C-in C: Put the Army on the Job!
Would it be out of order if the President were to call the Chief of Army Staff today and say to him: I take the daily traffic hold up between Sani Abacha Barrack and Nyanya in Abuja to be a national security threat and I want you to take charge and clear the mess within the next one week?
This would be a very advisable option at this point in time because the magnitude of that traffic jam is, in every way, comparable to the cement armada crisis of the mid 1970s and this one starts right from Aso Rock Gate. It is something warranting a surgical operation beyond the FRSC or what FCT might have planned to do in the year 2099 because it is both a critique of authority and a security threat which could manifest in many ways and in which the number of deaths would be a monumental national embarrassment. That is if Nigeria can be embarrassed again.
Imagine how many deaths would be recorded in a situation where the tank of one of the vehicles on the jam bursts. There is no reason why a national capital city would tolerate even for one day a situation where one of the key entry/exit points would be totally blocked between 6 and 10 am/4 and 9 pm daily. Whether it is the nature of the road or the indiscipline of the road users or whatever reasons, this situation is unacceptable and it doesn’t matter that some of us do not live along that axis.
…Sambo Dasuki and the Humpty Dumpty Called Nigeria?
There will be trouble in 2015 and this is official. National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki said so last Wednesday at an INEC function. According to the chief of spooks, unlike the 2011 violence which was a post elections affair, violence in 2015 polls would be before, during and after election affair unless the prevailing security situation in the country gets better before the elections. The problems of the 2015 poll would not be due to lack of adequate preparation or compromised security agencies but the intensity of competition among politicians, he was reported as saying, adding though that Nigeria can get anything right when the critical stakeholders are determined to.
From the little Dasuki has said from the much he knows, the only way to avoid the misfortune of electoral terrorism in 2015 is not to hold elections. Otherwise, irrespective of how much Jega and his men and women or IGP Abubakar or SSS DG or even military big wigs prepare their officers and men, there will still be trouble in Form Six. It reminds one of the reasons late Sierra Leonean President, Siaka Steven gave for disliking elections. He said it is a quinquenial warfare, a war fought every four years. But how can we have electoral democracy without elections?
What this suggests as well as confirm is still the idea of Nigeria heading for the end of the road. This is neither new nor a terrible thing to say. For, already, the country is in so bad a shape no diplomacy or finesse can hide. The distress is so comprehensive as for Nigeria to be the Blackman’s greatest embarrassment in the 21st Century after Rwanda in 1994. Nigeria is defined by the kind of chaos and dysfunctionality that one doesn’t see anywhere else in Africa, not to talk of other parts of the world. One of her most brilliant professors, Eghosa Osaghae, has instructively called it the crippled giant. Now, the giant is transforming from just being a cripple to being so seriously distressed as to be generally perceived to be on a journey of no return.
In explaining this tragedy, another of her intellectuals, Chinua Achebe, insists that the trouble with the giant of Africa is leadership failure. In a way, he is right but not in the sense of that marvelous individual like Lenin or Napoleon or Lee Kuan Yew or Mandela or Lula or Murtala Mohammed, much as that would have helped but the absence of a hegemonic group that is developmental in orientation. That is unlike, say, India where Hindu nationalism has predominated in wielding the different ethnic and religious fractions of the bourgeoisie into a national ruling class in the true sense of the word, Nigeria lacks such a hegemonic group. Instead of one, God gave Nigeria three large ethnic groups, none of which has the capacity to predominate. Hausa-Fulani oligarchy was pervasive but never predominated. The military predominated but was not a transformative military and without developing the country rapidly and systematically, it created the basis for a frontal challenge to its authority. Now, there is a void as the PDP itself is heading for a crash under the weight of inordinate ambition of many of its chieftains for political office such that the task of ideologically and programmatically making sense of Nigeria is effectively in abeyance.
This is what is peculiar in the Nigerian case in terms of how divided the elite are among themselves to the point that they are incapable of acting as a class for itself, (i.e. a class that can subordinate ethnic, regional, religious and other primordial differences to the dictates of its long term class interest which is accumulation of capital). Hence, they behave in manners that threaten the survival of the entire system itself. This is what is uniquely negative about Nigeria in the sense of a national elite which has neither a sense of history nor a sense of shame thereby effectively reducing the country to a potential candidate for receivership of international do gooders like the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, (NATO).
Two, as a result of problem number one, the leaders that emerge are not products of any hegemonic consciousness and how to rationalize, defend and expand its powers. Many of them are not only apolitical, they are equally incapable of articulating and popularizing any sharp discourses of own nation state, the very first requirement of statecraft. It is not surprising. Without any consciousness other than a risk/investment fearing but money chasing orientation, this national bourgeoisie and its governing elite finds fulfillment only in philistinism and consumerism, allowing cultural pluralism or Nigeria’s heterogeneity to become an excuse for failing in state and nation building.
Third, because they are not a risk bearing but a buccaneer power elite, they cannot give meaning to democracy. For them, democracy is just a show, more or less like a bazaar. The economic management strategy by which democracy would have made sense is not possible under the folly of handing over the commanding height of the economy to pirates and non-descript investors who source bank loans within the country to buy lucrative state companies, strip them of the assets and run to sue or entangle the state in a foreign court or something like that. See how a harmless conceptual framework like deregulation meaning allowing for competition has been used by a nation’s elite to stab a country at the back. Instead of opening the economy to competition, deregulation became an instrument of primitive accumulation i.e. not accumulation that is primitive but the use of the state by the rising bourgeoisie negotiating their class ascendancy through looting, smuggling, commissions, over-invoicing, kickback on contracts, privatisation of SOEs, hoarding, accessory to capital flight and similar manners of negative accumulation.
Fourth, is the social crisis resulting from the combined effects of the first three problems above. That is the unbelievable unemployment level, the total infrastructure collapse, the disappearance of anything called social services (education, health or public transportation, etc). There is also the dimension of a culture of impunity, arbitrariness and lawlessness; the high level of corruption and the institutional anomie.
Fifth, is the anarchy produced directly and indirectly by the alienation induced by the fourth problem. This stretches from the resource nationalism insurgency in the Niger Delta area to various forms of criminality in the East to terrorism in the North, all of which are explainable by alienation, in the last instance. Alienation has reached a level where group grievances have now assumed movements for the reconfiguration of the state under the idealism or false consciousness that any other thing out there is better than coping with this thing called Nigeria. Above all, some of the forces pushing this have organised into guerrilla fighters ready to make real their plans.
Instead of anything that looks like a collective discourse of the Nigerian crisis as outlined above, the elite leadership is merely murmuring and begging the question, preaching and moralizing, a typical dynamic of primitive accumulation. This is neither strange in history nor peculiar to Nigeria even as it does not explain why the Nigerian elite is permanently incapable of placing the rapid transformation of the country on the agenda of politics, incapable of using the benefits of clear thinking in development politics, unwilling to take advantage of developments in science and technology and unskillful in deploying informed leadership to accomplish same.
Or permanently incapable of taking popular actions such as punishing cases of impunity like those arming and running private armies, punishing horrendous cases of corruption in the interest of the system, working hard on social justice, upgrading the infrastructural facilities to a more acceptable standard. In reaction to this leadership let down, the leaders are maligned and abused, individually and collectively. This is worse in the social media where ignorance, justified anger and insularity have mixed into a literary insurgency potentially more explosive than MEND or BH. This, I believe, has already alarmed the governing elite enough as for one of them like David Mark to draw attention to that.
Against this background, the expectation is that the 2015 election should provide a credible leadership recruitment process. That expectation is, however, what we are told won’t materialise. Instead, there will be violence or anarchy that will conclusively show that the dream of a bourgeois democratic revolution is only a dream. Isn’t it now a case of what are we waiting for before saying that, truly, truly, all the King’s men and all the King’s horses cannot put Humpty Dumpty together again? And then commence seeking a receivership before anarchy breaks out?