Understanding, Domesticating and Strengthening Security, Development and Peace as Critical Factors for Anti-Corruption in Nigeria


I took the liberty to tweak the title of the presentation a little. The initial title was “strengthening peace, security and national development through anti-corruption”.

In tweaking the title, I retained the essential components of the initial title and added others in order to be clear in the direction I choose to go. I am of the firm conviction that it takes the understanding, domestication and strengthening of security for development and peace to prevail in order to unleash anti-corruption in persons and agencies.

Therefore the central concept worth understanding, domesticating and strengthening is SECURITY.  Thus development, peace and anti-corruption are the by-products. The primary presumption of the initial topic is that anti-corruption will strengthen peace, security and development. The evidences on the ground should support or repudiate this presumption. What are the evidences on the ground? What is the type of security, development, peace and thus anti-corruption on the ground to support the presumption?

Does the security type on the ground promote development, peace and anti-corruption? Shouldn’t the creation of Nigeria’s security, development and peace be the vaccines that will engender anti-corruption? Shouldn’t the focus be on understanding, domesticating and strengthening security that yields development and thus engender peace to enable anti-corruption in most people and agencies?

Shouldn’t anti-corruption be about the agencies fighting corruption on the one hand and on the other hand the immunity of persons to resist corruption? Shouldn’t peoples’ immunity be bolstered with security that unleashes development which in turn engender and enhances peace? Should it be about denying people security, development and thus shattering peace and expecting anti-corruption to work?


In tweaking the title the way I did, it is to focus attention on the way security, development, peace and anti-corruption is understood by most Nigerians in the last almost four decades. The misapplication of the imports of security and thus its implication for the others is responsible for the state of endless streams of crises and conflicts in Nigeria including corruption which is the focus of anti-corruption.

The prevailing perspective of security and thus the others lacked basis in indigenous knowledge system, Nigeria’s philosophy, legislatively-driven basis and thus subject to abuse by power, authority and influence. Security requires the infusion of Nigeria’s history, experience and reality (HER), security’s etymologies, civil rule and governance frameworks. This is because security is the lead concept in the discourse. Getting security right will unleash development, peace and the capacity of both sides – Nigerians and agencies – to resist and fight corruption.

On the Concept of Security

There is a relationship between security, development, peace and anti-corruption in the prevailing understanding of the concepts. Security precedes development. Development precedes peace. Therefore it is the lack of security, development and peace that engenders corruption hence anti-corruption or the need to focus on the fight against corruption first. It is security that creates development. It is development that creates peace. Peace is the absence of conflict.

In the Nigeria from the mid-1980s onward, security, development and peace were shattered and their contents completely changed moving forward. Thenceforth it was not possible to mention security without mentioning peace and development.

What is security? As used in Nigeria, security is a noun and a verb. Security in this context is bereft of philosophical constituents. Security is name and work rolled into one and it is contextual. Security is the name and work of the agencies saddled with the provision of safety for persons, properties and state in their different specialised areas. Security is the name of the military, intelligence and law enforcement (MILE). The work of the MILE is described as the provision of security.

The currency of security in Nigeria and amongst most Nigerians is the product of two enabling environments. The first is the international environment shaped by the Cold War and the post-Cold War. The second is military rules that dominated Nigeria for the better part of the 1980s and the 1990s. In the absence of legislative driven philosophical construct of security, security became the product of the historical juncture Nigeria was at the time security was birthed by these two developments.

Security borrowed bits and pieces from international practices and the mandates and practices of the MILE that was the professional agencies of the executive arm of government and the governing authority at the time. Security is the ability of the state anchored on the government at any particular time to have its way using the resources of the military, intelligence and law enforcement.

Like security, development and peace have no indigenous etymological, epistemological and philosophical depth in the country beyond the particular historical juncture that made them currencies of usage. The juncture in question was the height of military rule from the mid-1980s and their inability to manage the economy and society on the one hand and on the other hand events on the international scene in the area of human rights generally.

For the MILE, to restore this peace in order for development to thrive, it was necessary to increase security. Thus the connection between security, peace and development was established. The onset of the fourth democratisation increasingly linked this security with attracting foreign investment. Nieria need foreign investment. There was need to increase security – the military, intelligence and law enforcement – to create the condition for peace in order for development – international and local – to take place. Thus was born the exponential role and abuse of the so-called security as the only panacea for peace and development in Nigeria.

There was little attempt to appreciate the etymological, contextual, culture-specific and development bound meaning of security. There was no attempt to understand the reason behind the successful failure of this security each time it was invoked and thus the absence of development, peace and the prevalence of corruption.

Critique of Prevailing Concept of Security in relation to what are Development, Peace and Anti-corruption

This security or the military, intelligence and law enforcement (MILE) security is against development, peace and anti-corruption. This is if development is the elimination/reduction of poverty, inequality and unemployment; if peace is the elimination/reduction of conflict owing to lack of development and; if anti-corruption is the will by both Nigerians and agencies to resist corruption in all of its forms.

The MILE security in place is disposed to underdevelopment, conflict and corruption. This MILE security is built on foundations riddled with corruption. The evidences of the preceding twenty three years and in particular the last fifteen years demonstrated this clearly. Thus the MILE security failed the test of etymologies, Nigeria’s history, experience and reality (HER), constitution, civil rule and governance framework. Security as name and work of the military, intelligence and law enforcement failed; is failing and; will continue to fail because it has never and will never secure Nigerians.

The word security is a 15th century European creation. The Latin etymology of security is securus and securitas; the English etymology of security is secure. Securus is “free from care”, securitas is “condition of being free” and secure is “feeling no apprehension”. Until then, there was no word called security. From the dark ages of Europe to Europe’s forage overseas to the birth of the United States of America, the dynamics of what is security, whose security, what is a security issue and how can security be achieved evolved with the trajectories of their histories, experiences and realities.

For Europeans and the United States in particular, security and/or national security, as Europe and the United States refer to this respectively, represented two faces of the projection of their national interests, on the international space. On the one hand and at the heart of security are the economic, strategic and other resources out there in the world which they desperately need. On the other hand and because of the ungoverned international space, security is the logistics of the military, intelligence and law enforcement which enables the sourcing and delivering back home of security or economic, strategic and others resources.

The security in place since 1999 was a carryover from military rule and thus constructed in the image of the military as professional institutions and as government. Nigeria’s legislature is yet to realise this and/or realised this but for reason of the political economy of security persisted in continuing with this security. Nigeria’s civil rule and governance system is yet to construct its perspective of security that will reflect its image. In constructing its perspective of security, security’s etymologies, Nigeria’s history, experience and reality (HER), civil rule and governance frameworks should be the determinants and foundations of this construct.

At the juncture Nigerians ushered civil rule into existence, security should be wellbeing in all of its forms. The MILE security type target peace first; peace is the absence of conflict; peace is the prevention of conflict; peace is the creation of buffer zone. These were the professional concerns of the military, intelligence and law enforcement. Peace is the presence of the military, intelligence and law enforcement. These types of peace represented the internationalised perspectives popularised by development assistance at the opportune time that Nigeria was ridden by conflict inflicted by underdevelopment. The pursuit of this peace perspective by the MILE security engenders the developed world’s ability to access their security – economic, strategic and other resources. This peace type, focused on creating the enabling environment for the developed world to access its security, will not endure.

This is because this peace type is bereft of justice that a carefully constructed security within the history, experience and reality (HER) of Nigerians, security’s etymologies and civil rule and governance frameworks should bring to Nigerians.

What Should be Security, Development, Peace and Anti-corruption in Nigeria?

The preceding discourse did not leave any doubt that security or free from care, something which secure and/or feeling no apprehension is at the centre of every human endeavour. The security type popularised by the mandate of the executive agencies of the military, intelligence and law enforcement did not represent this security and certainly is NOT the security most Nigerians opted for when they drove the military back to the barracks in 1999. This security is narrow and out-of-date with Nigeria’s realities of the last twenty three years.

Nigeria has been a democracy with different constitutional and governance mandates which require the construct of security sensitive to these. The constitution requires civil rule to govern using the entire constitution. The governance mandate, arising from the constitution, is the type that calls for the effective and efficient utilisation of human and material resource, in the ministries, departments and agencies of the governments, for the benefit of most Nigerians. The accomplishment of these tasks creates security is wellbeing in all of its forms. This security should engender development or the elimination and/or reduction of poverty, inequality and unemployment. This security should engender education, employment and learning amongst all of the people of Nigeria.

The absence of peace of the type that has attracted the presence of the military, intelligence and law enforcement is occasioned by the lack of development. This development is the type that unleashes opportunities for most if not all the demographics groups in Nigeria in the short, medium and long term. Without this enabling environment, there will be endemic corruption whether of the Transparency International type or the Buhari-type.

Nigeria is neck deep in the Transparency International type corruption, as abuse of entrusted power for private gains, of the grand, political and petty types simultaneously. If we take the Buhari-type perspective of corruption, there are evidences supporting the theft and/or stealing of public funds. This includes the type associated with the MILE security type or what I called the Triangle of Security. The Triangle comprised the military, intelligence and law enforcement on top of the triangle with the executive arm of government to the left of the triangle and the legislative arm of government to the right of the triangle. The legislature is the bystander in the Triangle as the MILE and the executive drag the legislature where ever it suits them.

The quantum of the abuse of entrusted power for private gains and/or the theft/stealing of public fund, in the last twenty three years particularly in the MILE security type, is enough to increase insecurity, starve development and heightened crisis and conflict amongst most Nigerians. The last seven years and going to years of the “relentless fight against corruption” will hold an all-time record of the most stealing perpetrated by any administration, supposedly with the political will to fight corruption, in the last twenty three years. The evidences are on the ground for anyone to see. Of these is the N89 trillion stamp duties, the over N70 trillion stashed in some banks, the crude oil thefts on grand scale even as the President and Chief-Anti-Corruption Officer hold the portfolio of the Minister of Petroleum Resources and the last minutes stealing that will ensue as the administration prepares to leave office.

Most Nigerians anti-corruption immunity cannot hold in these circumstances. Most Nigerians will be prone to corruption as evidence by the statement credited to Senator Dino Melaye. Senator Melaye was of the view that the population of people waiting to steal in Nigeria is higher than the population of people that are currently stealing. In such circumstances, the anti-corruption agencies will have their schedules packed full of cases should they be working. Nor are the agencies immune to corruption whether of the Buhari-type or the Transparency International type. The spectacles of re-looting characterised happening inside the agencies.

Therefore prioritising the fight against corruption, in the “strengthening of anti-corruption” which represented one of the agendas of this administration, without revamping the economy in order to create opportunities for all Nigerians which represented the second agenda of this administration in order to enable “peace” which represented the securing agenda of this administration will not succeed in this enabling environment.

On the Need for Security Content Development: Nigeria’s Legislatures

There is need for the development of content for security by Nigeria’s legislatures. This is because the prevailing MILE security failed; it is failing and; it will continue to fail. This security prioritised order of the type that governed the schedule of the military, intelligence and law enforcement in what it assumed was the prevalence of disorder in the society.

This security is not in tandem with security’s etymologies on the one hand and on the other hand civil rule and governance frameworks. The 1999 Constitution is faulty in all of its provision on security, if these are provisions.

In the first place, security was NEVER defined in the Constitution. In the second place, the Constitution began the security confusion with national security in Section 5 subsection 5. In the third place and with this in mind, the Constitution, in Chapter II, Section 14 subsection 2B, made security central and defining. In the fourth place, all references to national security and/or security in the Constitution were descriptive and associational.

Designating the military, intelligence and law enforcement as security, contradict the provision of Section 217 and other enabling laws that specify the mandate of the military as defence on land, sea and air; intelligence gathering and; public order/law enforcement. The 1999 Constitution began life as Decree 24 and thus it is essentially a document created in the image of the armed forces of Nigeria. The problem with security is beyond the amendment of the relevant sections of the 1999 Constitution.

Nigeria’s legislatures need to create legislation to supersede the 1999 Constitution’s provisions on security. The legislation should provide for what is security, whose security, what is a security issue and how can security be achieved. This should be in the image of civil rule and governance framework, the failure of the MILE security to secure most Nigerians, comparative practices of security within democracies and security’s etymologies. This security should be the vision and mission of every legislation and thus policies and programmes of the executive for implementation.

This security will enable development or the elimination and/or reduction of poverty, inequality and unemployment which will engender peace amongst Nigerians. The cumulative result of this will be the reduction of corruption of every type amongst Nigerians including the corruption associated with the MILE security, the peace the MILE security so-called work to restore and the expected development arising from this. This will translate into anti-corruption or the ability of the people to resist corruption on the one hand and on the other hand the capacity of the agencies to fight corruption using extant laws


I would like to request the audience to reexamine the preamble and the not-so-rhetorical questions and issues embedded in there. This is to enable the examination of the evidences on the ground in terms of the last seven years of “strengthening anti-corruption” in order to enhance “peace, security and national development.” This will enable one to make informed decision that the way to go is to secure people in all of its forms first.

Securing persons will happen with governance that unleashes development that tackles poverty, inequality and unemployment and engender education, employment and learning on-the-go. The prevalence of underdevelopment not only increases corruption. The prevalence of underdevelopment disrupts peace.

There is a vicious cycle in the view that advocates fighting a relentless battle against corruption in order to free up resources for development and thus peace. The empirical observation is that the fight and the attempt to rein in the fight are now theatres of corruption.

About the Author: Dr. Adoyi ONOJA teaches history and security courses in the Department of History and in the graduate programme on Security and Strategic Studies in the Institute of Governance and Development Studies, Nasarawa State University, Keffi.

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