Security in Nigeria
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Security in Nigeria

Contemporary Threats and Responses

Caroline Varin, Freedom Onuoha, Caroline Varin, Freedom Onuoha

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eBook - ePub

Security in Nigeria

Contemporary Threats and Responses

Caroline Varin, Freedom Onuoha, Caroline Varin, Freedom Onuoha

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About This Book

Nigeria is the most dynamic country on the African continent. Yet the legacy of colonialism, deep-rooted corruption, exposure to climate change and the proliferation of small arms have created a precarious security situation that holds back the country's potential for peace and prosperity. Security in Nigeria explores the many security threats facing Nigeria and assesses the government's responses to date. With contributors spanning three continents, it provides an original and comprehensive analysis of 'old' and 'new' security threats and offers original solutions to address the crisis.

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Publisher
I.B. Tauris
Year
2020
ISBN
9781838607593
Chapter 1
COLONIAL LEGACY AS FOUNDATION OF INSECURITY IN NIGERIA
Michael I. Ugwueze
Introduction
African states have continually been blamed for heaping the fault-lines of their developmental challenges on colonial legacies. Specifically, when addressing the Ghanaian Parliament on July 11, 2009, President Barack Obama of the United States noted that African nations should blame their economic and social problems on their own mismanagement and lack of democracy, not on colonial legacies. As Obama argued in the speech:
Yes, a colonial map that made little sense bred conflict, and the West has often approached Africa as a patron, rather than a partner. But the West is not responsible for the destruction of the Zimbabwean economy over the last decade, or wars in which children are enlisted as combatants … No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy; that is tyranny, and now is the time for it to end. 1
This argument is particularly rife given that African nations’ counterparts in Asia, Eastern Europe, and South America have long moved on, making in-roads into the world of science and technology, as well as devising sophisticated indigenous methodologies that help tame the beast of political malfeasance. Aware of this scenario, it is important to note that it is very difficult to conclude a study in the social sciences without having to refer to its historical foundation. This foundation helps in understanding the root cause(s) of the social problem, and thereby positioning the researcher to offer a better solution. In this light, it is still very germane to talk about the colonial legacies that laid the foundation upon which the insecurity situation in Nigeria was built.
Nigeria, as a child of colonialism, continues to face social unrest that largely threatens its unity. These challenges range from prebendalism to ethnic politics and ethno-religious conflict, poor governance, military rule, militancy and terrorism, separatist agitations, and endemic corruption. Hardly could any study on social relations be completed in Nigeria without having to refer to any of these problems that combine to create a tense security environment that exacerbates the problems of poverty, unemployment, and social insecurity. These problems, which have their foundation in colonialism, have become monsters in their spheres of manifestation. As a result, proffering solutions to them is becoming increasingly difficult, especially as those who should lead the fight are themselves actors that benefit largely from the shaky foundations of the Nigerian state. Nevertheless, there is no social problem without a solution.
Extant literature has largely dealt with the security implications of military rule,2 prebendalism,3 corruption,4 ethnic politics and ethno-religious conflict,5 militancy, insurgency, and terrorism,6 and electoral violence.7 In most cases, studies often link conflicts to inter-ethnic animosities and competition over scarce resources, while ignoring historical root causes of conflict such as colonialism and now imperialism through the process of capitalist accumulation in Africa.8 Although not foreclosing further studies in these areas, scholars have not sufficiently addressed how colonial legacies have laid down the foundations for these problems. As a result, this chapter situates the historical contributions of colonial legacies and forced governance, the divide and rule system and false consciousness to the emergence of insecurity in Nigeria, such as the military intervention in politics, endemic corruption, ethno-religious conflicts, electoral violence, and lack of a national cohesion that results in separatist agitations, militancy, insurgency, and terrorism, among others. To achieve this objective, the chapter has been divided into five sections beginning with this brief introduction. The next section explores the evolution of the Nigerian state from the colonial period. The third section explains the major colonial legacies that laid down the foundation for insecurity in Nigeria, and the fourth section suggests the way forward, while the fifth section concludes the study.
Evolution of the Nigerian State: 1849–1960
Before colonialism, there was no entity called Nigeria. However, there were kingdoms and hamlets scattered across the territories that later became Nigeria. These kingdoms and hamlets included the Oyo Empire, the Benin Empire, the Opobo Kingdom, the Sokoto Caliphate, Kanem Borno Empire, the Calabar Empire, the Onicha (Onitsha) province, Nri Kingdom, Igbo-Ukwu, Arochukwu, Nsukka, and Igala, among others. These, and more kingdoms and hamlets, existed independent of each other in a society that was later to be called Nigeria. They fought many international wars and cooperated (where necessary) with one another just like other empires and hamlets in world history. Supporting this argument, Okwudiba Nnoli noted that:
Historical records indicate that before the British came (to Nigeria), these various kingdoms fought disastrous interstate wars among themselves. On one occasion, the Ibadan people were opposed by an alliance of the Egba, Ijebu, Ekiti, Ijesha and Ilorin peoples over the control of trade in the area. Similarly, the Igbo were organized into separate and autonomous political societies conterminous with the village (system). International wars among these polities sometimes occurred. 9
The journey of a country called Nigeria started in the middle of the nineteenth century when the British government made up its mind to suppress slave trade in the notorious slave route within the Bights of Benin and Biafra.10 This began with the appointment of John Beecroft as the Consul for the Bights of Benin and Biafra in 1849. As a Consul, his jurisdiction extended from Dahomey to the Cameroons at a time when Oba Kosoko was the King of Lagos. Apart from being deeply involved in the slave trade, Kosoko was openly hostile to the British and their allies on account of the enormous profits they were making from the slave trade. Beecroft’s effort to abolish slavery through negotiation of a treaty with Kosoko on the advice of the British Colonial Secretary proved abortive. As a result, in 1851 British forces attacked Lagos and Kosoko together with his men ran away.11 Thereupon, Oba Akintoye, who was until then in asylum in Abiokuta, was invited and reinstated as the Oba of Lagos.12 This invitation by Beecroft was on account of a petition prepared for Akintoye by a British missionary Reverend C.A. Gollmer detailing how Akintoye would support the government of England in taking over Lagos in return for British protection. In the prepared petition, Akintoye noted:
My humble prayer to you is that you would take Lagos under your protection, that you would plant the English flag there and that you would re-establish me on my rightful throne at Lagos and protect me under my flag; and with your help I promise to enter into a treaty with England to abolish the slave trade at Lagos and to establish and carry on lawful trade, especially with the English merchants. 13
Convinced that Akintoye would be more amenable to British interest, he was reinstated as the Oba of Lagos. On January 1, 1852, Akintoye signed a treaty with the British government for the abolition of slavery, the encouragement of legitimate trade, and the protection of missionaries. A year after the treaty, a special Consul was appointed for Lagos and the Bight of Benin. This marked the beginning of the separation of Lagos from the rest of the Oil Rivers and the journey toward having a country called Nigeria.
Following Akintoye’s death in 1853, his son Dosumu inherited power as the new Oba of Lagos. Given his inability to effectively suppress the slave trade (as claimed by the British government), the British Secretary of State for the Colonies (British Colonial Secretary) instructed the Consul to negotiate a treaty with Dosumu aimed at bringing Lagos permanently under the control of Britain in order to suppress slavery and encourage legitimate trade. Although Dosumu and his chiefs declined signing this treaty for the cession of Lagos to Britain, allegedly, he together with four of his principal chiefs was kowtowed to either sign for the cession or risk being attacked by the British Forces.14 The signing of the treaty on August 6, 1861,15 heralded officially the beginning of colonialism in an entity later to become Nigeria that took off in 1862 with the creation of Lagos Colony.
The balkanization of Africa in the Berlin Conference of 1885 marked the next phase in the evolution of the Nigerian state. The territories that were in the coastal region that had come under British influence became known as the Oil River Protectorate (ORP) in 1885. The expansion of British influence further into the hinterland and Northern Hemisphere not only created a new administrative challenge, but also resulted in the renaming of ORP to Niger Coast Protectorate (NCP) in 1893. To fill the administrative gap, the Royal Niger Company (RNC)16 was granted a permission not only to trade in the new territory but to administer it on behalf of the British government. This sphere of British influence added to the list of the RNC Territories (RNCT). The expanded protectorate included the Oil River (today called the Niger Delta), the valley of the Rivers Niger up to Lokoja and Benue.17
The name Nigeria, which literally translates to “Niger area,” first appeared in an essay written by Flora Shaw18 published in The Times of London on January 8, 1897. In the essay, Shaw made a case for the replacement of RNCT, which was too long a name for an entity she referred to as “the agglomeration of pagan and Mohammedan states.” 19 The phrase of “pagan and Mohammedan states” metaphorically translates to mean southern and northern Nigeria, respectively. She therefore coined Nigeria, in preference to such other names as “Central Sudan,” a name that some geographers and travelers associated with the Nigerian territory, and “Sudan,” a name associated with a territory in the Nile basin housing the current state of Sudan. According to her:
The name Nigeria applying to no other part of Africa may without offence to any neighbors be accepted as co-extensive with the territories over which the Royal Niger Company has extended British influence, and may serve to differentiate them equally from the colonies of Lagos and the Niger Protectorate on the coast and from the French territories of the Upper Niger.20
Owing to the restrictions on trade caused by artificial boundaries and the virtual monopoly that the RNC exercised, it became necessary for the British government to assume a more direct control over the colonial territory called Nigeria. The inability of the Company’s forces to restrain the slave-raiding propensities of the Fulani chiefs, as well as foreign aggression on the western frontiers, also contributed in the administrative takeover of the territory from the RNC by the British government. The RNC charter was therefore revoked on January 1, 1900.21 Thereupon, the territory known as Nigeria, including those hitherto under the administration of the RNC, was divided into three distinct entities, namely, the colony of Lagos, the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria, and the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria. Consequently, a colonial administrator who was directly answerable to the Colonial Office in Britain independently administered each of these protectorates. In 1906, the colony of Lagos and the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria were joined together under one administrator and renamed the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria. Thenceforth, Nigeria became an entity of two protectorates—the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria and the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria.
The highest phase in the evolution of the Nigerian state was on January 1, 1914, when Lord Lugard amalgamated the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria with the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria. The two entities thereafter became the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria under centralized administration of a British Governor-General. Meanwhile, Lord Lugard, who pio...

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