BUNKER DEMOCRACY AND GOVERNANCE IN NIGERIA
The reality of 'insecurity based democracy' in Nigeria today has raised pungent questions on the virtue and practice of democracy as a form of governance, as it is applied to Africa, and as it is practiced in Nigeria ,with a comparative insight into democracies in Europe, U.S, India ,South Africa and so on. The fact that it is practiced in some of the countries with minimum insecurity raised questions on the practice and propriety of the project in Nigeria. I am therefore extremely humbled to play Socrates in interpreting democracy called 'demo in classical Greek, in the context of modern Nigeria and postmodern world where violence is constantly co joined with democratic practices.
Nigeria is currently operating an 'insecurity based democracy' which we can literally call a 'Bunker democracy' allegorically describing a Nigeria condition where the masses and the electorate, in constant fear, scamper for safety and the politicians, armed with mortars ,bombs, grenades and rifles, in the pursuit of naked and inordinate power, junket from the trenches. The political landscape is unfree, filled with values, gutters, gullies and booby- traps. In Nigeria's Bunker democracy is a harvest of freedom without human value, milk of liberty and equity.
The idea of social and political freedom in Nigeria is that of the pre-civil society. This freedom constantly set the political landscape and the civil society aflame. The 'insecurity based democracy' in Nigeria which we hereby call Bunker democracy is corroborated by the chairman of INEC (Independent National Electrical Countries) Attahiru Jega in the following words. 'some recent security developments have now placed security issues on the front Bunker … and news reports about arms build - up and arms proliferation is frightening to even the hardened mind' However, the temptation to think that this phenomenon is peculiar to this regime is to over-simplify the Nigeria historic phenomenon called Bunker democracy. Concerned citizens and philosophers must by sober reflection respond to duty because according to Socrates, the ancient Greek philosopher, 'an unexamined life is not worth living'
In tracing the etymology of security based democracy we recognize the explications of these key concepts namely, security, democracy and rule of law not merely because of their conceptual significations but because they have been violated and the values for which they stand replaced by Machiavellians and mafia managers. Security can be defined as social, bodily and mental states that guarantee protection of lives and properties. Democracy means togetherness and subsidiarity or the recognition of human person in running group affairs while the rule of law is a body or assemblages of signs or conventions approved by the society for security, governance and development.
Philosophically speaking security and democracy are not contradictions; they are borne out of instrumental reason and applied to human social nature. Their superstructure is, therefore, constituted by human nature and reason. On the other hand the rule of law is a social structure superintending the observance of reason for the overall interest of man. Therefore, 'insecurity based democracy' is a contradiction to democracy, a contradiction to the rule of law and a contradiction to reason. We can further conclude from the valid argument above that there cannot be 'insecurity based democracy' in the encyclopedia of reason and civilized societies. This concept - insecurity based democracy- can and can only at worst subsists in the licentious democracy of the Hobbessian 'state of nature' characterized by war of each against all and at best in a vulgar democracy. Nigeria's democracy and its variations found in many nations in the world is at best a representation of the crude and vicious mix of licentious and vulgar concepts of democracy, an ideology and regime of insecurity where freedom and liberty fall out of reason and where the 'rule of law' is replaced by the rule of barbarism, rascality and brutality.
Therefore, If one is commissioned to find out a conceptual configuration and actuality of a failed democracy or a failed state, the specimen is 'insecurity based democracy' among other cancerous specimens. A further diagnosis guided by the foregoing philosophical anatomy (analysis) will logically show that insecurity based democracy is a licentious and vulgar democracy hence, no one will be in doubt why Nigeria state is a case study. Nigeria's history is so associated with insecurity based democracy that a few socio - graphic data and periods of violence, brutality and break down of rule of law are needed to support the direction of this paper.
The echoes of violence and 'insecurity based democracy' from the beginning of Nigeria's democratic history when hundred of people lost their lives in the political conflagration in the western region to the bomb blasts on 1st October, 2010 near the Eagle square during the state celebration of the independent day leading to the death of many and scores of other injured, are both symbolic of insecurity based democracy and the threat of end of history. This is an argument that is validated in every periodic experiment on democracy in Nigeria. Since independence every period and space of civilian democratic practice is characterized by armed robbery, violent religious riots, and threats of war and assassinations: every democratic election is always the summit of violence and lost of lives. The 1st October 2010 bomb blasts and other series of bomb scares ahead of 2011 elections in association with previous orgies of violence and unavoidable deaths and destructions of properties constitute a systemic abuse of democracy, failure of human reason and a constant matrix of the weakness of Nigeria's state.
The general atmosphere of violence terrorism and insecurity pervading every democratic period and space in Nigeria since independence confirms absence of the rule of law and the existence of fake democracy as well as reconfirming the intrinsic values and ontological connectivities of democracy, rule of law and security. Democracy and rule of law are the twin pillar upon which a strong state and virile nation hood are erected and within which the seed of good governances, accountability and probity are planted and natured.
• Maduabuchi Dukor is a professor of Philosophy at Nnamdi Azikiwe University and Executive Director, Essence library 08037143816
The October 1st 2010 bomb blasts a few kilometer away from the sit of celebration of Nigeria's independence is symbolic enough to tell Nigerians that (1)our democracy is fragile (2) that rule of law is weak (3) that there is no security (4) that Nigeria is a weak or failed state and above all (5) that the threat of insecurity among that peasant and middle class in Nigeria is often laid on the door step of the leaders who hitherto cared less about the plight of the ordinary man. If democracy without rule of law is counterfeit and rule of law without security is an illusion, then the state of Nigeria nation today in terms of violence and insecurity is dialectical and historical.
The reality of the malaise of violence and insecurity called for a neutral, empathic and sympathetic examination with a view to finding out what are the wrongs. The violence and insecurity associating with Nigeria's democracy, in our candid opinion, is not isolated in the world; yet it is not a true test of democracy nor is violence and assassination the natural outcome of democracy. Justification for violence is neither here nor there primarily because reason abhors it and human nature rebukes it: it is neither justified by the theistic humanism of African philosophy nor a necessity for African freedom which is function of reason only. Even in other states and nations like Philippine, Mexico, Siri-lanka, Sudan and Chad, it is still the same problem of failure of human reason and selfishness or rather the obvious consequences of the absence of democracy and rule of law.
The extreme case of Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Gaza and West Bank in Jerusalem and so on are only good examples of violence, war and insecurity associated with crises of religion or faith dismembered societies where reason is sacrificed in defense of faith. In these religious societies democracy and rule of law are out of the question and hence democratic and secular societies like Nigeria must look up to stabilized democratic and secular societies in Europe and America in the learning process. But where this learning process is clearly becoming tortuous and redundant, incisive question must be asked and drastic resolution or revolution on the part of the revolutionary class taken to move the nation from its present state of darkness.
Yet the concept and the reality of Nigeria's 'insecurity based democracy' is not only the result of western propelled global capitalist decay but also the result of atavistic class consciousness and hegemony. 'Class hegemony in Nigeria today is the highest and final stage of misrule and corruption just as its concomitant and equivalent socio-political formation, neo-colonialism is the highest form of imperialism' Class interest is oppression and a tyranny of the minority against the majority. It is a class determination of issues and policies as well as socio-political problems like armed robbery, kidnapping assassination and embezzlement. Class content and expression takes various phenomenal forms.
In a negatively fast growing societies with false consciousness like Nigeria, it takes family kinship, blood relationship and a cultic expressions and further soar into social and economic realms for security and speculative futurism This insecurity based Nigeria's democracy is the making of the military, the religious, political and business classes and their relations, dependent parasites and collaborators who are the bete noirs (black beast) of the society, who recycle greed, corruption, insecurity and disunity. As vampires they suck blood of the people and perch on power and feathers of power for their selfish pursuits That is why the socio-political behaviors of the lower and middle classes have been converted into a class war against the upper class, those in power and the entire society in form of armed robbery and kidnappings who in desperate times are agents of assassinations in the intra-class wars among the bourgeois elites.
We can argue that in the area of security, Nigeria is ether a minimal state or a threatened state in the face of existing terror and insecurity which go along with our democratic practices. The evidence clearly suffices on many grounds (1) the muslin and Christian conflict and violence (2) Ethnic classes and terrorism (3) political instability characterized by military violent incursion into governance often associated with shootings, bombings and killing of solders and innocent citizens (4) Assassination, armed robberies, kidnappings etc. (5) the Nigeria civil war (1967-1970) and the Nigeria Delta imbroglio exposed Nigerian democracy to violence and terror.
Nurturing a security based democracy calls for a special sense of duty and reflections guided by the Socrates dictum that an unexamined life is not worth living and the African Egyptian saying, man 'know they self'. There is need for a re-examination of Nigeria's democracy and security system by Nigerians and for Nigerians. Therefore, solutions to Nigeria's insecurity based democracy will take into consideration multi-national, multi-ethnic and multi-religious nature of Nigerian society where crisis is endemic and epidemic. A kind of social engineering is required where postmodern culture and values are propagated and institutionalized to replace the particularistic and contradictory values of ethnicism and religious bigotry. Nigeria needs a new conception of citizenship in a new post religious and post-secular society where the individual is critical and self-reflective.
Nigeria has to embrace a post modernization process in an innovative spirit of accommodation that requires a liberal and communalistic ethic of citizenship for all geo-political zones and all religious adherents. The modernization process involved here is a discarding of ethnic or religious binoculars, a lifting off of the veil of ignorance that work against assimilation of ideas and synthetic catharsis for a new personality. A postmodern Nigeria citizenship is an embodiment and involvement of patriotism that subordinates bigotry, ethnicism and selfish interest to secular demands in a pluralistic society.
It is understandable that the level of poverty in the country has been a major precipitating factor for the high levels of criminality and violence, and their dynamics which has been natured and encouraged by Nigerian weak state and lax internal security. The unemployment rate in Nigeria is scandalous and the state is less concerned even as the bourgeoisie and the political class live ostentatious life within and outside Nigeria. Security based democracy will be natured only to the extent of reducing unemployment and poverty in the society.
The criminality and violence pervading the social and political space in Nigeria portends, insinuates and presupposes weakness and fragility of the Armed forces and the Police which are beloved to protect the state and the people, but which are unfortunately believed to be partisan and politically polarized. Security based democracy will blossom if and only if the chains of commands of the Military, the Navy ,the Air Force and the Police are subjected to the rule of law civilians' control and monitoring in a democracy. It is, therefore, important to note that arms build -up, criminality and violence has a psychological and social link with military dynamics and uncontrolled security agencies.
One of the political headaches of democracy in Nigeria is the phenomenon of God-fatherism and its crisis which in its conception and dynamics has historically precipitated violence and criminality .The case of the abduction of Dr. Chris Ngige former Governor of Anambra state is an ugly chapter in Nigeria's Bunker democracy. Security based democracy in Nigeria can be a reality if and only if the miasma of violence associated with the crisis of Godfatherism, as an element of Bunker democracy is eliminated from the system.
A nation without a sound and sustainable justice system is a barbaric society that thrives on robbing Peter to pay Paul, criminality and violence. Today in Nigeria, people no long seek to obtain justice in the court of Law or tribunal because it is either absent or remote. There is little or no confidence in the ideally sacrosanct arm of the government, the judiciary; hence people resort to criminality and violence and in most cases to the capricious gods that subsists and savor in violence .Suffice it to say that the violence as a means to settle political difference or a reaction to an action is as a result of the failure of the justice system.
In an ideal democracy based on security of life and properties, in a well founded civil society based on rule of law and in a society grounded on human values, politics is completely separated from security system and interest. This is one of the attributes of a strong state whose ultimate function is, to ensure justice, alleviate poverty and protection of lives and properties. In Nigeria today, there is incessant collision and overlap of political interests and security leading most of the times to the compromises of the later.
In a security based democracy, security is an independent, neutral element and institution
Corruption is epidemic, endemic and cancerous in Nigeria and is a major force behind insecurity based Nigerian democracy. It is the driving force behind all assassinations, armed robbers kidnappings, terrorism and religious conflicts in Nigeria. Therefore Nigeria will succeed in developing and establishing a security based democracy only to the extent of reducing corruption to the barest minimum by making EFCC (Economic and Financial Crime Commission) and ICCP (Independent Crime and Corrupt Practice Commission) self sufficient and self -independent.
Democracy is not a monolithic prototype or archetype distributed uncritically from one society to another. It is based on reason yet reason's triumph is not peculiar to the west or to the east. Man as an agent of reason is the same all over the world but man differs from culture to culture in the application of reason. Democracy is a cultural icon and can only evolve genuinely within the cubicle of culture. As a cultural synthesis it evolves gradually in a learning process which in Nigeria case cohabits with African communalistic social actions. Therefore Nigeria will establish a security based democracy only to the extent that a genuine corruption free – democracy conversant with Africa communalistic values is institutionalized.
Finally, insecurity based democracy is born out of the misconceptions and activities of the narrow, shadow and bourgeois elites who are in control of power and state machinery. These elites are also responsible for the failure of the Nigeria state and the weakness of the statecraft. They manipulate the state craft for their selfish, religious and ethnic interests thereby compromising security and popular goals. Security based democracy is much dependent on political stability, economic empowerment and a strong state.
Therefore Nigeria can achieve a security based democracy only to the extent of banishing elitism in sectors of the polity by allowing majority to rule, promoting broad social goal, maintain stability through upward social mobility of the masses and general masses influence on the elites. Nigeria is a fragile democracy where the state of nature reigns, where rulers instead leaders preside over the affair of men where the rule of law is replaced by the rule of brutality where conspiracy takes over patriotism, where political power is entrusted on traders and businessmen. An enduring security based democracy in Nigeria will be possible if leaders instead of rulers take over the pilot of the state, if patriotism takes the centre stage in national affair, if political power is entrusted on the lovers of wisdom and when power is valued not as a means to wealth.
Maduabuchi Dukor is a professor of Philosophy at Nnamdi Azikiwe University and Executive Director, Essence library