Nigeria’s Security System Politicised

Nigeria’s Security System Politicised

Wednesday, May 21, 2014 9:24 am

Prof. Bunmi Ayoade, a political scientist and former dean, Faculty of Political Science, University of Ibadan, speaks with KAZEEM UGBODAGA on security issues in Nigeria, the ongoing National Conference, and other thorny issues

I am aware you published a book on the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. What informed the book?

We decided to look at the Presidency in this country. Because when people leave office, they continue to tell us stories about what they did. For some of us who lived through the period, they sound like unbelievable and untrue stories. So we decided to look at the Presidency and write about them in order to produce, not just a kind of record, but a kind of check on their performance so that they will know that somebody is looking at them. As a result, we believe they will start to perform better.

We think this book project is necessary because we must build a body of knowledge about our leader. Also, we must put our leader under check. Everybody says history will tell. But before history can tell, history must be written. We think we can start to do that kind of writing. That is why we worked on the Jonathan Presidency.

•Prof. Bunmi Ayoade

•Prof. Bunmi Ayoade

The idea is laudable. Now that the first edition has been published, how does the book rate the Jonathan Presidency?

We look at the several aspects of the Jonathan administration. The first chapter looks at Jonathan’s statecraft. We look at his handling of issues, his comportment, his speech making and the extent to which his speech gives assurance to Nigerians. We look at his speech performance gap so as to be able to see the extent to which he bothers about the credibility of his administration as well as his own personal credibility. We also look at the relationship between the state and Federal governments, to see the extent to which we comply with the constitution that we gave to ourselves. In looking at the federal-state relations, we look at the extent to which the kind of practices and the kind of activities help in the development of Nigeria. We look at his foreign policy. When President Jonathan came in, he talked about the fact that there was going to be economic diplomacy in the sense that he wants to bring in foreign direct investments, FDIs, and that it will gear up industrialisation in the country. We found that the economic diplomacy has not yielded much. The committee has been having promises. We think nothing much has been done.

In the area of security, the country is burning. How does the book rate the Jonathan administration in the management of national security?   

We have a chapter on Nigeria’s security policy. The chapter talks about the preparedness of security agencies. We found out that our security agencies are always reactive and not proactive. Of course, we understand that some of them have problems of training. The agencies have problems of equipment. These are things that should have been taken care of. But the country is not prepared to secure the citizens. She is a failing state. The most important function of a state is the protection of the state. The territorial integrity of the state must be guaranteed. Where these are lacking, then the state has failed in the performance of its function. We think Nigeria has not done well in this area. We, also, think we have politicised security issues.

When we are talking about security, we should not be talking about the Niger Delta, the North or the South. We should be talking about the total security of Nigeria. If one part of the country is insecure, the whole country is insecure because there is possibility of escalation of violence. If we have that kind of escalation, it could be the turn of anybody at any point in time because people move around the country. We also look at the fact that at different times, Nigeria has graduated into all forms of violence.

Initially, it started by breaking oil pipes. It later moved to bombing strategic places. Then, they started kidnapping people for ransom. When people kidnap for money, it creates a kind of tension in the country. Because they create tension, you cannot have development in a country that lacks peace. These are issues that should have been taken into consideration by any administration. But we have not done so.

Corruption has been on the increase in the country. What are the findings of the book on the issue of corrupt practices?

I think we are not serious about the problem of corruption. We are not fighting it at all. Few things are clear when you look at the Jonathan administration. First, if you belong to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, you can get away with it if you steal. I think there are many instances where people have corruptly enriched themselves and nothing has been done.

 Second, Nigeria is operating a judicial system that is not sensitive to corruption. Now, somebody stole billions of naira from the purse of Nigeria. He got to the court and was asked to pay N750,000. I think there should be a relationship between the enormity of an offence and the sanction that the offence attracts.

 Where the sanction becomes laughable, I think we are encouraging corruption. That is something that is very clear in this country. Third, when we look at the corruption index, which is measured globally, Nigeria remains at the bottom of transparency in the world. If Nigeria remains at the bottom of transparency, asking outsiders to bring money and invest here is a joke. There is so much capital front as a result of corruption. If Nigerians themselves do not have confidence to invest in their country, I think we must be crazy asking anybody to come and invest in Nigeria.

We all agree corruption is a major challenge facing Nigeria. In this light, how do we meaningfully tackle it?

I think the solution is simple. We must enforce the laws we have in our books. Somebody steals from the purse of the government, he should be punished. It does not matter whether he belongs to a political party. It does not matter whether he is a minister. It does not matter whether he is a child of a minister or a governor or whoever. Where people have stolen money or misappropriated funds, they start to look at whether he is a son of PDP Chairman or a son of big person in the party. I think we are not serious about eradicating corruption. If we enforce laws that we have in our books and people are punished for what they have done, I think it will serve as a deterrent. As long as we bend the rules or as long as we avoid the rules, then corruption will grow from strength to strength.

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