A classic definition of the state is that it is the supreme, final, absolute coercive power within a political realm; the (assumed) monopoly of violence that is constitutionally vested in the sovereign agency called the government.
Sovereignty is the will of the people voluntarily surrendered to the state in an arrangement that the French political thinker, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, describes as a social contract, an agreement that cedes the power of the people to the state through the special purpose vehicle called elections.
The government uses the power to protect the realm and its people against internal and external aggression, and adjudicate on matters among the citizens and between the citizens and the state.
If the strong, the more physically, financially, and socially endowed, are not checked, they will prey on the weaker members of society. That is why Rev Malthus summarised the law of nature with the slogan, survival of the fittest.
In the 10th century, Arab scientist and philosopher, Al-Jahiz, described the food chain as a linear network of links, starting from organisms like grass and algae who produce their own food through photosynthesis, to predators like the lion and detritivores, like the earthworm.
The food chain, nature’s predatory killing field, shows how organisms are related to each other as food so that every organism ends up in the belly of a higher order organism. Organisms that escape being killed eventually end up in the bowels of the earth.
Nature is hostile. It will take a strong restraining factor, like a state with superior instruments of violence, to keep society safe. If not, the resulting anarchy and violence will be uncontrollable and indescribable.
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), recently affirmed as follows: “Unless a country or institution is at peace (with itself and others) it will be difficult to manage (for good results).”
The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, also said, “To achieve the economy we seek, we must resolve the pressing security issues. No nation can flourish with terrorists and kidnappers in their midst.”
Neither internal nor external aggression is good for a country. Aggression ultimately leads to the death and desolation of a territory. If you ask Rwandans who experienced violent pogrom they will tell you that war serves no one.
Section (14)(2) of the 1999 Constitution provides that “sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government, through this constitution, derives all its powers and authority.” So the government holds the power in trust for the people, a confirmation of Rousseau’s social contract idea.
You may also have read the pretentious Section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution which provides that “the security (and welfare) of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”
That’s an acknowledgement that the Nigerian society must have an arbiter or magistrate that can guarantee the safety of the people and sanity within the realm.
If security is compromised, in the manner that marauding herdsmen and kidnappers chased farmers away from their farms, it will be difficult for anyone to carry out any form of commerce.
Apart from the inconsistent and ineffectual macroeconomic policies of the government, insecurity is one major reason that foreign direct investors are not terribly keen to bring their business to Nigeria.
So those who want to run Nigeria, from mid-2023, should provide clear and elaborate plans to secure the lives, property, businesses and lifestyles of Nigerians, as part of their manifestoes. You cannot treat security (or insecurity) lightly.
Yes, security experts will argue that you cannot share details of security plans. But the Nigerian electorate needs to know which presidential candidates will introduce state police, and increase the number of federal police officers.
Someone has observed that the introduction of the Amotekun Corps, whose men are not yet permitted to bear arms, has somewhat reduced the incidence of herdsmen attacks against farmers in the South-West.
The lie that state governors are the chief security officers of their states must be debunked and presidential candidates must be required to substantially amend the offensive Section 215(4) of the 1999 Constitution.
That “blasphemous scripture” says, “The governor… may give to the Commissioner of Police… such lawful directions with respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order within the state… provided that… the commissioner… may request that the matter be referred to the President… for his direction.”
The ouster clause in Section 215(5), which provides that “the question (as to) whether any, and if so what, directives have been given under (the entire Section), shall not be inquired into in any court,” requires close scrutiny.
If Nigeria is truly a federation the central government must not have near-total control over internal policing matters. Presidential candidates must promise to tinker with the constitution in order to remove its knee from the neck of Nigerians.
There must be room to negotiate the powers between the federal and the sub-national governments, which must include state governments and local governments. If all politics are local, as the former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Tip O’Neil, said, security should also be locally handled– to a large extent.
The candidates must commit to funding security in a big way; they must introduce and extensively use technology to drive Nigeria’s internal security architecture and its activities, going forward. Nigerians want to know if drones will be used to monitor railway roads, airports, and shopping malls, for instance.
With the introduction of the railway lines for internal commute within Lagos State, Lagosians will want to know if there is a way to prevent the kind of kidnappings on the Abuja-Kaduna Railway line and at Tom Ikimi Railway Station in Igueben, Edo State.
Criminals are now so brazen that they abduct victims, not only on railway lines, but also in Nigeria’s most prestigious military school. They brazenly attacked correctional facilities, freeing the inmates. They recently shot and abducted a Divisional Police Officer in Pankshin, Plateau State.
No one is quite clear if the Nigeria Police Force eventually hired the 10,000 officers that were proposed to be recruited a few years ago. What anyone remembers is the (inconclusive?) back-and-forth between the Inspector General of Police and the Police Service Commission.
And then, of course, there was the prebendal and ‘man-know-man’ push-around by federal legislators who were only interested in getting their protégés employed as police officers, even if they lacked the educational, physical, and psychological qualifications.
Prebendalism, derived from the practice whereby the church guaranteed a fixed income to canons, independent of their bishops, is the corrupt practice of government officials who feel they are entitled to appropriate government revenue to benefit themselves and their supporters.
The next president must recognise the importance of hiring more men almost immediately after he is sworn in on May 29, 2023. More police boots must be on the ground throughout the federation so that violent criminals will be put in check.
The president probably needs to debrief Colonel Garba Yandoto(retd.) who was abducted and released by bandits, alongside two of his sons and two others, after the payment of N10m ransom. Yandoto claimed that his captors sent him to Nigeria with a message.
The next Commander-in-Chief must be prepared to chiefly command Nigeria’s troops as soon as he is inaugurated into the office of President.