Nigeria’s military-political complex -By Lekan Sote

Filed under: National Issues |

Lekan Sote

America’s military-industrial complex is simply the collaboration between the US military and political infrastructure in the interest of the American merchant class. Accordingly, the business elite of the American realm provide the funds that their political collaborators re-route to the military that protects America’s economic interests within and outside American borders.

You could say that political decisions in America are sponsored by, and for the protection of, America’s merchant class. Former American Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, once vowed, circa 1976, that America was prepared to protect American interests in the Arabian oil fields by force of arms if need be.

You may also know that America’s foreign policy in the Gulf Region was defined by America’s oil men, that the State Department diplomats do no more than implement the policies that are articulated by these oil men.

A recent proof of this is that America’s current Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, resumed at the Foggy Bottom offices of the State Department from the Executive Suite of America’s international oil company, Exxon-Mobil.

Well, the Nigerian economy is not as robust as that of America, the biggest economy in the world. Nigeria’s economy is a mere appendage or outpost for the distribution of manufactures from North America, Western Europe, and Asia.

Credit former President Olusegun Obasanjo for this unfortunate, but true, statement. Nigeria cannot be said to have capitalists in the league of the international monopolist capitalists that run the economy of the world.

The presence of the military in the affairs of the Nigerian government cannot be lost on even a Doubting Thomas. On Independence Day, a few days hence, you will watch the President review the traditional march past of the Nigerian Armed Forces at the Eagle Square, Abuja.

The quasi-federal constitution that was fashioned for the so-called democratic Fourth Republic was provided by the military hierarchy that operates essentially along the all-inclusive command and control template that brooks no opposition or alternative views.

That the military is some kind of Electoral College in Nigeria is evident in the role it played in installing Obasanjo, a retired general, as President of Nigeria, with nary regard for the preference of the civilian electorate.

The retired wing of the military allegedly played the same role in wresting power from former President Goodluck Jonathan who walked into a bobby trap. The emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari was the crystallisation of the resolve of the military establishment for power change.

Obasanjo’s ominous letter, “Before It Is Too Late,” which accused former President Jonathan of engaging in anti-party activities, emphasising geographical and religious differences, and breaching a pledge to run for only one term, was the death knell to the Jonathan Presidency.

The open secret of former President Obasanjo’s meeting with retired Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar, and other not so prominent retired generals, allegedly in search of a successor to ailing President Buhari, is confirmation that the military still runs Nigeria.

Indeed, under the soft velvet veneer of Nigeria’s civilian democratic government lurks the military iron fist. That perhaps explains the tradition of adding “Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria” to the titles of the President of Nigeria.

Joint military task forces, military shows of force, like Operations Python Dance I and II, and military expeditions at Odi and Zaki Biam, deployed to forcibly pacify some Nigerian communities, prove that the military routinely performs the internal security duties of the Nigeria Police.

When it became clear that the JTF that was employed by former President Jonathan couldn’t curb the Boko Haram insurgency in North-East Nigeria, the military rolled in the tanks with Operation Lafiya Dole. And there has been no going back.

The plea by the governors of the South-East to “President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, to please withdraw the military in the South-East Zone while the police perform their traditional role of maintaining law and order,” shows the extent some parts of Nigeria have been militarised.

By the way, Operation Python Dance II shouldn’t have taken its fancy footwork to the neighbourhood of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra pressure group. Kanu is too insignificant to become a hero or martyr to keep Nigeria one.

While it’s looking as if military force, and not dialogue, would be deployed to keep Biafra agitators in Nigeria, peeps in the hoods of Lagos argue, “Ko le werk;” it won’t fly. See what dialogue did in the Niger Delta.

Someone has argued, “There is a reason you separate the military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then, the enemies of the state tend to become the people.”

It is, however, worrisome that no one denies that a cabal has appropriated Nigeria’s state violence, resident in the military, to enforce decisions that advance the primordial interests of a section of the country, namely the North-West, to the disadvantage of the rest of the North, and the detriment of the entire Southern Nigeria.

Those who think in this probably exaggerated way refer to some social media activists, who are evidently Northerners, by their names, who insist that the military must remain in the South-East despite pleas for withdrawal of Operation Python Dance from purely police function.

Despite the military’s engagement against Boko Haram insurgency in North-East Nigeria, some think that the Python Dances are masked ploys to compel the South-East to accept Nigeria according to the world view of the North. This open wound can only be healed by candid talk about restructuring.

The other day, an obviously concerned worried “danfo” bus passenger argued with intense pathos that the Northern political establishment used the military to achieve its political agenda in Nigeria’s political space.

He considered mute the argument that the political North has to wait till 2019 to chalk up a mere six years in the presidency of the current democratic dispensation, which the South has held for 14 years.

He countered that when the military ruled Nigeria for 28 years, only Generals J.T.U. Aguiyi-Ironsi and Olusegun Obasanjo, who ruled for four years between them, were Southern Nigerians. Of the eight military dictators that ruled Nigeria, the North produced six Generals, who ruled for 24 years.

He called to evidence the counsel by departing British colonial masters for the North to send its young men into the military, rather than the universities, because the future of political power in Nigeria was in the military.

A former Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, reportedly dropped his admission to Ahmadu Bello University for the Nigerian Defence Academy. Others didn’t even consider the university option, but proceeded to the NDA after their secondary school education.

Maybe you don’t know that the Nigerian Army started in 1863 as Glover Hausas, under Captain John Glover, and was renamed the Hausa Constabulary, which combined both military and police functions, in 1879.

The Arabic script on the Army’s coat of arms indicates the Northern Nigeria origin and orientation of the Nigerian Army, whose lingua franca, by the way, is Hausa, whereas English is the lingua franca of Nigeria.

President Buhari must take care that Nigeria’s military-political complex does not continue to be perceived as an agency of the Northern establishment.

Twitter @lekansote1

 

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