Politics, Politicians and Military Adventure

by Paul Ogwu Okwuchukwu

The recent crisis in River state is still causing some reactions and fallout in the political cycle and among the growing army of critics and public commentators. The involvement of both parties in the dispute and their level of culpability has been extensively debated and analysed by public commentators and some prominent citizens who are genuinely concerned about the Nigeria polity. Some commentators have tried to compare the effect of the crisis to the events that led to the first military misadventure in Nigeria. We are still suffering from this intervention and the ripple effect in the present Nigeria political system. It is still unimaginable what our country would have been like if we had continued with democratic governance since independence. It is also with this that lover of Nigeria and the countries democracy would take note to remind the political actors in the dispute and their lieutenant on the dangers of allowing the dispute to continue. The former head of state Abdusalami Abubakar reminded them that this incident is inimical to our democracy. But it is my believe that the military should allow this democracy to nurture and correct itself.

Military establishment in any society remains the main pillar for governance and administration. As one of the known oldest and most endearing profession, it can boost of the finest and patriotic men in any society. Its mandate of maintaining the territorial integrity and defending a nation state makes the military an enviable institution. The military establishment or having served in the military still count for a huge advantage in the US elections and in other segments of the western world especially to denote a show of patriotism and service to the country. In countries like Turkey, Pakistan and Egypt and a host of others; the military still serves as the custodian of the state stability.

The Nigeria military have also been exemplary in protecting the territory integrity of Nigeria especially in their role in keeping Nigeria one and also in several intervention in internal conflict. The on-going role of the military in the Boko Haram issues is a case in point and in several other interventions that they have helped in curtailing. They have served as a source of cohesion and stabilisation in Nigeria. In addition, they have displayed a high degree of professionalism in peace keeping operations in most areas of conflict in the world. Some of the countries that come to mind includes; Congo, Sierre leone, Liberia and a host of others.

However the military interventions in politics has been and is still causing havoc in the psyche, governance, institutional, social – economic and political misadventure in our country. The military was in charge of the affairs of this country for thirty nine years out of the fifty three years of our existence as a country. And within this period they have not allowed democracy and democratic institutions to take a strong root.

The psyche of an average Nigeria has been programmed to react and respond to situations in such a manner that reminds us of the long years of military rule and dictatorship. It can also be argued that the brand of governance and the dictatorial tendencies exhibited by our present crop of leaders are a throw back of the long year of military governance. In most of the states, the governors behave like emperors and lords in their domain. They wield and disperse powers like that of the military set-up. This brand of psyche is also exhibited by Nigerians in virtually all countries of the globe. It is easier to destroy and it takes a long time to build. The psyche took us up to forty years to build so it would take the same number of years if not more than for us and our leaders to understand the basic tenets of democracy, governance and rule of law. It is interesting that most Nigeria and our leaders still see leadership from the military perspective. And also unfortunately we were governed by the military class that even though the mouth patriotism most of their actions are against the tenets of good and responsible governance. It is also why most of our elected officer does not see the importance of viable opposition. In most of the countries we tend to emulate their democracy and democratic practices they see the opposition as an alternative to the government. And the opposition also makes it a point of duty through research and advocacy to proffer alternative solution to the numerous social, economic and political problems besieging the government. It is not just criticism but constructive criticism with solution and ideas that would enhance the governance of the country.

Added to the psyche is the institutional effect of the military governance in Nigeria. The main pillars of any country growth and development were unintentionally battered by the military because they were not trained to govern but to protect the territory integrity of the country. It pervades from the civil service to the other institution from the civic society to other political active institutions that would have encourage the active participation of the civilian population in followership and their governance. Institutions are the hallmark of civilised society .These societies can actually thrive and function with an active political institutions.

Also some of the problems of unity, identity, nepotism, ethnicity and others were overtly encouraged by the military class that were running the affairs of the country. This is true from the composition of the leadership and integration that sustained the military establishment that ruled the country. It is also worthy of note that the military elites that were in control at that time and their civilian collaborators left a space and a succession plan that is still piloting the affairs of this country. It would be difficult for a system to produce successor with a large variants of the original.

It is also true that the pariah state that was run during the military era contributed a lot in the way we are viewed as a country in the international arena. We missed out in some of the things that would have helped us in building an egalitarian society. Although it is debatable with the effect of some of the policies they proposed like SAP; but they are some other benefits that would have accrued to the country. They say people’s impression of a place or thing lingers and it would take a continuous and steady effort to correct such impression. We should appreciate the hard earned freedom and make a comprehensive and holistic view of the military rule. Although the military was an enviable institution but it was not fortunate to be controlled with men of vision but with a brand of leaders that not only were they injurious to the country but also to the establishment that ushered them into the position of leadership.

However, just like I numerated earlier, the military has played a crucial role in maintaining the territory integrity of this country Nigeria. It has been a pride for the country in terms of internal cohesion and her role in peace keeping operation and projection of a positive image for the country. The welfare of the military is better served under a democratic institution. This is true as a result of a comprehensive welfare package enjoyed by all and not the selective few. It is also true that the civilian rule has also succeeded in enthroning and enhancing a kind of military culture that promotes professionalism, discipline and institutional growth to this cherished institution.

It is based on this enduring military sacrifices and role in the leadership of the country that it should be constrained in her conduct. As we approach 2015, there would definitely be some challenges, radicalism, rivalries, and upheavals that would usher the general election. It is pertinent to let the military understand that on no condition should there be a temptation to question the civilian conduct and governance. It should allow the system to throw up challenges and be able to learn, react and correct itsel

f. It is also pertinent that we should not compare ourselves to Egypt as we are from a different environment and social political background. The happening in Egypt although an aberration but should be situated away from the demonstrations in the square and the way Mubarack and Mursi ruled and governed Egypt.

Although the ground for military intervention in Nigeria leadership is minimal, our political elites should through their conduct understand that the freedom we seem to be enjoying now did not come on a platter of gold. It also should be aware that they are forces and factors that benefitted from the old military dispensation and would do anything from the own selfish interest to promote their intervention. It is worthy for us to sit down and analyse the effects of political actions and the impact in the overall good of the citizenry of this great country Nigeria.

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