For A Peoples' Armed Forces

By Egbe Omo Oduduwa

Egbe Omo Oduduwa endorses the recent call by the hunters in Borno calling on Nigeria’s military to allow them become part of the war against Boko Haram terrorism, bringing into focus the need for a review of Nigeria’s security and defense architecture. Acceding to the hunters’ request will no doubt be of a fundamental significance, not only in terms of intelligence and reconnaissance, two vital elements of military operations but also underscores the Regional imperatives of security and defense in a multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-national Nation State.

It is instructive to note that part of the reasons adduced by the hunters for making this request was precisely to avoid what they called “idleness” on their part as Boko Haram’s activities had rendered them helpless in pursuit of their hunting profession, a situation the hunters say can be mitigated by their knowledge of the terrain.

Furthermore, by seeking to be absorbed into the military, the hunters’ idleness will be taken care of by their becoming gainfully employed as part of the military, two specific areas of primary interest to the Buhari administration: employment and security, while also enabling the military’s professionalism and competence through embedding the hunters knowledge or experience into training, policy and doctrine of the military itself.

Beyond this immediacy however, is the role of the Armed Forces of the post-colonial state especially when geo-political considerations determine the effectiveness or otherwise of a military structure, hence, absorbing “hunters” into the military in fighting Boko Haram must also be viewed within the context of the current revving up of the Sunni/Shia contradiction, especially when the conflict has now formally reared its head in Nigeria with the recent confrontation between Nigeria’s military and the Shia movement.

There is no doubt that the Western World is backing Sunni Saudi Arabia’s crackdown on both the Shia as well as rebellious Sunni inside her territory following on the heels of her intervention against the Houthi(Shia) in Yemen, an intervention which would not have progressed without express support from her major arms supplier, the United States, whose conditionalities include how and where such armaments are to be used; both of these being viewed alongside attempts at containing Shia Iran in spite of Iran’s nuclear weapons deal with the West.

Africa’s anti-terror wars are being waged principally by weak Nation States, almost all exclusively internally unstable, even if engendered by global power plays resulting in the ineffectiveness or collapse of the Nation State, where recent “Dasukigate” confessions in Nigeria point to how easily the State can be turned into a plaything of whoever is in power or the complete dependence of the Nation State on “international” forces, as shown in Chad, Niger and Mali, such instability resulting from activities of terrorist groups which had been active in one form or the other for a very long time; with the State being sustained mostly by a heavy dose of Western(European) intervention coupled with US’s AFRICOM with its operational and command centers in these fragile Nation States unlike Saudi Arabia and Iran with their authoritarian States couched and sustained within the Sunni/Shia paradigm which also allows them to intervene massively in the on-going crisis in the Middle East.

Libya’s experiences are too recent to be forgotten, with the proliferation of arms from the Gaddafi regime fueling all sorts of Islamic fundamentalist insurgencies across Africa with Libya itself in political turmoil, with two governments pretending to run one country enabled by, as well as enabling of, all categories of armed militias. To all intents and purposes therefore, the African Nation State as it currently is cannot withstand the pressures imposed by terrorism in addition to its complete economic dependence on the former colonial powers, unless it is redesigned to suit its own historical purposes and carve out its own destiny in human affairs.

Nigeria will be able to avoid this scenario only if her security architecture becomes less dependent on "traditional" post-colonial security formation where such security is based on the abstraction of the Nation-State whose reality is manifested only through the denial of the "Peoples” as prime movers of their destinies--which is what the Sunni/Shia historical confrontation boils down to and where the hunters’ call become relevant.

The same Western forces backing Saudi Arabia and discreetly fighting Iran are the backbone of Nigeria’s anti-Boko Haram initiatives and going by the recent experiences, there is no guarantee as to the West’s ability to sustain the stability of the Nigerian Nation State, especially with Iran’s direct intervention, which had been previously hidden but which will now become open.

It is thus incumbent on the Buhari Administration to pursue the transformation of the Nigerian post-colonial Nation State into a Peoples’ Federal Republic as the only guarantee against instability occasioned by the struggle for the soul of the Middle East transported into Africa.

We recall the recurring issue of Federalism in both Iraq and Libya, even as also being suggested for Syria, as a way of resolving the political quagmire; in addition to the Kurdish Question which will necessarily translate into a re-formation of the Nation State in the Middle East, hence, the lesson for Nigeria is that we do not have to embark on a preventable dislocation of the Nation State before utilizing such a preferred solution.

A Peoples’ Federal Republic is a recognition of the diversity of the geo-political territory where issues about citizenship are mediated by her cultures thus making it possible to design a State capable of withstanding economic and cultural imperatives inimical to their destinies; a “Peoples’ Armed Forces”(or an Armed Forces of the Peoples) being a necessary component where, in this instance, existing and potential professionalism is aligned with the hunters’ expertise and would translate into a formidable political, economic and cultural force able to sustain itself against any onslaught.

Such a Peoples’ Federal Republic will be able to undermine any potential economic basis for terrorist expansion since terrorist expansion aims at, and thrives on political instability of the Nation State, allowing all sorts of political adventurers and cold-calculating apparatchiks of the West and its humanitarian businesses to have a field day; while for Nigeria, it will afford us the opportunity to redesign the post-colonial State in favor of the Peoples that make up the country, in consonance with the various Regional sensibilities.

This translates onto the socio-economic terrain whereby the current unnecessarily expensive Presidential System will give way to a System with a single-chamber National Legislature partnering with a National Council of State; the Council comprising those elected from each of the Federating Regions/Peoples, with equal representation from the Regions, regardless of size, among whom the President or Prime Minister will be chosen. Whoever is elected President or Prime Minster will attempt to give meaning to whatever platform that leads to his/her being elected, first from the Federating Peoples/Regions into the National Council of State and second from the National Council of State as the President or Prime Minister thus giving meaning to the Peoples’ Republic.

This will not create any chaos since most of the economic and social issues would reside with the Federating Regions/Peoples and the Federal Government will be a joint function of the National Council of State and National Legislature where this Government will only moderate its international interactions and obligations. Of course, all of these will translate into much less expensive elections thus reducing incidence of economic heavy weights dominating the electoral process while at the same time reducing corruption of the entire system itself, both being part of the center-piece of the Buhari Administration.

Such a Peoples’ Republic, and of course, its Peoples’ Armed Forces, will become the barrier to terrorism in its current form, infuse an urgency into development hence making the Nation State economically viable and culturally conscious thus limiting the possibilities of its being a terrorist playground as well as an asterisk in history which now appears to be the case for most African post-colonial States and Peoples.

Shenge Rahman Akanbi, Femi Odedeyi
For and on behalf of Egbe Omo Oduduwa

( [email protected] )

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