Nigeria position paper on the military


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Nigeria position paper on the military

  1. 1. NIGERIA:POSITION PAPER ON THE MILITARY Draft Report submitted to DfID By ‘Kayode FayemiCentre for Democracy & Development 2, Olabode Close, Ilupeju Estate, Lagos, NIGERIA
  2. 2. DRIVERS OF CHANGE INITIATIVE: COMPONENT 13 - THE MILITARY1Setting the contextNigeria is Africa’s most populous country. With an estimated population of 121million (48% of West Africa) and a GDP of US$41 billion, Nigeria controls asignificant portion of the human and natural resource endowments of the WestAfrican sub-region. Nigeria has the capacity and potential to be the region’s enginefor economic growth with these endowments but has largely failed to accomplish thispotential. One key institution that shares great responsibility for the country’sinability to realise its potential is the military. The military ruled Nigeria for twentynine out of forty three years of its independence and on balance contributed to thedamage done to the State than any other institution. Although purported originally aspossessing modernising qualities and its reasons for intervention in politics alwaysincluded halting the drift into corruption and saving the nation from the clutches ofcivilian politicians, the military leaders organised the pillaging and plunder of theNigerian state, destroyed the civil service which largely became a vehicle for thiscorrupt practises, overcentralised power through the creation of weak states andlocal governments which became totally dependent on the military for succour andeven hollowed out the military as a professional institution through its involvement inpolitics. In the course of perpetrating these dastardly acts, the military destroyed thecredibility it gained from the populace as a nation-builder.Although the Nigerian populace remains largely despondent about the performanceof the civilians now in power, they still maintain a low level of tolerance for themilitary.2 Our attempt in this paper is therefore to examine the military as a keydriver of or impediment to change, examining the historical background and thecontemporary trajectories of the military in Nigeria’s development as well as the linkof the military to the quantitative and qualitative trends in poverty and inequalityover the last three decades. The paper also examines other factors slowing downthe pace of democratic consolidation, looking at the nature and character of theNigerian state, questions of structure, ethnicity, religion and regionalism as well asthe legacy of Nigeria’s authoritarian past in the quest for deepening democraticdevelopment. Finally, the paper examines the policy implications of this transitionalphase, proffering policy options and highlighting key agents for pro-poor growth anddevelopment in the country.After four years of civilian rule, the conventional wisdom today is that the Nigerianmilitary is in retreat after close to four decades at the centre stage of politics.Without a doubt, President Obasanjo has surprised many people by the boldness ofthe steps he has taken to break the grip of the erstwhile military elite, to exposecorrupt practices in the military and to espouse an agenda for transparency andaccountability in the polity. Nevertheless, a contrary wisdom would contend that1 Although this study focuses on the military, we deliberately use the term – security sectoras both a theoretical and practical distinction, derived from the conviction that an exclusivefocus on the military privileges the institution, and ignores the wider issues in the securitysector relations, reforms and challenges.2 According to survey, seventy percent say they still maintain a low level of tolerance for themilitary in society. See Peter Lewis, Michael Bratton, Etanibi Alemika & Zeric Smith, “Down toEarth: Changes in Attitudes toward Democracy and Markets in Nigeria”, AfrobarometerSurvey on Nigeria. ( May 2002 2
  3. 3. there is as yet little evidence of the political institutionalisation of several of thesebold steps and it may be misleading to overemphasise the scale and intensity of themilitary retreat in the democratising polity. Indeed, in light of the authoritariantendencies still prevalent in the current democratic dispensation, there ought to be agrowing realisation of the need to think less teleologically about consolidatingdemocratic transitions brought about by a combination of military fracturing andincoherent civil society agitation. After all, if the experience of post-cold war Africa isanything to go by, it seems clear enough that while democratic transition may leadto democratic development in stages or “in parts”, pacted transitions have notnecessarily led to consolidated democracies nor stemmed the tide of democraticreversals, especially in places where militarism has eaten deep into the fabric, ethos,language and character of public discourse and action.Any attempt to accurately assess the role of Nigeria’s military in the democratisationand development process and its impact on the future of pro-poor reform, therefore,would benefit more from a nuanced assessment that does not treat the institution asa monolith. Neither should the military be defined simply by the excesses of itsaberrant officer corps nor seen through the prism of the distinction often made in theliterature between reformers and hard-liners, moderates and radicals.Consequently, it is important to trace the sociological and institutional underpinningsof the military’s role in the Nigeria’s chequered history of democratic transition, toenable us assess: (a) the conditions, ingredients and consequences of militaryprojects for nation-building (political institutionalisation and economic developmentthrough democratic transition); (b) the impact of the post-civil-war ‘democraticpressure’ on the political role of the military and their nation-building agenda, theimpact of the post cold war pressure on the military and the State and, (c) the likelyimpact of the manifold legacies of Nigeria’s authoritarian past on the consolidation ofcivil politics, democratic governance and pro poor growth.Equally, the military complex could only be addressed within a historical and politicalcontext. Hence, to understand the nature and complexities of the challenges facedin the security sector and proffer solutions to them, an assessment of Nigeria’spolitical environment is critical. To what extent, for example has the question of theState and national legitimacy been resolved? What do the Constitution and otherlaws say about the governance of the security forces; what is the mission, purposeand nature of the military and other security forces; what is the interaction betweenthe composition of the military and the composition of society as a whole; Does themission derived from the security threat correspond to the size, composition andequipment of the security forces; Are the resources used to fulfil the identifiedmission of the security forces, or are they misused in various ways; what is the roleof non-state security actors – positive and negative and how effectively do the keyoversight agencies – legislature, civilian bureaucracy, civil society – function ingeneral.Approached this way, it should be possible to review the political role of the militaryand project into the future about the emerging realities of post-military politics inNigeria, examining the key challenges in forging a stable civil-military order, whichremain on the one hand that of establishing effective and accountable securityagencies dedicated to addressing triggers of conflict and, on the other that ofestablishing effective and democratic governance of the military sector through theempowerment of civilian oversight mechanisms. 3
  4. 4. Historical analysis of the military in NigeriaUnderstanding the colonial character of the military is a crucial factor in explainingthe rise of the praetorian instincts in post-colonial militaries in Africa. What emergedas the Nigerian Armed Forces in 1963 had a long history as a product of Britishcolonialism. Established as a small constabulary force at the beginning of thecentury, it became part of the Royal West African Frontier Force just before theSecond World War, comprising of soldiers from all the satellite states of Nigeria,Ghana (formerly Gold Coast), Sierra Leone and the Gambia – with a clear mandate toprotect representatives of the metropolitan authority and often at loggerheads withthe nationalist politicians that formed the crop of post-independence leaders.In the above context, the relationship between the military and the politicalleadership of the country became understandably fraught and this multi-layeredcolonial hangover was to define the development (or lack of it) of the militarypolitical doctrine – especially as this related to ‘development’ and security. Indeed,since the post-colonial State inherited, and in most cases expanded the hegemonictendencies of the colonial period, the post-independence army remained essentiallycolonial in character, and the nationalist leaders thought the most logical way out ofthis dependence was an accelerated Nigerianisation policy. Whilst this showedevidence of direction and purpose on the part of the leadership, the politicalcoloration of the Nigerianisation policy undermined the professionalism of the militaryas loyalty among the fighting men became divided along regional and political lines.According to Billy Dudley, the 1962 law that sanctioned a quota system in the armyrecruitment process created the impression that: "Whereas before the system was introduced, recruitment and mobility were thought to be dependent on the individual’s ability, with the [new] system the suspicion grew that this mattered less than who were one’s patrons. The ‘unintended consequence’ of the political decision to introduce a quota system was the politicisation of the military."3Yet, in spite of the notion that the military had become an extension of the dominantpolitical elite as Dudley suggested, it is equally arguable that the Nigerianisationagenda merely reproduced and expanded the colonial armed forces’ recruitmentpattern. Representativeness was never an issue for the colonial army and the bulk ofthe recruits came from the ‘martial’ groups mostly from the North, but in therecruitment of the officer material where the forces needed fairly well educated men,the bulk of the educated men came from the southern ethnic groups.4 This earlypattern of recruitment was replicated in the post-independence armed forces.Clearly, the political elite of the immediate post-independence era was very sensitiveto the fact that two-thirds of the officers by 1962 were from the South (and mainlyIbo), hence the 1962 quota policy was aimed at redressing the imbalance alreadydominant in the officer ranks.5The domestic upheavals in Nigeria’s post independence politics coupled with theglobal promotion of the military in development set the stage for military intervention3 Billy J. Dudley, Political Stability and the Nigerian State (Ibadan: Oxford University Press1971)4 Prior to the first military coup in 1966, two thirds of the officers were Ibo in origin.5 On the issue of recruitment, see J.’Kayode Fayemi, “The Politics of Military Recruitment inNigeria: A critical appraisal,” Tempo Magazine, August 27, 1997,pp.4-5. 4
  5. 5. in politics and it was no surprise that the military intervened in direct political affairs by January 1966. From January 1966 to September 1979 (14 years) and January 1984 to May 1999 (15 years), the military took charge of political leadership in the country. Twenty nine years of this involvement fostered deep seated militarism in the body politic and left legacies of authoritarianism. Table 1 A profile of Nigeria’s governments since independenceDates Type Main Protagonists Control of the MilitaryOct 60 – Jan. Elected, civilian Prime Minister Bale- Small military (10,000) Colonial in66 with strong wa, Alhaji Ahmadu orientation, but professional in regional bias Bello (Premier of the character, increasingly drawn into North), Chief internal security by rising political Awolowo (Premier of tension the West), Dr Okpara ((Premier of the East), President AzikiweJan – July ’66 Military junta after Major K. C. Nzeogwu, Assassination of prominent political first coup General A. Ironsi leaders – especially in the north destroyed military espirit de corps and threatened professionalism.Jul ’66 – Jul 75 Collegial Military General Gowon and Broad-based support of all armed junta, weak at members of the forces for military junta in spite of inception, but Supreme Military earlier problems, partly due to lack strengthened by Council of commitment to a political civil war timetable.July 75 – Sept Military junta Generals Mohammed, As above, but with more credibility79 Obasanjo, YarAdua, and more emphasis on Danjuma, and middle- professionalism and political level officers who change. overthrew previous juntaOct ’79 – Dec Elected civil rule President Shagari of Limited control of the military;83 under 1979 the National Party of creation of alternative base in constitution Nigeria; multiparty police force as well as patronage to political structure, ensure loyalty to government. presidential style of governmentDec ’83 – Aug Popular military Generals Buhari, Professional-political prerogative;85 junta Idiagbon, Babangida, increasing authoritarian tendency and Abacha in a largely internally oriented policy agenda. 5
  6. 6. Aug ’85 – Aug Transition from General Babangida Co-optation of the military in the93 junta to was the main player rulers personal project via personalised with bit parts to patronage and deft political dictatorship in a close civilians and manoeuvrings. palace coup military politiciansAug ’93 – Nov Interim Chief E. Shonekan, Clear military control of a93 government Head of Interim government that lacked legitimacy representing Government, and and popular support in a period of interregnum after General Abacha, high political tension. the annulled Defence Minister elections and exit of BabangidaNov ’93 – June Full-blown military General Abacha Undermined military98 dictatorship professionalism, increased use of intelligence and security outfits, especially death squads, against political and military opponents.June 98 – May Military General Abubakar Focus on political transition and99 dictatorship with a Abdulsalami preparation for withdrawal from human face - government. under pressure to reform politically and exit gracefullyMay 99 – May Elected civilian President Obasanjo, Increasing presidential, rather than‘03 government civilian government democratic control of military; with a non- commitment to military ideological, centrist professionalism, diminished notion but weak party likelihood of full-blown military structure and coup but increased spread and militarily imposed intensity of communal conflicts and constitution. human rights abuse by sections of the military. Legacies of Nigeria’s Military/authoritarian past When the Nigerian military first intervened in politics in January 1966, their action was acclaimed as a nation-building/transformation project aimed at eradicating corruption and reordering the State. Six months after, the Nigerian army had become the catalyst for national disintegration as it broke up into ethnic and regional factions and exacerbated existing primordial cleavages, which had earlier undermined its professionalism, eventually leading to the three year civil war. The civil war was however significant in helping the military regain a level of legitimacy after the war ended. Strengthened by the favourable aftermath of the civil war, the ruling military elite headed by General Yakubu Gowon utilised the legitimacy provided by the favourable ‘resolution’ of the war to project the military as the vanguard of the nation-building project. Consequently, the civil war which albeit fragmented the 6
  7. 7. military as an institution now provided it with the best opportunity to redeem itsimage, but not necessarily on account of any sterling performance in the prosecutionof the war.Although the civil war is not the focus of Component 13 of the Drivers of Changeinitiative6, it is important to use the civil war to illustrate why policy choices taken atcrucial points of transition in a country’s political transition matters. The action andinaction of the government in the aftermath of the civil war also highlights thedegree to which it influenced the actions of the military regime, especially its claim toa pride of place in the nation-building project.To understand the impact of the inability of the post-war military regime to maximiseits post war legitimacy, it would be useful to examine the legacies in greater depth,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 amilitary party; (iii) the weakening of accountability and control mechanisms and thegrowth of the intelligence agencies; (iv) business-civilian bureaucracy-military linksand corruption; (v) the emergence of the ethnic-regional factor in the armed forcesand (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 politicsagree that the institution was riven by a variety of corporate, ethnic and personalgrievances developed over time in the prolonged years of the military ingovernment.(Ihonvbere, 1997; Adejumobi, 1999) Although the negative impact onprofessionalism and the operational effectiveness of the military had becomenoticeable – especially in the aftermath of the civil war – given the confusion andlack of direction that attended the professional direction of the post-war military.Unfortunately, the euphoria of federal victory and the immediate pressures ofrehabilitation, reconciliation and reconstruction of the political terrain fostered thecreeping organisational inertia in which the armed forces had become embroiled.Military planners and battle commanders were uncertain that the war was won byeffective organisation of the military7, and honest enough to admit that peacetimedeterrence will be harder to achieve if renewed attention was not paid toprofessional/organisational issues around mission/role, doctrine, force posture, forcelevels, combat operational command, resource allocation and weapon procurement8.In spite of this recognition, Nigerias immediate post war defence organisation did notdepart markedly from what existed in pre-war circumstances, mainly because thepreference for incremental, rather than radical change was overwhelming. Indeed, awide gap existed between defence organisation and strategic purpose, in terms of therelationship between the mission derived from threat assessment and force design,posture, weapons procurement procedures, resource allocation and combat operational6 For an extensive analysis of the impact of the civil war on the Nigerian military, please see:J.K.Fayemi, Threats, Military Expenditure and National Security: Trends in Post Civil warDefence Planning in Nigeria, 1970-1990, Unpublished PhD Dissertation, University of London,1993.7 J.J.Oluleye, Military Leadership in Nigeria, 1966 - 79, (Ibadan: University Press Limited,1986)8 O.Obasanjo: Not My Will: An Autobiography of a Former Head of State, (Ibadan: IbadanUniversity Press, 1990). 7
  8. 8. command. Although a few cosmetic attempts were made in restructuring the defenceorganisation (Fayemi, 1994), subordinating the service viewpoint became the mainproblem in the promotion of the defence view. Service interests, service needs andservice power continued to dominate the Nigerian military structure, frustrating allefforts to establish a rational system of strategic planning, force development, resourceallocation and collective military co-ordination throughout the period of military rule.The limited attempt made towards central coordination during civilian rule from 1979 to1984 was hobbled by the combination of civilian inexperience and military’s continuedinter-service rivalry.The implications of military involvement in politics however went beyond defectivedefence organisation and management. One aspect that deserves a particularexamination is the impact of military coups on corporate professionalism. By theirvery nature, coups are high-risk ventures, which in their success or abortion almostalways result in the loss of perpetrators or their targets, or both. The persistence ofcoups and the decimation of the officer corps had a negative impact on theprofession and invariably, national security. For example, the 1966 coups saw theloss of at least two thirds of the officer corps; the abortive 1976 coups led to theexecution of 116 military men, police officers and civilians; the 1986 abortive coupresulted in the deaths of some of the countrys best pilots, and this in part led to thenear 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 fiftymilitary officers. Altogether no fewer than 400 officers lost their lives in or as aresult of coup detats. In addition to the loss occasioned via executions was the scaleand intensity of premature retirements, unexpected dismissals and rank inflation thatresulted from abortive or successful coups. Ordinarily, retirements and promotions inthe military establishment is a routine thing. Yet despite the surface plausibility of“routine exercise”, “natural attrition” or “declining productivity”, that accompaniedthe dismissals and promotions of this period, the overwhelming consensus was oneof an exercise overtly politically motivated.By the time General Abacha died in June 1998, the military institution had sufferedseriously from this blatant disregard of its structure and procedures and no fewerthan 300 members of the officer corps had lost their commission in the course ofthese haphazard retirements and dismissals. The flip side of the above situation wasthe excessively rapid promotions that accompanied them which tended to createfalse expectations through rank inflation and this had other implications for thecountrys security as commanders kept changing and not enough time was given forfamiliarization in command and staff posts, the overall consequences of which wasacute disorientation and organizational dysfunction among the rank and file. Atanother level, the political careerism resulting from successful coups also engenderedresentment, rivalry and disunity amongst military officers. Thus, organizationaldysfunction in the Nigerian military organization resulted primarily from this politicalinvolvement. Both played a mutually reinforcing role in their impact onprofessionalism and institutional cohesion. In the end, the political military failed togovern directly and/or effectively without losing its professional attributes andwithout ceasing to be an army.ii) The Personalisation of Power and the Quest for a Military Party 8
  9. 9. In the move from the collegial and institutional agenda of the military to thepersonalisation of political and military power, a variety of measures were utilised inturning the erstwhile group project to the personal wishes of the individual ruler. Inthe early days of military rule, extensive consultation and regular feedbacks withinthe military constituency was the rule rather than the exception and the institutionsestablished for the decision-making processes did not function as mere rubberstamps for the whims and caprices of the military junta’s head. Although the sheerforce of personality and charisma of the leader influenced the way his personalagenda cohered with the institutional project, the institutional agenda prevailed formuch of the period preceding the Babangida regime in 1985. Right from the way hechose to be addressed as ‘President’ hitherto restricted to elected leaders, ratherthan the low key and traditional ‘Head of State’ to the regime’s political economyproject, it became 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 alsohad another strategy ingrained in it. Unlike in the past when it was anathema forserving officers to stake a claim to permanent political participation, many began toraise the stakes for constitutionalising military involvement in politics in aninstitutional sense. Various institutional designs were discussed, implemented anddiscarded for furthering this political project, the most prominent being theestablishment of an Armed Forces Consultative Council, comprising of officers fromthe rank of Colonels and above as a General Assembly of military officers that fedinto the ruling Armed Forces Ruling Council-the pre-eminent decision 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 militarypolitical party projects. Prominent models that attracted the regime’s attentionincluded the Nasserist/Baathist models in Egypt, Syria and Iraq as well as thefoundational regimes in Latin America and South East Asia.7 Although it was GeneralBabangida who put in motion the idea of constructing a military party, it was hismilitary successor, General Abacha who eventually implemented the blueprint andthrough the brazen creation of artificial political parties. At the time of his death, allthe five parties in his democratic transition project had "unanimously" adoptedGeneral Abacha as the presidential candidate. Although there was strong oppositionto this phoney democratisation project in civil society, it is no exaggeration thatGeneral 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 themanner envisaged, the legacy of constitutional/institutional engineering from abovebequeathed by the military is partly responsible for the stunted growth of thepolitical party structure to date. Indeed, the limited success achieved by GeneralsBabangida and Abacha in the creation of political parties by military fiat with imposedbut quite pedestrian ideological toga – ‘a little to the left and a little to the right’ asGeneral Babangida described the two party arrangement he willed into existence -underscores why the present political parties are still controlled by the praetorianguard of erstwhile military era in an age of neo-militarism. The fact that very littledifferentiates 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. 9
  10. 10. (iii) The Weakening of accountability and the growth of the intelligence agenciesOne of the most deleterious consequences of the de-institutionalisation of themilitary was its loss of monopoly over the means of coercion and management ofviolence in the Nigerian state. One critical factor this loss could be traced to is thegradual and quite surreptitious disengagement of other security agencies that werehitherto subsumed within the military hierarchy – especially as the military moved toa more personalised form of rule. For example, the rise in influence of militaryintelligence and associated bodies became directly proportional to the loss ofinfluence by the ‘constitutional’ military as a corporate institution and the DefenceMinistry as the bureaucratic institution responsible for accountability, leading to thedevelopment of an alternative power-centre around the security/intelligencenetworks and used by successive rulers to undermine the military institution in orderto remain in power. What suffered most in the process was the weakening ofaccountability and absence of transparent security sector governance. To understandthe depth of the crisis though, it is useful to trace the changes to the security andintelligence sector of the Nigerian security structure over the last three decades.Consistent with the position of every post independence sovereign country inAnglophone Africa, Nigeria’s intelligence activities were largely conducted under theauspices of the Special Branch of the Nigeria Police Force, except for military relatedintelligence work – which was also coordinated with the Special Branch activities. TheSpecial Branch, which was responsible for domestic security intelligence lost its pre-eminent role in the collection, collation, evaluation, analysis, integration andinterpretation of information and intelligence after the 1976 abortive coup detat inwhich the Head of State, General Mohammed was assassinated. The new Head of Statenot only set up a new intelligence outfit – named the Nigerian Security Organisation(NSO), he also chose a military officer to head the body. Hence it took the security ofthe individual heading the government for the institution to come to the realisation thatsomething had to be done about the intelligence aspect of national security. Thisbecame the rule subsequently as every change to the intelligence services reflectedmore a concern about regime security rather than any rationally ordered need forinstitutional development. With every change however, the intelligence services grew ininfluence and relevance to the ruler in particular. Indeed, by the time GeneralBabangida faced down the bloody military coup that nearly toppled his regime in 1990,the intelligence service had become the most powerful entity in the institutionalhierarchy of national security policy making – almost an alternative powercentre, withthe military institution consistently playing a second fiddle to it. The growth in influenceof security agencies that are directly accountable to the Head of State also gave themilitary leaders more room to manoeuvre and helped seal their distaste forinstitutional arrangements that could mediate excesses of the Head of Governmentand make the ruler more accountable.This overwhelming influence however developed a non-institutional side especiallyunder the Babangida and Abacha regimes, which turned out to be more pernicious.With the ascendancy of the security/intelligence units, the associational andcorporatist character of the regimes at inception assumed an authoritarian regimenfor power consolidation as the leader’s dependence on the security and intelligencenetwork grew. Whilst this practice had started with the creation of NSO in 1976, itwas institutionalised under General Babangida when he set up a plethora of securitynetworks culminating in the creation of the alternative para-military service -National Guard – to undercut the military institution. By this time, the role of private 10
  11. 11. military companies in the activities of the intelligence services and in the overallmanagement of the regime security had become a source of concern within themilitary as an institution.9 Equally, a regime that had come into office espousingrespect for fundamental freedoms and human rights had lost credibility with civilsociety and societal violence against the state had increased exponentially by 1989.Through its responsibility for discovering and nipping ‘forces of destabilization’ in thebud, the role expansion of the security services guaranteed it an autonomy andinfluence not hitherto accorded security and intelligence services in Nigeria. At thesame time, the measure of accountability expected of the service within aninstitutional set-up equally disappeared.This growth in influence however took on more insidious dimensions under the lateGeneral Abacha with the formation of the Libyan and Korean trained SpecialBodyGuard Services for the personal protection of the Head of State as well as theStrike Force and K Squad – responsible for carrying out state sponsoredassassinations of political enemies at a time that the military-controlled PresidentialBrigade of Guards was no longer trust-worthy. That this alternative power blocaround General Abacha completely made a nonsense of the military institution anddestroyed the hierarchy that is so central to the institution, is evident from recentrevelations at the Human Rights Violations Investigations Commission’s hearings andin the trials of the junior officers who ran these alternative security outfits.10(iv) The Business elite-military links and Corruption-fuelled Institutional DesignsThe origin of what we have referred to elsewhere as Nigerias "bureaucratic-economic militariat" (Fayemi, 1999) could indeed be traced back to the central roleof the military in the control and management of Nigerias post civil war oil wealth,especially after the promulgation of the Indigenisation Decrees of 1972 and 1977.11If one traced the personal, political and financial links of business individualsassociated with the military prior to their exit from government and in the immediateaftermath of civilian politics in 1979, the emerging trend of a network comprising themilitary, the civilian bureaucracy and the business elite became immediatelyapparent.12 At this stage though, it would appear that the acquisition by the militarypersonnel involved was largely in pursuit of personal wealth as an increasing numberof retired senior military officers ... combine chairmanships/directorships of their ownprivate businesses, with part-time appointments to key governmental posts andparastatals relating to agriculture, commerce, and industry, in addition to interlocking9 Ex-Isreali agents were already in charge of training the intelligence outfits and thepresidential guard by then.10 There is a plethora of primary documents now covering this period. Among many others,see The News Magazine, “The Trial of Abacha’s Killer gang – We were paid to kill Kudirat -Excerpts from Sgt.Rogers Mshelia’s Confession Notes”, October 4, 1999; The Week Magazine,“Gwarzo confesses to Yar’adua’s murder”, October 4, 1999; Tell Magazine, “Bamaiyi’s Plan toKill IBB – Exclusive interview with General Oladipo Diya”, October 4, 1999; “I would havetried Abacha – Exclusive interview with General Obasanjo” Tell Magazine, November 8, 1999and “Ishaya Bamaiyi: From Grace to Chains”, The Week Magazine, December 6, 1999. Also,a lot of the petitions submitted to the Human Rights Violation Investigations Commissioncovered the state sponsored assassinations that took place under General Abacha.11 See J.’Kayode Fayemi, “Military Hegemony and the Transition Program in Nigeria”, Issue:Journal of Opinion, African Studies Association, 1999, New Jersey, USA.12 See J.’Kayode Fayemi, ‘The Military in Business in Nigeria,’ in The Project on the Military asan Economic Actor (Bonn: Bonn International Conversion Center, 2000). Also available 11
  12. 12. directorships of many foreign companies incorporated in Nigeria.13 In no timethough, this pursuit of individual wealth set the tone for a conscious institutionalprogramme of wielding political influence.14With the arrival of General Babangida at the helm of affairs in 1985, the legacy ofmilitarism had become widespread. One of the first measures that he adopted in awidely populist move purported to have led to the rejection of the IMF strictures onNigeria was the policy of Structural Adjustment. As the country became sucked intothe vortex of structural adjustment programme under General Babangida, theelevation of finance over industrial capital became the most significant feature of theperiod. Short term monetarist policies of exchange rate devaluation, removal ofsubsidies, sale of state enterprises, freeing of prices and generalised deflationarypolicies took precedence over structural reform of that debilitating economy whichwas the favoured national consensus for addressing the problem at the time.Deregulation ensured that the financial sector became the only growth sector withinterest rates determined by speculators and the military controlling a large share offinance capital. At the same time, agriculture, manufacturing and industryexperienced severe distress due to low capacity utilisation.Equally, the extra funds gained from the increased oil sales during the Gulf War in1990/91 fuelled corruption as this extra income was regarded as discretionary and itwent on a massive spending binge that diverted revenues into corruption fundedpatronage, sharply expanded extra-budgetary expenditure and bloated an alreadyinflation ridden economy. Indeed, an official inquiry into the finances of the CentralBank of Nigeria, between September 1988 and 30 June 1994 concluded that,“US$12.2 billion of the $12.4billion (in the dedicated and special accounts) wasliquidated in less than six years... spent on what could neither be adjudged genuinehigh priority nor truly regenerative investment; neither the President nor the CentralBank Governor accounted to anyone for these massive extra-budgetaryexpenditures…that these disbursements were clandestinely undertaken while thecountry was openly reeling with a crushing external debt overhang.15Little wonder then that the economic reform programme started by the militaryregime in 1986 (under Genera Babangida) finally collapsed under the weight of the1993 annulled election and the massive capital flight that followed. By 1993, Nigeria,according to the World Bank, was among the 20 poorest countries in the world. Thesituation has since worsened under the present regime; GNP grew only 2.8 percentin 1994, inflation ran at over 60 percent just as the country experienced exponentialunemployment growth rate and the Nigerian naira virtually collapsed. As onecommentator of that period noted, "virtually all pretense of professional economicmanagement was abandoned, and the government cynically allowed the economy tobecome completely predatory in nature." As a result, the country stopped servicinginterest payments on much of its $30 billion foreign debt, and the more than $7billion in arrears on its debt to the Paris Club of Western creditors. Yet, in spite ofthis 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 ofthem lack any knowledge of the industry, they possessed little aptitude to applythemselves to the huge responsibilities their involvement demanded of them.13 ibid.14 J.Bayo Adekanye, The Retired Military Phenomenon, (Ibadan: Heinemann, 1999)15 See address by late Dr Pius Okigbo at the submission of the report of inquiry into thefinances of the Central Bank of Nigeria between September 1988 to June 1994. 12
  13. 13. 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 meaningfulpolitics also dimmed. Given the diffused level of autonomy exercised by the militaryinstitution that resulted from the parcelling out of the state to private militaryinterests, the class and group project engendered by previous military rule wasexchanged with the rule of the benevolent dictator since many officers close topower had become beholden to the personal ruler as direct beneficiaries of thefinancial 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 if these tendencies were simply limited to the government, it would be lessdisturbing. By institutionalising favouritism and corruption as legitimate instrumentsof governance, the military regime headed by Babangida succeeded in breeding amyriad of anti-democratic practices reproduced regularly in the world view of theordinary Nigerian, either in the form of a common belief that everyone had a price,or in the disappearance of loyalty to the State as militarism became embedded in thepsyche 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 underGeneral Babangida to generate a new hegemonic bloc and this was carried out ontwo broad levels - economic and political. First, as a result of the governmentsprivatisation agenda, several of the state-owned industrial and commercial ventureswere sold directly to ex-military generals or to conglomerates linked to them.4 Inaddition, the new merchant banks that emerged to take advantage of theliberalisation of the financial sector featured several retired military officers on theirboards. Indeed, many military generals were prominent beneficiaries of the badloans allocated by these failed banks.16Second, General Babangida went beyond the personal pecuniary motives of erstwhilemilitary rulers by ensuring that the stratification of the military from the rest ofsociety did not just exist at the level of personal arrangements, but also at aninstitutional level. Hence, by adopting a practice common to Latin American andsome South East Asian military institutions, he announced the formation of an ArmyBank (which never took off!), an industrial armament city - (which also did nothappen) and the Nigerian Army Welfare Insurance Scheme (NAWIS). To ensure thatevery military officer saw the stratification project as an institutional agenda, thegovernment spent N550 million ($60 million in 1992) advertised to a hapless publicas loans to purchase cars for military officers of and above the rank of Captains. Thiswas later extended to the non-commissioned officers in the form of motorcycles andthe rank and file got bicycles. Whilst this provided additional respite to the militarydictatorship, 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 officialpretence of a collegial facade which military rulers always projected was total by the16 Fayemi, The Military in Business, op-cit. 13
  14. 14. time General Abacha died in June 1997. Unlike General Babangida who parcelled outthe State to friends and mentors within the military and political society with a viewto consolidating his political base, General Abacha kept the spoils of office for himselfand his family, a coterie of his security apparatus – mostly from his ethnic base, thusleading many to see a link between his economic and political project and that of hisethnic base amongst Hausa-Fulani-Kanuri political elite. The context of hisplundering of the national wealth in which the presumed winner of the 1993 electionand several other political and civil society leaders were still being held in detentionfurther fuelled this perception that the agenda was to use a complete control of theeconomy to ensure a firm grip on the political terrain. The fact that he made aconscious effort of ignoring the military institution17, which ordinarily ought to haveprovided the cover for his political project, strengthened the notion that he had theaim of destroying the military as an institution, exacerbate ethnic tensions and shutout the international community from the country in other to consolidate the statedecomposition project.(v) The emergence of the ethnic-regional factor in the armed forcesIn discussing the emergence of the ethnic-regional factor in the Nigerian securitystructure, it is important to start by underscoring the fact that representativenesswas not overly critical in the establishment and recruitment process into the colonialarmy as already indicated above. Hence, a division of labour emerged in the colonialarmy in which the bulk of the rank and file soldiers came from so-called martial race,mostly from northern minority ethnic groups, whilst the officer corps in which theforces needed fairly well educated men, was dominated by southern ethnic groups.18This early pattern of recruitment was replicated in the post-independence armedforces. Clearly, the political elite of the immediate post-independence era was verysensitive to the fact that two-thirds of the officers by 1962 were from the South (andmainly Ibo), hence the 1962 quota policy was aimed at redressing the imbalancealready dominant in the officer ranks.19 Events surrounding the political crisis thatculminated in the civil war in 1967 exacerbated the ethnic-regional feature of theNigerian military, even at a time when it was the best example of a nationalinstitution in the unfinished nation-building project. In particular, the loss of at leasttwo thirds of the officer corps from the East contributed largely to the secessionistplans of Lt Colonel Ojukwu, especially after the assassination of General Ironsi, theSupreme Commander of the Nigerian Armed Forces at the time.The end of the civil war in 1970 offered the opportunity to redress perceivedimbalance and the subsequent introduction of ‘federal character’ in recruitment thatguaranteed equality of opportunity into military institutions helped in this regard.However, the involvement of the military in politics continued to strengthen theunitary characteristics of Nigeria’s federal structure and seriously weakened the verybasis of Nigeria’s federalism. From the creation of twelve states out of the erstwhilefour regions in 1967 as a way strengthening the federal centre in the wake of thecivil war, by the time the military left government in 1999, the country had thirty-sixstates – mostly weak and inevitably dependent on the strong centre for its survival –thus defeating the agenda of autonomy that the states were also meant to serve.This led to the growing campaign for the deconcentration of power at the centre as17 Even in the allocation of the Petroleum Task Force funds to the military, there was noevidence of transparent use of the resources.18 Prior to the first military coup in 1966, two thirds of the officers were Ibo in origin.19 See J.’Kayode Fayemi, “The Politics of Military Recruitment in Nigeria, op-cit. 14
  15. 15. the 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 lackedlegitimacy contributed to the perception of the military as a fake national institutionused to promote particular ethnic, religious and political interests. The fact that therehad been no clear resolution of the national question made the perception ofethnic/regional tension more palpable. Indeed, while the military rulers continued toproject a nationalist outlook, the alliance used in sustaining the military in powerlooked increasingly regional or even ethnic to the casual observer.This failure to resolve the nationality question in an inclusive manner is evident in thevaried responses across country to conflicts over identity, nationality, self-determination and autonomy. The introduction of Sharia in many of the Northernstates and the attendant violent responses in Kaduna and Jos, the rising tide ofethno-nationalism (the OPC and Egbesu Boys uprisings), and arguments over thecontrol of state and federal resources (particularly in the Niger Delta) are allexamples of demands for “genuine federalism.” This increasing privatisation ofviolence in the country represents one of the main challenges to the reform of themilitary institution and the eventual transformation of the security structure. Whilemost Nigerians still in favour of a federal nation, it is clear that the nation-state as itis constituted is a source of violent conflict. The failure of the various institutionalmechanisms adopted to manage diversity and difference – federal characterprinciple, quota system, rotational presidency and political zoning, to mention just afew – is an indication of a lack of social contract between the governors and thepeople with a view to devising politically legitimate and inclusive mechanisms thatare consensus-driven. Many Nigerians now question the country’s future, especially ifleft in the hands of a centralised State. The challenge identified by the variety ofconflicts across the country, especially since the exit of the military, is however not anegation of the need for institutional processes to address this drift from nationalismto balkanisation, but a call for the search for that process to be bottom-up, ratherthan simply imposed by military fiat..Yet even as one acknowledges the clear perception that the national questionremains unresolved thus fuelling a regional-ethnic military outlook, it is important tomake a distinction between the character of the military in government and themilitary as an institution. While the military in government clearly looked ‘regional’and ‘ethnic’, the military continued to show evidence of even-handedness inrecruitment as an institution. However, it is the perception that the national militaryis not there to serve the interests of all Nigerians that underscores the prevalence ofprivate armies and militias, mostly formed along ethnic and regional lines in defenceof particular interests. It is to this last legacy of military rule, and perhaps the mostworrying due to the growth in societal and structural violence that we now turn.(vi) The Legacy of Societal militarisation and Violence.From the foregoing analysis, years of military rule imposed enormous costs on theNigerian people. But perhaps the most enduring of all the legacies bequeathed isthe level of militarism and societal violence that has become rife in civil society. Inspite of the various steps embarked upon by the civilian government since itassumed power, the intensity of conflict in the country in the last two yearsunderscore why military restructuring can only take its proper place within thecontext of institutionalised national restructuring. 15
  16. 16. Without a doubt, military disengagement from politics represents an important firststep towards democratic control, even if it does not equate with or immediatelytranslate to civilian, democratic control. From the evidence available in Nigeria so far,formal military disengagement has widened the space within which concretedemocratic reform is possible and sustainable but it has also thrown up variouscentrifugal fissures, reopened old wounds hitherto festering under the surface andgenerated new forms of conflicts in the country. Some of the conflicts haveantecedents in old native-settler animosities, but many are resource-driven, spurredby perceptions of unequal distribution of government resources. Equally, incidents ofaggression, impatience, and competition arise in domestic violence and other familydisputes, over petrol queues, in the conduct of motorists, and in the behaviour of thearmed forces and police in dealing with ordinary people.20 While the immediatecauses of increased violence and crime reside in a perception of inequality in society,at root however is the loss of a culture of compromise and accommodation in theresolution and management of conflicts. This point cannot be overemphasised:Nigerians lost their culture of dialogue in a period when militarization and theprimacy of force had become state policy and it will require a return to consensusbased, rather than the current adversarial character of politics, to regain that cultureof dialogue.Even so, the context within which politics takes place also affect the likelihood of adialogue and consensus driven process. In a country where the political leadershipautomatically foreclose 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 bediscussed, negotiated and bargained for, to regard imposed constitutional principlesas legitimate – especially where these principles are not derived from agreed societalvalues and norms, but simply imposed by those who have the means to gain accessto political power at the centre. Having broken free of years of repression and controlunder military rule, it is no surprise therefore that constituencies and communitieshave taken to heart the lesson of military rule – the use of force as the bargainingchip for forcing negotiations of foreclosed agenda. Without seeking to justify theseresponses, it is important to understand the context within which they occur. Yet forthe 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 ofsocial exclusion under military rule. Given the prevailing political culture - bred bythree decades of militarism and authoritarian control, the current political transitiononly represents a reconfiguration of the political, economic and military elite, ratherthan an opening up of the political system and broadening of participation. Indeed,what we have witnessed is the creation 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 ofNigeria’s politics of exclusion. Herein lie the paradox of democratisation anddemilitarisation not just in Nigeria, but the rest of post-cold war Africa. Howattainable is a complete overhaul of politics from its military roots, especially in abody politic that has become so atomised and, in which the symbols, values, andethos of the military are replicated in large sections of the civil-society.20 See Biko Agozino & Unyirem Idem, Democratising a Militarised Civil Society in Nigeria, CDDOccasional Paper 5, (London:CDD, 2000) for a recent survey of the psyche of militarism. 16
  17. 17. In themselves, these manifold legacies of military politics constitute major challengesthat need to be grappled with by Nigerians, but it is their impact on the post-militarypolitical reform project, especially its impact on the capacity for governance giventhe fact that the country’s escape from the grip of a damaging military rule was moreof a lucky escape than a well ordered exit, that is critical to our understanding. Thecapacity of the succeeding administration to address the negative impact of thelegacies highlighted above is key to arresting the drift to violent conflict in thecountry.Dilemmas of Military Reform in a Post-Military Era: Policy Prescriptionsunder the Obasanjo administration – 1999 - 2003The nature of General Abachas exit and the arrival of General Abubakar on thescene arguably determined the outcome of the democratisation project in 1999.However one may view the eventual outcome of the rushed transition programme,the fact that the military elite was not responding to a full defeat by the populationcould hardly be discounted in understanding the pacted nature of the transition andthe push for a graceful exit for the military through a political machine closest andmore sympathetic to its hierarchy. The dominance of the party hierarchy by theretired military and civilians closely connected to the military elite set the tone forparty formation that set about ensuring a reconfiguration of the political space,rather than a transformation of politics.Given the above context of military hangover, the election of an ex-military Generalwith significant support from the military constituency, was seen in civil society as anextension of continued military rule of sorts. His initial moves however surprisedmany and he was able to turn the limited expectation of change and the perceivedlack of room for manoeuvre to an advantage. His first move - the appointment ofservice chiefs the day he came into office - gave a strong impression of agovernment committed to military professionalism and determined to ensure civiliansupremacy. It was also a careful balancing act in ethnic and regional juggling byensuring that all the senior service chiefs came from minority ethnic groups in thenorth and south. Yet, apart from a wish list of what the President wanted to focus onin restructuring the security sector in his inaugural speech to the nation, there wasno clear articulation of the new administration’s agenda until July1999. The presidentarticulated the governments stand on civilian supremacy in his first major speech tothe military establishment when he addressed the graduating Course Seven of theNational War College on July 24, 1999. In the speech, he highlighted the followingprinciples:• 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 17
  18. 18. decisions taken by military judicial officers.In line with the above, the administrations agenda for military professionalisationhas followed the traditional pattern embraced in countries moving from prolongedmilitary/authoritarian state structures to civilian, democratic structures. The focushas been on (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 Increasingrelevance of Civil Policing; and (v) Balancing the demands of Defence with the needsfor Development. Let us briefly look at what has been done in these areas.(i) De-politicisation and Subordination of the MilitaryAs indicated above, the incoming administration gained the confidence of sceptics bytackling the immediate challenge in the choice of military chiefs to lead the militaryrestructuring/reprofessionalisation project. The next move by the administration waseven more popular when "politicised" military officers were retired on June 10, 1999- two weeks after the government was sworn in. The retirement exercise saw theexit 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 civilsociety was the governments announcement of an anti-corruption crusade that sawthe immediate termination of several contracts awarded by the erstwhile militaryadministration (many awarded to companies associated with the outgoing militaryhierarchy) as well as the setting up of a judicial commission to investigate humanrights violations under the military.Popular as the measures taken were, the government’s attention still appeared tohave focussed on the dominant model of civil-military relations, which assumes alevel playing field in which ‘autonomous military professionalism’ can be predicatedon ‘objective civilian control’, one that encourages an ‘independent military sphere’that does not ‘interfere in political matters’. In reality though, this perspective treatscivilian control as an event, a fact of political life, not a process that has to benegotiated within a continuum, especially in states emerging from prolongedauthoritarian rule. In our view, civilian control should not be seen as a set oftechnical and administrative arrangements that automatically flow from every postmilitary transition, but part of complex political processes, which must address theroot causes of militarism in society, beyond the formal removal of the military frompolitical power or the retirement of politically tainted officers. There is a need toredefine our notion of the a-political military - a notion that has been central to thediscourse of the dominant civil military relations literature. In Nigeria where themilitary has become entrenched in all facets of civic and economic life and wherepolitics has just featured a reconfiguration rather than a transformation of power asargued above, anchoring the need for an objective civilian control to the notion of ana-political military underestimates the seriousness of the issues at stake. Whileformal mechanisms for control are not in themselves wrong, the reality underpinningNigerias crisis of governance underscores the fact that subordination of the armedforces to civil control can only be achieved when civil control is seen as part ofcomplex democratic struggle that goes beyond elections and beyond subordinationto 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 politicaland psychological issues arising out of military involvement in politics are grasped 18
  19. 19. that we can begin to look at objective control mechanisms. One innovative way ofintegrating both objective control mechanisms and subjective political andpsychological issues into a vision of change that is transformatory is the use to whichthe constitution is put in the quest for governance in the security sector. The factthat many of these steps are taken with no discussion as to the precise nature ofsecurity that the citizens desire underscore the need to locate improvements within aconstitutional 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 thepeople and their elected representatives. The location of the military in terms of itsaccountability to the executive, the legislature and the wider society must be clarifiedin constitutional terms. This is important for a number of reasons. First,accountability, transparency and openness have become fundamental constitutionaltenets and the Obasanjo administration is leading the way in this respect. Second, asa national institution, the military relies on the public for support and sustenance inorder to fulfil its constitutional mandate. Third, the idea that security matters resideexclusively in the realm of military constituency is one that is increasingly challengedby the broadened and inclusive meaning of security to society. Hence, the view thatissues relating to the armed forces and security services must be subjected to publicdiscourse is becoming acceptable. Therefore, if the state must resolve the problemsof accountability and address the current lacunae arising from the character of thepostcolonial security structures as a result of prolonged military dictatorship, popularparticipation and organisational coherence, not exclusivity, are the crucial thingsneeded to ensure democratic control and widen national security perspectives.21Unfortunately, previous constitutions have tended to be nearly silent about thearmed forces and its role in Society. Although Section 217(1) of the 1979 constitutionwhich stipulates the role and broad functions of the Armed Forces: namely,defending Nigeria from external aggression, maintaining its territorial integrity andsecuring its borders from violations on land, sea or air; acting in aid of civilauthorities to help keep public order and internal security as may be prescribed byan Act of the National Assembly; and performing such other functions as may beprescribed by an Act of the National Assembly, was repeated verbatim in the 1999constitution, there was no attempt to even reflect on the problems that arose fromprolonged military rule in the intervening two decades. While it is arguable that thisbroad 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 ismore so in circumstances where civilians frequently lack knowledge andunderstanding of military affairs, and the apportioning of civilian and militaryresponsibilities often depend on the military itself, or on a small coterie of electedcivilian officials close to the President. In the case of Nigeria, this has led to a furtherlack of accountability and the assumption of an all-knowing President. Given theburden of its authoritarian past and the loss of credibility by the military, it wasthought 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 a21 This view was strongly espoused by the President and the national security team at thefirst Presidential retreat on National Security in which a range of stakeholders were invited bythe President to discuss security issues within the context of a democratic society. 19
  20. 20. section of the populace who feel that legislative oversight should be central todemocratic control and others who are of the opinion that the President and hisDefence Minister, as ex-military leaders, should have the freedom to restructure themilitary without adequate or necessary recourse to other checks and balances withinthe system simply because "they know what they are doing".As a result, the legislature has largely functioned as a rubber-stamp nationalassembly as far as military matters are concerned. Not only are they often unawareof developments, even the role of the legislature in terms of determining policy onthe size and character of the armed forces, overseeing the armed forces activitiesand approving actions taken by the executive branch, have been short-changed byan overbearing executive branch. There has been widespread agitation in civilsociety about the need to constitutionalise in a comprehensive manner the role ofthe military in internal security issues, the use of emergency powers and the limits ofemergency powers vis-à-vis the citizens’ non-derogable rights, the place ofinternational law in the practice and professionalism of the military as well as thedebate over the composition of the military. It is expected that the current review ofthe countrys constitution would provide an opportunity to re-examine theconstitutional dimension of military matters and a clarification of the role of theexecutive, legislative branch and wider society in ensuring a stable civil-militaryrelations.Even on an issue that has become the most contentious with the Nigerian public –the quest for an anti-coup strategy – the current Nigerian constitution is severelymuted in its content. A clause that is most worrying to many observers on theconstitution is the rather unlimited powers it places on the legality of the securityagency to ovethrow the constitution which is the supreme law of the land. Section315 (5)c of the 1999 constitution states that the National Security Act (a body ofprinciples, policies and procedures on the operation of the security agencies) remainsin law and cannot be overridden by the constitution unless the legislature can mustertwo-thirds of its members to override it both at the national as well as stateassemblies. Opponents claim that for an Act that came into being via a militarydecree to still have this imposed legitimacy makes a mockery of the democratisationprocess and exposes the country to the whims and caprices of security agencieswhich operate largely in the dark.As if to complicate matters, the "anti-coup" clause contained in Section 1(2) of the1999 constitution stipulating that "The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall not begoverned, nor shall any person or group of persons take control of the Governmentof Nigeria or any part thereof, except in accordance with the provisions of thisConstitution. Yet, as stated above, the National Security Act can override the sameconstitution, in which case an interpretation of the above clause could very well bethat anyone who successfully removes a constitutional government via the provisionsof the National Security Act is acting in a constitutional, 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 withothers by any violent or other unlawful means, suspends or overthrows or abrogatesthis constitution or any part of it, or attempts to do any such act" or (b) "aids andabets in any manner any person referred to in paragraph (a) of this clause; commitsthe offence of high treason and shall upon conviction be sentenced to suffer death".In subsection 4 (a), the same constitution states that "All citizens of Ghana have the 20
  21. 21. responsibility and duty at all times" to (a)defend this constitution and in particular, toresist any person or group of persons seeking to commit any of the acts defined to inClause 3 of this article". The constitution goes further to declare that any person whoparticipates in resisting such attempts or acts of suspending or abrogating it commits"no offence". Subsequent sections award "adequate compensation which shall becharged to the Consolidated Fund in respect of any suffering incurred as a result ofpunishment in resisting the abrogation of the Constitution. Of course skeptics willargue that this in itself will not stop the occurrence of illegal intervention, but themoral force invested in these clauses cannot be compared to the tepid anti-coupclause in Section 2 (1) of the Nigerian constitution. Similar clauses such as Ghanasappear in the Ugandan and South African constitutions and the Ethiopian constitutioneven goes as far as stipulating that a civilian must be the Defence Minister at alltimes. These statements of intent go a long way in revealing the peoples concern forthe rule of law.Finally, beyond the focus on an anti-coup strategy – which is understandablebecause of the country’s history, attempts to redefine the role and mission of thesecurity forces most see security in a wider context and reflect a perspective thatsees security and stability as the flip side of development. There is evidence tosuggest that the current administration understands the link22 but this thinking mustbe 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 thrust of its programme indicates that a reorganisation agenda is on course.Taking a cue from the speech made at the National War College in July, the VicePresident, Atiku Abubakar also promised a "comprehensive transformation of theArmed Forces into an institution able to prove its worth" when he addressed theInauguration of the Course Eight at the National War College, Abuja in September10, 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 like22 See Olusegun Obasanjo, Grand Strategy for National Security (2001: The Presidency,Abuja) 21
  22. 22. "down-sizing" and "right-sizing" meant precisely that and there was no doubt thatyears of military involvement in politics had impacted negatively on militaryprofessionalism. Indeed - the Defence Minister, Lt.General TY Danjuma was lessdiplomatic and actually stated that military be pruned by at least 30,000 men fromcurrent strength.(Daily Times, July 29, 1999), although the President was morediplomatic when he said the government was yet to make up its mind on questionsof demobilisation and that the military was always shedding "dead wood", hencethere was nothing significant about it. Again, because the desire for demobilisationand or rationalisation was not based on any informed analysis, the military was ableto argue for maintenance of current force strength. Indeed, by December 2000, theDefence Minister had turned full circle and acknowledged that the government haddecided against demobilisation because of the ‘multifarious commitments of themilitary…the Armed Forces even have commitments for the maintenance of law andorder in this country.’23It 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 the wariness in government circles to confront it openly. The strongperception of a disproportionate recruitment of Northerners into the Nigerianmilitary in spite of the rigorous operation of the federal quota system in militaryrecruitment is one that previous regimes had had to deal with. The retirement of"political" officers by the Obasanjo government was immediately perceived inaffected circles as a response to the demand to "right-size" the ethno-religiousdimension of the military institution.Yet the question of an appropriate size for the military, especially at a time ofdeclining national resources, must be seen in an institutionally open and transparentmanner and through a process of confidence building and conflict managementbased on objective threat assessment. For example, if the military mission isprimarily coastal and maritime i.e. protection of offshore economic interests, andexternal - peacekeeping duties, the question must be asked: is the personnelcurrently 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 procureindividuals that are wholly dedicated to their military duties, in a reliable and efficientmanner? Put more graphically, if an objective threat assessment reveals that internalthreats are the dominant threats to the country, should the armed forces be theanswer to this or a properly equipped, well trained civil policing arrangement.If the questions of demobilisation can be resolved along these lines, central to theissue of military recruitment in terms of military professionalism are then three keyquestions: Should the Nigerian armed forces in a democratic dispensation be anequal opportunities institution? Should it be a combat effective, battle ready forcerecruited from the most able in the most rigorous and competitive manner? Shouldthe manner of recruitment matter - if the training is standardised and gearedtowards bringing out the best in every recruit? Although the above are the rationalquestions to which answers must be found, there is no evidence to suggest that youcannot have an equal opportunities military that is professionally competent and upto the task of defending the territorial integrity of the nation whilst satisfying theethno-religious balance necessary in a diverse democratising polity.23 See Pan African News Agency, ‘Nigeria shelves plans to trim Military’, December 24, 2000. 22
  23. 23. Critical to the re-professionalisation of the armed forces as far as the military wasconcerned is the ability of the State to provide efficient and well functioninginstitutions and infrastructures and an enabling environment for their constitutionaltasks to be accomplished. The former Chief of Army Staff, General Victor Malu aptlycaptured the feeling 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 been 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 themilitary hierarchy and the rank and file, it is hardly fair to blame the civiliangovernment for the years of neglect in the military; even less so to expect thePresident and his team to change this anomaly in two years. What the politicalleadership can be blamed for is the lack of shared understanding about the problemand the lack of ownership of the re-professionalisation process even by the electedrepresentatives of the people. The feeling is rife within the military as it is in civilsociety that the life of the average Nigerian has not improved in the last two years ofcivilian governance. Unlike in civil society however, where these things areexpressed daily in the public domain, they have simmered underneath the surface inthe military, partly due to the nature of the institution but mainly due to the military’scredibility 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 militaryand the civil society that takes into account what is in the long term best interests ofhuman rights and fundamental freedoms in consolidating democracy withoutgenerating new conflicts is more crucial than ever and the government seems torecognise this. Given the militarys chequered history of political intervention andinherent fears in political circles that some might use the immense economic cloutacquired over the years to undermine the gains of the democratic dispensation, thegovernments careful approach to this issue is understandable. Yet in a consolidatingdemocracy, the government was correct to recognise that a blanket declaration ofamnesty or refusal to revisit past misdeeds posed a serious challenge to thestrengthening of stable civil-military relations. Indeed, revisiting the past misdeeds isa necessary cathartic exercise, located within the context of sustainable, civil-militaryrelations. In its establishment of a ‘truth commission’ to investigate past violationshowever, the right balance must however be sought between restitution andreconciliation, between the search for immediate justice and the need for long termdemocratic stability. The key therefore is to ensure an institutional strategy that willstreamline and ensure proper accountability and legislative oversight over securityactors. There is no evidence to suggest that this has happened and its remains a key 23
  24. 24. priority in the new dispensation.24(iv) Demilitarising Public Order and the Role of Civilian PolicingGiven the threats posed by internal security by the militarised (dis) order since thenew government assumed office, the role of policing has been a subject ofwidespread debate in the country, especially against the backdrop of opposition tothe use of military power in “aid of civil authority", the rise of "ethnic militias" in thecountry, public perception of police inefficiency and collusion with ‘agents of crimeand insecurity’. On the one hand, the statutory duties and responsibilities of theNigeria Police Force are clearly spelt out in Section 4 of the Police Act of 1956 asfollows:” prevention and detection of crime; apprehension of offenders; preservationof law and order; protection of life and property; due enforcement of all laws andregulations which they are directly charged; and performance of such military dutieswithin and without Nigeria as may be required of them under the authority of thePolice Act.” With 37 State Commands, 106 Area Commands, 925 Police Divisions,2,190 Police Stations throughout the country and 120,000 police officers, the forceclearly an acute manpower shortage. Whilst the UN stipulates a police-citizens rationof 1:400, the ration is currently 1:1,000 in Nigeria. Added to the gross personnelshortage is inadequate accommodation and transportation, poor communicationnetwork; poorly funded training institutions; and insufficient crime intelligencegathering capacity.25There is no doubt that the Nigerian Police Force has witnessed a seriousdeterioration in the quality of the service it provides the average citizens undermilitary rule. Yet, the only period it enjoyed attention from government andoccupied a pride of place in the scheme of things during the civilian administration of1979-1983, the police management became embroiled in partisan politics. Asidefrom the politicisation of the police in the second republic however, the Nigeria PoliceForce’ reputation for brutality, corruption and arbitrariness created poor communityrelations. Consequently, while the civil populace is usually opposed to militaryinvolvement in internal security matters, doubts persist about the efficacy of thepolice authority in confronting public order issues in the post-military transitionperiod.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,24 Although, President Obasanjo apologised to all Nigerians for the excesses of the past whenreceiving the report of the Oputa Commission in May 2002, the government is yet to releasethe White Paper on the report and many now wonder whether the government will be able toaddress these issues in the aftermath of the elections now that the political leadership isperceived to have greater space for manoeuvre.25 Interview with the former Inspector-General of Police, Mr Musiliu Smith, May 11, 2003 24
  25. 25. 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 frominternal security issues - given the recurrence of situations where the police havefound it difficult to cope with incidences of internal dissension. Although thePresident announced the withdrawal of the military from joint security patrols withthe police on coming to office - a feature used to intimidate and abuse ordinaryNigerians in the previous dispensation, public clamour about the inability of thepolice to cope with the dramatic increase in crime, especially in the urban areasencouraged a return to these joint patrols in places like Lagos, Abuja, Kaduna andPort Harcourt. Even if it were to receive the most appropriate support from thegovernment, correcting the flaws of the past can only take place within a particularpolitical, socioeconomic and historical context. The evidence of the first year in officeis that the current ad-hoc reforms have not addressed the post-military internalsecurity conditions in the country. This is understandable even if not excusable for anumber 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 the 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 ofthe civilian police sector in the internal security reform agenda. Having said this, thequestion of engaging civil policing for democratic governance is central to the issueof exorcising militarism from the body politic as it is relevant to the issue of returningsecurity to the community, ensuring democratic accountability and revisiting thestructure of federalism in the country. The question as to whether to decentralise thepolice organisation, structure and operations has been particularly central to thisdiscourse given the problems that have attended the centralised control of the policeforce and the use it had been put to under previous regimes. To create a serviceculture, and not a regimented force arrangement which the military put in placewhen in power, accountability to the ordinary citizens is central to public order andthe police cannot be trusted within the community if it retains a structure that is onlyaccountable to the President and not the communities. Although concerns have beenexpressed about the negative use to which decentralised policing could be put, giventhe nature of the inter-ethnic squabbles and community clashes that are prevalent in 25
  26. 26. the country today, it is possible to have a focus on community policing whilstmaintaining a level of accountability to federal authorities26.Emboldened by citizens’ campaign for security, many states are responding to thecitizens clamour by employing the services of ethnic militias for internal securityduties. In Anambra, Rivers, Enugu, Oyo, Osun, and Lagos States, "Bakassi Boys" andOdua Peoples Congress operatives have now taken full charge of trafficmanagement, confronting armed robbers with the approval of the State executivesand tacit endorsement of the Federal police authorities. As a result of these evidentproblems of performance and credibility that the Federal Police now encounters, thepresident recently announced his endorsement of a decentralisation package whichensures accountability to the elected State authority in addition to theiraccountability to the Central government, although without the mechanism toenforce that principle.Yet the problems of policing cannot be seen in isolation of the criminal justice systemsince the police is an implementing agent of the criminal justice system Reforms tothe judicial system have been much slower to be adopted by the current judicialhierarchy than reforms to the military and the police, but until there is acomprehensive approach to access to justice and law enforcement, even theresolution of the resource deficit will not bring change. This will necessarily involveaddressing existing gaps in accountability, oversight, access, due process,effectiveness, efficiency and representation at the level of the Judicial, prosecutorialand defence institutions and ensuring the necessary linkages in the justice andsecurity sector community – the police, correctional services, the judiciary andprosecution services etc.27(v) Balancing the demands of defence with the needs of developmentThe concomittant effect of the reorientation has been the challenge posed on thesectoral reform by the management of security expenditure "within limits ofbudgetary allocation" as the Vice President put it. Yet the process of reform need notbe antagonistic or adversarial to the management of the military expenditure even asthe debate about how much is enough to maintain defence remains a realistic issueon the agenda. In this regard, it is commendable that the government recognisesthat strengthening the military professionally without corresponding provision ofadequate resources and political support may simply lead to frustration and possibly,unfulfilled and exaggerated expectations. On the other hand, it is important forgovernment to realise that downsizing, right-sizing and sectoral reform may actuallylead to an increase in military expenditure, not a decrease at least in the interim.2826 Although there are Police-Community Relations Committees to identify concerns of thecommunities, ordinary citizens do not regard this as promoting community policing seriously.The challenge remains one of producing a system that increases public trust in policeperformance and promote people’s involvement in policing their communities. To achievethis, officers need training in community policing and linkages to the traditional securitysystems in the communities for the prevention of crime and promotion of safety and security.27 The Access to Justice Initiative by DFID has started some work in this regard, butinvestigations in the course of this study still suggest need for greater coherence and ‘buy in’by the key institutions.28 Lack of funds remains the most vexatious issue raised with this writer in several interviewsconducted with senior military and middle ranking officers. While they all endorse thedirection of professionalism, some even hint at a deliberate attempt to underfund the sector 26