 4 (a), the sameconstitution states that "All citizens of Ghana have the responsibility and duty at all times" to(a)defend this constitution and in particular, to resist any person or group of personsseeking to commit any of the acts defined to in Clause 3 of this article". The constitutiongoes further to declare that any person who participates in resisting such attempts or acts ofsuspending or abrogating it commits "no offence". Subsequent sections award "adequatecompensation which shall be charged to the Consolidated Fund in respect of any sufferingincurred as a result of punishment in resisting the abrogation of the Constitution. Of courseskeptics will argue that this in itself will not stop the occurrence of illegal intervention, butthe moral force invested in these clauses cannot be compared to the tepid anti-coup clausein Section 2 (1) of the Nigerian constitution. Similar clauses such as Ghanas appear in theUgandan and South African constitutions and the Ethiopian constitution even goes as far asstipulating that a civilian must be the Defence Minister at all times. These statements ofintent go a long way in revealing the peoples concern for the rule of law.Finally, beyond the focus on an anti-coup strategy – which is understandable because of thecountry’s history, attempts to redefine the role and mission of the security forces most seesecurity in a wider context and reflect a perspective that sees security and stability as theflip side of development. There is evidence to suggest that the current administrationunderstands the link17 but this thinking must be translated into policy.(iii) Reorientation and Re-professionalisation of the MilitaryAlthough the government has strenuously avoided the use of military restructuring,preferring the more neutral reorientation and reprofessionalisation of the military, the thrustof its programme indicates that a reorganisation agenda is on course. Taking a cue from thespeech made at the National War College in July, the Vice President, Atiku Abubakar alsopromised a "comprehensive transformation of the Armed Forces into an institution able toprove its worth" when he addressed the Inauguration of the Course Eight at the NationalWar College, Abuja in September 10, 1999. This transformation will include: • Continuation of rationalisation, downsizing, and right-sizing to allow the military shed its "dead-woods" as well as discard obsolete equipment. • Re-equipping the services and upgrading soldiers welfare, albeit within limits of budgetary allocation; • Reversing the harm inflicted on military-civilian relations by years of military rule through measures to subordinate the military to the democratically constituted authority; • Building, rehabilitating and strengthening the relationship between the Nigerian military and the rest of the world, especially African countries, following years of diplomatic isolation and sanctions.Although the word "demobilisation" was avoided, it was clear that euphemisms like "down-sizing" and "right-sizing" meant precisely that and there was no doubt that years of militaryinvolvement in politics had impacted negatively on military professionalism. Indeed - theDefence Minister, Lt.General TY Danjuma was less diplomatic and actually stated thatmilitary be pruned by at least 30,000 men from current strength.(Daily Times, July 29,1999), although the President was more diplomatic when he said the government was yet tomake up its mind on questions of demobilisation and that the military was always shedding17
  18. 18. "dead wood", hence there was nothing significant about it. Again, because the desire fordemobilisation and or rationalisation was not based on any informed analysis, the militarywas able to argue for maintenance of current force strength. Indeed, by December 2000,the Defence Minister had turned full circle and acknowledged that the government haddecided against demobilisation because of the ‘multifarious commitments of the military…theArmed Forces even have commitments for the maintenance of law and order in thiscountry.’18It would appear that this shift in the official position has been informed partly by theperennial concerns over recruitment and representativeness in the armed forces, hence thewariness in government circles to confront it openly. The strong perception of adisproportionate recruitment of Northerners into the Nigerian military in spite of therigorous operation of the federal quota system in military recruitment is one that previousregimes had had to deal with. The retirement of "political" officers by the Obasanjogovernment was immediately perceived in affected circles as a response to the demand to"right-size" the ethno-religious dimension of the military institution.Yet the question of an appropriate size for the military, especially at a time of decliningnational resources, must be seen in an institutionally open and transparent manner andthrough a process of confidence building and conflict management based on objective threatassessment. For example, if the military mission is primarily coastal - protection of offshoreeconomic interests, and external - peacekeeping duties, the question must be asked: is thepersonnel currently emphasised in the armed forces order of battle suitable for the types ofmissions the military will be called to respond to? Are the manpower levels cost-effective,and most importantly, does the institutional recruitment process procure individuals that arewholly dedicated to their military duties, in a reliable and efficient manner? Put moregraphically, if an objective threat assessment reveals that internal threats are the dominantthreats to the country, should the armed forces be the answer to this or a properlyequipped, well trained, civil policing arrangement.If the questions of demobilisation can be resolved along these lines, central to the issue ofmilitary recruitment in terms of military professionalism are then three key questions:Should the Nigerian armed forces in a democratic dispensation be an equal opportunitiesinstitution? Should it be a combat effective, battle ready force recruited from the most ablein the most rigorous and competitive manner? Should the manner of recruitment matter - ifthe training is standardised and geared towards bringing out the best in every recruit?Although the above are the rational questions to which answers must be found, there is noevidence to suggest that you cannot have an equal opportunities military that isprofessionally competent and up to the task of defending the territorial integrity of thenation whilst satisfying the ethno-religious balance necessary in a diverse democratisingpolity.Critical to the re-professionalisation of the armed forces as far as the military was concernedis the ability of the State to provide efficient and well functioning institutions andinfrastructures and an enabling environment for their constitutional tasks to beaccomplished. The former Chief of Army Staff, General Victor Malu aptly captured thefeeling of the military constituency in an interview: “Having come out of very many years of neglect because of our mismanagement, we expected that the civilian government was going to address issues…Unfortunately, from June 1999 to date, we haven’t got anything meaningful to assist us in the process of professionalisation. Our training institutions have not improved, the training aids with which we conduct the training to reprofessionalise have not been18
  19. 19. provided; the situation in the barracks has not changed; as a matter of fact, it has deteriorated…we did not get anything done last year by way of capital projects and we thought these were the things we were supposed to do if we are going to improve on our well being to keep busy in the act of re-professionalising…”While General Malu’s views above reflect the feeling of despondency both within the militaryhierarchy and the rank and file, it is hardly fair to blame the civilian government for theyears of neglect in the military; even less so to expect the President and his team to changethis anomaly in two years. What the political leadership can be blamed for is the lack ofshared understanding about the problem and the lack of ownership of the re-professionalisation process even by the elected representatives of the people. The feeling isrife within the military as it is in civil society that the life of the average Nigerian has notimproved in the last two years of civilian governance. Unlike in civil society however, wherethese things are expressed daily in the public domain, they have simmered underneath thesurface in the military, partly due to the nature of the institution but mainly due to themilitary’s credibility deficit with the Nigerian people who blame all soldiers for the mess thecountry is in.The need to negotiate a process of reconciliation or restitution between the military and thecivil society that takes into account what is in the long term best interests of human rightsand fundamental freedoms in consolidating democracy without generating new conflicts ismore crucial than ever and the government seems to recognise this. Given the militaryschequered history of political intervention and inherent fears in political circles that somemight use the immense economic clout acquired over the years to undermine the gains ofthe democratic dispensation, the governments careful approach to this issue isunderstandable. Yet in a consolidating democracy, the government was correct to recognisethat a blanket declaration of amnesty or refusal to revisit past misdeeds poses a seriouschallenge to the strengthening of stable civil-military relations. Indeed, revisiting the pastmisdeeds is necessary cathartic exercise, located within the context of sustainable, civil-military relations. In its establishment of a ‘truth commission’ investigate past violationshowever, the right balance must be sought between restitution and reconciliation, betweenthe search for immediate justice and the need for long term democratic stability. The keytherefore is to ensure an institutional strategy that will streamline and ensure properaccountability and legislative oversight over security actors. There is no evidence to suggestthat this has happened.(iv) Demilitarising Public Order and the Role of Civilian PolicingGiven the threats posed by internal security by the militarised (dis) order since the newgovernment assumed office, the role of policing has been a subject of widespread debate inthe country, especially against the backdrop of opposition to the use of military power in“aid of civil authority", the rise of "ethnic militias" in the country, public perception of policeinefficiency and collusion with ‘agents of crime and insecurity’. On the one hand, thestatutory duties and responsibilities of the Nigeria Police Force are clearly spelt out inSection 4 of the Police Act of 1956 as follows:” prevention and detection of crime;apprehension of offenders; preservation of law and order; protection of life and property;due enforcement of all laws and regulations which they are directly charged; andperformance of such military duties within and without Nigeria as may be required of themunder the authority of the Police Act.” With 37 State Commands, 106 Area Commands, 925Police Divisions, 2,190 Police Stations throughout the country and 120,000 police officers,the force clearly an acute manpower shortage. Whilst the UN stipulates a police-citizensration of 1:400, the ration is currently 1:1,000 in Nigeria. Added to the gross personnelshortage is inadequate accommodation and transportation, poor communication network;19
  20. 20. poorly funded training institutions; and insufficient crime intelligence gathering capacity.19There is no doubt that the Nigerian Police Force has witnessed a serious deterioration in thequality of the service it provides the average citizens under military rule. Yet, the onlyperiod it enjoyed attention from government and occupied a pride of place in the scheme ofthings during the civilian administration of 1979-1983, the police management becameembroiled in partisan politics. Besides the politicisation of the police in the second republichowever, the Nigeria Police Force’ reputation for brutality, corruption and arbitrarinesscreated poor community relations. Consequently, while the civil populace is usually opposedto military involvement in internal security matters, doubts persist about the efficacy of thepolice authority in confronting public order issues in the post-military transition period.On its part therefore, the new government has shown the determination to:1. Restructure and demilitarise responsibility for internal security by giving police sole responsibility for maintaining internal security and public order;2. Strengthen the efficiency of the police force by reforming its doctrines, codify procedures, improve training and standards especially to prevent human rights abuse recurrence, increase the resources available to it, reduce the dead woods in its rank, expand its role in intelligence and security information gathering and injecting new blood into the force,3. Increasing the size of the police and pay of its operatives thus improving its estimation in the eyes of the public.In spite of the governments declared commitment to the above, there is evidence tosuggest that it still has serious doubts about excluding the military completely from internalsecurity issues - given the recurrence of situations where the police have found it difficult tocope with incidences of internal dissension. Although the President announced thewithdrawal of the military from joint security patrols with the police on coming to office - afeature used to intimidate and abuse ordinary Nigerians in the previous dispensation, publicclamour about the inability of the police to cope with the dramatic increase in crime,especially in the urban areas encouraged a return to these joint patrols in places like Lagos,Abuja, Kaduna and Port Harcourt. Even if it were to receive the most appropriate supportfrom the government, correcting the flaws of the past can only take place within a particularpolitical, socioeconomic and historical context. The evidence of the first year in office is thatthe current ad-hoc reforms have not addressed the post-military internal security conditionsin the country. This is understandable even if not excusable for a number of reasons: • First, the serious economic problems that has led to massive unemployment, including the highest graduate unemployment in the continent requires an integrated strategy, not an exclusive focus on law and order; • Second, the nature of the political problems in the country which is directly linked to the rise of ethnic militias and the campaign for State/regional police accountable to State Governors; • Third, the proliferation of arms in the country (sometimes of more superior quality than the weapons carried by the Police); • The continuing tension between the military and other security agencies in terms of role clarification encouraged by the rampant crime rates which has overwhelmed the20
  21. 21. capacity of the reforming police force; • Five, the psyche of militarism that is all-pervasive in society and that has broken down dialogue and consensus driven resolutions of problems.The above factors definitely pose immense challenges to any successful reform of thecivilian police sector in the internal security reform agenda. Having said this, the question ofengaging civil policing for democratic governance is central to the issue of exorcisingmilitarism from the body politic as it is relevant to the issue of returning security to thecommunity, ensuring democratic accountability and revisiting the structure of federalism inthe country. The question as to whether to decentralise the police organisation, structureand operations has been particularly central to this discourse given the problems that haveattended the centralised control of the police force and the use it had been put to underprevious regimes. To create a service culture, and not a regimented force arrangement,accountability must be central to public order and the police cannot be trusted within thecommunity if it retains a structure that is only accountable to the centre and not thecommunities they seek to serve. Although concerns have been expressed about the negativeuse to which decentralised policing could be put, given the nature of the inter-ethnicsquabbles and community clashes that are prevalent in the country today.Yet, emboldened by citizens’ campaign for security, many states are responding to thecitizens clamour by employing the services of ethnic militias for internal security duties. InAnambra, Rivers, Enugu, Oyo, Osun, and Lagos States, "Bakassi Boys" and Odua PeoplesCongress operatives have now taken full charge of traffic management, confronting armedrobbers with the approval of the State executives and tacit endorsement of the Federalpolice authorities. As a result of these evident problems of performance and credibility thatthe Federal Police now encounters, the president recently announced his endorsement of adecentralisation package which ensures accountability to the elected State authority inaddition to their accountability to the Central government, although without the mechanismto enforce that principle.Yet the problems of policing cannot be seen in isolation of the criminal justice system sincethe police is an implementing agent of the criminal justice system Reforms to the judicialsystem have been much slower to be adopted by the current judicial hierarchy than reformsto the military and the police, but until there is a comprehensive approach to access tojustice and law enforcement, even the resolution of the resource deficit will not bringchange.(v) Balancing the demands of defence with the needs of developmentThe concomittant effect of the reorientation has been the challenge posed on the sectoralreform by the management of security expenditure "within limits of budgetary allocation" asthe Vice President put it. Yet the process of reform need not be antagonistic or adversarialto the management of the military expenditure even as the debate about how much isenough to maintain defence remains a realistic issue on the agenda. In this regard, it iscommendable that the government recognises that strengthening the military professionallywithout corresponding provision of adequate resources and political support may simply leadto frustration and possibly, unfulfilled and exaggerated expectations. On the other hand, it isimportant for government to realise that downsizing, right-sizing and sectoral reform mayactually lead to an increase in military expenditure, not a decrease at least in the interim.This is why planning and the building of mutual confidence and transparency remain at theheart of organisational effectiveness and security sector transformation. Hence, adopting asingle-minded approach that defence spending must be reduced from the outset serve as a21
  22. 22. disincentive, especially for security actors but ignoring concerns about the need to attend tosocial and developmental spending is threatening to the overall goal of stability, security anddemocratic consolidation.For this reason, there is a growing clamour for broadening the definition of security in themilitary reform agenda. This broader conception seeks to articulate security in a mannerthat the individual, the group as well as the state may relate to its fundamental objectives ofpromoting and ensuring the right to life and livelihood. While the government recognises theneed to strike the right balance and understand the dangers that might accompany toobroad a conception of security which altogether dismisses the legitimate need for themilitary - as is already evident in the carte blanche demand for the reduction of militaryexpenditure in some civil society circles - the government is not doing enough in developinga consensus in society around this broader definition of security.(D.) International & Regional Dimensions of Security Sector TransformationWhile the reform of the military is a wholly internal project, the Nigerian nation-state iscaught between the Scylla of ethno-nationalism and the charybdis of globalisation and shecan only ignore them at its own peril. It is not surprising therefore that the Vice-Presidentreferred to the specific need to ‘build, rehabilitate and strengthen the relationship betweenthe Nigerian military and the rest of the world, especially African countries, following yearsof diplomatic isolation and sanctions”. That the international community does have a role toplay is not contested. The issue is how to determine the process of engaging theinternational community in the security sector transformation project. The litmus test for thishovered around the decision to involve foreign advisers in the re-professionalisationprogramme of the military.a) Foreign advisers and the military re-professionalisation programme: In seeking tounderstand the involvement of foreign military advisers in the reprofessionalisationprogramme, it is important to state that the Nigerian military is not new to bi-lateral militarycooperation agreements. As a product of a colonial army, the British helped set up theArmy and the Navy, the Germans set up the air force and the premier training institution,Nigerian Defence Academy was established with the assistance of the Indians.Although there were various options open to the administration on coming to power, theadministration in its wisdom decided to engage the services of a foreign private concern ofretired military officers known to have close connections to the government of the UnitedStates in the re-professionalisation programme. The organization, Military ProfessionalsResources Incorporated (MPRI), describes itself as a "professional Services Company thatprovides private sector leader development and training and military-related contracting andconsulting in the US and international defense markets". It has been involved in militarytraining, weapons procurement and advisory services in Croatia, Saudi Arabia and Angolabefore winning the US government supported contract to be involved in Nigeria. In 1999,MPRI undertook on behalf of the US Department of Defense and USAID Office of TransitionInitiatives an 8 - person, 120 day assessment mission aimed at developing "an action planto integrate a reformed military establishment into a new civilian contexf”. In the course ofthe assessment mission in the country, it also ran a series of workshops on civil militaryrelations for senior military officers, civilians and various armed formations across thecountry. Since completing the initial assessment, it has signed a new contract "TheTransition-Civil Military Program for Nigeria" which focuses on three key areas - a) Militaryreform; b) Creation and development of new civilian institutions for civil-military affairs; and,(c) Support for de-militarisation of society.22
  23. 23. No doubt, all of the above constitute areas in which support can be rendered to the Nigerianmilitary, as long as local ownership is not jeopardised and this involvement is under thepurview of the legislature and the professional military, not just the president and theMinister of Defence. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. MPRI has become apermanent fixture in the Ministry of Defence with an office and full complement of staff.Apart from the undisguised opposition of the military professionals to MPRI’s unrestrictedaccess, MPRI’s belief that models of civil military relations from a different social-culturalcontext can be transferred into another context wholesale is seen to be more problematic.Since this is also a pattern that Nigerians have become familiar with in other fields ofgovernment – the seeming dependency on foreigners for assistance even where localexpertise will do - General Malu’s public criticism of the need to “protect our nation” struckthe right chord with even people such as Gani Fawehinmi and others not known for theirendorsement of anything coming from the military. General Malu went to great lengths inhis interview with Tempo to explain his opposition to the involvement of MPRI and the FordBragg team: We are a sovereign nation and we should protect our national interest. I don’t think it’s the duty of any foreign country to tell us what our defence policy or what our strategic policy or those things that can only be determined by Nigerians should be… …Part of the misunderstanding we had with the Americans coming to train us was that they wanted to train us in the rudimentary art of soldiering. We objected to that because we are an army of well-trained soldiers and seasoned officers that lack logistics…20What seems clear is that the involvement of MPRI has been more donor driven than wouldordinarily have been the case and it is important that partnerships between donors andnational governments must be on an equal footing if it is to produce the right results.Approaches that allow supporters to assist in the military reform process without seeking todrive them and without placing more premium on ownership and claiming credit ought to bethe pivot of such relationships. This will inevitably require a determination to seekengagement over a long term, greater transparency and willingness to engage in a moreopen and sustained dialogue with government, parliament, civil society and the securityactors (not just the president and the defence minister) whilst treating security sectorreform as a complementary, rather than a separate part of the whole development andinstitutional reform process. For now, while the rhetoric is one of relief that Nigeria is undera democratic dispensation, a careful deconstruction of the actions of the maturedemocracies eager to support the process will reveal an unprecedented bias towards aparticular outcome in the democratisation project, an outcome which promotes "stability"and "security", without seeing them as mutual reinforcing elements alongside equity andconsensus driven concerns for the social and political transformation of Nigerias sordid past.International involvement in police and judicial reform has taken a more cautious andinclusive approach and elicited more support even though not much has happened by wayof international assistance in this area.b) Nigeria within the West African region: Caught between the politics of globalisationand the sub-nationalism of local politics which has been exacerbated by the politics ofethnicity, the Nigerian state seemed to have concluded in favour of a regionalist project inits security sector transformation. Given the intertwined nature of many of the conflicts inthe region, the government takes as departure point the fact that any prospect for23
  24. 24. demilitarisation can only occur as part of a concerted effort by the ECOWAS Community.Consequently, the Nigerian government has been pivotal to the renewed vigour experiencedby the regional body, ECOWAS seeing regional security within the context of national andsub-national problems. For example, the Nigerian government links the proliferation ofweapons that has fuelled the latent internal conflicts in the country, in part to the flow ofsmall arms within the region, not unconnected to the various wars. Hence, thecommitment, which hitherto has been predicated on the largeness of heart, is now beingtied to unresolved political issues at home, rather than when the concentration on regionalissues merely provided an escape route to avoid dealing with the crisis generated internally.The government’s commitment to integration of the economy and pursuit of the dual-trackmonetary policy arrangement underscores the understanding on the part of the Nigerianstate that there is a need to go beyond pro-forma creation of peacekeeping force. To be aneffective antidote to globalisation and ethnnicisation – there is now a firm recognition thatregionalism must permeate the nation-state and its citizens in a more deep-rooted manner.c) International Peacekeeping Commitment: To a large extent, the government’scontinued focus on peacekeeping is also tied to this twin-strategy of using opportunitiespresented abroad to address some of the problems faced at home. In this regard,peacekeeping has been the main mechanism for maintaining professionalism in the militaryin the three decades of military involvement in politics and it now seems that thegovernment is interested in institutionalising this role and carving a niche for the militaryand other security outfits in preventive diplomacy and peace-keeping.Conclusion: Prospects for reform and Lessons for the futureOverall, the government has shown fidelity and commitment to the issue of security sectorreform, but has concentrated largely on military reform in the two years that it has been inoffice. Yet, militarism and militarisation still pose a major problem for the Nigerian state. Insuggesting the structural mechanisms highlighted above for de-emphasising the place offorce in the resolution of conflicts in the polity, the emphasis is on recognising that securitysector transformation is part of overall national restructuring and it is for this reason that thesingle most important need is now a consensus based, security sector review exercise whichtakes into account the places of all the security actors and oversight institutions, both publicand private in fashioning an agenda that all stakeholders can identify with and sign up to.Yet, while it is clear that the question of structure is central, the presence of agents ofdelivery is absolutely crucial if structure is to deliver on the goods. Based on the foregoinganalysis, a number of measures seem to suggest themselves in developing an agent-structure approach to security sector transformation in Nigeria:1. Security Sector restructuring can only succeed in the long run within the context of national restructuring;2. There is a need for conceptual clarity in government through a comprehensive approach to security sector reform which can produce a rationally ordered, codified security sector review framework and plan of action;3. There is a need to deepen the regional approach to security sector transformation with a view to integrating the political, social and the economic;4. Policy instruments must recognise the need to reconcile economic and social development and enhance the input of non-state actors – in policy formulation to enhance social capital.24
  25. 25. 5. International assistance is only helpful within the context of a clearly felt need;6. Recognition of the legitimate security needs of the communities and constituencies that make up the nation must be factored into the human security approach to poverty reduction.7. Policy instruments must recognise the link between globalisation and conflict, rather than assume that the effect of introducing global market principles is always going to be positive in the promotion of pro-poor growth.8. Policy instruments must locate the security agenda within the democracy and development framework and reflect the link between politics and economics, and between security and opportunities in the set of values adopted to enhance security sector transformation.9. Democratic, not just civilian, control of military and security establishments in democratising polities is necessary.10. The human security approach is a process, whose results will not necessarily be immediate, hence the need for a long term view by interested stakeholders. End Notes25