TAKES from the National Security Summit Report (NSSR), 2021 – Dr. Adoyi Onoja

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Summary: In 2014, the National Security Strategy (NSS) was launched. This 5-year strategy, driven by the Executive and the Military, Intelligence and Law Enforcement (MILE) outlines the country’s major security concerns as well as the policies and strategies put in place to address them.  Following its review in 2019 and the failure of the Executive to address national security questions, the National Security Summit Report for 2021 focused on critical areas of security such as the local and community policing, strategic kinetic national security operations, global perspective and international factors, non-military and non-kinetic security options and solutions. While these are commendable strategies to address insecurity challenges, it is important that the unasked questions about security and/or national security; What is security? Whose security? What is a security issue and how can security be achieved? be asked and answered.  Security and/or national security must be defined based on a legislative framework, and subsequently governed by policy implementations.


TAKES from the National Security Summit Report (NSSR), 2021

Take Number One:

The National Security Summit Report is Nigeria’s latest addition to its dearth of documents on “security” and/or “national security”. The first document was the National Security Strategy which was first launched in 2014. According to the Office of the National Security Adviser, the principal compiler, the NSS had a shelve life of five (5) years. Accordingly, in 2019, it was re-launched for another five (5) years. The NSS was entirely the making of the executive and specifically the agencies described as the military, intelligence and law enforcement (MILE) as it saw and sees “security” and/or “national security” in Nigeria.

The birth of the National Security Summit Report could yet represent the legislature’s sole enterprise and take on “security” and/or “national security”. Except that unlike the NSS which – I am not so certain on this – did not seek for the input of the legislature in its making and subsequent updating having assumed amongst others that “security” and/or “national security” (was) and is the turf of the executive, the NSSR, by its own admission, was representative of all segments of the society. Indeed the implementation strategy of the NSSR was divided into two parts with one part reserved for the executive.

Now, my thinking amongst others was the need for the NSSR was informed by the failure of the executive’s the NSS in addressing the unasked question called “national security” even as it was hurriedly reviewed and updated in 2019. The revised NSS was not even given the chance to prove its usefulness in addressing the “national security” question(s) before the memoranda of the Special House Committee on National Security (SHCNS) came calling. They wanted Nigerians to contribute “solutions only” to their (SHCNS) perspective of the executive’s unasked and unanswered “national security” question and now the legislature’s unasked question called “national security”. We are yet to know if the contribution of Nigerians contained the answer to the unasked “national security” question.

To paraphrase the late sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s view on the 1986 Political Reform Bureau, I would like to say, without any iota of doubt, that something within me tells me loud and clear that the legislature’s the NSSR like the executive’s the NSS is not the answer to the unasked questions called “security” and/or “national security”. We will find out soon enough.

This submission is based on my prior submissions before and during the publication of the memoranda by the Special House Committee on National Security. I resolved that getting to the heart i.e. question and answer of the problem called “security” and/or “national security”, under representative rule system, is not the task of the executives – federal, states and local councils levels. The executive (s) made up its mind long before representative rule to stick with the prevailing and familiar perspective of “security” as the name and work of the military, intelligence and law enforcement (MILE). This is owing to its control of these agencies on the one hand and on the other hand the pressing need for the executive to react to “insecurity” using the only resources or so it seemed to the executive that it knew from the practice of these agencies.

The task to ask and answer the “security” and/or “national security” question for most Nigerians and in Nigeria is the legislatures’ – federal, states and local council levels. They have the time, resources (fund and expertise) and the mandate or schedule. They are to get to the bottom of the problem called “security” and/or “national security” within their mandate to govern the entire Nigeria. They are to define the problem – what is security, whose security and what is a security issue. They are to provide the legislative framework to govern this security and/or national security. The executives will, arising from the legislative framework, evolve “security” and/or “national security” policy framework for implementation.

The legislature avoided and/or was unaware of the need to ask the fundamental question on “security” and/or “national security”: What is security? What is national security? Nor did the legislature provide its perspective on what were “security” and/or “national security” to guide the “solutions only” memoranda it sent out to Nigerians.

Yet Nigerians, it claimed, contributed to the “solutions only” memoranda and behold we have the National Security Summit Report 2021!

Let me refer you to the concerns I raised on different forums – classrooms, presentations (seminars, workshops and conferences), Facebook and website – on the need to ask and answer the critical questions within representative rule framework and not within the familiar military rule tradition it was handled in time past and that is presently being recalibrated in spite of the overwhelming evidence of failure.

Remember that the military rule framework on “security” and/or “national security” was meant to govern narrow sphere of human endeavour – defence. This came with its limitations. The limitations have been evident in the last twenty two years of the failed and failing “security” and/or “national security” under representative rule. The representative rule framework where the questions – what is security, whose security, what is a security issue and how can security be achieved – has never been asked and answered governs the entire spheres of human endeavour including defence. Unless this is addressed, there cannot be any way forward.

The concerns I raised following the publication of the call for memoranda for “solutions only” by the Special House Committee on National Security included the followings in this order (see Facebook page and www.adoyionoja.org.ng): “The Making of Another Fruitless Search in the Special House Committee on National Security Call for Memoranda”; “The Three Models of National Security to Respond to the SOLUTIONS ONLY Request of the Special House Committee on National Security”; “The Wall Gecko in the House: the Call for Memoranda from the Special House Committee on National Security” and; “Where is the National Security Strategy (NSS) in the Special House Committee on National Security’s Call for Memoranda?” To cap this all, I submitted my personal memoranda to the SHCNS entitled “Time to Investigate and Interrogate the History of this Failed and Failing “Security” and/or “National Security” in Nigeria”
I have often wondered – and I haven’t any idea if others do too – that:

“If the military and military rule defined and operationalised “security” and/or “national security” within their job description of defence, how should the elected political class (legislature and executive) define and operationalise security and/or national security? Should the political class not define and operationalise security and/or national security within their job description of governing of the entire country that encompasses everything beginning with the foundation of society and security, the economy? Should the political class not follow the security type advocated by Anthony Burke that “security should not be seen as one good among many. Security should be the good that guarantees all others”. Should the Nigerian political class define security and/or national security in the context of their difficult experience in the hands of the military and military rule as the quid pro quo that “security” and/or “national security” is today? Where is the difference between the elected political class and the military class in the definition of security and/or national security? Of the military and political class, who should own security and/or national security in the present representative rule framework?”

This is the context for my intervention.

My second TAKE will examine the “Preface” to the National Security Summit Report.


Recommendation(s):

Security should not be seen as one good among the others but a good that guarantees others. In essence, security concerns should be addressed with a sense of urgency to safeguard all other aspects of human existence.

  • To address security challenges, the primal focus should be on raising and addressing questions surrounding security and national security. Such questions as what is security? Whose security? What is a security issue and how can security be achieved? Where is the difference between the elected political class and the military class in the definition of security and/or national security? Between the military and political class, who should own security and/or national security in the present representative rule framework? Should the political class not define and operationalize security and/or national security within their job description of governing of the entire country that encompasses everything beginning with the foundation of society and security, the economy? Until all these and other questions are addressed Nigeria security efforts will continue to suffer setbacks.

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.

Keywords: National Security Summit, National Security Strategy, National Security Adviser, Special House Committee on National Security

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