Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Lecture: How Insecurity Breeds Underdevelopment In Nigeria



(Being A Paper Presented by Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman, International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law at a Grassroots Lecture Organized by the JDPC for Parishioners of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, Fegge, Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria on July 12, 2016.­ Umeagbalasi can be reached via: +23474090052. Email: emekaumeagbalasi@yahoo.co.uk.)

Before going into this topic: Insecurity & Underdevelopment In Nigeria, it is important we understand the standard meaning of the word: security. Security is defined differently by various academic and social disciplines according to their uses, understandings and perceptions. But commonly, security means: safety; freedom from risk or danger; freedom from doubt, anxiety, fear or want. It also means confidence or something that gives or assures safety. It further means a sense or feeling of being secured. Traditionally, security is simply defined as a duty of the government to ensure that majority of the citizens and their properties or belongings are secured at all times from the hands of malicious individuals and criminal entities. Section 14 (2) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 states: the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of the Government.

The above definition literally accommodates expanded notion of security or modern notion of security and moves it away from the old or traditional concept of security (i.e. protection of lives and properties or detection and control of crimes and punishment of the offenders or a notion of forming and arming by the State of policing bodies to control crimes and protect lives and properties). This is referred to as gun-culture or militarized security. Today, the word: security has undergone series of transformations. While the traditional notion of security is largely retained, which include State security, individual security or self defense and collective security or community security (i.e. community vigilantism); security as a concept or an idea has further been expanded. It is now referred to as Human Security or Peopling Security.

Human Security or Peopling Security is simply an addition of human affair and human rights to the notion of security. This was expertly coined and masterfully developed in 1994 by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The epochal UNDP Human Development Report of 1994 contains: Human Security and its Seven Concepts. The Seven Concepts of Human Security developed by the UNDP in 1994 are: Economic Security, Health Security, Environmental Security, Food Security, Community Security, Political Security and Physical Security.

There is also Territorial Security and other sub-securitization concepts. Robust job creation, social security, economic growth and development, infrastructural development and maintenance, friendly trade and investment environment, etc, represent environmental security. Health Security is affordability and availability of primary and tertiary health care and facilities, etc. Environmental Security is sustenance of secured and safe environment as well as preservation of the natural environment and control of environmental challenges, etc. Food Security is absence of substandard and hazardous foods and drugs as well as contaminated and unsafe water. Community Security is absence or control of intra and inter-communal disharmony and communal militancy. Political Security is absence or control of political monopoly, political intolerance, political repression, political suppression, political segregation, political exclusion, political terrorism and politico-structural violence, etc. Physical Security is dutiful protection of lives and properties as well as detection and control of crimes and punishment of the offenders, etc.

The grand summary of the UNDP Report says: the concept of security has for too long been interpreted narrowly: as security of territory from external aggression, or as protection of national interests in foreign policy or as a global security from the threat of a nuclear holocaust. It has been related more to the nation-State than people…., for many of them, security symbolized protection from the threat of disease, hunger, unemployment, crime, social conflict, political repression and environmental hazards (UNDP Human Development Report, 1994:22).

Gladly, leading members of the comity of nations including South Africa and Canada have since adopted this noble concept; disappointingly, Nigeria, till date, still operates its outdated National Policy on Security, hugely premised on gun-culture security, which was last updated in 1979 in the dying days of Gen Olusegun Obasanjo’s military regime.

Having made the foregoing fundamentally explainable, the next question is: what is insecurity? Insecurity is simply the quality or state of being insecure. It also has to do with self-doubt and instability; lack of confidence or assurance. Insecurity, generally speaking, is synonymous with precariousness, shakiness and vulnerability. As a matter of fact, insecurity is the opposite of safety or absence of freedom from risk, danger, doubt, anxiety, fear and want. Put it the other way round, insecurity is powered by risk, danger, anxiety, fear, want, regime failures and regime atrocities.

What then is underdevelopment?  It can simply be understood as a state of inadequate development. It is also a process of having a low level of economic productivity and technological sophistication or advancement within the contemporary range of possibility or in the midst of plenty or potentials of economic greatness. Underdevelopment is both societal and individual. The inability or failure of an individual citizen to practicably realize his or her life potentials amounts to citizen-underdevelopment. There is also stunted citizen development (i.e. a millionaire/billionaire or a preacher with first school leaving certificate or acutely limited education or a highly educated citizen wallowing in abject poverty). Societal underdevelopment involves economic under-growth and economic underdevelopment as well as general social and economic backwardness of a political territory particularly in the midst of plenty owing to man-made inhibitions and drawbacks. 

Therefore, where Human or Peopling Security is absent, there is Human or Peopling Insecurity and where there is Human or Peopling Insecurity, there is Underdevelopment. In other words, insecurity is synonymous with underdevelopment. Triggers of insecurity in Nigeria originate from absence of environmental security, health security, economic security, food security, community security, physical security and political security. These are further classified as triggers of divided society or social anarchy. Underdevelopment thrives where insecurity is entrenched while development thrives under a societal culture of human or peopling security. That is to say that the greatest challenge facing Nigeria’s development today is insecurity triggered off by years of stranglehold under  kleptomaniac, avaricious, primordial, hegemonic, wicked and conscienceless political class; grossly found lacking and wanting in political statesmanship, vision, sagacity, uprightness, charisma and impeccability.  

We hereby submit here and now that development has eluded Nigeria in all fronts owing to the above named negative triggers, to the extent that the country’s social and economic peers of the 60s and 70s have today overtaken the country four-folds in all international positive social ratings. Today, Nigeria is no match to the likes of China, India, South Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and Brazil; most of which the Nigeria was comfortably ahead of in the 60s and the 70s. Nigeria has continued to run from pillar to pole in its governance without direction project; leading to present intensification of abject mass poverty and hyper insecurity.

In 1994, former President Julius Nyerere (born in 1922 and died in 1999) of the United Republic of Tanzania (Tanganyika and Zanzibar) raised an immortal question and threw it in the direction of primordial and kleptomaniac African political leaders. He had asked: why is it that when Europeans, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEANs) and North Americans are busy finding their routes to the moon, Africans are busy going back to the cave?

Today, Nigeria is acutely lacking in all indices of good governance and economic growth and development. The country’s education is in quandary and its securitization defense and intelligence have reached the nadir of failure and intractability. The state of the Federal Government’s 34,400 kilometers of the country’s total of 198,000 kilometers of road network as well as its 3,600 kilometers of railway is acutely nothing to write home about. The country’s existing road network is acutely overused and over-populated; likewise its 22 local and international airports. Nigeria’s 8600 kilometers of inland waterways and its four trans-national borders are porously secured. The level of graft or official corruption in its institutions and corridors of power has risen to an apogee. Its energy sector has gone from bad to worst and the physical security sector is in comatose; with hundreds of defenseless and law abiding citizens being butchered with reckless abandon every monthly. To make the matter worse, Nigeria’s security forces are now fully involved in massacring of thousands of nonviolent, defenseless and unarmed citizens with rabid impunity.

The truth about Nigeria is that literatures and creative minds discussing or writing about its insecurity and underdevelopment are extensively inexhaustible. That is to say that discussion about Nigeria’s governance failures, its insecurity and underdevelopment can never be exhausted in a year, not to talk of under few hours. Nigeria of present time and circumstance may no longer be credibly and popularly called the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The best way to describe the country is: the Federal Republic of Insecurity and Underdevelopment.

This grassroots lecture therefore is uniquely important in that it has extensively resolved the question as per whether there exists substantially insecurity and underdevelopment in Nigeria of present time and composition. And the answer is CAPITAL yes! The next question is: what do we do as members of the civil society or non-State actor individuals and entities? The best approach to this is to adopt a sick person and lab diagnosis approach! That is to say that sickness is half cured the moment its cause (s) is effectively and correctly diagnosed.

It is a truism that the challenge facing members of the civil society or non-State entities in the country today and in the midst of these social toxemias  is civil unconsciousness or to borrow from the Holy Bible: lack of knowledge. This is where politicians and other political actors catch in and exploit to perpetually ride on the collective intelligence of the populace. It is technically referred to as psychology of politics or exploitation of public gullibility.

While the authorities of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church Parish, Fegge, Onitsha and the Catholic’s Justice, Development & Peace Commission (JDPC) are exceptionally commended for organizing this august event in July, the Catholic Church and its Parishes should do more than this. The Church should invest heavily in adult literacy education to educate and empower its teeming parishioners with limited education. It is not only money that defies lateness at a fundraising occasion; education, too, and most importantly, defies lateness and has no age limits. We must particularly disassociate ourselves at all times from Prof Jubril Aminu’s immortal but unpopular advice to members of the public to try illiteracy if they think that education is costly and unaffordable.

It must be deeply appreciated that the Catholic Church has ensured and insisted that no person with limited education is ordained a priest of the Church; but the Church must also extend such gesture to its parishioners or laity as it is more worthwhile to people the Church with educated and liberated congregations than to people it with an assemblage of the educationally or academically challenged, who constitute silent and castrated majority in the moment of social challenges and political upheavals. This is because they can only bark but cannot bite!

Finally, the Catholic Church as well as other churches and non-Christian bodies must go a step further to inculcate in their members the culture of constitutionalization or a process of making it mandatory for every adult parishioner who has a copy of Holy Bible to also have a copy of the 1999 Constitution. We have extensively investigated and found that any parishioner that can read, quote, cite and understand the Holy Bible primarily, can as well read, quote, cite and understand the basics of the 1999 Constitution.

By marrying the 1999 Constitution at all times just as they marry Holy Bible and other sacred religious books, citizens’ awareness about their constitutionally guaranteed liberties and process of governance will not only increase, but will also offer them avenues of knowing the dos and don’ts or constitutional limits of the public office holders as well as their constitutional protections and civic responsibilities as citizens. When citizens are armed with requisite education and exposure, they will be better prepared to position themselves for noble societal roles of changing the country for better through citizens’ proactive participation.

A conscious citizen is one who is educated, connected and coordinated with ability to think and move ahead of his or her immediate environment in moment of challenges or societal ups and downs. In all, citizens’ consciousness and participation are direly needed to wriggle Nigeria out of its deepening insecurity and underdevelopment afflicted on all Nigerians by the political class, occasioned by deepening citizens’ docility and social castration.

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