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Sit-Up or Stand-Down

By Anthony Chuka Konwea, PhD, PE

There are some classes of problems such as internal security in Nigeria, that are so complex and intractable that they defy all rational understanding or solution. Obviously, you must first understand a problem fundamentally before you can proffer a workable solution.

Engineers have an elegant way of describing these kinds of problems with multiple, complex, interacting, causative variables. They say they are indeterminate problems with indeterminate solutions.

They then proceed to estimate their degree of indeterminacy. This to all intents and purposes is the number of unknown independent variables that could possibly influence or affect the solution.

The internal security problem facing Nigeria could be said to be an indeterminate problem which has an indeterminate solution. But what is its degree of indeterminacy? And what could be its solution?

Bear with me but let us revert to engineering for some insights on the way forward. Faced with an indeterminate problem, with indeterminate solution, engineers relax their quest for a rational general solution. Instead they constrict the problem to “what really matters.”

So instead of trying to know the precise level of stress in a structure or engineering body at any given time for instance, they constrict the problem. They simplify the challenge by restricting themselves to knowing the failure stress i.e. the stress level that leads to failure.

Instead of trying to analyze an intractable multiverse of “load” scenarios, they simplistically attempt to analyze the one scenario that really counts. Obviously, this is the failure scenario – the load or combination of loads that causes failure.

Of course, once they can establish the failure scenario, they can then apply a factor of safety to that scenario and boom the problem is solved. The structure is safe, provided the failure load or failure combination of loads is not exceeded.

They can for instance put a warning sign on a bridge – “trucks with gross weight above 36 tonnes (80,000 pounds) may not ply this bridge or culvert.” If the factor of safety is 50% you may then be sure that if a truck with gross weight of 54 tonnes (120,000 pounds) plies that bridge, it would collapse.

One critical issue obviously is the factor of safety. How do engineers establish the factor of safety? In engineering terms, this is a “political” problem. A judgement issue. One engineer’s factor of safety may be too rash to a more conservative engineer.

Generally, the magnitude of the factor of safety depends upon the degree of certainty about the failure load. The higher the number of assumptions made in determining the failure load, the greater the factor of safety provided and vice-versa.

All of which leads us to the overarching issue of establishing the failure load. This is where things really get exciting. To arrive at the failure load, engineers further restrict the problem by applying the elegantly named “boundary conditions.”

Failure boundary conditions are known conditions of failure. The application of prescribed and predetermined failure boundary conditions, in one fell swoop restricts the number of unknown variable conditions. Reducing the number of unknown variables in turn simplifies a complex situation.

There is one crucial philosophical trick that engineers employ to finally resolve the problem. The failure load, i.e. the engineering solution of the problem, is that load or loads that when imposed on the structure satisfies (in other words leads to or provokes), all the known imposed failure boundary conditions.

Think about it. Any applied load(s) that leads to boundary conditions different from the known failure boundary conditions, cannot be the failure load(s). Note that for very complex problems, resort may have to be made to engineering hacking (i.e. using trial and error) to determine the failure load.

But it bears repeating that the failure load must be the load that satisfies all the failure boundary conditions.

Which brings us back neatly to the internal security situation in Nigeria, which many would agree is currently in a state of failure.

A dozen known and observed failure boundary conditions of Nigeria’s internal security situation (note that there are many more) are as follows.



  • Majority of the heads of the security services, intelligence services, police force and armed forces are from one section of the country. With a centralized chain of command, all are ultimately answerable to the President and remain at their duty- posts regardless of competence or results.
  • The Nigerian countryside is grossly unsafe
  • Armed Fulani herdsmen and not the Nigerian state technically control the Nigerian countryside.
  • The armed Fulani herdsmen have seized indigenous tribal lands and terrorized the indigenous owners of the land to give up their lands.
  • The armed Fulani herdsmen have been described by many observers as the fourth most deadly terrorist group in the world based on the number of killings ascribed to them
  • Very few to almost none of the armed Fulani herdsmen have been apprehended or brought to justice by the Federal Government.
  • The Federal Government is hell bent on seizing indigenous tribal lands and converting same for the resettlement of the Fulani herdsmen across the country under the guise of ranching or grazing reserves under its Ruga 2.0 scheme.
  • The Nigerian President without consultations with Nigerians unilaterally declared a free visa on arrival policy for Africans at the borders
  • The Fulani are the most itinerant ethnic group in Africa with sizeable populations in many African countries.
  • The Fulani are a minority in Nigeria, but they are disproportionately represented in the corridors of power
  • Most of the political appointments of the current President are either from his Fulani ethnicity or from his geopolitical section of the country.
  • By intimidation or tribalism, the President has seized complete control of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial arms of Government.


  • Having run the numbers and done the math myself, I have come to the inescapable conclusion that only one failure load or overburden when imposed on the Nigerian internal security situation, satisfies the dozen failure boundary conditions listed above.

    That failure load or overburden is that the Federal Government of Nigeria under its current leadership, by deliberate, premeditated acts of collusion and complicity, is vicariously responsible for the parlous state of internal security in Nigeria.

    Sadly, the designers of Nigeria’s Constitution never envisaged in their wildest imagination that the leadership of an elected Federal government of Nigeria, driven solely by primordial tribal interests, could act so brazenly, so unpatriotically, and so treasonably against the interests of a generality of Nigerians.

    And so, they failed to provide a factor of safety in the Nigerian Constitution to guard against such a universal failure of internal security. With expansionist objective all arms and agencies of the Federal Government are willy-nilly working towards one objective. This is the political subjugation, economic asphyxiation and cultural annihilation of indigenous Nigerians.

    I would like to quote extensively from the moral treatise of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.

    “One may well ask: ‘How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?’ The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘an unjust law is no law at all.’

    “Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.” – Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.

    By dispossessing indigenous Nigerians of their ancestral lands, using the instrumentality of Fulani herdsmen terror and the nonchalance of the security services to bring the trespassing perpetrators of violence to book. the Federal Government is complicit in the ongoing degradation of human dignity in Nigeria.

    Faced with the growing resolve and determination of a generality of Nigerian States to arrange for their regional internal security in the face of a collusive and conspiratorial unwillingness to live up to its responsibilities, the Federal Government seeks refuge by citing the Nigerian Constitution.

    Self-defense is a universal and moral imperative in the face of unchecked aggression. Given the confirmed failure of the Federal Government, all Nigerian States must move full steam ahead and ensure the security of their citizens.

    The Federal Government of Nigeria, while respecting the cultural sovereignties of Nigerians over their ethnic homelands, must do either of two things.

    One is it sits-up to fulfill its responsibilities towards the security of Nigerians by declaring the armed expansionist Fulani herdsmen as terrorists and arresting those with innocent blood on their hands.

    Or two, it stands-down its current objections to Nigerians seeking to exercise their God given rights of self-defense of lives and properties in the face of sustained, unprovoked external aggression.

    The Federal Government must choose one. They just cannot have it both ways.

    Anthony Chuka Konwea, Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE, MNSE, FNIStructE, MNICE.

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Gabriel | 1/15/2020 6:07:00 PM
An expository of Nigeria failure state.Nothing lasts forever.