by Maduka Onwukeme,
In 2015, Nigeria danced from the precipice of the United State’s predicted disintegration and shocked the whole world by conducting a democratic transition of power. Nigeria managed to pull back from imminent state failure, owing to the loss of territory near the size of Belgium to vicious Boko Haram terrorists, to a peaceful transfer of power from an incumbent president to the opposition.
Most scholars agree that one of the yardsticks for measuring state failure is the ability of states to exercise powers of coercion over citizens in its territory. Authority has been defined as the “state’s capacity to exercise coercive force over its national territory”.
The moment a state is unable to legitimately exercise coercive force, state failure is imminent. So we might have escaped America’s doomsday predictions but then, it is not yet uhuru!
Last week Wednesday, the attempts by the Directorate of Security Service (DSS) to arrest Apostle Johnson Suleman in Ekiti was thwarted by the Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose. Suleman had drawn the ire of the DSS by allegedly asking members of his congregation to kill any Fulani herdsmen that come around his church premises.
Fayose who is the fiercest critic of the current administration had followed the earlier lead of Nyesom Wike who had stopped the DSS from a planned raid on the residence of Justice Liman for alleged corruption last year. The immunity both men enjoyed saved them from arrests for obstruction of justice and we can also say luck saved them from possible death for physically challenging and preventing armed security agents from carrying out their lawful duties. Only a mad man will argue with someone armed with a gun (apologies to Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe).
This discourse will not dwell on the foolishness or boldness (as many of their supporters have termed it) of governors using the privilege of immunity to physically prevent armed security agents from carrying out their lawful duties but the implications of Wike and Fayose’s acts of rabid rascality on national security.
A situation where state governors constitute themselves into courts of law to determine whether the exercise of state authority is lawful or not and then proceeding to stop the exercise of such authority is an invitation to anarchy and chaos.
I agree that the security agents in Nigeria are in the habit of abusing the rights of citizens, but then the courts are there to enforce constitutional safeguards. Suleman is not above the law and if he is if the opinion that there has been a breach of his rights, he should go to court and not invite a governor to stop security agents from carrying out their duties.
The implications of his actions is as irresponsible as the comments credited to Suleman after his bungled arrest that if the DSS had arrested him, it would set the country on fire. We can bear the rascality of Fayose on the basis of the immunity (which won’t last forever) he mistakes for the lordship of a fiefdom, but not Suleman’s irresponsible comments aimed at pushing Nigeria into a sectarian war.
Scholars agree that when a state’s capacity to exercise authority is considerable weakened, that gives room for violent exertion of sectarian tensions and animosities. With sectarianism and ethnic violence added to the mix, there is no escaping state failure. Afghanistan, Iraq, the Central Africa Republic, Somalia etc. are good examples.
If care is not taken, Nigeria may be on that list all thanks to the dangerous combination of governors who leave the business of governing their states to undermine national security and religious leaders posturing for war through their rhetoric.
The carnage in Southern Kaduna and the government’s lackadaisical approach to the crisis is most disturbing and highly condemnable. All legal means should be employed including inviting the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the UN to investigate the crisis and bring the perpetrators to book. Irrespective of our anger, we should not allow the crisis snowball into a full blown sectarian war across the nation.
The US president has just signed an executive order barring immigrants and refugees from 7 nations who are the top occupiers of the global state failure index, seething with near nonexistent national security and sectarian violence. To the supporters and cheerleaders of Fayose, Wike and Suleman, all I can say is that when these men set the country on fire, we all shall embark on the tortuous trek as refugees for a safe sanctuary. It is never an easy road; you can ask the Syrians, Iraqis and the Somalians etc.