Nigeria is a country of enormous potentials. We are often told that it is the largest economy in Africa, with stupendous natural mineral and agricultural resources, in addition to comparatively much more trained and intellectually endowed human capital. We are also often reminded that one out of every 4 Africans is a Nigerian, and one out of every 5 black people in the world is a Nigerian. In spite of all these matters of pride, however, it is axiomatic that Nigeria currently faces tremendous, wide-ranging and verified challenges, which if not urgently and successfully addressed in good time, would put its future as a country, as well as the future of its citizens, in jeopardy. Anywhere in the continents of the world, in which a country of over 200 million is in jeopardy, the consequences would be wide-ranging and calamitous for the entire continent. Safeguarding Nigeria’s future, and by extension that of Africa, therefore, requires addressing these challenges and re-prioritizing the Nigerian state’s policies and strategies towards addressing the fundamental needs and aspirations of citizens, especially socioeconomic wellbeing and human security.
The profound challenges, which currently bedevil Nigeria can be said to be structural, systemic and also related to value orientation. Structurally, we need to, among other things, address the challenges of how our federation is arranged and how it has evolved; how it has become distorted and centralized and how to deconcentrate power and resources from the federal center to the states and local governments. We also need to address how our national economy is structured and integrated into the global political economy, with greater benefits to former colonial masters than to Nigeria and its citizens. The systemic challenges are related to our system of government, its composition and decomposition, its costs, institutional inefficiency and decay, as well as the bad governance the institutions and elected public officials deliver, through elite capture and self-serving control of, especially, the electoral process. With regards to value-orientation, we need to address and reverse the mindsets of both the elites, especially the so-called political class, and even the masses, especially the electorate, from destructive engagement, to a more constructive involvement, with the electoral process, so as to ensure electoral integrity in bringing about respectable, responsible and responsive representatives of the people into the executive and legislative arms of government; responsible people who would address the needs and aspirations of citizens who elected them through good governance, rather than merely focusing upon their personal aggrandizement.
The combined effects of these challenges have resulted in contested legitimacy of the state, bad governance, stunted economic growth and development, increased inequality and poverty amongst citizens, acute failure of the state to provide for welfare and security of not just the privileged few but all citizens. They have also resulted in popular dissatisfaction with electoral democracy and representative governance given their perceived failure to satisfy popular needs and aspirations. Hence, there is massive withdrawal of citizens from political participation in the governance processes, especially in elections, unless if there is massive corrupt, monetary, inducements.
Nigerian citizens have for long aspired for representative democracy for socioeconomic development and have struggled for it. Their aspiration and struggles have, however, been constantly frustrated by the ruling and governing classes, to the extent that for many citizens, despondency has set in and the effort now seems almost futile. The ruling and governing classes have refused to confer all the rights and privileges, which citizenship ordinarily confers to Nigerians. Rather, they have manipulated primordial identities to subvert the essence and content of citizenship, and have, for example, significantly elevated so-called “indigene rights” and other primordial identities, which are no more than spurious unjustified privileges, over and above citizenship rights, with dire negative consequences on national cohesion, stability and socio-economic development of Nigeria. The struggle to acquire, protect and defend citizenship rights, as I once observed (Jega, 2019; 2021) is linked to the general struggles for expansion of democratic space, for protection and defense of fundamental rights, for the right to live in peace and securely, and earn a living in any part of Nigeria, and for good, democratic governance, which would ensure justice and equity as well as purposefully address the fundamental needs and aspirations of the majority of the ordinary Nigerians.
The discourse on the citizens’ welfare and security in contemporary Nigeria needs to center on how the Nigerian state, currently under the liberal democratic framework, can discharge its responsibilities and obligations to its citizens through coherent, focused, people-oriented redistributive policies, which are targeted towards addressing the needs and aspirations of the generality of the citizens, devoid of exclusion, partiality, and abnegation of equality of opportunities for all citizens.
Citizen and Citizenship
The term citizen can be understood in a narrow or in a broad term. In a narrow sense, historically, it means the resident of a city or one who enjoys the privilege of living in a city. In a broad modern sense, a citizen means a person who is a participatory member of a nation-state and who enjoys social, economic and political rights of that nation-state. According to Heywood, a “citizen is a member of a political community, which is defined by a set of rights and obligations” (1994:155). For instance, in Nigeria as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the rights and duties of a citizen are explicitly defined regardless of the distinction of cast, color and creed, education property and residency. And citizenship rights as well as obligations are equally specified. Citizenship entitles a person resident in a nation-state privileges, rights as well as obligations, which a foreigner is not ordinarily entitled to.
According to Waldron, “the concept of a citizen is that of a person who can hold their head high and participate fully and with dignity in the life of their society” (1993:308). In other words, citizens are full members of a nation-state. As I once said elsewhere, a citizen is a legal member and inhabitant of a sovereign nation-state; a person, who belongs to a particular country or nation-state, who is also entitled to rights and privileges of a freeman/woman. Citizens have certain defined rights, entitlements, as well as obligations, duties and responsibilities that are either denied or only partially granted to non-citizens residing in a country. Citizens in modern nation-states have full political rights, i.e. to vote, participate in deliberations and decision-making about common affairs (either directly or through delegated/representative mechanisms) and hold public office. Citizens are also entitled to provision of security of their lives and properties by the state, which legally controls the means of coercion for the legitimate use of force, as well as rights to social/welfare provisioning. Indeed, the legitimacy of a modern nation-state depends on the extent to which it promotes and defends the interests of its citizens, especially with regards to security of lives and property, as well as political, social, economic and welfare rights (Jega, 2019).
On the other hand, according to Duffy, citizenship as a legal status, emerges when a society organizes itself to assure that every person has the best possible chance of holding some set of keys (2016:25). Those keys to citizenship are as follows:
Purpose: citizens have a sense of their own purpose which is unique to them as an individual. They are respected because they are seen to have their own unique value and distinctness.
Freedom: citizens make their own decisions, take their own risks and shape their lives in ways that fit their own sense of purpose. They are respected because they are in control of their own life, not subject to the will of another.
Resources: many citizens have the financial means necessary to pursue their purposes without undue dependence on others. They are respected because they can pay their own way and are not unduly dependent on the good will of others.
Home: citizens have their own safe and private place within their community. They are respected because they belong to that community, and they have a real stake and long-term commitment to that community.
Help: citizens can rely on the assistance of others and can access help from across the community. They are respected because they offer others the chance to give, to share and contribute.
Life: citizens make their own distinctive and active contribution to their community within which they build a life of meaning. They are respected because they make their own distinct and irreplaceable contribution to the community through membership, work, family or voluntary activities.
Love: citizens can make friendships, find love, have families and bring up their own children as citizens. They are respected because they are seen to love and to be loved.
From the above keys to citizenship, the citizens who possess these find that they possess the means for both self-respect and the respect of others in their society. However, it worthy of note that, as Duffy said “it cannot be the equality of rights and duties which defines what makes citizens equal. Rather it is their innate equality that demands that citizens have somewhat different rights and somewhat different duties” (2016:24) . In other words, citizenship is a status that is bestowed on those who are full members of a community. All who possess the status are equal legally with respect to the rights and duties with which the status is endowed.
Security on the other hand is seen to be the pursuit of freedom from threat and the ability of state to maintain its independent identity and their functional integrity. According to Aradau “security issue is political in that it is only in the context of the subject of security that it is possible to envisage a critical discourse about security, a discourse which engages with contemporary transformation of political life of all” (2004:399). Similarly, Katsina argued that security “is the first precondition for peace, progress, and development of a state and its people” (2011:24). Hence, security provisioning is therefore the first and most fundamental obligation of the state to its citizens so that the citizens’ lives and properties must be free from threats, internal and external.
It may also seem that security and development are like two sides of a coin. That is why Ntamu and Ekpenyong (2014) argued that the security of any nation is very important in that where peace, safety of lives and properties are not guaranteed, there can be no meaningful development. In other words, security stand to mean improvement in the socioeconomic, health, environmental and physical conditions of the people; protecting the dominant values, ideology and way of life of the state and citizens from threats and forestalling any form of socioeconomic, political or religious assault on the state.
In addition, human security in its broadest sense, according to Kofi Annan:
Embraces far more than the absence of violent conflict. It encompasses human rights, good governance, access to education and health care and ensuring that each individual has opportunities and choices to fulfill his or her potential. Every step in this direction is a step towards reducing poverty, achieving economic growth and preventing conflict. Freedom from want, freedom from fear, and freedom of future generations to inherit a healthy environment – these are the interrelated building blocks of human and therefore national security (2000:4)
The five main features of human security are presented below:
State and the Role of the State in General
Without doubt, the state has become a consistent presence that affect our daily lives almost constantly. This is consistent with Miliband’s assertion (1969) cited in Onyenoziri that “it is possible not to be interested in what the state does; but it is not possible to be unaffected by it” (2005:13). Scholars have identified the three main roles of the state as protection and defense of the territorial integrity of a country from external and internal threats; adjudication and peaceful resolution of disputes; and socioeconomic provisioning to enhance the welfare and satisfy the need for human dignity and security.
Ideally, all citizens prefer to live in a state of peace rather than war, and that when the survival of the state is under threat, it is in the interest of all that this threat is addressed. In other words, the state plays an important and significant role in the creation and maintenance of security. It remains one of the central mechanisms for the establishment of security for individuals, societies, and the state itself (Hoogensen, 2007:10).
Basically, the state is endowed with authority to govern and to use force where necessary to regulate society, to protect citizens, and to provide collective goods (Azar, 1990:10). In other words, according to Omeiza, state may also be referred to “as a political organization comprising the individuals and institutions authorized to formulate public policies and conduct the affairs of a country” (Omeiza, 2012:181).
On the other hand, one of the fundamental purposes of the state is for the protection of lives and properties and ensuring the wellbeing of the citizens. To Aristotle, each level of human association has its own function, and that of the state is the realization of the good life [of her citizens] (Lessnoff, 1986:8).
The role of the state with regards citizens’ welfare is to actively support and provide enabling environment for equal citizenship for all. Furthermore, it is the role of the state to provide and deliver the public goods to the citizens living within designated parameters such as security, good governance, law and order, and functional infrastructure requirements (Potter, 2004:2). In other words, the legitimacy and authority of the state over the people can be sustained only to the extent that it can guarantee the security of life and property of the citizenry, and broadly, all aspects of human security.
The inability of the state to ensure the security of lives and properties of citizens breeds insecurity, chaos and conflicts associated with bad governance. In addition, Leeds argued that “since the purpose of the state is to cater for the welfare of its people, certain essential duties need to be undertaken by the government” (1976:258). Undoubtedly, one of the norms of the state is to maintain peace and stability in the arena of its jurisdiction. This means that one of the roles of the state is to ensure each individual within society can live securely as a citizen with full potential to live a decent life.
Contextual Analysis of Structural, Systemic and Value-Oriented Challenges in Nigeria
As stated in the ‘Introduction’, Nigeria is bedeviled by profound and wide-ranging challenges a combination of the effects and consequences of which pose significant danger to the its survival and future sustainability. The three major challenges, which pose existential threats to the future sustainability of the ‘Nigeria Project’, as earlier identified are both structural, systemic and in terms of value-orientation. Each is discussed in what follows.
There are two structural issues which pose challenges, and which relate to the nature of the Nigerian federation and the structure of the Nigerian post-colonial political economy.
Nature and Structure of the Nigerian Federation
After the amalgamation of their colonial territories (i.e. Colony of Lagos; Protectorate of Southern Nigeria; and Protectorate of Northern Nigeria) into one entity named Nigeria in 1914, the British attempted to administer this behemoth as a decentralized unitary state, until 1951 when, the reality of the diversity and complexity of the territory, compelled them to introduce a quasi-federal administrative arrangement under the MacPherson’s Constitution. After 3 years, this was replaced by the Lyttleton’s Constitution of 1954, which converted Nigeria into a federal system, with 3 regional governments (Eastern, Northern and Western) and a federal government, with coordinate responsibilities. Subsequent constitutional conferences, which led to the Independence (1960) and Republican (1963) Constitutions merely attempted to strengthen the federal arrangement, clearly defining and delineating the powers of each tier of government, with Exclusive List of powers given to the federal government, a Concurrent List, of powers shared by both the federal and regional governments, and residual powers reserved for each of the regions’ jurisdiction.
Thus, from 1954 to 1966, Nigeria practised a federal arrangement, which approximated theoretical postulations and practical manifestations of model federal systems in the world. In particular, the Nigerian federal arrangement of the period 1960 – 1966, subsequently came to be dubbed, the era of “true federalism” in Nigeria’s history. It was a period during which, each region had substantial, almost total, control of the revenue sources derived within its territory, and therefore substantial resources accrued to it from these to fund regional socioeconomic development programmes and projects, with relative autonomy from the federal government. In this context, a healthy competition ensued amongst regions in the delivery of projects and services, such as education, health, security and infrastructure.
The period of military rule in Nigeria, especially the first phase (1966 – 1979), during which the constitution was suspended and they ruled by military decrees, given the exigencies of the civil war (1967-1970) and the authoritarian disposition and hierarchical nature of the military, the good model of a federal system, which hitherto existed, has been systematically dismantled, and literally centralised. The 4 regions (Mid-western was created in 1964) were split into 12 states in 1967; the revenue sharing and allocation decree was introduced; junior officers (Lt. Colonels and Colonels) were posted to states as governors while generals were heads of states, hence introducing hierarchy of authority rather than coordinate responsibilities between the states and federal governments. Indeed, under subsequent military regimes (1983 – 1985; – 1993; – 1999) the powers and resources of the states were whittled down while those of the federal government were substantially increased. Such things as basic education, primary healthcare, Agriculture and roads, which used to be within the powers of the regions to provide, were encroached upon and virtually taken over by the federal government. Through revisions of the ‘revenue allocation formula’ more and more resources came to be concentrated in the federal, government, at the expense of state governments. As governance under military authoritarian rule was relatively unaccountable, and not susceptible to being appropriately held to account, the concentrated public resources at the federal level came to be essentially privatized, and deployed to dispense patronage to clients and penalize or exclude the ‘others’, by virtue of mobilization of primordial identities. While prolonged military rule takes the blame for the original and persistent distortion of Nigeria’s federal arrangement, the period of civil rule, especially since 1999, has made matters worse. Electoral ‘democratic’ politics has been circumscribed by heightened mobilization of ethnoreligious identities, and worse forms of unaccountable, bad, governance, and the worsening of state-citizen relations, as well as federal – state government fiscal and power relations.
Given all these, in contemporary times, the Nigerian federal arrangement in general, has become structurally faulty, dysfunctional and unstable; as well as a terrible deviation from the fundamental principles of federalism and best practices in model federations globally, especially in the past 23 years of civil ‘democratic’ rule in Nigeria. Consequently, we see increasing perceptions of exclusion and marginalization, heightened irredentism, violent contestations of the legitimacy of the state and its control of the means of coercion, even by bandits, as well as, all manner of ethnoreligious and ethnic conflicts. That is why there have been vociferous and impassioned demands for restructuring, with in most cases recommendations that have been politically induced but not carefully thought out, and which are accompanied by brinkmanship and threats of dismemberment of the country.
There is no doubt therefore, that a carefully thought out and realistic, evidence-based restructuring of the Nigerian federation is necessary, along with other restructuring to address the challenges of economic growth and socioeconomic development.
Structure of the Nigerian Economy
Just like the structure of the Nigerian federation, the structure of the Nigerian economy has a colonial origin, primary designed to meet up with, and satisfy, the economic interests of the colonial powers. Long after colonial rule has ended, the structure has embedded and integrated the Nigerian economy into the global capitalist system, such that it continues to promote primary commodity production, and export primarily to Europe, and import of finished products from all parts of the world, rather than commodity production through industrial production and manufacturing for both the home market and export.
Although there has been a slight move away from primarily agricultural commodity production and export, that only resulted in a virtual total dependence on the production and exportation of crude oil for foreign exchange revenues and earnings, such that any fluctuation in the price of crude oil, or exchange rate of the US dollar, the dominant currency of exchange, invariably affects Nigeria’s fortunes and its development processes. As may studies by scholars and analysts have shown, the so-called oil wealth of Nigeria has been squandered, mismanaged, not appropriately invested to nourish other sectors of the economy, and has nurtured and entrenched one of the most corrupt public and private sectors in the world.
Th Nigerian monoculture economy, reliant and dependent on production of crude oil for exports, has for long been in perpetual crises, underperforming far below its touted potentials, and negatively affecting economic growth and development in the country. The industrial/manufacturing sector has virtually collapsed, unemployment rate is quite high, especially among the youth, exchange rate of the naira is weak, inflation is very high, poverty incidence relatively high and income inequality is almost exponentially widening. Statistics and data from reputable international organizations and institutions attest to all these disturbing challenges associated with the structure of the Nigerian economy and its persistent crises. Therefore, any serious effort/reform measures to safeguard the future of the country must necessarily involve an appropriate restructuring and repositioning of the economy to serve Nigeria’s genuine, people-oriented, socioeconomic and development aspirations.
Systemic and Governance Challenges
Nigeria’s political and governance systems and institutions both under colonial rule and in the post-colonial period, evolved, were nurtured, and entrenched under the liberal democratic or electoral /representative democracy framework. The parliamentary system was introduced by the British nurtured between 1946 until 1966. In practice, its operation was fractious, divisive, conflictual and unstable. Under military guided transition to civil rule (1977/79), it was jettisoned and replaced by American style presidential system, with constitutional separation of powers and a powerful executive president. In practice, the Nigerian presidential system has become a sort of a hybrid, with excessive presidential and legislative powers, exercised without restraint, and operationally excessively costly. Indeed, governance at the state and local levels, with “executive governors” and “executive local government chairmen” exercising power recklessly and without restraint, has undermined institutions and accountable governance processes, and entrenched reckless, corrupt authoritarian rule. Power and resources are concentrated in the hands of the executive, while the legislative branches and other institutions are marginalized and made subservient to the “chief executives”.
The electoral system, through which, ideally, popularly elected persons are put into public executive and legislative offices, by electorate with enlightened public interest, is gradually being ‘captured’ and commandeered to by reckless politicians, who undermine its integrity to satisfy their craving for ‘winning’ elections using all means necessary. Notwithstanding increased use of technology, which initially improved the integrity of the electoral process, by making it difficult for the reckless politicians to ‘buy off’ an electoral official to alter results and declare them ‘winners’, they now go and buy voters directly to ‘vote’ for them, and they also now strive hard to get politically affiliated and partisan persons appointed into the electoral commission. The more they succeeded in these antics, the more they govern corruptly and badly, the more the governance processes disappoint and disempower citizens, the more it fails to deliver ‘dividends of democracy’ to satisfy their needs and aspirations, and the more the citizens in turn, withdraw from the political and electoral processes, unless they are financially/materially induced.
Given all these, in the current Nigerian situation, therefore, electoral integrity, which is a pre-requisite for democratic development and consolidation is being undermined; thus, civil rule does not equate to, or even approximate, democratic rule, and the governance processes are so bad that they do not appropriately satisfy popular needs and aspirations with regards to physical and human security, basic socioeconomic needs, and human dignity. If this trend continues, democratization would become unsustainable and safeguarding the future of the country, even with regards to citizens; security and welfare would certainly be in jeopardy.
Requisite reforms with regards to system and institutions of governance, cost of governance, leadership recruitment and electoral integrity, must be carried out, along with or in combination with the proposed structural reforms, in order to safeguard the future of Nigeria, with regards to human security and development of citizens.
Value-orientation Challenges and the need for Re-orientation
It can be said that, Nation-states evolve and develop with the assistance, or within the framework, of certain positive value-orientations nurtured and engrained in the mindsets of citizens. These values, universally include: honesty, integrity, selflessness, hard work, team work and perseverance. In some nation-states, other positive values to which citizens are oriented through socialization from childhood, include: faith and Godliness, communal spirit, mutual respect for one another and for constituted authority.
Most traditional societies, which together constitute modern Nigeria, have these universal values and their peoples, and subsequently Nigerian citizens, were rooted in and oriented with these values. Indeed, most of the first generation of Nigerian politicians and public officials were celebrated by the ways in which their public conduct and official responsibilities were guided by these positive value-orientations. However, essentially coinciding with military rule and fortunes from production and exportation of crude oil, these positive value orientations were increasingly jettisoned, and became less impactful as guiding principles of public conduct. Their opposites, such as selfishness, greed, exploitation, divisiveness, clannishness, and reckless misconduct, came to the fore and assumed prominence as (mis)guiding principles of public conduct in contemporary Nigeria. Increasingly, the stupendously rich through greed, selfishness, fetish, and corrupt means have captured the public and official domains, and have become the role models for the disoriented youth. Among the “successful” politicians are many such “role models”.
The now dominant mindset and negative value-orientation is a major factor in the undermining of Nigerian electoral integrity and subversion of its democratic development. To improve the integrity of our elections, to get good people elected into public offices to drive good governance, these negative mindsets and value-orientations, which are prevalent amongst our politicians, would have to necessarily change. For so long as these do not change, for so long would it remain difficult if not elusive to safeguard Nigeria’s future and ensure sustainable security and welfare provisioning for the citizens.
Highlights of Challenges of Citizens Welfare and Security in Contemporary Nigeria
While the 1999 Constitution as Amended has relatively clear provisions on the rights of citizens and the obligations of the state in providing for, protecting and defending these, such as Chapter II on “Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy”, in practice, governance is piloted by the ruling and governing classes who have virtually no regard for these provisions. To the extent that, in virtually all states in Nigeria, citizens are treated with impunity, unjustly and inequitably, by favoring essentially privileges of the so-called selected ones, the so-called ‘indigenes’, over and above the fundamental rights of citizens. Regrettably, the manifestations of unequal relationship between the state and citizens in Nigeria relate to the heightened mobilization of ethno-religious, communal and other identities, with attendant violent conflicts; and the simultaneous downgrading of citizenship rights.
Specifically, Nigerian citizens for example, who are resident in states other than those in which they, or their parents, were born, regardless of for how long they have been there, are meted with unequal and unjust treatments in virtually all public spheres, in contrast to and in favor of, so-called “indigenes”. From access to public services such as schools, to land allocation, contracts and services, employment, and political participation/representation, citizenship rights are openly and unjustly trampled upon. This gives rise to tension, uneven development and mistrust between the state and the citizens; and indeed, amongst citizens.
The common impression in the Nigerian context is that most Nigerians are treated as second-class citizens in their own country due to unequal access to basic welfare services that ought to be provided for by the state. No wonder that aspirations for national unity and integration are becoming a mirage, and increasingly, Nigerians see and define themselves in the context of “us” versus “them”, with all manner of emerging irredentist movements (Jega, 2021). The current implication for the country without doubt is that the material security and education as well as access to information necessary to exercise citizenship are not guaranteed to everyone by the mere existence of democratic institutions. We face a new monster: democracies without an effective citizenship for large sections of the political community (Przeworski 1995:35). Indeed, as Gill has argued:
In societies characterised by extreme inequality, it is very difficult to assure the presence of the indispensable institutions [such as state]. Even when free and fair elections could exist, the uneven distribution of resources would restrict the capacity of the subordinate population for seeking and processing information and organizing. It would also limit their capacity to articulate their interests within civil society and to exercise their rights and duties of citizenship (2000:67).
We cannot continue like this. We need, and must have, a united, stable, democratic country predicated on full citizenship rights and where citizen’s welfare holds better promise for all of us, including our children and grandchildren. Thus, the struggle to acquire, protect and defend citizens’ welfare provisioning guaranteed by the state, is linked to the general struggles for expansion of democratic space, for protection and defense of fundamental rights, for the right to live in peace and securely, and earn a living in any part of Nigeria, and for good, democratic governance, which would ensure justice and equity as well as purposefully address the fundamental needs and aspirations of the majority of the ordinary Nigerians.
But in reality, the current scenario of the country is best captured by Duffy when he stated that:
The current crisis in the [citizen] welfare reflects state immaturity as an institution and the dangers that occur when institutions, that should be fundamentally constitutional in nature, become a mere play-thing of party politics. This risk becomes even more severe when political elites become detached from the interests of the wider community (2016:11).
It is worth repeating that a major responsibility of the state is providing security for its citizens, in terms of securing lives and properties of citizens, in addition to protecting and defending the territorial integrity of the country. Citizens expect that the state would ensure that they are free of danger and threats to lives and livelihood (Jega, 2021b). In contemporary Nigeria, one of the major challenges, occasioned by a combination of poor leadership and bad governance, is heightened insecurity rather than the desired human security in Nigeria. Physical security in terms of safety of lives and property has deteriorated. This has been complicated and compounded by the evident failure of what I once called risk management capacity of the state in the face of human and natural disasters.
Table 1 illustrates the situation with regards to Nigerian states’ role in governance and development with global ranking indices.
Towards Safeguarding Citizens Welfare and Security
While looking at the import of the role of the state towards safeguarding the citizen’s welfare and security, Marshall and Bottomore have argued that:
The extension of the social services is not primarily a means of equalising incomes. In some cases, it may, in others it may not. The question is relatively unimportant; it belongs to a different department of social policy. What matters is there is a general enrichment of the concrete substance of civilised life, a general reduction of risk and insecurity, an equalisation between the more and the less fortunate at all levels – between the healthy and the sick, the employed and the unemployed, the old and the active, the bachelor and the father of a large family. Equalisation is not so much between classes as between individuals within a population which is now treated for this purpose as though it were one class. Equality of status is more important than equality of income (1993:339).
Therefore, having citizen’s welfare and security is possible if the Nigerian state is ready to ensure, among others, minimum standards for a good life to all its citizens through providing affordable education for all and to create an enabling environment to ensure its citizens have equal opportunities for a good life. However, there is a continuous need for equal opportunities for a good life of all citizens, and also the need to create an environment in which an individual is free to develop his/her personal socioeconomic potentials, as this will enable individual citizens to look after their own personal welfare even when the state seems to be overwhelmed.
Furthermore, the role of the Nigerian state, in the context of liberal democratic theoretical postulations, is to create ‘good quality of life for all citizens’ through protected human rights, the application and respect of the rule of law as well other thoughtful policies that are geared towards improving the wellbeing of the citizens. Doing all these will go a long way towards safeguarding the security and the welfare of the citizens in the country.
In addition, citizen’s welfare can also be safeguarded through decentralization of security approaches and other policy initiatives. More importantly, citizens welfare can be sustained through building what can be called general mutual trust between the state and the citizens.
In the context of the preceding discussion and analysis, in order to safeguard Nigeria’s future and citizens welfare amidst security challenges, one can offer a number of practical recommendations, relating to the articulated structural, systemic and governance, as well as value-orientation issues highlighted in the presentation.
With regards to the structure of the Nigerian Federation, it is highly recommended as follows:
That before 2027, some form of restructuring of the Nigerian federation should be embarked upon through evidence-based constitutional reforms, the objectives of which should be to deconcentrate powers and resources from the federal tier and to spread them to those of the state and local governments. In doing this, best practices could be learnt from model federations, such as India, Canada and the USA in the areas of revenue generation and sharing and adapted to our local context and circumstances
No additional states and LGAs should be created. The additional resources current states would get from the de-concentration of power and resources as recommended above would make all the 37 states and FCT financially viable and facilitative of grassroots development
The cost of governance at both the federal, state and local tiers of governance need to be drastically cut, and measures introduced to entrench transparency and accountability and effective anti-corruption oversight
With regards to the structure of the Nigerian economy, the following recommendations are offered:
Serious reform measures need to be introduced to diversify Nigeria’s earnings from dependence of export of crude oil, to expand investment in agricultural production and Agro-allied processing both for the home market and for export; and revive, expand and reposition our industries and manufacturing enterprises, for production, both for the home-market and for export
Conceive of and pursue economic growth and people-oriented development strategies, independent of the influence of IMF and the World Bank, relying on implementable development plans, which are realistically implementable within a delineated time-frame
Reform the country’s fiscal and monetary policies to strengthen our productive enterprises, human capital and currency
Conceive of and implement employment generation as well as entrepreneurship development strategies to help constructively address the challenges of the youth bulge in Nigeria
Nigeria should become more actively involved in south-south cooperation and development initiatives, in particular, in the BRICS+
With regards to addressing systemic and governance challenges, it is recommended as follows:
Amend the Electoral Act 2022, so as to remarkably improve upon the legal framework for future elections with integrity. In particular pay attention to reforming the role of political parties in the leadership recruitment and candidate selection processes at all levels and tiers of governance.
Pursue reforms to improve and protect the integrity of the judiciary, as well as find a way of insulating them from the corruptive politics of electoral dispute resolution through litigation
Improve the process of appointment into INEC with a view to protecting it from capture by crooked politicians and partisan pressures and influences
Strengthen and expand the scope of the work of anti-corruption agencies and institutions to mitigate the damaging impact of corruption in the Nigerian political economy
Institute and initiate reform measures that would ensure not only substantial reduction in the cost of governance at all levels, but also effective and transparent preparation, monitoring and implementation of budgets, as well as policies and projects
With regards to states’ role in safeguarding the security and welfare needs of the citizens, it is recommended as follows:
The Constitution should be amended to explicitly recognize the equal rights of all citizens, irrespective of their ethnic status or affiliation, and regardless of whether they are perceived as ‘indigenes’ or ‘settlers’. Citizenship rights should, and must, triumph over any other particularistic, primordial rights.
The citizens in general, need to understand their rights, duties and obligations as citizens, they need to enhance their active participation in all aspects of societal development, and they need to contribute effectively to peace-building and good governance for sustainable socioeconomic development in Nigeria.
There is the need for greater citizens’ awareness, nurtured through civic and political education not only by the government, but through involvement of civil society and community-based organisations.
There is the need for transparency and accountability of government and respect for the rule of law. These are conditions for the creation and perpetuation of social trust, cooperation and active participation of citizens in the development of their country.
There is the need for continual, far-reaching reforms on the citizens’ welfare provisioning at all levels of government, so as to advance, protect, a Having noted the role of the state to pay attention to citizens’ welfare in a democratizing country like Nigeria, it is recommended that defend, their human security and dignity
There is the need for a comprehensive review and reform of the security architecture in Nigeria, with targeted priority on policing reforms and repositioning, in terms of recruitment, training, motivating and equipping them for internal maintenance of law and order; a focus on training and retraining of the armed forces for their core role of protection and defense of the territorial integrity of the country and assisting the police in internal security only when the police are overwhelmed, and armed forces are formally called upon to provide support; and general training and retraining of all the security forces and agencies, with regards to intelligence sharing and joint security operations, with carefully defined roles for each security sector/agency.
Ultimately, the approach to security provisioning in Nigeria needs to be predicated on a broader and more holistic definition of security, which is human security in all of its significant components, rather than just physical protection of lives and property, which seems to be the prevailing but narrow definition of security provisioning by the Nigerian state.
Theoretically, the ‘State’ exists, among other things, in order to cater for the security, welfare and basic needs of the citizens. In fact, no nation-state can exist for very long without institutional arrangements to promote the security and well-being of its members. Any state that fails to do this in the modern context would be considered as a “failed state.” Due to the resources ordinary available to the state under normal circumstances, it should have the capacity and competence to address human security challenges in the broader and more comprehensive definition of the term. In this context, the Nigerian state needs to discharge this obligation to its citizens. However, the citizens also need to recognize that they have obligations of citizenship to their country, and therefore have significant roles to play in shaping the present and safeguarding Nigeria’s future. All hands need to be on deck to ensure this, and citizens also need to understand the necessity of active, positive, participation and engagement in all spheres and sectors of the Nigerian political economy. Ultimately, the best way to safeguard Nigeria’s future and secure the welfare of citizens, devoid of massive security challenges, is to have elections with integrity, through an electoral process that is not captured by reckless politicians, that would bring good quality choices of the people, as their elected public officials/representatives who have appropriate positive value-orientations, into the governance processes and institutions, and who would selflessly harness societal resources and deliver quality services within the framework of good democratic governance. Only in through this way can the state have the requisite legitimacy, stability, competence and capacity, as well as resourcefulness to effectively address the fundamental needs of the people with regards to human security and human dignity, and thereby satisfy their needs and aspirations.