President Biden’s Smart Investment for the Security of America and Nigeria’s Pretension of a Security

By Dr. Adoyi Onoja

President Joseph Biden was quoted as saying that “…sending billions of dollars of military hardware to Ukraine and Israel was a “…smart investment as it will pay dividends for America’s security for generations…”

To this end, President Biden requested Congress to authorise $106 billion dollars in military aids to Ukraine and Israel with Ukraine earmarked to receive over $60 billion of this amount while Israel gets the rest.

If the United States considers supplying military aids to Ukraine and Israel as one amongst the numerous investments in America’s own security that would yield dividends for generations to come, what is security for Nigeria and what type of investments is Nigeria making to assure the future of its security?

The Nigerian side of the question burrows into the philosophy or nature, meaning and purpose of security. This equally burrows into Nigeria’s philosophy or vision as a country. The question of Nigeria’s philosophy of security comprises the four fundamental questions (4fqs) that straddle the governance of security to include what is security, whose security, what is a security issue and how can security be achieved. These questions have never been asked and answered in Nigeria. Should these questions be asked and answered in Nigeria, it should be under civil rule governance framework and cloth in legislation.

Unlike Nigeria that considers the military, intelligence and law enforcement as the security, America, in the Ukraine and Israel cases, uses military hardware to bolster the ability of these countries to defend their interests thus designating the military and military hardware as means to an end – the end being their security and above all else the security of Americans and America in these far flung territories far removed from America’s territorial area. What then is security for the United States?

Security or more appropriately national security as the United States preferred to call its genre takes its cue from the ETYMOLOGIES of security. The etymologies of security also embedded the HISTORY and PHILOSOPHY of security worldwide. The etymologies of security, in the Latin and English languages, are securus, securitas and secure. They mean free from care, something which secure, condition of being secure and feeling no apprehension. The history of security is in the history of Europeans and Europe in the middle age following the collapse of civilisation. The philosophy or nature, meaning and purpose of security are in the 500 years of life and living for Europeans and Europe. The experience of the collapse of civilisation in the 500 years of hardship made Europeans to tailor developments in their affairs since the invention of security towards freeing Europeans from care, creating something which secures Europeans, providing condition of being secure for Europeans and reducing or eliminating feeling of apprehension in all spheres of their lives. All perspectives of security or what I called the country-culture-specific perspective of security owed their origin from this universal etymologies, history and philosophy of security.

The United States of America is the poster child of security in the world. The United States of America is the metaphor of security in all spheres. The country was born in the 15th century as European and Europe emerged from 500 years of the harshest living ever experienced in the period aptly called the dark ages. This, no doubt, bred in them the search for security anywhere and everywhere in the world. Security resonated in the founding ideas and ideals of the United States of America. Security is at the centre of the reality called the American Dream making the United States the undisputed destination for people all over the world. Security is in the deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA of the United States of America. The United States designated its genre National Security to aggregate every issue and all issues in the lives of Americans and America that create free from care, something which secure, condition of being secure and feeling no apprehension. Security or national security, for the United States of America, is a forest. This forest or national security contains different trees whose wellbeing determines the health of the forest or national security. Ukraine and Israel are trees in this forest much like every other country in the world.

The United States of America, in the course of its birth, growth and development, spread its reaches far and wide to encompass most if not all issues of interest to its survival. In an international spheres where might is right, amongst the logistics the United States developed, to advance, protect and defend its national security, is the military, intelligence and law enforcement. The National Security Act of 1947 is the legislation that served as the melting pot of the constituents of national security. The National Security Act is the civic or public face of security for the United States and has become, for the copycats undiscerning countries of the world, the example of national security to blindly follow. Nigeria is one such copycat. The primordial or hidden face of security or national security for America is in the economic and strategic resources of all types scattered in the different corners of the world. Ukraine and Israel represented these strategic resources and as allies of the United States, are confronting existential challenges that threatened their ability to serve their roles, in the pursuit of the United States’ national security.

Why does the United States consider these two far flung countries an extension of America’s national security to the extent that their inability to defend themselves against their adversaries is existential to America? How would America’s committal of billions of dollars in military aids benefit America’s security in these countries? Who manufactured these military hardware supplied to these countries and how does the production and sales of the hardware advance America’s security? What other security interests of the United States of America do these countries fulfill?

Security, for the United States of America, lies in freeing Americans from care, providing America with something which secure, proliferating conditions of being secure and reducing and eliminating feeling of apprehension for Americans. In these terms are contained all issues or trees in the forest called national security in the United States. Most of the trees of the national security forest are scattered all over the world where America’s interests are found. The military, intelligence and law enforcement represent one, amongst the myriad logistics, albeit the first and last logistics available for the advancement, protection and defence of national security.

America is one of the world’s leading manufacturing countries that export every kind of goods all over the world. The world is therefore the canvass of the United States. Security begins at this level where America needs to create the enabling environment for its economy to flourish. This is the singular most important economic foundation of America’s national security and indeed security of any type. This economic foundation defines America interests in all spheres including political, social, cultural, environmental, ideological and geopolitical. This coverage enables the aggregation of national security which extends to wherever America’s interests exist.

Of the economic underpinnings of national security, the defence subsector leads the way. The defence subsector is gargantuan and adequately represented in its domestic politics. The subsector yield multiplier effects on the entire economy. The United States thus loves conflicts particularly full-blown wars. Wars drive the defence subsectors which in turn drive the entire economy. We have seen that in the Cold War period, in the post-Cold War and Post 9-11 worlds. The benefits to national security cannot be quantified as Biden’s smart investment aptly captured.

The outward representation of national security is America’s military, intelligence and law enforcement logistics scattered in the over 1000 military bases in the world and in the 10 aircraft carriers supported by cruisers, destroyers and submarines in all of the oceans of the world. They make diplomacy possible and bolster America’s other logistics (America remains the country with the most leverage in all areas) in defending, protecting and advancing its interests defined as national security.

Ukraine and Israel are two of the logistics in the advancement of America’s national security. They represented America’s forward operating bases in these geopolitical areas. The smart investment that Biden talked about straddle myriad of areas including boosting America’s economy and jobs, advancing America’s research and development in all areas including defence, defending and advancing America’s values including freedom and democracy, serving as listening post in the areas and repaying quadruple the sum invested on them. America will be neck-deep in post war reconstruction of these countries. This is security and for the United States, this is national security.

Does security or national security in Nigeria’s undefined, uncharted and ungoverned parlance contain these constituents? NO. Beyond existentialising the defence of the transient state and their occupants, in what is arguably security constructed in the image of the military and taken from the civic/public face of America’s national security, security, expressed solely in the name and work of the military, intelligence and law enforcement, exclude all other areas of human endeavours in Nigeria. Security does not free most Nigerians from care, provide most Nigerians with something which secure, create condition of being secure for most Nigerians and reduce or eliminate feeling of apprehension in most Nigerians. This is in spite of the pretension and imitation of having the philosophy/policy/legislation-starved unrepresentative and seldom used National Security Strategy 2014. This Strategy was updated in 2019 following the expiration of its five years lifeless span. The Strategy represented the executives’ view of security. The House of Representatives compiled its own philosophy/policy/legislation-starved National Security Summit Report 2021 representing the legislatures’ view of security. These documents’ fundamental flaw included putting the security cart before the security horse.

Both documents do not represent the views of most Nigerians. As a matter of fact, both documents represented versions of organised crimes perpetrated by the makers against most Nigerians in the areas they called security and/or national security. They represented the views of the individuals and institutions behind them. Both documents do not guide programmes and conducts of even their makers – the Office of the National Security Adviser and the House of Representatives – let alone those of the public sector ministries, departments and agencies of governments of all tiers and the private sector. Nigerians do not make reference to these documents in their intervention on security or national security. While the genesis of the National Security Strategy 2014/2019 can be traced to the increasing embarrassment that Nigerian officials suffered in their interface with international bilateral and multilateral partners on issue of security and/or national security as a result of the absence of document on security and/or national security and thus the need to have one, the National Security Summit Report 2021 owed its origin to the intense competitions and rivalries between the executives and legislatures over the monetary (money is security) soul of their so-called security and/or national security in the grand theft under the cover of security and national security that characterised persons and institutions in the Muhammadu Buhari presidency. The heist that happened in the Buhari presidency, in the name of security and national security, was seminal and unequalled in Nigeria’s modern history.

What goes as security and national security in Nigeria derived from the defence schedule of the military as contained in their constitutional mandate and was a construct, if construct was the right word, of the military and military regimes. The military, intelligence and law enforcement-centric security or national security is not a smart investment as it did not and will not yield security for most Nigerians before, now and in the future. What goes as security only cater to the needs of the elites of politics in the executives and legislatures and their military, intelligence and law enforcement collaborators in what I called a political economy of security in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic. In denying most Nigerians security, in their poor governance or ineffective and inefficient utilisation of human and material resources for the benefit of most Nigerians in all spheres and in all tiers of government, they created and continue to create the raw material – the crises and conflicts – they used and will use to justify their provision of security and national security which bled and continue to bleed the country of funds which they siphoned and continue to siphon and use to secure their livelihoods. As a political economy, security and/or national security aggregate, advance, defend and protect the interests of the elites of politics and the military, intelligence and law enforcement in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic.

Nigeria has never had a construct of security agreed upon by most of its nationalities that is enshrined in the constitution and/or legislation and pursued in policies and programmes in the ministries, departments and agencies of governments for the benefits of most Nigerians. This agreed-upon-security and national security will then become the basis for engagement by most Nigerians in matters of security and national security and by the academia and media in their investigation and interrogation of governance and governments.

Nigeria has never constructed security in the image of civilian and civil rule governance ever in its history. This is even as Nigeria has practiced a variant of representative rule in the last 24 years – the longest ever since independence. In the past 16 years of the 24 years, what goes as security and national security which is in the name and work of the agencies of the military, intelligence and law enforcement successfully failed and continues to fail because of incompatibility of frameworks.

Nigeria, through its legislatures, needs a construct of security in the image of civil rule governance and the constitution which will make Nigerians and Nigeria the canvass of this security. Only then would intervention in the different spheres unleashing security be considered a smart investment for the security of today and tomorrow’s generations of Nigerians and Nigeria.

For now what is security and/or national security of the last 16 years in the 24 years representative rule system is an unwise and not-at-all-smart investment in the wellbeing of the elected/appointed political elites and the elites of the military, intelligence and law enforcement in what is arguably an organised crime in Nigeria’s so-called security and/or national security.

Dr. Adoyi ONOJA is of the Department of History, Nasarawa State University, Keffi

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