The Fifteen (15) References to ‘Security’ in the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria | The Journal

The Fifteen (15) References to ‘Security’ in the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria


One of my views is that the Constitution did not ask and answer the question what is security in Nigeria in its fifteen (15) mention of security. The Constitution is the source of all laws in Nigeria. I raised this issue in the articles ‘the 1999 Constitution, the Political Class and Resolving Security by We the People’ and in ‘Security is Amorphous in the Constitution’.

I made several claims about ‘security’ in Nigeria. They were borne out of my research, teaching, interaction and comparison of security inside and outside Nigeria. I have dedicated to canvassing issues on security. The issues raised on security are contained in the sub links ‘stripping’, ‘buzzing in town’, ‘aoviews’ and ‘adonostra’.

The Nigerian parliament has never made any policy legislation on security stating the philosophy or nature, meaning and purpose of security in Nigeria. I have had this suspicion for almost a decade in my research on security. I had firm confirmation that my suspicion was right when I began teaching ‘security’ in the graduate programme and in particular on the course ‘seminar on national security policy’. Thus, the three sources of law namely the constitution, parliamentary legislation and military decree did not provide policy direction for ‘security’ in Nigeria.

My trademark use of quotation marks to designate this security in most of my works draw attention to security’s many deficiencies. The principal deficiency is the lack of philosophy or defined nature, meaning and purpose anchored on the law. This lack of philosophy makes it impossible to hold the government to account on its declared security policy by all and sundry. This is unlike the National Security Act of 1947 in the United States and the recent National Security Law in the Peoples’ Republic of China. This deficiency makes drawing up curriculum and investigating and interrogating security in scholarship impossible.

It is also within the policy deficiency that I argued that Nigeria exist to fulfill one of the objectives of the security of the United States and other countries in bilateral and multilateral relations. Bilateral and multilateral security relationships are almost always initiated at the instance of these developed countries with security philosophy. Nigeria has no security philosophy and thus policy. Nigeria is not in the position to initiate any security cooperation.

Nigeria has no security philosophy and thus policy. Nigeria is not in the position to initiate any security cooperation.

 Arising from the preceding is my view that Nigeria’s ‘security’ is an imitation of the outward appearance or the civic side of the United States’ security. Nigeria has not bothered to study the history, sociology and politics of the United States’ security to enable Nigeria localise, domestic and indigenise her ‘security’ on the basis of its history, experience and reality (HER). The culmination of this United States history, sociology and politics is the making by the Congress of the National Security Act of 1947. The history of security began with the pioneers founding Virginia in 1607. The rest, as they say, is history. How is the Nigerian equivalent of history, experience and reality shaping its ‘security?

My consistent reference to etymology or the origin of security as a word; the theories of knowledge weave into the word; the nature, meaning and purpose of security. These are contained in the history, sociology and politics of the United States beginning with the pioneers of 1607 and culminating in the National Security Act of 1947. Can we situate these in the ‘security’ in Nigeria?

My attempt to draw comparison with countries in the league of Nigeria in order to demonstrate that history, sociology and politics is driving security in most countries and cultures. I referred to Iran, an ancient civilisation holding the banner for the Shiite, sticking it out against the machination of the United States and Israel since 1979 and desiring nuclear status to assuage its precarious position in the Middle East. It thus provides a voice for Shiite Islam; I mentioned Pakistan since its birth in the turmoil of 1947, the consistency of its rivalry with India, its frontline role in the Cold War, post-Cold War and the war on terror as well as its undeclared nuclear status representing Sunni Islam. There is Israel birthed in 1948, the only democracy in the Middle East, the strongest military power in the area, the number one ally of the United States’, surrounded by enemy countries that swore to its obliteration; and pariah state. South Africa before 1994, loathed by its neighbours, haranguing the frontline countries and most other countries on the continent, seeking nuclear weapon as its isolation grew by the day. These countries fall into classes of their own determining their security. Where is Nigeria here?

This profile enabled me to come up with the theory of the three routes to security in my manuscript; Security: a Brief Encounter in Nigeria. They included in this order security route to security, governance route to security and law and order route to security. It is my view that Nigeria is not aware of the import of each of this route let alone try them in this order before settling into that which is arguably the third route.

I use my forest metaphor for security and my tree metaphor for defence. In Nigeria, the two are synonymous and thus used interchangeably. The reason is that Nigeria has yet to imbue philosophy on security. Nigeria is yet to remove itself from the military enabling environment that shaped persons and institutions for decades. To say that security is foremost is to say that it is the end-state of every human endeavour. To say that defence is a tree in the forest is to say that there are other trees in the forest. In fact, the defence tree is the least of the trees in the forest assuming every other tree takes its place in the hierarchies of trees and works satisfactorily. The defence tree is the last tree to be invoked to support the forest assuming all other trees are working. It is to imbue security with philosophy in tandem with Nigeria’s history, experience and reality to begin the process of reducing and eliminating the believe that security and defence are synonymous and interchangeable.

I tried to find an interpretation for the reference to security in the 1999 Constitution. As used in the Constitution – the subject of this piece – security is name and activity. Period! This prompted my use of noun or name and verb or work in describing security as it appeared in the Constitution. It is part of asking the question: what is security? This question refers to the philosophy for security. This question refers to policy legislation that set the tone for every engagement with security. Should security just be name and work description in view of the colossal amount of resources devoted to it? Should security be the name of the executive agencies of military, intelligence and law enforcement? Should security be the work of these agencies? Surely security should mean more than this when examined in comparison with other cultures! Surely security should mean more than this when examined from the fund committed to it!

I wish to draw attention to the dent the funding of this ‘security’ constitutes to the country’s gross domestic product. There are various ways of looking at this ‘security’ and the immoral resources devoted to this. They include ‘security’ itself whatever that means to the minders; the military (Nigeria Navy, Nigeria Air force and Nigeria Army), intelligence (Defence Intelligence Agency, National Intelligence Agency and Department of State Services), law enforcement (Nigeria Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corp etc.), the Ministry of Defence.

How do we account for the administrative portfolios available to the executives from the President to local government Chairpersons called security vote; the occasional and incidental appropriation when ‘security challenges’ become overwhelming?  

These resources are not accounted for in any way because the conventional wisdom in Nigeria is that resources committed to ‘security’ cannot be questioned. Yet, this is not supported by the Constitution, other enabling laws and/or policy legislation. Fund for ‘security’ is dear to the hearts of elected officials of the executives and legislatures and their minions in the appointed and career civil servants cadres that they collectively watched development in the area.

I have developed concepts, tools and theories in the course of my teaching, researching and advocacy on security in Nigeria. Amongst these are History, Experience and Reality (HER), Military, Intelligence and Law Enforcement (MILE), Globalised Western Security Philosophy (GSWP), Studying, Thinking, Observing and Comparing (STOC), Follow the Money, to mention a few. These tools enable me make sense of the state of ‘security’ in Nigeria.

The view prevalent in my writings on ‘security’ is to refer to ‘security’ as failed, failing and Unstainable. Since 1999 and especially beginning in 2007, ‘security’ as I claimed unravelled and has since continued in this trajectory. This is the rationale for labeling ‘security’ failed, failing. There is a sense in which the failing of ‘security’ is orchestrated. In its current perception and practice, it makes good sense to the politicians and bureaucrats unwilling to be accountable. ‘Security’ is one portfolio that offers the chance to be unaccountable. ‘Security’ in its policy starved prevailing disposition will continue to fail because it is programmed to fail in order to fund its managers. The latter view influences my theory of ‘Follow the Money’.

I have made persistent clamour to have the legislatures intervene by investigating and interrogating the failed ‘security’. This is based on the assumption that not enough in the way of intervention has come from the legislatures. Most if not all previous interventions were driven by the executives. Unlike the executives, the legislatures are concerned with making/reviewing/updating/amending policies for implementation by the executives. The executives are concerned with the making of policy to a lesser extent and strategy to a greater extent. Their interventions on ‘security’ was driven by their part of strategy operated on the assumption that they knew this ‘security’. Since their assumption failed because ‘security’ failed and is failing, it is time for the legislatures to think outside the box. Thinking outside the box is taking up the question of what is security, whose security, what is a security issue and how can security be achieved. This is the question that has not been asked and answered on ‘security’ particularly under the democracy enabling environment since 1999.

The thirteenth point is the need to differentiate ‘security’ under representative rule enabling environment and ‘security’ under military rule enabling environment. These two environments differ. Perhaps barring the willful and orchestrated failing of ‘security’ by entrenched interests, the impervious attention given to enabling environmental factor may also explain the failure and failing of ‘security’ in Nigeria. Those running this ‘security’ will do well to remember that Nigerians drove the military out of power in favour of elected rule.

Their reason amongst many was insecurity under military rule. Perhaps it was insecurity as understood under that enabling environment. Perhaps it was more than just that. In driving away the military, has the present managers of the state conducted baseline survey to determine the security Nigerians voted for when they pushed the military back to the barracks? Of the executives and the legislatures, the latter is better suited to conduct this baseline.

A fair sample of this is self-evident in the way they – legislatures and executives – have handled the issue of their livelihood in the numerous legislations they have passed granting themselves the resources to support the highest standard of livelihood. I had clamoured for the making of policy legislation on security using the concept history, experience and reality (HER) and lately the theory of ‘Follow the Money’. The latter back Nigerians overwhelming clamour for something close to the type of livelihood lived by the executives, legislatures and judiciaries legally and illegally since 1999 and in particular since 2015. An examination of the HER and Follow the Money theories will indicate the type of security most Nigerians opted for from 1999 which has been denied them by the insensitivity of their elected officials.

There is the need to underscore the importance of security policy legislation as the framework of every engagement with security in the country. The call for security legislation from the legislatures is because of the silence of the Constitution on security. The lack of policy stating what a security issue is and how security can be achieved consigned everyone into a blind alley.At best, ‘security’ in Nigeria takes its meaning from the Speech Act metaphor of Ole Weaver. In that sense it is transient. ‘Security’ in Nigeria is a moving target that cannot be pinned to any point for any length of time. At worst, ‘security’ takes its meaning from the Constitution of 1999 that implied name and work for the military, intelligence and law enforcement. Either way ‘security’ failed and is failing. The evidence is on the ground for everyone to see.

Resolving the policy legislation lacuna encumbering ‘security’ in Nigeria will open opportunity for engagement by all and sundry least of all the development of curriculum and the beginning of the teaching, researching and advocacy on security in tertiary institutions. For now, ‘security’ is what you make of it on the one hand and which government official or documents including the Constitution you listen to or read on the other hand. A recent instance of security legislation is the national security legislation promulgated by the Peoples’ Republic of China. The resident of Hong Kong will bear witness to its efficacy.

Can we speak of any equivalent security policy legislation in Nigeria? NONE!  Can we say the Constitution’s citing of security asked and answered this policy question? Let’s find out from the Constitution of 1999.

There are fifteen mentions of security in the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.

The first mention of security is in Part II entitled Powers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Section 5 subsection 5 read thus: Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (4) of this section, ‘the President, in consultation with the National Defence Council, may deploy members of the armed forces of the Federation on a limited combat duty outside Nigeria if he is satisfied that the national security (emphasis mine) is under imminent threat or danger…’

The second mention of security is Chapter II entitled Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy. Section 14 subsection 2b read thus: ’The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.’

The third mention of security is Chapter IV entitled Fundamental Rights. Section 39 subsections 3b read thus: ‘imposing restrictions upon persons holding office under the Government of the Federation or of a State, members of the armed forces of the Federation or members of the Nigeria Police Force or other Government security services or agencies established by law.

The fourth mention of security is Chapter VI entitled The Executive. Part I Federal Executive. B. Establishment of Certain Federal Executive Bodies. Section 153 subsections1 read thus: 1k National Security Council.

The fifth mention of security is Section 154 subsection 2 read thus: in exercising his powers to appoint a person as Chairman or member of the Council of State or the National Defence Council or the National Security Council, the President shall not be required to obtain the confirmation of the Senate.

The sixth mention of security is Chapter VIII Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and General Supplementary Provisions. Part II Miscellaneous Provisions. Section 305 subsections 3c read thus: there is actual breakdown of public order and public safety in the Federation or any part thereof to such extent as to require extraordinary measures to restore peace and security

The seventh mention of security is Part III Transitional Provisions and Savings. Section 315 subsections 5c read thus: the National Security Agencies Act.

The eighth mention of security is in the Second Schedule, Legislative Powers, Part I: Exclusive Legislative List. It is entitled Item 45: Police and other government security services established by law.

The ninth mention of security is in Third Schedule, C- Federal Character Commission. Item number 8;1a read thus: work out an equitable formula subject to the approval of the National Assembly for the distribution of all cadres of posts in the public service of the Federation and of the States, the armed forces of the Federation, the Nigeria Police Force and other government security agencies. The tenth mention of security is in Third Schedule, Part I, Federal Executive Bodies. It is the column entitled K – National Security Council.

The eleventh mention of security is in the Third Schedule, Part I, Federal Executive Bodies. See 25: The National Security Council shall comprise the following members-

The twelfth mention of security is in the Third Schedule, Part I, Federal Executive Bodies. See 25(g): the National Security Adviser.

The thirteenth and fourteenth mentions of security are in the Third Schedule, Part I, Federal Executive Bodies. See 26: The Council shall have power to advise the President on matters relating to public security including matters relating to any organisation or agency established by law for ensuring the security of the Federation.

The fifteenth and final mention of security in the Constitution is in Fifth Schedule Part II entitled Public Officers for the Purposes of Code of conduct. Item number 9: Inspector-General of Police, Deputy Inspector-General of Police and all members of the Nigeria Police Force and other government security agencies established by law.

The fifteen (15) places with the citations of security in the 1999 Constitution should instead read DEFENCE, ARMED FORCES and/or LAW ENFORCEMENT. This will save most Nigerians from the orchestrated ideological push ‘security’ took in the country since the establishment of representative rule in 1999.

This is clearly because the framers of the Constitution – be it the military government in power and the non-military persons with the military mindset of security – had defence or armed forces and/or law enforcement on their mind and not security wherever they used security. They have no other idea of security beyond its name, work and other descriptive potential as it applied to the arms bearing profession. This is contrary to all that security represented in other cultures from studies. Thus, there is need to imbue and/or construct security out of Nigeria’s history, experience and reality (HER) to dissuade from the pain it inflicts on most Nigerians and the benefit it confers on the few political and MILE elites in the present context.

Of the fifteen mentions of security in the 1999 Constitution, one in particular deserved to be singled out. This is because it is arguably the most prominent mention of security in the Constitution considering the caption where it is located. The caption is Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy.

Chapter II Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy Section 14 subsections 2b read thus: ‘the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government’. The section should instead read ‘the defence and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.’

This is arguably the reading of the minds of the framers of this Constitution. They were military people and non-military people socialised in the military mindset of the period as I noted earlier. The framers of the Constitution had in mind defence and not security and/or their use of security was in the context of noun and verb of defence and law enforcement.

The lack of philosophy to this ‘security’ undervalued the significance of the heading ‘Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy’. What is the State Policy on ‘security’?

In the context of noun or name, verb or work, with DESCRIPTION at the back of one’s mind and within the caption of SECURITY, DEFENCE and LAW ENFORCEMENT, place the context in which security was used in the fifteen mentions of security in the 1999 Constitution.

In the final analysis, how does anyone hold the government to account on ‘security’?

There is difference between security, defence or armed forces and law enforcement. I know law enforcement. Sections 214, 215 and 216 of the Constitution and other laws are the basis for holding the government to account on law enforcement.I know defence or armed forces. Sections 217, 218, 219 and 220 of the Constitution and other laws are the basis for holding the government to account on defence. I don’t know ‘security’. The Constitution is silent on security. What is the legal and/or policy legislation basis for holding the government to account on ‘security’?

My model derives from real data and not abstraction. Far from it that I am a conspiracy theorist that wants to swim against the tide of the supposedly known practice of what is arguably an unknown ‘security’. This practice called ‘security’ requires questioning against extant reality of the last twenty years and against comparative security cultures worldwide.

In the last thirteen years since the enthronement of this Republic in 1999, the combination of this ‘security’ and defence or military, intelligence and law enforcement has caused and is causing this country significant share of its gross domestic product if not gross national product. We expend so much and gain so little if not nothing of this ‘security’. Nigerians need to have this ‘security’ defined by the legislatures on the basis of Nigeria’s history, experience and reality (HER) in order to remove ambiguity and provide the basis of engagement by everyone.

The opening questions that constitute philosophy, policy and strategy of security need to be answered from a constitutional or policy legislation perspectives.

This is the task of Nigeria’s legislatures.

Dr. Adoyi ONOJA is a professor of African History and teaches history and security courses in the Department of History and the graduate programme of Security and Strategic Studies of the Institute of Governance and Development Studies, Nasarawa State University, Keffi.

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