President Jonathan is criticised for his reactive political policies, but on Monday 13th May 2013 when the Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau declared in a video that he would unleash a spate of kidnappings of women and children in retaliation to the Nigerian government’s actions, the President was pushed to be proactive. The Boko Haram leader swore to carry out violence in response to the imprisonment of relatives of Boko Haram members, maybe the President finally had to REACT and prove that we would not negotiate with terrorists and clamp down on their spurious activities. Currently there are divisions in Nigerian political camps about the Presidential prerogative to institute a State of Emergency in 3 Northern Nigerian states. The President’s reaction was provoked when over a hundred policemen were slaughtered indiscriminately a week before, with no real perpetrators’ captured. I question why there is so much disgruntling about the decision, the President requested help when it was required and perhaps a bit later than he should have done. Nigeria can be likened to a fractured Federation, so arguments whether or not this was a democratic ‘reaction’ by the President, do not resolve the fact that if the President did not act the Federation may no longer exist.
The Presidential REACTION is well overdue; threats of ‘imminent danger’ (constitutional basis for implementing state of emergency) from within and without, an un-trackable death toll and a porous border with unidentifiable terrorist elements infiltrating the Federation require resolution. Collaboration with the Cameroonian government regarding strengthening border control is also a very good reactive measure by the President, but these actions could have predated this dilapidation in cross border communal consciousness, they could have been proactive. Reminiscent of my previous blog post Nigeriarchy, I think we have collapsed into a state of INDISCIPLINE; we have fully denigrated into a Hobbesian place, where there is ‘war of all against all’. The state of emergency has returned us to a State of Nature; in my last post the citizenry was looking up to leadership for a reaction and I think President Jonathan has finally taken a stand. Nigeriarchy I feel like I’m in a Hobbesian place … Nigeria resembles the state of nature where there is a ‘war of all against all’. Thomas Hobbes describes that this ‘state of nature’ comes into being when individuals are seeking their own self serving interests independently within a state. This is reminiscent of Nigeria today, slowly declining into anarchy. Where people can wake up, create their laws and act callously. The basic state relies on a ‘social contract’ which prevents our self serving interests from reaching a state of anarchy, because we sacrifice these caranal interests for a collective sustainable good.
State of Emergency VERSUS State of Nigeiarchy
An ideal State of Emergency should equal ZERO TOLERANCE for INDISCIPLINE; what is unfolding is a half baked attempt at peace restoration. Military strategy in the North should probably be covert so that its implementation is swift and the possibility of return to normalcy evident. Some critics view the political policy decision as a show of weakness by the President, but it was very clear that anarchy was the rule of the day in these areas, so admitting and employing a military reaction to this, is the best first step. No alternatives except harsh military action might quell the Nigeriarchy experienced across some states in the Federation. The President’s address to the nation describes that the military will: … “arrest and detain suspects, the taking of possession and control of any building or structure used for terrorist purposes, the lock-down of any area of terrorist operation, the conduct of searches, and the apprehension of persons in illegal possession of weapons.”
State of Emergency VERSUS Amnesty
Amnesty is in direct opposition to the imposition of a State of Emergency. Unfortunately the President is showing his political meekness by allowing this option of amnesty to exist, he should instead declare that the period of negotiating is over and intolerable behaviour will be immediately dealt with.
HISTORY of State of Emergency as interpreted per Nigerian Constitution sec 305
1962 Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa declared State of emergency in response to potential political subversion
1994 President Obasanjo declared a state of emergency in Plateau State in view of religious violent disorder
2011 President Jonathan’s half baked Northern reactionary response at the Local government level
2012 President Jonathan’s opportunity to amend security state of disrepute in the Federation
What happens after a State of Emergency? What will the implications of a potentially fractured federation be?
- Global perspective: The UN secretary General has expressed his concern that a State of Emergency although necessary may contravene Human Rights, however restoring the basic right of security as a nation will enable Nigeria to restore confidence in global relations. We have to address the probable human rights violations that might occur post the State of Emergency which will subsist in the fractured federation.
- Local perspective: Restoration of the social contract between the state and its people. Proactive policies provided by the President to restore peace.
President Jonathan’s decision to allow the Governors remain in power during the State of Emergency is perhaps another example of political meekness, although it is clear that there is no longer need for discord and if it simply keeps them happy by keeping them in there for nominal purposes then why should we argue? If it is indeed the political strategy to appease leaders in the North by maintaining ‘figurehead’ leaders whose powers are trumped by military might, so be it.
The constitution did not exactly delineate the function of the military so this is where we might have slight interpretation issues, and this is potentially why fear may creep across the Federation and fracture its foundation further…
Nigeriarchy… a state where we experience Nigeria’s fractured Federation and rebuild ‘OUR STORY’ for a brighter future.