“SECURITY”, Section 14 Subsection 2B and Nigeria’s Conspiring and/or Clueless Legislatures

By Dr. Adoyi Onoja

This title conjured up two allegations against Nigeria’s legislatures. The first allegation was that they conspired with the executives and made Section 14 subsection 2B of the 1999 Constitution and within this the reference to “security” of the people ONLY as the sole purpose of government. In doing this, they ignored the “welfare” of the people part of the Article.

The second allegation was that the legislatures had no clue of the contents and intents of this “security”. The contents and intents included this “security’s” philosophy, history and politics. By the way, the 1999 Constitution is the first and foundational law of Nigeria and, the operating framework of the Fourth Republic. The Constitution came into being in 1999.

One issue that dominated discourses more than any other issue in the Fourth Republic beginning with the administration of President Umaru Yar’adua was “S E C U R I T Y”. This “security” was the talk of the executives, legislatures, the media and most Nigerians in this order. This “security” is the subject of this article to the extent that one of the legislators, whose views could be said to represent the views of most of the legislators and the legislative houses in Nigeria, made an issue of his received knowledge of this “security”, on prime time television interview recently. In particular, the legislator harped on the ubiquitous “security” in Section 14 subsection 2B of the 1999 Constitution to drive home his conspiring and/or clueless arguments.

Section 14 Subsection 2B of the 1999 Constitution come second in Chapter II entitled Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy. According to the Section:
“The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”

This Section is a constant clarion call for most members of the legislatures, executives and other vocal discerning and non-discerning Nigerians as they seek to embellish the purpose and failure of government and to justify the disproportionate shift of attention and resources to this “security” before every other items of governance in the Fourth Republic.

This was the position of Distinguished Senator Ali Ndume. Senator Ndume was at one time the chairman of the senate committee on army. Thus when he spoke on “security” and cited Section 14 subsection 2B repeatedly, he must have convinced himself that he spoke from a position of knowledge of what constituted “security”, his role in this “security” and the way to go in solving the problem. Senator Ndume was the guest of Channels Seun Okinbaloye’s Politics Today.

It was Senator Ndume’s contention that the 12 percent allocated for “security” in the budget was inadequate and thus undermined the functionality of the 88 percent allocated to other sectors. The implication was that without this “security”, there was no progress in other sectors. Senator Ndume argued that he was in support of giving “security” 50 percent of the budget after all “security was the primary purpose of government”. Was this part of the conspiracy and/or cluelessness to argue that 50 percent of budget be given to an undefined, uncharted and ungoverned “security” within civil rule and governance framework? Where was Senator Ndume’s power of legislation in appropriating this sufficient amount of fund for “security” that he had to make this public on prime-time television?

In the interview, Senator Ndume listed the challenges confronting the army and arguably “security” in general to include insufficient numbers, poor remuneration and allowances and lack of equipment. He not only drew attention to the fact that soldiers lacked guns while others used old AK 47 rifles when bandits had new weapons including AK 49. He also questioned the wisdom of the one thousand or two thousand naira paid soldiers performing dangerous work in the bushes and forests as duty tour allowance when civil servants working in the offices collected over thirty thousand naira as duty tour allowance. He noted that increased training, equipment, ammunition and motivation (TEAM) were instrumental to “security’s” performance. These admissions, I wondered, came from a legislator with the power of appropriation and oversight without which governance was impossible!

Senator Ndume’s interview was revealingly insightful as it was seditiously inciting in certain areas. The interview put into perspective several issues about legislations, legislatures and legislators in the Fourth Republic. The first issue was the legislatures’ conspiring and/or cluelessness on the origin of the idea called security and their responsibility in birthing and shaping a civil rule perspective of security within Nigeria’s history, experience and reality. The second issue was the place and role of the legislatures in driving governance in Nigeria using innovative ideas, persons and institutions in the last almost quarter century of representative rule.

The third issue was the legislatures’ second fiddle role, if not no role at all, in governance. There was total lack of appreciation of the place of legislations, the power of the legislators and their oversight functions in governance in Nigeria’s democracy. The legislatures were oblivious of the fact that unless they legislate, the executives cannot initiate policies, programmes and projects for execution. They were oblivious of the fact that unless they appropriate fund, spending by the executive on programmes and projects occasioned by policies cannot take place and governance will be crippled. They were oblivious of the purpose of their oversight functions which sought to audit the performance of that which was contained in their legislations and thus formed the basis of policies, programmes and projects.

It was difficult to listen to Senator Ndume informing Nigerians that the army or “security” does not have the numbers, equipment and the appropriate remuneration for doing their work. In the age of technology, the Senator equated performance with number arguing that the army with inadequate personnel was overstretched with their presence in 35 states of the federation. Senator Ndume did not connect the legislatures appropriation to the army and their oversight function to ensure that what they budgeted for personnel, equipment and remuneration was provided on the ground.

Let me remind Senator Ndume and his inks that from the record of the last several years, the budgets for this so-called “security” ranked amongst the first three or five with the highest allocation. This budgetary provision excluded the perennial emergencies occasioned by the orchestrated challenges of “security” to which both the executives and legislatures would securitise (assuming they comprehended the language of securitisation) in order to request for supplementary appropriations and interventions from other sources including the sovereign wealth fund.

What did the Senator do in his role as chairman of the senate committee on army and possibly member of other committees including the so-called national security and intelligence and in his oversight of the establishments under his committees to determine the use of the humongous allocation for this “security”? Was the fund appropriated meant for recurrent expenditures only? Were there no capital expenditures to cover equipment and logistics? Should Senator Ndume, in this priviledged position, be telling Nigerians about the incompetence of the legislatures in their legislations and oversight functions? Senator Ndume, in the parlance of the legislatures, should be considered a ranking member of the senate, one of its longest serving members and arguably one of the most experienced. Yet we witnessed this admission bordering on crass incompetence and incitement against the executives and to some extent the legislatures!

It was my contention that Nigeria’s political elite were part of a conspiracy and/or clueless on the matter called “security”. I am concerned about Nigeria’s legislatures and legislators in the governance of Nigeria. The legislatures and legislators’ primary task was to generate new ideas, review, and update and reform old ideas into legislations that should galvanise and form the bedrock of policies and programme of governance by the executives. In the matter called “security”, the legislatures and legislators have singularly and successfully failed Nigerians and Nigeria in the last almost a quarter century of representative rule. They did this by either conspiring with the executives to maintain the present knowledge and wisdom on “security” and/or because since they were clueless they latched on to this received wisdom and knowledge on “security”. The knowledge and received wisdom of “security” represented a product of an immoral, illegitimate and unconstitutional era in the history of governance in Nigeria. This era’s idea on “security” should have been jettisoned years ago were the legislators and legislatures alive to their task of generating fresh ideas and/or reviewing, reforming and updating old ideas to fit the new framework.

In advancing the thesis of the cluelessness of Nigeria’s legislators and legislatures, I argued that the “security” to which the often cited Section 14 Subsection 2B had a history, philosophy and politics. The history of this “security” began with military rule’s intervention in politics and in the interpretation of their defence role in the constitution as “security”. This “security” became embedded in the first phase of military rule inspired transition programme that birthed the 1979 Constitution modelled along the United States presidential system.

Section 14 subsection 2B was a military creation. So was the 1999 Constitution which represented their image of how Nigeria should be governed post military rule. The “security” in the Section referred to the military and to their indispensability in governance in the chaos their constitution promised to unleash in Nigeria. The “security” in this Section was first birthed into being with the gradual decay of governance or the effective and efficient utilisation of human and material resources for the benefit of most Nigerians during the Second Republic and afterwards under military rules. This “security” continued with what was arguably the collapse of governance that preceded the military’s hurried transition that birthed the Fourth Republic and that continued with the transition within transition beginning with the administration of President Umaru Yar’adua.

The philosophy of this “security” was anchored on the military’s defence role as contained in Section 217 Subsections 2a, b, c and d of the 1999 Constitution. The military, intelligence and law enforcement representing the different arms bearing agencies of the executive were saddled with defence, intelligence and law enforcement roles by the enabling laws of the land including the Constitution. These roles were what they referred to as “security” even as the enabling laws did not give them any mandate with the name security. As the governing class, when they were in power, this “security” represented their mandate which they defined and contextualised from the point of view of the disorder and chaos they accused the politicians of engendering while in power using the constitution they provided.

The developed world from where the idea of security emanated had their security governed. The United States was one example. It was the governance of its security called national security that birthed the application of national security to issues as well as the creation of institutional forms to include the National Security Strategy, National Security Adviser, and National Security Council amongst others. The legislation that accomplished this was the National Security Act of 1947. The legislation was meticulously crafted following extensive and intensive debates amongst most Americans. One object of the debate was the adequacy of the concept of national interest in capturing America’s diverse global interests. As a result of the consensus arrived at the inadequacy of national interest, the term was retired in favour of national security.

The United States is not alone in governing its national security. The Peoples’ Republic of China was another country where legislation was passed to govern national security in its self-governing territory of Hong Kong in 2020. The Hong Kong authority has since moved to strengthen the National Security Law of 2020 arguing that the Law operated like a car with missing parts. This development represented part of what I called governing or resourcing security with ideas and institutions.

This is unlike Nigeria where there is no governance for security. Using the car and missing parts analogy of the Hong Kong authority, the Nigerian example of security has no car let alone parts to determine other missing parts. The prevailing narrative of security and all of its association and institutional forms denoted the name and work of the executive agencies of the military, intelligence and law enforcement. While this was the legacy of military rule, the condition has been compounded by the retention of this template and narrative by civil rule operators. The lack of governance or resourcing of security with civil rule ideas hindered the application of security to any issue without this bearing resemblance to the dominant narrative. Instead the application of “security” to issues reinforced the failed undefined, uncharted and ungoverned “security”. This also applied to the institutional representations such as National Security Strategy, National Security Adviser and National Security Council etc.

The essence of this “security” did not go beyond the name and work of these executive agencies. To a large extent, most Nigerians do not look elsewhere for the purpose of this “security” in Nigeria. The fifteen references to this “security” in the 1999 Constitution either as national security or security advanced this thesis of the noun and verb contexts of the work of these agencies. The extant practices or what I called the civic face of the practices of security and national security by the developed world especially the United States pointed to the noun and verb contexts. This is similar with international media references to the military, intelligence and law enforcement as “security”. Most of these points had consolidated this believe amongst most Nigerians including the legislators that “security” was solely the name and work of the armed bearing agencies.

However, there is a duality in the execution of this “security” in the lives of Nigerians. The civic face and practice of “security” which played out in the public domain i.e. the deployment of boots and guns into conflict areas and for the benefit of most Nigerians also concealed the hidden and primordial face of this civic “security” i.e. the theft and siphoning of the money meant for this “security” which proceeds provide wellbeing in all of its forms for the elites of politics and the military, intelligence and law enforcement.

The politics of “security” is two dimensional – the second dimension being the emerging and consolidating political economy of “security”. The first dimension of the politics of this “security” commenced in a subtle form with military interventions in politics. Thus following the years of their interventions, the military left the psyches of the political class badly and seemingly irrecoverably bruised on the one hand and on the other hand those of the citizenry compromised making the most disgruntled citizens to persistently and consistently view the military as fallback position in the never-ending governance woes that characterised the affairs of the elected political class. In the psyche of both parties, the military remained a potentially destabilising force and an alternative government in waiting. The military held this position because of the political class’s dearth of ideology and class consciousness. These facts were on parade in Senator Ndume’s interaction on Politics Today.

There was an orchestrated state of nature enviroment created by both the military inside the 1999 Constitution they bequeathed the Republic and in the never-ending abysmal governance of the political class at every level. These two developments represented a permanent death nail on the coffin of the Nigerian Police’s ability to function effectively within civil rule context. The militarised environment in place required the consistent presence of the military which enabled the political economy of “security” beginning with the Yar’adua administration and reaching a crescendo, sadly, ironically and disgracefully though, under the watch of retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari.

The second dimension of politics which I called the political economy of “security” sought to allay the fears of the political class and the military, intelligence and law enforcement class by making provisions to assuage this fears. The eternal dread of the political class, of the military’s destabilising potentials, was addressed by assuaging the military’s loss of power through the provision of unfettered access to fund using the “security” portfolio. The “security” portfolio benefitted the elite of the political class (elected and appointed members of the executives and legislatures) and the elite of the military, intelligence and law enforcement.

The undefined, uncharted and ungoverned “security” was fed by the enduring and eternal crises and conflicts occasioned by the orchestrated poor governance on the one hand and on the other hand the request for fund to address the resultant “security” challenges. Most of the discourses and interventions on “security” challenges including the recent ones held by the Coalition of Northern Groups and the 48 civil society organisation’s calling for the declaration of state of emergence ended up with one solution: fund and more fund. They all played into the waiting hands and machinations of the dominant failed narrative of “security” and their beneficiaries. The fund ended up settling and defraying the cost of the military’s loss of its vast infrastructures and investments in politics following the return of power to the elected persons on the one hand and on the other hand provide the political class with limitless slush fund.

The presence of the military in 35 States of the federation was a welcome development in the scheme of the politics and political economy of “security”. This was contrary to Senator Ndume’s position that their insufficient numbers was overstretched. One of the biggest sources of unaccounted and unaudited slush fund for the political class in the states was from the portfolio called “security”. Their presence justified the endless request for “security vote” (an illegal and immoral Nigerian creation), the provision of equipment, logistics and welfare to the regular detachments and special operations’ detachments of the armed forces in these States. They helped the States’ executives and legislatures valorise Section 14 Subsection 2B’s “security” was the primary purpose of government.

The 1999 Constitution began life as Decree Number 24. It was a military law drafted by the military for their strategic survival plus. It was a constitution made in the image of the military. The implication, for civil rule enabling environment, was that the content of the constitution required reconstruction in the image of civil rule democracy and governance frameworks. In Section 14 Subsection 2B, the reference to “security” was a reference to the military and to some extent the intelligence and law enforcement vision and mission of “security” arising from their defence, intelligence and law enforcement roles. This “security” as the primary purpose of government put the military’s name and work as priority number one before other items including the deliberately ignored “welfare” part of the Article. This was the vision of “security” created in the image of the military. This vision was strategically place to benefit these institutions as their volarisation by the political class demonstrated over the years. The political class, by their actions and inactions, engendered the environment that prioritised this “security” as the work of military, intelligence and law enforcement.

Each time the likes of Senator Ndume that were saddled with creating fresh ideas and/or reviewing old ideas of legislations to enable governance invoked Section 14 Subsection 2B, they not only strengthened the claim of the military to this “security”. They showcased their complicity and/or cluelessness on the subject called security. In a legislature, staffed with legislators with good heads on their necks, the consistent and persistent failure of this “security” year in year out would have been enough to cause the combing inside out and outside inside of this “security’s” philosophy. This would have set the stage for the beginning of the construction of security in the image of civil rule and governance.

Nigerians did not bring civil rule into office in order for civil rule operators to become the champion of the “security” type they rejected under military rule. Most Nigerians wanted security of the type the military was incapable of birthing into existence by its constitutional mandate, training and limitations.

Security was an idea that began life in Europe in the 15th century. Thus security had founding etymologies from which security’s history and philosophy can be discerned. This was prior to security developing different country-culture-specific history and philosophy arising from the history, experience and reality of countries. However, the founding etymologies of security remained universal and consistent even as security was resourced or governed by countries and cultures based on their peculiarities. Thus in a careful constructed and legislated security, issues labelled security received the highest prioritisation in the hierarchy of the use of human and material resources to address the issues.

If security, from its etymologies, mean “free from care”, “something which secure”, “condition of being secure” and “feeling no apprehension” and if, in summary, one can define security as wellbeing in all of its forms, the rule type called civil rule operating under the constitution constructed by “we the people” has the mandate to accomplish this conception of security in all spheres of the lives of most Nigerians. This is the reason for advocating the construction of security in the image of civil rule, “we the people” constitution and governance.

The military had no business in governance and was limited constitutionally to one section in the constitution which was defence – the governance of defence. This governance of defence should be within the framework of civil rule perspective of security. In the scheme of the hierarchies of security needs, defence should and comes at the bottom of the hierarchy. It is therefore incumbent on the civil rule operators beginning with the legislature saddle with creating ideas into legislation for governance to realise the limitation of the “security” contained in Section 14 Subsection 2B and commence the construction of security in the image of civil rule and governance.

The military, overtime and in the twilight years of its governance, had strategically created the enabling environment for an enduring role for them in a post military rule Nigeria. The legislatures, out of conspiracy and/or cluelessness, in their actions and inactions, sought to perpetuate this vision and mission using “security” and Section 14 Subsection 2B.

It has been long overdue for Nigerians and the legislatures to break the stranglehold of the military on Nigeria’s democracy. The legislatures should begin by resourcing security in the image of civil rule. They should provide innovative and transformative ideas that would build persons and transform persons into institutions.

The vision and mission of every idea is S E C U R I T Y or freeing people from care, providing people with something which secure, enabling condition of being secure and reducing or eliminating feelings of apprehension. Nigerians and Nigeria cannot and should not be an exception.

Almost a quarter century down the road of Nigeria’s democracy, the legislatures and their legislators are still groping in the dark unsure of their place in the scheme of governance. Nigeria’s legislatures have never been associated with bold, innovative and transformative legislations in the lives of Nigerians that will dissuade most Nigerians from seeing the military as an alternative to civil rule.

The charge before Senator Ali Ndume should not be the continuation of the failed and failing use of the “security” in Section 14 Subsection 2B, inciting Nigerians against the government of which he is part of and dissipating needless energies and emotions on whether certain government offices would be moved to Lagos. The charge before Senator Ali Ndume is to devote his energies and experiences to lead his colleagues to reexamine the “security” in the infamous section of the 1999 Constitution that has become their perennial refrain and to evolve fresh ideas into legislations for the governance of Nigeria.

Senator Ndume should lead his colleagues in the legislatures to begin to create bold, innovative and transformative ideas that will change the trajectory of governance in Nigeria. To do this, Senator Ndume should lead his colleagues to begin with the foremost idea that trumped all ideas. This idea is S E C U R I T Y. They should construct security in the image of the civil rule system. This security legislation should be made the underpinning purpose of every other legislations retroactively and moving forward. This is because security with its etymologies of free from care, something which secure, condition of being secure and feeling no apprehension is the foundation of civil rule governance in all spheres. Most Nigerians voted in their representatives to provide this security for them in every sphere of their lives. Security is wellbeing in all of its forms. Security is not wellbeing in the physical spheres which the failed and failing Section 14 Subsection 2B’s “security” represented. This security, under civil rule, should thus be the vision and mission of governance or the effective and efficient utilisation of human and material resources for the benefit of most Nigerians.

Senator Ndume and his colleagues should construct a security legislation that will focus on the ROOTS or CAUSES of the lack of wellbeing or security amongst most Nigerians to which a truly we the people constitution charged the legislators to address and provide. This was the security that the legislators guaranteed for themselves in all of their actions. They should quit the shameful act of invoking the “security” in Section 14 Subsection 2B of the 1999 Constitution that treated one of the effects or symptoms of the lack of security or wellbeing in all of its forms for most Nigerians. This was the job of the military, intelligence and law enforcement which would be reduced to the barest minimum should Senator Ndume and his colleagues do their work of constructing and providing the kind of security they guaranteed for themselves for most Nigerians.

Senator Ndume and his colleagues should quit forthwith the embarrassing and shameful act of invoking the “security” in Section 14 Subsection 2B. This is because this “security” failed, is failing and shall continue to fail. The reasons were obvious: this “security” outlived its usefulness with the end of military rule and no longer fitted the mandate of a truly we the people constitution, civil rule and governance and, because the legislatures for reasons of the political economy of “security” in place, they continued to conspire to maintain this “security” and/or chose to remain clueless and abdicated their responsibility to their constituents.

The “security” in Section 14 Subsection 2B has been used to R A P E most Nigerians since the inception of the Fourth Republic. Nigeria’s legislatures and legislators whose mandate it was to challenge this “security’s” nature, meaning and purpose that underpinned the systemic rape of most Nigerians had, in most of their interventions, enlisted to smoothen, maintain and continue this RAPE in the name of “security”…is the primary purpose of government.”

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

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