Monday, 16 December 2013

Defanging Boko Haram and Similar Groups: A simple strategic approach

Groups such as Boko Haram appear to have taken centre stage in the daily security/insecurity narrative in Nigeria’s media space. We hear of their impending attacks on innocent citizens and perhaps government alike, we also hear government’s guarantee to its public that they should not be afraid, as the government will protect their lives and properties.  No one would expect a government to state otherwise, irrespective of its ability to back its statement.  Interestingly as well are statements from various personalities of perceived repute across the country which try to control or spin the narrative in order to give birth to more chaos or achieve their own ideological or political aims. I have heard some link Boko Haram’s menace to the increase of resource derivation formula for resource producing states to 13%, while others have blamed it on the elections in 2011. I believe and will explain why Boko Haram and all other groups are the offspring of a single phenomenon: The failure of government at all levels. Now it is important to understand that this statement is not an indictment of the current government alone because government is a continuum and the seeds of this crises were sown in previous governments while this government perhaps watered it a little by not deploying the appropriate instruments at its disposal in order to begin resolving the matter once and for all. There have been various intermediaries or purported intermediaries who seem to want to intervene or bring demands from the group to the government for a negotiated settlement.  While I think these suggestions might be noble irrespective of the various agendas its participants may have, I believe the government should not take this bait as this would create precedence and elevate one group of citizens above another in their minds.  Boko Haram and other groups arose from government failing in their sacred duty and only a return to these duties can these groups be extinguished.
Securing the lives and property of its citizens is the foremost duty of a government. Creating a conducive environment where its citizens flourish in peace is another duty of government to its citizens: A perception of equal opportunities for all citizens only helps reinforce these in the minds of citizens and prevents seeds of any kind of rebellion. It is the absence of these that have fueled groups such as Boko Haram and the likes. The absence of development in their lands, the absence of opportunity, the absence of hope, perceived injustice, and most importantly, the perception of negligence by government  are the toxic mix that help such groups flourish.  I believe our intelligence units, especially from the state security and the police would have this information, but then again perhaps the units at the local government level haven’t been equipped with such assets due to lack of funding, training or both.
The current approach to dealing with these groups by training special operation groups and deploying only military instruments is counterproductive and will certainly sow more seeds of discord by amplifying the rhetoric in the minds of the people in the affected areas that the government really perceives them as enemies. My suggested approach is to deploy several instruments concurrently: a hybrid of divide and conquer but the main difference being rather than crush with military might, the crushing is done with ideological and economic might. The output is change in perception which increases security and indirectly allows government to fulfill its duties.  The instruments that I suggest the government deploy concurrently are of the following classes:  military/security, political and economic.

Military/Security instruments
I begin my suggestion with the use of security instruments available to the government to achieve the following goals:
·         Restoration of order (albeit somewhat)
·         Positive intelligence gathering
·         Support of more viable instruments
Restoration of Order (Albeit Somewhat)
 The introduction military instruments to deal with the fallout of the Boko Haram issue going out of control should have been to restore order only. I am not sure what the current operational objective and strategy of the troops that have been deployed in the affected areas might be, what orders ground commanders have been issued from operational headquarters and what orders they have in turned received from the political leaders. Be that as it may, if the objective and the means being used to achieve it project any perception other than allowing people to be able to live without fear of harm, then the deployment would have only achieved in sowing more seeds of discord.  The minimum use of lethal force and the friendly posturing of troops achieve more to restore order than any aggressive posturing combined with scorched earth and brazen destruction of lives and property.  Troops deployed in these areas must be made to understand the short term and long term objectives of the deployment, the political and economic impact of each operation. They are not fighting against enemies but against fellow citizens whom the government intends to re-engage into society, hence the need for minimal loss of lives and property, and the avoidance of undue harassment and intimidation.  Confidence is restored only when the minds of the people are at rest from fear of harassment and intimidation by security agents.  This helps to keep the people safe and in turn ensures the safety of the security agents.

Positive Intelligence Gathering
Another reason to deploy security instruments in this case is also to build and gather intelligence about the different factors that birthed the crisis. I guess most of this information is already in the public domain but there are probably other elements that such exercise can unearth. In the case of book haram, it appears that either the intelligence gathering apparatus was nonexistent, or the intelligence provided was ignored. Either way, at this point in the process, the correct intelligence gathering resources and infrastructure need to be put in place so that it can help in effective deployment of other tools available to the government.  My favored focus will be the socio-economic conditions of the people in the affected areas, the prevalent local narrative, and their perception of the boko haram crisis as a starting point for creating counter doctrine to stem the spread of the ideology if any and prepare a plan to deploy economic instruments to improve socio-economic conditions. Intelligence gathering will also help create a profile of the foot soldier of the sect with the objective of identifying possible foot soldiers for counter doctrine exercises and reducing their numbers so as to isolate the leadership. Without foot soldiers, the leadership will crumble.  In addition a profile of the leadership and their ideological drivers also helps de-fang the movement because, the ideological drivers are the tools for recruitment and propagation of ideology, hence it is essential that these are identified, countered , in order to also influence other members of the movement that the premises on which they are built are no more true.  This exercise can also help identify any political elements that took advantage of the situation of the crisis for nefarious gains, and also help the government deploy tools to counter this occurrence.

Support of more viable instruments
The use of military/security tools are meant to help the government identify and deploy more viable instruments at its disposal that achieve both short and long term stability in the affected regions. Having deployed troops to restore some order in the area and built in intelligence infrastructure, it is important that the government at all levels identify and deploy economic and political instruments that will surely bring lasting peace to the affected regions. The economic and political instruments I suggest are discussed in their respective sections. The security instruments will help ensure that when these other tools are deployed, they are deployed correctly and the gains are built upon.

Economic Instruments
One of the prevailing factors that allow people in the region affected by the Boko Haram crisis is the dwindling economic fortune of the region.  Perhaps this is as a result of corruption in many guises or the improper deployment of the wealth and allocation within that region or failure of the administration at the local and state levels. Be that as it may, the most important thing now is to ensure effective deployment of existing economic tools that would spur development and addition of new tools to enhance economic outlook.  The following are my suggestions:
·         Enhance utilization of existing state and local government  allocation
·         Increase education grants and investments (a student loan program for post secondary could work)
·         Create economic research institutes in the educational institutions in the region with offices or reps in LGAs
·         Invest and support local private enterprises through loans and business support units
Enhanced Utilization of Allocation:
I believe that financial intelligence units should work with states and local governments in these regions to enhance the utilization of allocations provided the state and local government respectively.  The premise of course is that these governments have the best interest of their people at heart and just need some assistance in the case of best practices in allocation utilization.  This will help ensure that the current economic situation is improved at the grassroots level (the breeding ground for such unrest), and decrease disenchantment based on misappropriation.  Focus should be on providing the basics such as good water, healthcare, roads and power supply in these regions.  This places a perception in the minds of the people that they are not being left out and counters other narratives that promote otherwise.
Increase Education grants:
Increasing educational opportunities for people in the affected region will certainly help show them the various career paths that they can aspire to take and dissuade them from being enchanted by those intending to use them as cannon fodder.  All tiers of government should work with private sector to invest in these programs and inspire hope and possibilities within the minds of the citizens in the region. Loans can be provided to students based on merit and other factors that may be relevant to specific area, decreasing the burden o n poor parents that may not be able to send their children to school.  This increases the esteem amongst the people, families and units, ensuring they believe that they can make it on their own having been so empowered.
Create Economic Research Institutes
The objective of deploying this tool is to generate information on the economic activities and outlook of different sections of the affected region so as to provide economic intelligence that will help in decision making and future allocation of resources and new instruments. It will also provide feedback which can be used by businesses and other elements of the society alike to make better decisions.

       Investment in private enterprise and provision of Business support units
       An economic tool that is also useful is investment in private enterprise and provision of business   support units. An investment bureau that provides the people with loans and advice that help them realizes their entrepreneurial dreams is a hope building exercise as well as an economically liberating one.  Business incubation teams could also help monitor the business as it grows.  The benefits of successful enterprise will spread across the region and help employ hands that may otherwise have been idle.

Political Instruments
The use of security and economic instruments help restore normalcy and promote hope and ambition respectively in the hearts of the people, but the use of political instruments by the government will go a long way in cementing the normalcy, hope and ambition the previous instruments provided.
The political instruments I suggest are justice and protection of human rights.
The Boko Haram episode can be said to have been fueled by the rounding up and extra judicial killing of members and their leader, Sheik Yusuf Mohammed in an episode of brazen disregard for law and order by the people who are meant to uphold it. I saw a few clips online and it was horrible to watch. It sent a message to the people that they were expendable from the point of view of government and nothing will happen to the culprits. If the government responsible for providing security of life and property decides on its own or via its agents the right to take lives at will, then such insurgencies are going to arise all the time. However, if the government ensures that there is always justice for the man who doesn’t take up arms, the man would not believe he needs to be armed to the teeth before his cause is listened to or his pleas are heard. When any person, irrespective of position commits a crime, the person should be made to go through the established justice system to determine his/her fate.  This Boko Haram case in particular, should have the police officers who shot the members as well as those who watched without stopping their colleagues all tried in the court of law for the various offence in the criminal code that may apply.  It is important to understand that this is not bowing to the demands of the Boko Haram group, but the minimum requirement of any government that upholds law and order and expects peace to reign.
Justice prevents rebellion and it also prevents citizens from taken it upon them to exert what they may view as revenge for any crime committed against them.
Protection of Human Rights
The funny thing about this point is that one wonders why governments do not see its people as a resource whose rights should be protected. As valuable as the oil in the deltas of south are the human resources that are gifted to the nation. It is the job of a good government to find ways to unearth the talents within each human resource and protect their rights to live in dignity and peace while contributing their best to the entity nation to which they belong.

I believe if the government considers the few instruments I have suggested and the manner of deployment of these instruments, the issue of Boko Haram and other elements with the same characteristics will be greatly minimized if not eliminated.

It is about time we focus on de-fanging Boko Haram and focusing the national narrative on something more productive.
This piece represents my two cents contribution to the nation in crisis

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Defending President Jonathan: A response that might have helped douse tensions

When it comes to public opinion, it is important to understand that silence does not change the mind of the majority of people. History has been created by events not idleness, by noise not silence; that is why the press has been a critical component of creating and maintaining narratives in the minds of its public. There are very many ways to allow an accusation made in public to cement its place in the minds of people, but the greatest of them all is to keep quiet. Quiet in this sentence refers to saying nothing and doing nothing.

In June this year, I was in a taxi in Lagos, during which I discussed with the driver about his perception of the state of affairs in Nigeria at that time. His opinion was that President Jonathan is the best president Nigeria in Nigeria's history.  I asked him what evidence he had to back up his assertion and he told me that the president does a lot of great things but the newspapers controlled by the southwest refuse to shed light on these and as such the masses are not shown his many good works. I asked him what has he seen to convince him of this, what informs his opinion? He talked about the Edo state elections and the president allowing the people's will to prevail instead of muzzling their will with force. I asked for more examples but he wasn't willing to provide any other, he just believed that the President was good and was being attacked by wicked people.

Having said all that, what I gleaned from the conversation were the following: No one can give you credit for what they do not know you have done right but everyone can blame you for what someone else says you have done wrong. It is all about opinion and whether you or I like it or not, it matters and significantly influences public response.

Coming back to what will be the crux of this article, I will try to take a look at all the allegations made by different parties against the President and how his media advisers should have dealt with them if indeed they had no substance.

Allegation 1:  2015 election interest/Terms

Response: The president certainly has the constitutional right to seek the office in an election for a maximum of two terms. Having been elected once, he is indeed eligible to seek re-election if he so wishes; however the president is sensitive to the yearnings of Nigerians as well as the advice from the National Security Council hence will not take any decision capable of damaging the unity and interests of this country.

Allegation 2: Supporting Non-PDP Governors vs PDP Governors

Response: The president is aware of his responsibility as the Chief Security Officer of the nation and realizes he is responsible for all Nigerians. In cases where at the point of election, the people of a given state seem overwhelmingly in support of a non-PDP candidate, He cannot use instruments of coercion to disenfranchise Nigerians just to ensure his party wins the election. His job is to ensure his party creates the right program that the electorate will want to support; he admits that in some cases the party has failed in this regard.

Allegation 3: Mismanaging of the security situation

Response:  The president understands the impact of the challenging security situation on the economy of Nigeria and the welfare of Nigerians. The boko haram issue in the northeast has been a challenge to all Nigerians and he must commend our security services personnel for the gallantry with which they have shown in the face of such threat. He has approached this issue with the use of various tools at his disposal, both carrot-oriented tools and stick oriented tools. The National Security Adviser is also compiling a recommendations in consultation with state governors and traditional rulers to come up with a comprehensive strategy that deals with all aspects of this issue and ensures security and prosperity of all states in the Northeast.

The threat against our oil and gas assets which jointly belongs to all Nigerians has significantly affected local and international confidence in the sector. Mr President has also assigned the National Security Adviser the task of coming out with a master plan to sort out the threat to security and the economy in the Niger-Delta once and for all.

Allegation 4: Tribal vs National loyalties:

Response: The president is a Nigerian first and an Ijaw man; the two identities are also complimentary but his loyalty is to Nigeria and all Nigerian citizens, the very reason why he is president of Nigeria and not an Ijaw chief. His loyalty to Nigeria supersedes all tribal sentiments and the president will not hesitate to call even his closest relative to order should they imagine creating any form of disharmony in Nigeria.  All those who have been making noise about Jonathan 2015 or Nigeria will be destroyed are certainly enemies of Nigeria, and Mr President has told the likes of Asari Dokubo that whilst they have the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by the constitution, they must show loyalty to this country and not create situations that impact the general security situation in Nigeria negatively.

Allegation 5: Political watchlist and Armed Personnel Training for Selfish Political Interest

Response: Mr President takes this allegation seriously; whilst it is laughable to imagine that Mr President will do such a thing when it is clearly as against his own personal interest and that of the country, it is indeed a serious allegation; hence he has ordered the National Security Adviser, Col Dasuki (rtd) to initiate an investigation into this allegation and identify all parties involved if there is any hint of truth in the allegation and make it public.

Allegation 6: Presidential Support and Patronage for Murderer

Response:  Mr President has never had any personal interest in the outcome of the case against Maj Al-Mustapha. The memory of what transpired during the Abacha regime is still very fresh and it will amount to being insensitive to the sensibilities of Nigerians and their perception of Justice. Up till today, he has never had any contact with the Major and he expects the military authorities to process his case as soon as possible in order to bring finality to his status. Mr President is also aware from news reports that Lagos state government appealed to the Supreme Court of Nigeria and it is Mr President's hope that the wheels of justice roll quickly so as to ensure justice is done to all concerned.

Allegation 7: Apathy towards Corruption

Response: Corruption has been the greatest threat to national security for a few years now and all Nigerians are aware of its impact to our lives. Mr president has removed the Minister of Petroleum under whose ministry most of these acts of treachery have occurred.Mr president has also requested the National Security Adviser led committee to publish the outcome of the investigation  into the Minister of Aviation after consultations with the National Assembly investigative committee so that Nigerians can assess for themselves whether she was indeed guilty of wrongdoing or not. Mr President is sensitive to the perception of corruption amongst Nigerians and the impact such has on their confidence in government. In the meantime, he has asked the Minister to go on leave until she can be cleared of the charges against her.

Allegation 8: Governor Amaechi and Water

Response: The people of Rivers state are Nigerians first before being Rivers people, so it will amount to a breach of sections of the constitution if Mr President who swore to defend the interest of all Nigerians now prevent the issuance of the African Development Bank loan to rivers state all because of any disagreement with the Governor of the state. To illustrate Mr President's neutrality in this matter, he has just concluded a call with Governor Amaechi, Minister of Finance and the African Development Bank executives to ensure that the loan granted to Rivers state is released. There are perhaps many things that occur without the president's knowledge and as soon it is brought to his attention, he ensures the right thing is done and the people involved are punished.


Allegation 9: Making enemies of critics

Response: Nigerians are free to express themselves and that is guaranteed in the constitution. Mr President as a Nigerian is also guaranteed that right equally. It will be unconstitutional for Mr President to attempt to muzzle dissent when it is obvious that no man has monopoly of wisdom; hence some critics who criticize in good faith have the best interests of the country at heart; those that criticize in bad faith are also free to express themselves. If his aides have tried to muzzle freedom of expression by abusing the use of security agents, an investigation will occur and those found guilty will be punished according to the law.

 Mr President trusts that irrespective of political inclinations, Nigerians understand that every one of us has a role to play in the governance of this great country; hence let us work together to cleanse the country of corruption and other ills so that we can build a Nigeria we are all proud of.

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Y2015<>X: The birth of citizenship

Over the past few days I have thought a lot about this country,Nigeria; out people, institutions and the interaction between them. Critically however, my focus has been on the outcomes of the relationship and its impact on all our lives; the obvious and less obvious impact.

A country without citizenship is a country that will drift. In a democracy, above all other kinds of societal governance, citizenship is the light to a country's path. It is the combined forces of our citizenship or the lack of it that is responsible for Nigeria as we know it, see it, feel it and hear of it.
Citizens create a nation out of their country. It is citizens that we lack as a country and that is why we watch and hope but never act to ensure we can steer Nigeria in the direction we want it to go.
What is this citizenship to which I refer and for which I stay awake to discuss?
Citizenship instills two key attributes in the persons on which it is bestowed: a sense of ownership and a sense of responsibility; joint sense of ownership with other citizens towards all resources of the country of which one is a citizen and a sense of responsibility for the state and outcome of the fortunes of the country.
If you don't feel this sense of ownership and responsibility then you may just be a citizen in name and passport only.

The sense of ownership that I refer to here connects the citizen with all assets of the state; natural and man-made; from the river Niger to oil and gas;refineries to bridges, local government budgets to federal budgets. It should inspire us to understand policy: security and military policy, legislative agenda, foreign policy and other key policies that impact on our nation state. These things are owned by the citizenry and it is their responsibility to exercise ownership at all times in order to prevent friendly or unfriendly thieves from stealing them or steering them in directions that threaten our collective wealth and existence.
The thief only visits the neighborhood where the residents are sleeping on duty or pose little or no threat when being robbed. In the same vein, even good people have a tendency to do wrong in the dark. It is therefore the duty of citizens to ensure the light is always shining on the assets we collectively own and our eyes are continuously open.

I have looked at the content of Nigerian  newspapers over the past few weeks and I have wondered to myself why they don't shed as much light to all aspects of our nation state.  While I understand that newspapers are privately owned and have specific editorial agenda, it will do them a lot of good not to be perceived as  satellite speakers of the state but of the public mind; this will improve their standing in the public and be good for business as well. As an example, the online reporting site, Saharareporters had a video of the  a state governor's encounter with a 'widow' on the streets of Benin. The encounter in which the governor appeared to speak harshly to the woman has generated a lot of angst amongst online readers and also an apology from the governor. The shining of light on the encounter has done two things:  altered the public's view of the governor thereby forcing him to apologize. It also provides proof to the importance of shedding light on government activities in order to influence the behavior of public servants for the good of the country and the leaders themselves.
Another case in point is the recent letter as published on the internet (leaked by premium times) supposedly written by an ex-president to the current president; naturally some agreed with the points raised and some disagreed; the others ignored the points but chose to attack the writer. My own take as a citizen is that  we have also failed our country as citizens. We should know that leaders left alone are prone to do wrong. They are human and as such need us to prevent them from the many evils that tempt men and women of power.

Democracy is the best form of government indeed but it relies heavily on citizen participation, without which it leads to an aristocracy and finally autocracy depending on how many people choose to participate. The outcome of Nigeria is equally in my hands as it is in yours, but if we choose not to participate we should not blame anyone else for the end results. We as citizens are the best protectors of democracy, let's not think we need any armed or unarmed institutions to do that for us. Nobody will give you the the level of participation you deserve, you just have to get up and participate.  Our current president alone cannot be to blame for the outcomes we have seen so far, we have a national assembly empowered to do a job as stated in the 1999 constitution Chapter II of which states clearly the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy specifically sections 13 - 18 of the constitution. Members have not done a good enough job at ensuring state policies have been in line with these provisions, hence they also bear some responsibility for how things have evolved.

Having touched on these a little bit I would just end with a summary of a good roadmap that might have some benefit for those citizens who have been such in name only.
- Know the Nigeria you live in today and the Nigeria you are supposed to live in by reading the constitution of our republic to understand roles and responsibilities of all in Nigeria
- Do the same for your state and local government councils.
- Review the acts that have been enacted by the legislative houses on all tiers of government.
- Assess the impact of all you have read on the direction of your life.
- Register to vote, assess all parties based on their actual practice than on their propaganda.

In summary, just participate; everyday; and as we become citizens, the Nigeria we want will be born.

You can take a look at a few of my old articles at

Monday, 7 October 2013

Y2015 ≠X: naija no dey break (pidgin version)

Y2015 ≠X. 
Week 1

For two years na only 2015 everbody jus dey talk about! All the newspapers no wan yarn about anytin else na only 2015 dem wan use blind our eyes.  Wetin concern man wey sick with 2015, wetin concern hungry man with 2015, wetin concern man wey no fit feed family tday with 2015. Abeg e don do! E for make sense die if to say na to develop our country for we dem dey talk about such as to give us light so at least pipo wey get business no go dey waste money for dizol, or reduce the charge wen bank dey charge pesin wey wan borrow money to start im own bizness so at least all d plenty pipo wey go school go fit find work and man no go dey enter all dis crime wey dey cos wahala for everybody even police and army pipo. E for better if all we dey talk about na say we wan dey produce more goods  wey no include crude oyel wey we go send abroad so dat we go fit make more money for we country and our pipo join or even sef to repya all d hospital dem for dis country and make mericine dey cheaper and boku so dat sick pesin go get hope;  but no be so! Everytin na 2015 2015. All our politicians and dem jonalists sef wan use 2015 blind we eye. Every newpaper na Jonathan and 2015, say naija go break, dis wan go happen , dat wan go happen if GEJ no run or be president for 2015. All na lie, notin dey happen, dat 2015 sef na us go choose who we want and naija no ge break weda we choose Jona o or we choose Ariyo o na us go choose and notin dey happen. War no go happen at all, dem just wan make we fear but dem don fail. If Jona wan run oh na im get himself, if e wan run na between him and wateve party e choose dat wan concern ordinary naija men and women.  If e get ticket den we go judge weda all the promise e give before since 2011 , weda we see any result, if we see, den n aim luck, if we no see na still im luck. We no go let our papa dem use their pikin fight war wey no make sense all becos dem wan chop money or protect wetin dem tiff, dat wan no go happen. Blood no go flow for 2105. Gbam!
All naija want d same tin,  wetin we want na job, food, mericine, freedom, and peace, we no dey want wahala. So na the pesin wey go give us dis things n aim we go give power for 2015 weda anybody like am or not. All doz politishan wey no wan gree hear make dem jus retire jeje or we go retire dem. We no go fit manage dis naija if d pipo wey we elect tink say na to dey use bag of rice or beans or to dey trowey money for our face wen election come n aim go win election. D money sef na awa own so who dem wan treat like dog. We don vex! Every body wan get power but wetin dem wan use am for ? my pipo make we tink am wella and make we see judge wetin these pipo wey wan be senator or govnor or president wan use dat power for, because d money wen dem go spend na awa money no be their money so make we no send weda d person get money or e no get money, na weda e fit do awa work na im we sopos use judge am.  Tink am sef, if your broad or sista be doctor and e dey kill patients abeg u go give am body make e operate? No! so make we no blind awa eye dey give power to anyhow pesin wey no sabi do work for us. Na us go suffa if we no hear.
We all be naija pipo and we sopos dey make sure say we know wetin government dey do everyday. Na awa work be dat!
D same way wey driver wey dey drive anyhow and passenger no dey talk na d same way awa leaders dey drive naija and everybody dey keep quiet! Na wen passenger complain na den driver dey open eye dey drive well and no dey sleep again na wetin we sopos dey do for naija! So make we begin collect the steering for d drivers so dat we go carry naija wia we want make e go.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Y2015 ≠ X: The governed,the governing and the perception of political power

                                                              Y2015 ≠ X

Nigeria @ 53: Redefining the governing-governed relationship through the perception of political power

Last week, the focus of my maiden article in this Y2015X series was to bring to fore the impact of diversionary and lightweight narratives dominant in Nigerian’s mindspace that gives the impression that our destiny is in the hands of a few. See the full article here
This week, my sub focus is on an enlightened citizenry taking advantage of the widespread availability of information in this internet age in order to improve the governing –governed relationship across the country.
One of the challenges we currently have in Nigeria is our relationship with power and those to whom we choose to assign it in trust for a period of time. I guess our perception of the power that is derived collectively from us and given to the men and women who we entrust to use it as a tool for governance is the root of most of our problems.

The Origins:
Pre-Nigeria, many of the groups that currently make up Nigeria were members of different kingdoms or governing areas where political power in addition to other forms of power was derived from the ultimate traditional ruler (be it King, Oba, Sultan, ruling heads etc), hence the view of power of both the governed and the governing was through these lenses. The governed saw power through its own lenses and its field of view displayed power as unquestionable, absolute and revered. It also transferred these attributes to the leader in whose hands power was vested. The person in power was viewed as power itself; hence the reverence assigned to power in the eyes of the governing was transferred to the leader. This was also re-enforced by dominant narratives of the day as well as instruments and guardians of such power such as the laws, the paraphernalia and the armed forces /security services of that day.  On the other side of the lens were the governing; a class of one or many persons, who saw power through a different lens; in their view, power was a means to protect their interests, control all privilege and patronage and enforce their will on the governed. In some cases, their people were satisfied with their leadership, but discussions of their performance are not in scope of this write-up. There was no question of good governance then as whatever the rulership did that the people deemed favorable, they appreciated. The leader could give and withdraw patronage at a whim, had personal control of all security services personnel and infrastructure to enforce his/her rule across the domain where he/she was sovereign.  In some of these models of governance, transitions may have been “orderly” but competition for power was restricted to the fixed set of governing class members, who continuously schemed overtly or covertly to position themselves within the reach of such absolute power and the privileges that come with it.  This short burrow into history is meant to help establish in your minds the two sides of power (governing and governed) separated by the lens through which they view it and the evolution of political power and these two sides into what we have in present day Nigeria @ 53, how it relates to the myriad of challenges we face today and possibly as a framework to resolving them.

The evolution in summary:
 As pre-Nigeria transitioned into Nigeria, absolute political power first changed hands from traditional rulers to the British colonial government. The nature of political power remained relatively the same in that the British acquired absolute power over Nigerians and the lens with which the governing Brits saw power in the Nigerian context was the same as before, to protect their interests and enforce their will, basically, the master-servant governing model. As such they built institutions oriented around this governance model as well as the political narrative that seals this model on the minds ensuring the lens with which the governed viewed power remained the same. Luckily for Nigeria at that time, there were some progressives amongst the governed across the confederation that sort political power be restored to Nigerians and derived from the will Nigerians. “Independence” was granted, the first republic emerged as a parliamentary democracy and for the first time, power was derived from Nigerians. it did appear that a new dawn might emerge and as the country was newly birthed, it provided an opportunity for a new relationship created and a new lens established with which the governing and the governed viewed political power. However events of those days skewed this evolution and a military state emerged, political power was acquired by the military and entrenched in the hands of its leaders, and it was absolute and with all the privileges and patronage thereof.  The lens with which the new governing class viewed power was no different than in Pre-Nigerian kingdoms except that now, access to power was limited to the new military governing class who, actually a subset of them who could muster up support of other key officers to attempt power acquisition. The governed were certainly not participants per se besides those issued patronage by the governing class at their whim.  Luckily again, the very many progressives amongst the governed, many of whom gave their lives as well as those within the military, along with friendly nations worked covertly and overtly to ensure democracy was restored, albeit in a way many believe was not derived from people’s will. It was however welcomed.
As you can imagine, the institutions of state had not been built to support political power derived from the will of the people; our security and intelligence services, civil service organizations and even corporations, but the latter is not relevant to my discourse. However, the most critical component that needed change was the perception of political power in the eyes of both the governed and the governing. It appears that even though political power evolved and the governing class evolved or rather expanded, they governing and the governed still view political power through then lenses of the way it was when kingdoms, the Brits and the military held sway.  Ironically, it seems the governing want it that way in order to entrench themselves and the governed seem not to know any better.  Perhaps the governing are also ignorant; however that is debatable. What is factual is that they project political power in a military-esque way ignoring the fact that the powers they may imagine to have may not the power given to them by the constitution (which certainly also needs some evolution to fully support and empower political power derived from the people); in addition, there are conditions that have to be met before some of the power they project can even be projected or used but they seem ignorant to this obvious fact. The institutions which uphold the nation state are evolving but they too need to evolve faster to support political power derived from its people. The political power “divide” i.e. the governing and the governed must be enlightened to understand their roles in the assignment of political power, the assignment, distribution and execution. From the perspective of the governed, they have to realize that when it comes to political power, they hold the aces, irrespective of what the governing influenced media chooses to project. The true lens is the constitution, which itself may not be perfect, but is a starting point of reference to understand the borders of political power of a governing party and what defects exists that require to be worked on.
I’ve heard many say we need a revolution, indeed we do, but not a revolution of blood but of enlightenment of the governing and the governed. As a revolution of blood will only destroy people with the same problem and replace them with people with the same problem.
To my first point, this internet age provides us the opportunity to access information at a click, hence should speed up the transformation of the view for political power in the eyes of the governed and governing. Nigeria will certainly be better tomorrow than it is today, if we begin now.

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