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D. Lerner, R. Robinson (1960)Swords and Ploughshares: The Turkish Army as a Modernizing Force
World Politics, 13
C. Welch (1995)Civil-Military Agonies in Nigeria: Pains of an Unaccomplished Transition
Armed Forces & Society, 21
Based on the fact that military establishments have historically played a major role in the transformation of societies, this paper argues that the Nigerian Armed Forces need to be credible and modernized in order to be able to fulfil their constitutional responsibilities. They can do this by providing the necessary support, in terms of professional expertise and administrative efficiency, for the successful implementation of Nigeria's Vision 2020 and its strategic Seven-Point Agenda. By supporting the democratic institutions in the successful implementation of Vision 2020, the armed forces would have quickened the transformation of Nigeria into an industrialized democratic nation that could compete favourably with its counterparts in the Americas, Europe and Asia. Keywords: military, democracy, expertise, implementation, conflict. INTRODUCTION The history of all civilizations, from ancient to modern times, has shown that military establishments have been instrumental in the development of societies. From the city-states and kingdoms to the empires and the modern nation-states, the armed forces, whether the army, navy or air force, have always played a significant and critical role in the political, economic and social transformation of societies. Consequently, no nationstate in the 21st century, particularly under the contemporary roaring wave of globalization, can afford to neglect or marginalize its military establishments. The current trends in global and even domestic politics indicate an acceleration in the growth or expansion of information and 83 communication technology (ICT). Similarly, weapons and the prosecution of warfare have also improved in sophistication and technology. These trends pose new problems and challenges that all nation-states, especially those in the so-called Third World, have to confront. Of particular note in these problems and challenges is the proliferation of deadly arms and ammunitions, which have led to the intensification of armed conflicts and struggles within and between nation-states that are inimical to international trade and peace as well as national socio-economic development. Africa, the most underdeveloped continent in the world in terms of income distribution, life expectancy, education, infrastructure and health collectively known as the Human Development Index (HDI), continues to be the most affected by these armed conflicts and struggles. Under these conditions, the armed forces could not sit idly by. Four decades ago, some social scientists and strategic scholars foresaw the transformative role of the military in the new nation-states of Africa and Asia that were emerging from the cloak of direct colonialism. Based on the experiences of Latin American countries, these scholars identified the positive contributions of the military to national development in these emerging societies. For example, in the 1960s M.J. Levy remarked that in relatively unmodernized societies the armed forces are the "most efficient type of organizations for combining maximum rates of modernization with maximum levels of stability and control" (Levy, 1966: 603). Similarly, Edward Shils argued that the technical orientation and capacities of the armed forces give "technocratic coloring to their conception of national progress" (Shils, 1962: 20). Again, according Daniel Lerner and Richard Robinson, the view of the military is widely accepted in many of the modernizing societies because "the prestige of the military becomes identified increasingly in the public mind with technical competence" (Lerner and Robinson, 1960: 35). In line with the thinking of these scholars, today the armed forces remain among the most detribalized, efficient, competent and decisive organizations in Nigerian society, due to their specialized training and technical orientation and despite their unfortunate involvement in politics. Therefore, their role in the protection and presservation of the current democratic institutions cannot be in doubt because it is an imperative. To underscore this imperative, a leading military analyst has this to say: The Nigerian Armed Forces (NAFs), must as a duty, provide full support for the present (Nigerian) democratic order; in so doing, the military should not be confined to the barracks as is often erroneously believed. Rather, the NAFs should be utilized by the political authority to strengthen the fundamental processes of democratization of the political landscape, by extension, to serve as the pillar for the consolidation of the democratic order. The Nigerian soldier has been trained not to rule but only to defend the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Danfulani, 2004: 317). VISION 2020 AND THE NIGERIAN MILITARY In his opening address at the Presidential Retreat for Federal Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and Special Advisers held at the Banquet Hall, State House, Abuja on Thursday August 16, 2007, the then president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar'Adua outlined the policy thrust of his administration. According to him: Within the last eight years, we have charted a course that allows us to understand how modern nations grow, that is having a vision and coming up with a development strategy that we will work towards. Developing a modern nation takes time and it takes hard work. What we need to do is to chart our course, identify those things that are really critical to the development of a modern nation and work towards putting those critical needs in place. We need to have the honesty, the determination and the hard work and the focus to be able to work steadily towards the achievement of those critical areas ... that by [the year] 2020 we want Nigeria to be one of the twenty most developed economies in the world (Yar'Adua, 2007: 7). In that same address, the president prioritized seven critical areas of the Nigerian economy, which he called "the Seven-Point Agenda", which are sine quibus non to the realization of Vision 2020. These are: 1. Energy: This would involve the massive generation of electric power both for industrial growth and domestic requirements. Because of the strategic importance of energy generation in Vision 2020, the president threatened to declare a state of emergency in the sector. 2. Security: Although the president recognized the fact that the protection of lives and property is the constitutional responsibility of government, he believed that private domestic and foreign direct investments are also needed in this sector. 3. Wealth Creation: This would involve the transformation of the oil and gas sector, which currently accounts for 70% or so of all revenue available 85 to government, from a merely extractive industry to a productive industry. This transformation would be complemented by the accelerated development of agricultural and solid minerals sectors. 4. Education: The president admitted that the Nigerian educational system is currently in deep crisis. But he was aware that Nigeria cannot be industrialized or become a modern nation without developing its abundant manpower through education, which would provide the necessary managerial skills and expertise that would drive the other sectors of the economy. 5. Land Reform: The view of the president was that the government should reform the structure of land ownership in the country so that the farmer in the village can take his land to access funds from the capital market to develop his farm. Since land reform is directly related to agriculture (see item 3 above) and rural development, and since roughly 70% of the Nigerian population derived their means of livelihood from tilling the land, a land reform programme is fundamental to the entire Vision 2020. Elsewhere, I have noted that land reform takes many forms (Ogbeide, 2007: 163), for example: a. the transfer of land ownership or control directly to tenants who actually work the land (as in Cuba, Ethiopia, Japan and Taiwan); b. the transfer of land from large estates to small farms (as in Mexico); c. the appropriation of large estates for new settlements (as in Kenya); or d. the conversion of large private or state-owned lands into farming cooperatives (as in China and Tanzania). 6. Mass Transit: To develop the capacity for mass movement of goods and people, the president believed the focus in this sector should be the railways and waterways as contained in the 25-year strategic development plan of the last administration. 7. Niger Delta: To revamp the highly volatile and restive Niger Delta region from which the government derives its bulk of revenue from the sales of petroleum products, the president hinged his administration's hopes on the Niger Delta Master Plan drawn up by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). He also believed that dialogue between government officials and the militant leaders would resolve the Niger Delta crisis and put an end to the spate of violent agitations in the region. The question now arises: As credible institutions, what role can the Nigerian Armed Forces play in the Seven-Point Agenda to facilitate the realization of Vision 2020? To address this important question it is pertinent to review the constitutional responsibilities of the Nigerian Armed Forces in the achievement of national policy objectives. According to Article 217, sub-section 2 of the 1999 constitution under which the current government, Nigeria's Fourth Republic, operates: The Federation shall, subject to an Act fo the National Assembly made onthat behalf, equip and maintain the armed forces as may be considered adequate and effective for the purpose of: a. defending Nigeria from external aggression; b. maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea or air; c. suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the President, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly; and d. performing such other functions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly (Federal Government of Nigeria, 1999: A98889). These constitutional responsibilities of the Nigerian Armed Forces are what political sociologists and other scholars refer to as manifest functions. The manifest functions of an institution are those intended and widely recognized roles of the institution. However, social institutions do also perform other hidden functions. These are known as latent functions, which are the unintended and often overlooked roles performed by such institutions (see Light and Keller, 1994; Orum, 1993; Lipset, 1981; Mahajan, 2006; Egonmwan, 2008; Dahl, 1976; Miliband, 1974). The concept of latent functions underscores the role that the Nigerian Armed Forces can play in the implementation of the Seven-Point Agenda towards the achievement of the goal of Vision 2020. As mentioned earlier, scholars are agreed that military establishments, because of their technical training, administrative experience and professional skills, are very competent and efficient in the implementation of national policies. The Nigerian Armed Forces are no exception. In fact, the Nigerian Armed Forces are well exposed to the happenings in other countries all across the globe because of their peacekeeping missions for the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU). The various peacekeeping operations of the Nigerian military are well documented in the works of other scholars (e.g. Nwolise 2004a; Thakur, 1994; Welch, 1995). This practical global exposure was tapped by the Yar'AduaJonathan administration to implement the Seven-Point Agenda. From energy, security, wealth creation and education to land reform, mass transit and the Niger Delta debacle, the Nigerian Armed Forces, in order to be credible in the eyes of Nigerians, must contribute to the successful implementation of these programmes. Deploying the Armed Forces to aid in the implementation of domestic national policies does not in any way suggest that military establishments should take over or overthrow the government of the day. A coup d'état in a democracy is a criminal and illegal act. India, since its independence from Britain in 1947, has remained a democratic state despite its violent political problems of political assassinations and armed insurrections. Today India is a world power industrially, militarily, economically and politically. The Nigerian Armed Forces, therefore, should subject themselves to civil and democratic authorities irrespective of the flaws and weaknesses of the democratic instructions. In addition to discharging their constitutional roles, the Nigerian Armed Forces must protect, not destroy, the nascent Nigerian democratic instructions and processes. Democracy, which is regarded as the best-known government of the people by the people and for the people, must be protected and preserved by the Nigerian Armed Forces because their direct intervention in politics in the past tended to undermine their professionalism, capabilities and discipline. The Nigerian Armed Forces are yet to recover from the devastation their dabbling into political leadership in the past has caused those highly efficient and disciplined national institutions. But to create and sustain apolitical and credible military establishments, the Nigerian government must be prepared to inject funds into these institutions with the sole aim of enhancing their professionalism, capabilities, discipline, mobility and technical skills. That will keep them out of domestic politics and enable them to confront the new challenges posed by globalization. The involvement of the military in politics in Latin America, according to Edwin Lieuwen, destroyed the true military function of the armed forces by undermining its ability to defend the country and to preserve internal order. Deep involvement in politics produces instructional upheavals within the armed forces and a general undermining of discipline among the officers. It diminished even the limited role which they might have played in providing for Latin America's security during World II and the Cold War (Lieuwen, 1962: 161). Thus, we can learn from the experiences of other nations and keep our armed personnel from direct participation in politics through unconstitutional means. Although O.B.C. Nwolise (2004b: 256280) presented an elaborate "balance sheet" of the positive and negative impacts of military rule on the Nigerian state and society, it is obvious from his presentation that the negative impacts far outweigh the positive impacts. For example, the politicization of the military, the military exposure to political/economic corruption, the distribution of the principle of civil control of the military, the erosion of military discipline and long-cherished military values (seniority, obedience and respect), the reduction in the level of regimen-tation and in the tempo of professional training/alertness as well as the institutionalization of a coup d'état as a mode of changing government far outweighed the creation of 36 states, 774 local government areas and a new Federal Capital in Abuja, rapid modernization of the military/barracks, the expansion of social facilities (telephone, health centres and water), the infrastructural development in roads, bridges and airports/sea ports, change of the national currency from British pounds sterling to naira and kobo, building of iron/steel plants and petroleum refineries, as well as the establishment of more educational institutions, the increased budgetary allocation to the armed forces and enhanced salaries for officers and men. This is because, under a sustained and stable democratic polity, the observed negative impacts of military rule would have been drastically minimized while the positive impacts would have been maximized to a greater magnitude. Consequently, it is in the best interest of the military to stay out of active politics and concentrate on their constitutional response-bilities of providing defence, security and protection for our democratic institutions. On the need for the Nigerian military to stay out of active politics, Remi Anifowose has this to say: Long years of military rule in Nigeria have shown the Nigerian people the alternative to civil rule. Under the lofty but transparent pretext of rescuing their country from disintegration and corrupt civilian governments, successive military regimes have abused the public trust reposed in them. The military has been incapable of resolving the crises of legitimacy and development under which civilian regimes have crumbled. Most of the problems, which prompted their intervention in politics, even became compounded by military rule and this gave rise to the continuous demand for military disengagement or immediate transition to civil rule (Anifowose, 2002: 93). Thus, since military rule has become an aberration all over the world in the 21st century, the restructuring of the Nigerian Armed Forces in line with the liberal democratic ethos would enhance their professionalism and capabil ities toward the implementation of the Seven-Point Agenda and the full realization of Vision 2020. MILITARY RESTRUCTURING, PROFESSIONALISM AND CAPABILITY IN THE 21ST CENTURY The 1999 constitution, as stated earlier, has mandated the Nigerian state to "equip and maintain the armed forces as may be considered adequate and effective" for the discharge of their responsibilities. To this end, the federal government must restructure the armed forces to enhance their professionalism, disciple, capabilities and technical competence so that they can provide efficient services to the socio-economic development of our country. Such restructuring, which was initiated by the Obasanjo Administration (19992007), as analysed by John W.T. Gbor (2004: 282311), should be conducted on a regular basis by the present and future democratic governments. Restructuring should be done to strengthen the professionalism and capabilities of the armed forces. Professionalism means bureaucratization and specialization. Bureaucratization would bring the thinking of the officers more in line with that of other public servants such as legislators, civil servants and jurors. This would enhance civilmilitary relations in national development programmes. Specialization could be achieved through the use of officers in military missions in other countries with an emphasis on scientific training. Having done excellently in international peacekeeping operations in the past, the Nigerian military establishments need to transfer such experiences to boost our domestic politics and programmes in a more efficient and effective manner. This would fast-track Vision 2020 and its Seven-Point Agenda in the 21st century. As the most decisive of the instrumentalities of the modern nation state the military establishments when well equipped to enhance their capabilities in term of logistics, modern armament and mobility, the armed forces can indeed shun politics and its attendant corruptive tendencies that almost ruined these establishments in the recent past. According to a renowned scholar of international politics, Professor K.J. Holsti, A capability is any physical or mental object or quality available as an instrument of inducement, to persuade, reward, threaten or punish. The use of capabilities depends less on the quality and quantity than on the external (and domestic) objectives a government formulates for itself (Holsti, 1977: 165, 169). The Yar'AduaJonathan administration formulated Vision 2020, which is an external policy goal of transforming the hitherto underdeveloped Nigerian economy into one of the twenty most developed economies in the world in the next ten years (i.e. in the year 2020). In realization of this external goal, the administration also formulated for itself the attendant Seven-Point Agenda, the points of which are, technically speaking, the set domestic policy objectives for achieving rapid industrialization of the Nigerian economy for the socio-economic empowerment of the Nigerian citizenry. By employing the capabilities of the armed forces to realize these set goals and objectives, the Nigerian military will be kept out of active politics and politics will be kept out of the barracks. This will enhance the credibility of the military, while good, responsive and effective governance will be entrenched in Nigeria's Fourth Republic, which every Nigerian hopes will be stable and enduring throughout the 21st century and beyond. CONCLUDING REMARKS All we have done in this paper is to tickle and stimulate the readers' intellect and interest on the imperatives of credible and modern armed forces for the rapid transformation of Nigeria into a industrialized democratic nation that could compete favourably with its counterparts in Europe, the Americas and Asia. As we have observed, the Nigerian Armed Forces have the wherewithal in terms of their technical orientation, administrative efficiency and professional expertise to support the democratic institutions in the implementation of the Yar'AduaJonathan administration's Seven-Point Agenda towards the realization of its Vision 2020. There is no doubt that, if the goal of Vision 2020 were to be achieved, the poverty, hunger, ignorance and diseases that are currently afflicting the majority of our population would be drastically reduced. The standards of living of our people would significantly improve. And Nigeria would be delisted from the categories of underdeveloped nations in the world. Consequently, the stability of Nigeria's Fourth Republic and the credibility of her armed forces would be guaranteed domestically and globally.
Cultura. International Journal of Philosophy of Culture and Axiology – de Gruyter
Published: Jan 1, 2011
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