Nigeria since its independence in 1960 from its colonial masters, has been a remarkably huge challenge having a conflict free society. Nigeria’s political history illustrates this. It shows that anything that has to do with political power, particularly the control of state power, invariably elicits a violent struggle often leading to almost systemic breakdown. When the basic fundamentals of democracy like the rule of law is sabotaged and the rule of man is imposed, the resultant consequence is the breakdown of law and order and the enthronement of violence of unprecedented violence becomes the order of the day and this has a way of telling on our political stability and national security and we can use a few historical antecedents to buttress our assertion.
For instance, the NPC controlled Federal government in the 1960’s in active connivance with the NCNC violated the constitution and the rule of law with impunity in a desperate attempt to hijack the western region.
The legitimate AG regional government of the west was sabotaged and chief S.A. Akintola unpopular NNDP imposed on the region. This constitutional violation was to ignite a chain of reactions beginning with the breakdown of law and order and the vents which culminated in the tragedy of the Nigerian civil war which cost millions of valuable lives.
With the presence of the prerequisite for democratic practice by nation states, it is expected that political activities will be more orderly, peaceful and progressive. It is however, disappointing to note that in most African countries, Nigeria in particular, the reverse seems to be the case. Most of the conflict or violence in Nigeria have particularly politically motivated. This violence has been most prominent during and after elections. Choosing leaders by way of election has posed very serious problems to the country, and some cases, threatening even the cord that binds the nation together. It has brought untold hardships, setbacks and killings to mention but a few. These situations have gone to very threatening dimensions. No nation develops in an atmosphere of conflict or violence, and when the basic indices of national cohesion is threatened, it can affect national security and stability, according to Claude Ake, in his analysis of ethnic configuration in Nigeria.
Ray Ekpu, one of the founding fathers of ”Newswatch Magazine”, submitted that ethnic suspicion is the most noticeable indices that threaten national cohesion. He maintained that the relationship between the various ethnic groupings in the country has that of mutual suspicion and the suspicion becomes quite crystal during during and after elections. The various political office seeking appeal to ethnic sentiments during elections and would even incorporate another very dangerous dimension, which is an appeal to religion. And often times, this result in ethnic or religious crisis that shakes even the foundation of the nation. The stability of any nation is dependent on the peaceful coexistence of its components or federating units. Once there is a disequilibrium in the cohesion, it precipitates conflict that could have negative impact on the unity and stability of the nation.
Tom Milner in his ‘Peace of the Nations‘, maintains that the military as a well disciplined and professional body have the responsibility of maintaining the territorial integrity of the nation, as well as quell internal insurrection. However, it has been observed, according to him, that in most African countries, the military plays very pivotal role in their democratic and political process. The military in most of its justifications for political power ascendancy has largely been due to the corrupt antecedents of the civilian political leadership and of course the uncontrollable breakdown of law and order. The military usually waves the mantra that it is taking over political leadership to seemingly maintain law and order by bringing a violent political crisis under control to restore stability and national security, and in most cases, there is a rational for this justification.
THE WAY OUT:
- However, for the peace, stability and national security of the nation to be continually maintained, the political gladiators must play politics according to the rules of the game. They must incorporate the rule of law into their electioneering process. All constitutionally laid down procedures must be obeyed to the last letter during the electoral process to avoid a descent to anarchy which can negatively impact on the stability of the country.
- Political parties which play very crucial roles in political power ascendancy must beat their members seeking political offices into lines. They must ensure that their members seeking political offices don’t play to the gallery by acting in manners that could threaten national peace and security. They must be willing to withdraw their support for members who engage in acts capable of putting the stability of that nation at risk through punitive measures as may be deemed necessary.
- Also, the electorates have a sacred responsibility of performing its civic duties patriotically at all times and reject the temptation of being used as pawns in destabilizing the nation by politicians seeking inordinate political desires.
- The armed forces must truly live to their professional credentials. They must resist the temptation of hastily usurping political power at the slightest solvable political crisis. Military take over is no longer plausible in the 21st century Nigeria. The military must be seen to be truly professional and resist the urge of wanting to enjoy the pecks that usually accompany the take over of political leadership. By so doing the peaceful coexistence, political stability and national security of the nation can be guaranteed.
Written By: ARTHUR Kelly – who is a Political & Public affairs analysts, Advocacy, Development and Corporate Communications Consultant. Reach him on: firstname.lastname@example.org and 08034645459.