Government and the Instruments of Power

With a borrowed concept of democratization from the United States of America, it is critical for Nigerians to reflect on the instruments of national power in the light of the prevailing situation of security in our county. The unwholesome activities of Boko Haram insurgents, armed bandits, commercial kidnappers, suspected Fulani herdsmen and secessionists indicates that the security agencies are overstretched, our security has been compromised or we are living in a failed state. From American perspective, the instruments of national power include diplomacy, information, military and economy.

By way of clarification, national power stands for “the sum of all resources available to a nation in the pursuit of national objectives.” The elements of national power otherwise known as instruments or attributes of power are either “national” and or “social.” The national include things like geography, resources and population, the social concerns things like economy, politics, military, psychological and informational.

The US deploys diplomacy as the principal instrument for engaging with other states and foreign organisations to advance their interests and objectives as well as solicit foreign support for its military operations. Through diplomacy, it organizes coalitions and alliances with states and non-state entities as partners, allies, surrogates and or proxies. The goal is the interest, welfare and security of lives and property.

Because information is a key instrument of national power and security, the US invests heavily on investigating how non-state actors especially terrorists and transnational criminal groups use information to further their causes and or undermine those of government and its allies. To this end, the government is interested in how interconnected global networks or emerging social media platforms are used to either promote state causes or undermine national security. Here, the US government is deliberate and strategic.

Based on the international best practices, the US Armed Forces abide by its core values, constitution and standards for the profession of arms. By this, it employs the military instrument of national power at home and abroad to support its national security goals. The goal is to win the Nation’s wars by securing the nation against external aggression. In non-conflict situations, the military provides foreign relief.

In the US, National power is tied to the economy. This is why they belief in an open economy which provides access to global markets and resources for the betterment of the citizenry. This is with a view to ensuring economic growth, raising standards of living; predicting and preventing economic and financial crises. While it engages with other governments and international financial institutions, the aim is the general welfare of the US and all Americans.

Comparatively, in Nigeria the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) saddled with the responsibility of gathering intelligence for Nigeria through diplomacy and espionage. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides diplomatic cover for NIA staff in Nigerian Missions abroad. However, scholars are of the opinion that the “Nigeria’s defence policy is highly state-centric and this does not address the current trends of national defence and security. The increasing relevance of non-state actors in international security shows another pitfall of realism that recognizes states as the key Actor in international politics” (Sunday & Shimawua, 2018).

As regards information, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, National Orientation Agency, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) are expected to not only provide information for the citizenry but to work in harmony with security agencies like Department of State Services (DSS) to counter fake news and hate speech. The high volume of non-state actors especially the dreaded terrorists and transnational criminal gangs such as Boko Haram, armed bandits, commercial kidnappers and Fulani herdsmen suggests that we have failed in information gathering and sharing.

The Armed force which comprises of Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Air Force is responsible for securing the nation. While these security agencies have performed excellently in peace keeping operations abroad, it defies logic that the nation appears to be under siege by foreign invaders (terrorists). With accusations and counter accusations of diversion of monies meant for procurement of arms, the nation bleeds. While the army won the Biafra war and dislodged Maitasine, we are overwhelmed by Boko Haram insurgency.

National security affects the economy. In his 6 years of leadership, President Muhammadu Buhari promised to tackle corruption, insecurity and the economy. Sadly, the reality on the ground suggests that it is not yet Uhuru. Apparently, national security has been swallowed up by corruption. As a consequence, the economy is hemorrhaging badly. Though, the National Economic Council (NEC) was established by the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended; Section 153(1) and Paragraphs 18 & 19 of Part I of the Third Schedule) and inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari on 29 June 2015, NEC has not been able to reverse our national fortunes.

In conclusion, the basic assumptions of our malaise have been long years of military intervention in our polity, visionless leadership occasioned by nepotism and cronyism as well as lack of political will to do the needful. Unless the government of the day recruits more police officers and buys into the idea of state policing, the military who have become used to civilian affairs will continue to overstay their welcome. No institution rivals government in owning the instruments of power. Therefore, in the interest of our national objectives, military-might should be used as the last resort. In the interim, it behoves on government to wisely utilize diplomacy, information, military and reversing the economy in its exercise of national power for the good of all. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!

Fr. Dyikuk is a Lecturer of Mass Communication, University of Jos, Editor – Caritas Newspaper and Convener, Media Team Network Initiative (MTNI), Nigeria.

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