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Aliyu Mukhtar Katsina

08036168944, amkatsina@gmail.com, http://Aliyu.wordpress.com
PG Candidate, Department of Political Science and Defence Studies,
Nigerian Defence Academy [NDA], Kaduna


28TH – 30TH JULY, 2009

This paper examines the impact of peace and security on the general development of the Nigerian
society. The paper challenges the existing and popular notion that peace and security are
commodities that can be purchased and imposed on a large scale at any-time through the application
of instruments of force and coercion (armed forces, police) as exemplified by excessive
militarization in the area of internal security. The paper hinges its arguments from the theoretical
perspective of alternative security strategy which states that peace and security are conditions that
can only be attained through the judicious and equitable use of state resources for the development
of all segments of the society. The paper concludes with the position that lasting peace and
sustainable security can only be achieved in Nigeria, if socio-economic equality, political stability
and democratic ethics, culture, dialogue and negotiation prevail.


Armed conflicts, violence and civil unrests and measures to address these by

government (national and local) in Nigeria have overtime given rise to various security

doctrines, strategies as well as policy frameworks that emphasise the utility of peace-

keeping and peace-enforcement measures through the application of physical security

strategies and instruments of coercion (militarism). One probable explanation for this state

of affair is the relatively narrow and militaristic conception of peace and security in

Nigeria. The implication of this towards ensuring sustainable peace and security in the

country and the general development of the society is simply flawed. First, even assuming

that peace and security can be ensured through the use of force, it then goes without saying

that the group with superior force capability and resources would always have its way. Two,

this has not always been the case; there are historical instances where groups are known to

have engaged in fierce competition for force-supremacy. The example of Niger-Delta in

this context is quite instructive. Between the Nigerian state and the youth militants there is

a fierce competition to out-do each other in the acquisition and application of superior force

for the maintenance of each others dominance in the region.

This paper offers a new perspective on understanding the question of peace and security

from the hitherto conventional-militaristic doctrine that underpins the Nigerian national

security and defence policy and doctrine since independence (NNDP, 2006). In this new

approach, it is shown how economic development, equality and justice among all segments

of the society complemented with a purposeful and dynamic political leadership are the

necessary ingredients to a sustainable peace and security in Nigeria. The effect of this on

reinvigorating the Nigerian society is quite monumental.

Framework of Analysis: Understanding Peace and Security

Advanced Learners Dictionary (Hornby, 2005), defines peace as “a situation or period of

time in which there is no war or violence in a country or area…the state of being calm or

quiet…the state of living in friendship with somebody without arguing”. This is a broad

definition of peace and it can be added that in the context of socio-political relations within

or among nations, this understanding amounts to utopia. History and Anthropology have

never furnished students with a period in human history when this situation or state is

known to have existed. In An Inquiry into the Nature of Peace and the Terms of its

Perpetuation, Thorstein Veblen (1917) perhaps one of the greatest thinkers on peace in the

20th century, posits that peace is a state of affair in which economic development supersedes

all indices of social development (Biddle & Samuels, cited in Goodwin, 1991:105).

Although it is not possible to accept the argument of Veblen in its entirety, it is not difficult

to appreciate the impact which economic development in any society could have towards

the general security and development of that society. This is because as revealed in the

succeeding pages; economic development is sine-quo-non to any meaningful and lasting

peace and stability in any country.

Security as a concept lacks universality of definition owing mainly to disagreements

among various schools of thoughts that address this question (Ejogba, 2006:305). In most

of the mainstream writings, security is seen as the state’s physical ability and strength to

defend itself from both internal and external threats and acts of aggression (Okwori,

1995:20). In this thinking, security is reduced mainly to the wherewithal of a state to

organise and sustain necessary capabilities, power and resources for the physical protection

and or defence of its territory, citizens and their properties. One of the greatest assumptions

of this thinking according to Rourke (2005:308) is that “the threat of violence may

successfully deter an enemy from attacking”. If for instance, from the perspective of the

conventionalist thinkers, Nigeria possesses the capability to protect its territory from

foreign incursion, Nigeria has a strong security system. Alternatively, through the police

force and other instruments of coercion, internal security could be enforced. The theoretical

underpinnings of this school of thought have its antecedents in the writings of Aristotle,

especially in Nichomachean Ethics, where he points that: “We make war so that we may

live in peace”.

Tedheke (1998:6) rejects this position and argues thus: “Security is beyond militarism.

The term security goes well beyond military consideration (force). Security can be

understood both as a defence against external (or internal) threats as well as the overall

socio-economic well being of the society”. It is important here to point that in the post-Cold

War era, threats to the security of states – external and internal – for the most part are not

necessarily military or political. In fact, there is increasing evidence to suggest that threats

are assuming economic, environmental and religious dimension. McNamara (cited in

Tedheke, 1998:6-7) offers a more elaborate explanation on this concept. According to him:

Security means development. Security is not military force though it may involve it:
security is not traditional military ability though it may encompass it; security is not
military hardware though it may include it. Security is development and without
development, there can be no security. Any country that seeks to achieve adequate
military security against the background of acute food shortages, population explosion,
low level of productivity, fragile infrastructural base for technological development,
inadequate and inefficient public utilities and chronic problem of unemployment has
false sense of security.

This amply contrasts and even ridicules the view of the conventionalists who hold that a

necessary measure to peace and security in any country is through the use of force and its

monopoly by the government. According to Palmer and Perkins (2007:198), force can not

be used as a serious guarantor of peace or even security in a state because “so long as force

system prevails, then armament has a utility, and that so long as it has utility, so long will

armament survive and the greater the utility, the greater will be the armament (subject to

limitations of finance)”. It is interesting to reflect on this argument against what is presently

happening in Niger-Delta as well as the ever-mounting cases of armed robbery and youth

violence in Nigeria.

Two Necessary Indicators of Peace and Security in Nigeria in the Context of the

21st Century:

1. Economic Development:

It might be puzzling to predicate sustainable peace and security to economic

development. This needs not to be so. According to Lowry (cited in Goodwin, 1991:5-6),

there is an emphasis upon security through economic self-sufficiency, the absence of which

no meaningful understanding could occur. Understanding the place of national economy is

central to any serious analysis of peace and security in modern societies. This has become

imperative because studying security and peace matters from purely military perspective

has now become practically impossible. This of course is closely related to the Cold-War

fall-out that sees a paradigmatic shift in security studies from conventional security

strategies to non-conventional one that encompasses political and economic development,

equitable social institutions and opening up of the public environment for dialogue and

negotiations in place of force and violence.

Socio-economic development of a country is the greatest indicator of any level of peace

and security. This is because social indices of development such as poverty, unemployment

and crime levels are not only a direct function of the level of development attained by a

national economy, but also by the level of equality (or inequality) inherent in such a

development. The Nigerian economy has since the early 1980s taken a turn for the worst.

This situation is occasioned by its very nature: weak industrial and productive base driven

primarily by a mono-culturally, export oriented royalty oil sector. For instance, crude oil

accounts for about 80% of all government revenues, 90-95% of export revenues and over

90% of foreign exchange earnings from 1980-2001 (Analysis, Vol.1. No.3, September


This exposes Nigeria not only to a climate of fear, complete subordination to foreign

sources and absolute dependence of the economy on foreign countries, but also exposes the

porous nature of the indigenous productive base. And this is very important to a meaningful

and sustainable development. As a rule, because of this poor level of economic

development in Nigeria, the mass of the citizenry could not partake in gainful endeavours

that are necessary to any stability and order in the country (Anyanwu, 1992:1). This

undeveloped nature of the national economy makes it possible and even nourishing, for all

manner of anti-social tendencies – drug abuse, prostitution, youth militancy and violence,

moral deprivation, armed robbery, assassinations, and general level of societal insecurity

that characterised Nigeria over the last ten years – to grow which in themselves have

become serious security threats to the country (Maier, 2000:65).

2. Political Leadership and Development:

Political development and, in democratic society, the quality of national leadership are

also central to a study of peace and security. Where political development of a country has

attained a considerable degree of openness and accountability, democratic ethos and

principles are bound to guide all process of decision-making and governance. In such

situations, as a measure of respect to both tradition and constitutionalism, differences

among constituent units are more likely to be resolved through dialogue and negotiations.

This contrasts sharply with dictatorships and tyrannies where least differences are likely to

be resolved through the medium of repression, force and violence. Rule of law is also the

guiding sprit of all forms of interactions – social as well as political – between the

governing elite and the mass of the citizenry. The nature of political leadership, including

its grasp on societal issues, dynamism, pragmatism and sensitivity to the aspirations of the

public, is also instructive in this regard. Where the political leadership is insensitive,

corrupt, unaccountable and dishonest, democratic tendencies would become repressed and

genuine aspirations of the public would neither be tolerated nor respected. Public interest

would become subordinated to private political interest and corruption and abuse of office

would become rampant.

As a general principle, this always leads to a climate of distrust, suspicion, fear,

alienation and ultimately civil unrest and violence. In a study of law and order in the

Nigeria’s Second Republic, Imobighe (1984:41) states that:

Any detailed study of law, order and security during the first four years of Presidential
rule in Nigeria will present a number of striking paradoxes. The first paradox is that
those who are saddled with the responsibility of managing the affairs of the country
turned out to constitute the greatest danger to the security of the country. This
observation is based on the fact that a people’s security must start from the level of
meeting what is basic to human life before moving into the area of providing security
against physical violation. In this sense, by robbing the nation of the means of meeting,
the basic necessity of human life, either by mis-management or outright looting of the
treasury, the political elite of the Second Republic and their bureaucratic collaborators
have created a climate of insecurity in the country the indisputable mark of which is
general frustration and miscontent. The second paradox is that of faithlessness on the
part of the political elite in the survivability of the system they are given the
responsibility to manage. By implication, it is also a manifestation of a lack of
confidence in their own ability to ensure the survival of the system.

Sustainable Peace and Security in Nigeria: How Feasible?

If the observations of Imobighe, complemented by poor economy, are pertinent to the

understanding of the general level of insecurity in the Second Republic which found

ultimate expression in the December 1994 military coup as agreed by near-unanimity

among scholars and analysts (Barrett, 1985, Nzeribe 1985, Eluwa et. al., 2005), how much

need to be said about Nigeria in the Fourth Republic. To start with, Ode (2003:136) points

out that: “peace and order are sine quo non for the development of any society”. Talks of

stability, progress and development can not be possible in Nigeria when poverty,

illiteracy/ignorance, unemployment, diseases, inequality, injustice and blatant anti-

constitutionalism attitude of the ruling class persist. According to Mbachu (1998:23), “the

first task of any state is to ensure the safety of life and property of its citizens”. This

obligation however does not imply the provision of physical instruments of defence to the

detriment of other necessary security indicators. Alabi (1997:131) observes that:

Security measures must be directed towards immaterial objects like life-style, culture,
freedom, identity and the protection of nature. This is so because an individual who has
not satisfied his or her basic needs like food, clothing, housing, health, education and
work can hardly be called secure – no matter how much weaponry the individual may
have at his disposal”.

The question this paper poses is therefore simple: is peace and security in the context of

the current prevailing situation feasible in Nigeria? The answer to this question is in

economic development, purposeful leadership, democracy and constitutionalism,

accountability, productive empowerment of the people as well as equitable distribution of

national resources. This argument finds support in the assertion of the Former U.N

Secretary General, Boutrous-Boutrous Ghali, who says that “unless security assumes a

broad and holistic dimension, national development and peace cannot but remain a fleeting

illusion” (cited in Alabi, 1997:131). The implication of this towards reinvigorating the

Nigerian society for a prosperous and happy future is clear. Abdullahi (2005) offers a more

elaborate pertinence of this argument thus:

Security involves food security and health-care delivery. You do not get anything, far
less self-reliance, from people who are hungry or sick. If people are too concerned with
their securities, there would be no time to be patriotic or to think of production of
goods and services. The young and able-bodied would be too busy seeking other means
of survival, begging or stealing…Where self-survival is at stake, talk of self-reliance is


The conclusion of this paper is that peace and security cannot be attained in a society

where there is a disproportionate level of inequality, poverty, hunger and injustice. For a

nation to attain any significant level of peace and security, it must channel and utilise its

national resources towards building a society in which the economy is strongly rooted in

indigenous initiative characterised by equality, justice and fairness. There is the need to de-

emphasise the role of physical security institutions and structure such as the police and

armed forces towards achieving this desired state. These institutions are solely beneficial

only to the idea of peace-keeping and peace enforcement. And it has been shown that there

is an increasing shift of emphasis, world over, from peace enforcement to peace building.

Arguably, the idea of peace enforcement has its merits, but whatever those might be, they

are superficial and only achieve limited objectives. In the ultimate, peace and security

established on the foundation of force only breeds a consciousness of fear, suspicion,

distrust and evil intent on the part of the weaker party (Palmer & Perkins, 2007: 200).


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