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Buhari’s Speech at Chatham House – February 26 2015
Prospects for Democratic Consolidation in Africa: Nigeria’s Transition
Permit me to start by thanking Chatham House for the invitation to talk about this important topic at this crucial time. When speaking about Nigeria overseas, I normally prefer to be my country’s public relations and marketing officer, extolling her virtues and hoping to attract investments and tourists. But as we all know, Nigeria is now battling with many challenges, and if I refer to them, I do so only to impress on our friends in the United Kingdom that we are quite aware of our shortcomings and are doing our best to address them.
The 2015 general election in Nigeria is generating a lot of interests within and outside the country. This is understandable. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and largest economy, is at a defining moment, a moment that has great implications beyond the democratic project and beyond the borders of my dear country.
So let me say upfront that the global interest in Nigeria’s landmark election is not misplaced at all and indeed should be commended; for this is an election that has serious import for the world. I urge the international community to continue to focus on Nigeria at this very critical moment. Given increasing global linkages, it is in our collective interests that the postponed elections should hold on the rescheduled dates; that they should be free and fair; that their outcomes should be respected by all parties; and that any form of extension, under whichever guise, is unconstitutional and will not be tolerated.
With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, the collapse of communism and the end of the Cold War, democracy became the dominant and most preferred system of government across the globe. That global transition has been aptly captured as the triumph of democracy and the ‘most pre-eminent political idea of our time.’ On a personal note, the phased end of the USSR was a turning point for me. It convinced me that change can be brought about without firing a single shot.
As you all know, I had been a military head of state in Nigeria for twenty months. We intervened because we were unhappy with the state of affairs in our country. We wanted to arrest the drift. Driven by patriotism, influenced by the prevalence and popularity of such drastic measures all over Africa and elsewhere, we fought our way to power. But the global triumph of democracy has shown that another and a preferable path to change is possible. It is an important lesson I have carried with me since, and a lesson that is not lost on the African continent.
In the last two decades, democracy has grown strong roots in Africa. Elections, once so rare, are now so commonplace. As at the time I was a military head of state between 1983 and 1985, only four African countries held regular multi-party elections. But the number of electoral democracies in Africa, according to Freedom House, jumped to 10 in 1992/1993 then to 18 in 1994/1995 and to 24 in 2005/2006. According to the New York Times, 42 of the 48 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa conducted multi-party elections between 1990 and 2002.
The newspaper also reported that between 2000 and 2002, ruling parties in four African countries (Senegal, Mauritius, Ghana and Mali) peacefully handed over power to victorious opposition parties. In addition, the proportion of African countries categorized as not free by Freedom House declined from 59% in 1983 to 35% in 2003. Without doubt, Africa has been part of the current global wave of democratisation.
But the growth of democracy on the continent has been uneven. According to Freedom House, the number of electoral democracies in Africa slipped from 24 in 2007/2008 to 19 in 2011/2012; while the percentage of countries categorised as ‘not free’ assuming for the sake of argument that we accept their definition of “free” increased from 35% in 2003 to 41% in 2013. Also, there have been some reversals at different times in Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Cote D’Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Mali, Madagascar, Mauritania and Togo. We can choose to look at the glass of democracy in Africa as either half full or half empty.
While you can’t have representative democracy without elections, it is equally important to look at the quality of the elections and to remember that mere elections do not democracy make. It is globally agreed that democracy is not an event, but a journey. And that the destination of that journey is democratic consolidation – that state where democracy has become so rooted and so routine and widely accepted by all actors.
With this important destination in mind, it is clear that though many African countries now hold regular elections, very few of them have consolidated the practice of democracy. It is important to also state at this point that just as with elections, a consolidated democracy cannot be an end by itself. I will argue that it is not enough to hold a series of elections or even to peacefully alternate power among parties.
It is much more important that the promise of democracy goes beyond just allowing people to freely choose their leaders. It is much more important that democracy should deliver on the promise of choice, of freedoms, of security of lives and property, of transparency and accountability, of rule of law, of good governance and of shared prosperity. It is very important that the promise embedded in the concept of democracy, the promise of a better life for the generality of the people, is not delivered in the breach.
Now, let me quickly turn to Nigeria. As you all know, Nigeria’s fourth republic is in its 16th year and this general election will be the fifth in a row. This is a major sign of progress for us, given that our first republic lasted five years and three months, the second republic ended after four years and two months and the third republic was a still-birth. However, longevity is not the only reason why everyone is so interested in this election.
The major difference this time around is that for the very first time since transition to civil rule in 1999, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is facing its stiffest opposition so far from our party the All Progressives Congress (APC). We once had about 50 political parties, but with no real competition. Now Nigeria is transitioning from a dominant party system to a competitive electoral polity, which is a major marker on the road to democratic consolidation. As you know, peaceful alternation of power through competitive elections have happened in Ghana, Senegal, Malawi and Mauritius in recent times. The prospects of democratic consolidation in Africa will be further brightened when that eventually happens in Nigeria.
But there are other reasons why Nigerians and the whole world are intensely focussed on this year’s elections, chief of which is that the elections are holding in the shadow of huge security, economic and social uncertainties in Africa’s most populous country and largest economy. On insecurity, there is a genuine cause for worry, both within and outside Nigeria. Apart from the civil war era, at no other time in our history has Nigeria been this insecure.
Boko Haram has sadly put Nigeria on the terrorism map, killing more than 13,000 of our nationals, displacing millions internally and externally, and at a time holding on to portions of our territory the size of Belgium. What has been consistently lacking is the required leadership in our battle against insurgency. I, as a retired general and a former head of state, have always known about our soldiers: they are capable, well trained, patriotic, brave and always ready to do their duty in the service of our country.
You all can bear witness to the gallant role of our military in Burma, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Darfur and in many other peacekeeping operations in several parts of the world. But in the matter of this insurgency, our soldiers have neither received the necessary support nor the required incentives to tackle this problem. The government has also failed in any effort towards a multi-dimensional response to this problem leading to a situation in which we have now become dependent on our neighbours to come to our rescue.
Let me assure you that if I am elected president, the world will have no cause to worry about Nigeria as it has had to recently; that Nigeria will return to its stabilising role in West Africa; and that no inch of Nigerian territory will ever be lost to the enemy because we will pay special attention to the welfare of our soldiers in and out of service, we will give them adequate and modern arms and ammunitions to work with, we will improve intelligence gathering and border controls to choke Boko Haram’s financial and equipment channels, we will be tough on terrorism and tough on its root causes by initiating a comprehensive economic development plan promoting infrastructural development, job creation, agriculture and industry in the affected areas. We will always act on time and not allow problems to irresponsibly fester, and I, Muhammadu Buhari, will always lead from the front and return Nigeria to its leadership role in regional and international efforts to combat terrorism.
On the economy, the fall in prices of oil has brought our economic and social stress into full relief. After the rebasing exercise in April 2014, Nigeria overtook South Africa as Africa’s largest economy. Our GDP is now valued at $510 billion and our economy rated 26th in the world. Also on the bright side, inflation has been kept at single digit for a while and our economy has grown at an average of 7% for about a decade.
But it is more of paper growth, a growth that, on account of mismanagement, profligacy and corruption, has not translated to human development or shared prosperity. A development economist once said three questions should be asked about a country’s development: one, what is happening to poverty? Two, what is happening to unemployment? And three, what is happening to inequality?
The answers to these questions in Nigeria show that the current administration has created two economies in one country, a sorry tale of two nations: one economy for a few who have so much in their tiny island of prosperity; and the other economy for the many who have so little in their vast ocean of misery.
Even by official figures, 33.1% of Nigerians live in extreme poverty. That’s at almost 60 million, almost the population of the United Kingdom. There is also the unemployment crisis simmering beneath the surface, ready to explode at the slightest stress, with officially 23.9% of our adult population and almost 60% of our youth unemployed. We also have one of the highest rates of inequalities in the world.
With all these, it is not surprising that our performance on most governance and development indicators (like Mo Ibrahim Index on African Governance and UNDP’s Human Development Index.) are unflattering. With fall in the prices of oil, which accounts for more than 70% of government revenues, and lack of savings from more than a decade of oil boom, the poor will be disproportionately impacted.
In the face of dwindling revenues, a good place to start the repositioning of Nigeria’s economy is to swiftly tackle two ills that have ballooned under the present administration: waste and corruption. And in doing this, I will, if elected, lead the way, with the force of personal example.
On corruption, there will be no confusion as to where I stand. Corruption will have no place and the corrupt will not be appointed into my administration. First and foremost, we will plug the holes in the budgetary process. Revenue producing entities such as NNPC and Customs and Excise will have one set of books only. Their revenues will be publicly disclosed and regularly audited. The institutions of state dedicated to fighting corruption will be given independence and prosecutorial authority without political interference.
But I must emphasise that any war waged on corruption should not be misconstrued as settling old scores or a witch-hunt. I’m running for President to lead Nigeria to prosperity and not adversity.
In reforming the economy, we will use savings that arise from blocking these leakages and the proceeds recovered from corruption to fund our party’s social investments programmes in education, health, and safety nets such as free school meals for children, emergency public works for unemployed youth and pensions for the elderly.
As a progressive party, we must reform our political economy to unleash the pent-up ingenuity and productivity of the Nigerian people thus freeing them from the curse of poverty. We will run a private sector-led economy but maintain an active role for government through strong regulatory oversight and deliberate interventions and incentives to diversify the base of our economy, strengthen productive sectors, improve the productive capacities of our people and create jobs for our teeming youths.
In short, we will run a functional economy driven by a worldview that sees growth not as an end by itself, but as a tool to create a society that works for all, rich and poor alike. On March 28, Nigeria has a decision to make. To vote for the continuity of failure or to elect progressive change. I believe the people will choose wisely.
In sum, I think that given its strategic importance, Nigeria can trigger a wave of democratic consolidation in Africa. But as a starting point we need to get this critical election right by ensuring that they go ahead, and depriving those who want to scuttle it the benefit of derailing our fledgling democracy. That way, we will all see democracy and democratic consolidation as tools for solving pressing problems in a sustainable way, not as ends in themselves.
Permit me to close this discussion on a personal note. I have heard and read references to me as a former dictator in many respected British newspapers including the well regarded Economist. Let me say without sounding defensive that dictatorship goes with military rule, though some might be less dictatorial than others. I take responsibility for whatever happened under my watch.
I cannot change the past. But I can change the present and the future. So before you is a former military ruler and a converted democrat who is ready to operate under democratic norms and is subjecting himself to the rigours of democratic elections for the fourth time.
You may ask: why is he doing this? This is a question I ask myself all the time too. And here is my humble answer: because the work of making Nigeria great is not yet done, because I still believe that change is possible, this time through the ballot, and most importantly, because I still have the capacity and the passion to dream and work for a Nigeria that will be respected again in the comity of nations and that all Nigerians will be proud of.
I thank you for listening.
That is the question
How come is it that the daughters of the Niger wash their hands with sputum, and the sons of the Iroko build their houses with bark? By what providence do the citizens of this great country find themselves begging bread in the midst of a great abundance of natural and human resources. In an oil-producing country such as ours, citizens should be able to take the availability of petrol/diesel for granted. That though, is not the case with Nigeria. Fuel shortages are a perennial problem that we all have to contend with. In Ilorin, where the son of a Nigerian is commonly to be found, it is not unusual to find petrol queues snaking on for about two miles. Taxi drivers and the common man are the main fare of this problem, as most “able” citizens have friends behind the petrol pumps and in the offices that they can see about conjuring up a keg or two of the stuff. These queues take time, courage, and some measure of luck or Grace (depending on your perspective) to navigate. It is not uncommon to hear of people spending two or three days inching their way along to the front of the queue; only to discover that the station had now run out of petrol. Now, if that were all, it would not be so bad, one being quit for loss of time only. However, folk are on occasion forced to leave their vehicles on the queue overnight, and men of the underworld, not being the type to miss an opportunity for illicit gain, take advantage of absent car owners, and spoil the vehicles for parts. In medicine, iatrogenic is analogous of a person who comes in suffering from a broken arm, and leaves with Cholera. I guess, in a way, one could describe the loss of car parts while queuing for petrol under the same label – if only this were a hospital, and not the roadside.
One is forced to wonder, that, Is it really worth one’s while to spend half a day queuing for petrol, simply because it is subsidised? Is it correct to suggest that the value of subsidy on a tank of petrol is more valuable than four/five hours of the average Nigerian’s day? Surely that should not be right! For even if it was right, it is not proper, and should therefore be wrong. Of strength, courage-in-adversity, faith, and entrepreneurial spirit, this nation is second to none. Surely the day of the average Nigerian is worth many times the value of subsidy on a tank of petrol, and the safety and security of car-owner and car, including parts, cannot be bartered, at least not in the same market as petrol.
The question that begs asking, is “how come? How is it that a country that produces x million barrels of oil per day cannot cater for the needs of its own local population, while at the same time indulging the world?”. This column is man enough to ask the question, but will we find a person to answer?
Whether tis better to subsidise …
and so please powerful foes, even at the cost of further undermining the economy. There are not many Nigerians who will question the veracity of the statement that a sizeable proportion of our subsidised petrol/diesel ends up across the border. But many of us still believe in the subsidy; afterall, this is an oil producing country. A point that we miss though, is that the goodwill of subsidy is being abused up and down the country by, racketeers, bunkerers and black-marketeers; and that rather than aid economic recovery, the constrained access to subsidised petrol actually slows the pace of business activity. All this has not dampened the enthusiasm of the pro-subsidy camp.
A popular argument in favour of the subsidy takes the line that the money raked in from the removal of subsidies would end up in the pockets of our treacherous leaders. I must pause here to say that I felt challenged in my spirit using the words “treacherous” and “leaders” in the context of Nigeria because not all our leaders are bad, but since neither you nor I have a hand in these traitorous acts, the finger is left pointing at the seat of power, however reluctantly. The other argument for the justification of subsidy is that Nigerians are too poor to afford the cost of unsubsidised petroleum products.
I very strongly disagree with these two arguments. In the first instance; because a cabal of looters sit on top of the revenue from petroleum mining does not in itself form an argument for subsidisation. The issue here is one of accountability, and that is what we should be taking up. The second argument is premised on the poverty of Nigerians today; a counter-reality super-imposed on an erstwhile hard-working people with boundless reserves of energy and enthusiasm for honest work and entrepreneurism. The poverty we see today is a mask; and once government removes the obstacles of infrastructure and security, the true identity of Nigerians will be revealed in an explosion of productive activity that may not be witnessed again in the time-line of humanity in this dimension.
Here again, the issue that must be pushed is not how to make Nigerians comfortable in the current state of poverty, rather, it should be how to get us out of the state of affairs, and into an activity mode that can afford unsubsidised petroleum products. Paradoxically, the very removal of subsidy is likely to create the impetus for improved, increased, or higher priced output required to cope with the removal of subsidy. >”What about inflation!?”<
Or to refrain from subsidy …
And thereby to irk powerful foes and not-so-patriotic allies, or so to say, “take Arms against a Sea of troubles”. It is clear that there is a real and present danger in confronting vested interests, especially those with a lot to loose when cesspits of filthy lucre are filled in. There is no doubt that the president has a lot at stake in taking on those power houses that have an interest in subsidisation, especially those folk who have been plying our neighbour countries with not-so-subsidised petroleum, in exchange for Forex. These are the real losers, not the average Nigerian who has to queue for several hours to gain access to this subsidised petrol. The president also has to contend against the trade unions, who it seems, jump on the bandwagon of any populist idea, no matter how extra-ordinary. One only needs to refer to their position on a minimum wage, to see how unrealistic they can be. Trade Union leaders were content to argue for a higher minimum wage, in a country where the largest employer is still the government, and that same government struggles to keep up with salaries, even before the hike in wages! It is high time that Union leaders start thinking, first of the interests of Nigeria as a whole, before that of their members; for those who would consider that a contradiction-nigh-on-schizophrenia, I would retort that so also is the situation of the country today. Desperate ills evoke desperate pills; we are all in this ship together, it may not be sinking, but neither is it sailing; does it really matter who is sitting on the bow, stern, or mast? Following on from deregulation, we now have a situation where petrol goes for an average of =N=45 per litre, and much higher in certain parts of the north of the country. This is considerably higher than the =N=40 post-subsidy price advanced by the president. Would it not have been better to remove the subsidy at source and then peg the retail price? As things stand, the very subsidy that was being clamoured for has effectively disappeared into the pockets of those in the petroleum products supply chain. And yet, the Trade Union leaders are still breathing threats!
Between a rock and a hard place
Caught between the Trade Unions and a contracting economy, who would offer to be in the president’s shoes today. For many, the issue of subsidies is just another excuse for a lack of improvement in the economy of Nigeria, even after four years of PDP/Obasanjo rule. Why cut subsidies, they ask, when everywhere else, the citizen is confronted with untold hardships, and forced into paying bribes to the police, judiciary, government officials, and civil servants. And now the last bastion of solace is threatened by this government. Anyone who has lived in Nigeria will not argue with these accusations. However, to imagine that the mismanagement of over two decades can be corrected within four years is naive. Change will take a bit more time, and finger pointing is not going to change that reality; ask the British under Tony Blair’s Labour government, the South Africans, and even the Ghanaians. The problem I believe is that inputs that are a sine qua non for maximising productive output are missing, or are still in an early state of development. Despite the best efforts of this government, ploughing upwards of =N=32 billion into the National Electric Power Authority (N.E.P.A.), the grapevine has it that less than a quarter of that money actually hit the ground; behemoths with huge throats, and an even broader appetite for looting filtered, or should we say frittered, away the majority of the money. For all that, it is still clear that even with 25% of actual input, the electricity situation is now considerably better than it once was. Similar focus and investment will be needed for telecommunications, roads, water, and public transport. However, a crucial lesson needs to be learnt from the NEPA exercise, to wit, before you start spending money, make sure you have the right people on the ground. Due diligence must be exercised to ensure that extant Leviathan are forced into extinction. The hard truth is that the fall, and fall, of the Naira today are down to one activity alone – consumption. We have no substantial productive output to counter the inflationary pressures on the Naira. The only output we can leverage right now is crude oil, and it is doubly imperative that we employ it wisely, firstly to develop our economy by investing in ourselves, and secondly to wean ourselves of any overt dependence on what we are better off selling. Just as the president encourages Nigerians to eat less cassava, so that we can export it, we should likewise prioritise the sale of petroleum products (locally or internationally) over its consumption, since the sale brings in much needed revenue that the economy needs. We need to choose between the short-term agonies of an immediate removal of subsidy, or the long-term risks of failing to diversify while petrodollars were still readily available.
Choosing what is best for Nigeria
Never mind whose ox is gored; We all must be willing to consider all options for getting this country moving again. While it is clear that the record of the present government is not without blemish, it is also clear that the man at the helm is neither a robber nor a leper. For once in a long time, we have a disposition which is amenable to the survival of progressives, even if it does not actively support them to thrive. Casting an eye on the cabinet of the president, there are elements therein who would not have considered taking the same job under any other past president – I refrain from naming names. This says something about the habitat of government as it exists today. We have, I believe, genuine goodwill in certain quarters of government, and proposals for change, however unpalatable in the short term should be given the benefit of objective analysis. This country has an estimated population of 120 million people, of which only a fraction are enjoy the subsidy, the goal of government must be to increase the proportion of Nigerians who have access to petroleum products, and by extension, any such subsidies. Is it conceivable that we will be able to afford subsidisation of petroleum for much longer? And who decides when we draw the line. It is my firm belief that the argument against subsidy is strong and well founded, and that among governments in Nigeria till date, this government above the others has the credibility to advance that argument. Nigerians must give this issue, the serious attention and rational debate that it evokes, never minding who has what to lose or gain. This will not be the last of such issues to be raised, and we must now start getting used to making difficult, even unpopular decisions, in the interest of the nation.
Be prepared to picket the Nigerian embassy/high-commission in the country in which you live; it will only cost you a few hours/days, but it could be the difference between life and death for people you know back home. More information will be made available as the year progresses, but please be on standby to help the situation by using every legal/moral/ethical means to work against the plans of these few evil men who want to destroy our already frail democracy.
A key requirement for economic prosperity is the safety and security of lives and property. Insecurity eats away at the foundation needed to maintain modern society: confidence in public infrastructure and services. This loss of confidence in the ability of government to protect citizens can lead to reduced economic activity and almost paralyse a nation. However, our situation is not as bad as it might seem. More can be done to equip the law abiding majority to keep the peace in cooperation with security services. What we need is a new and improved plan of action for safer streets, neighbourhoods and public places.
The CIA says that the combination of ignorance and poverty make for fertile grounds in which terrorist rhetoric thrives. One should add a few more requisite ingredients. Failure of states to provide succour to the disadvantaged, large disparities between rich and poor, and extravagant displays of wealth & power. But most important of all, the ignition agent. The demagogues that incite common citizens to violent action, and the ideological and opportunist terrorists.
Despite improvements on the record of the PDP, Nigeria has had many security breaches since the emergence of the APC. Indeed, year 2016 was replete with a variety of assaults on the public peace, especially in the north and the south-south but also in the south-east, and more surprisingly, the south-west.
Roaming criminals attacked the Godogodo community in Kaduna state between the 24th-26th September and killed about eight persons. Suspected militants stormed the premises of a school in Igbonla, Lagos state, kidnapping two staff and six students on the 6th of October. Soldiers killed three suicide bombers who were attacking a neighbourhood near the Maimalari barracks in Maiduguri on the 11th of November. Suspected terrorists murdered twenty Tiv farmers during a raid on their village in Taraba state in December. All of this is aside from ongoing battles with Boko Haram and the Niger Delta Avengers.
So many assaults spread across the nation, many different methods and by a plethora of malcontent groups. Confronting these groups are an army of less than 100,000 able-bodied men and an ill-equipped, poorly resourced police. It is no wonder that security appears to be a despairing cause to many citizens. Other nations facing guerilla fighters and terrorists have had to contend with violent disruptions for years, with limited success on the part of the authorities. Could the outcome be different in Nigeria?
Nigerians in the trouble-spots would be forgiven for becoming exasperated, giving up, or blaming the government. Terrorist groups are a lot more sophisticated these days, and even the most powerful nations (US, France, etc.) struggle to contain the attacks they unleash on innocent citizens as well as security forces.
The rapidly evolving nature of the threats and their ubiquity makes it difficult to establish an enduring strategy to contain the violence and neutralise the assaults. An added complication is the fact that terrorist groups are usually a mix of ideologists and opportunist criminals. This creates a blend of motives, which in turn complicates the predictability of action by the groups.
Traditional strategies cannot cope. Most security and response systems are organised centrally. They are often led and controlled by a homogeneous group; the reporting and control systems are hierarchical; reaction times are sub-optimal, and change is slow and difficult. This is the Western approach to containing terrorism and it has had limited success. In contrast, the threats from terrorists are dispersed, authority is federated, collaboration lacks fixed hierarchy, and the composition and modus operandi of groups changes rapidly. Despite considerable losses, it is their success that makes all the headlines.
Adopting strategies that have had limited success in other countries is not wise. The same actions will result in the same outcomes. We should learn from their mistakes and do better. Strategies for security must be empathetic to the nature of the threats that we are faced with, and the greatest number of citizens should be mobilised to help the fight. We must embrace a community based strategy for national security.
Our strategy needs to always bear in mind the nature of the threat from terrorist groups (dispersed, evolving, flat-hierarchy). Their rapidly evolving nature places them beyond the resource limits of security services to actively and continually protect all locations. A new strategic approach seeks to mobilise as many ordinary citizens as possible in a constant lookout for national and communal safety and survival.
It is useful to define some key terms that underpin the strategy; these are: Target, Perimeter, Status Quo, Agent, Device, Vector, Weapon, Risk, Threat, Breach, and Alarm.
A Target is a potential focus of attack; the main types being persons, infrastructure, and property.
A Perimeter is an area that is to be kept safe: it could be a street, square, village, shop-front, roundabout, mall, town, office, etc.
The Status Quo is the last-known safe state or default safe state of a perimeter. It includes detailed, verifiable information about the appearance, infrastructure, property, persons and relationships within the perimeter.
An Agent is a recognised person or group that monitors a perimeter to ensure that the status quo has not changed.
A Device is any instrument approved and used by an agent to monitor and secure a perimeter against anything or person(s) that could change the status quo. Not every change is bad, but it is important that the agent is aware or can detect the change, and so can evaluate if it is safe or not.
A Vector is a person or group of persons that have been identified, by profile or identity, to be a potential danger to one or more targets in a perimeter
A Weapon is any instrument used by a vector to attack targets within a perimeter.
A Risk asserts the proximity of a vector to a perimeter in relation to their level of knowledge about targets within the perimeter. The level of knowledge will be one of the following:
• Conjecture – usually hearsay, rumour, unconfirmed
• Information – publicly available, widely distributed, generic
• Intelligence – contextualised, detailed, timely
A Threat is the presence of a vector within the area defined by a perimeter; this is irrespective of weapons. The assumption must be that a vector’s intention while in a perimeter is either to prepare or launch an attack.
A Breach is a successful attack by a vector on targets within the perimeter; this is an outcome that the strategy aims to prevent.
An Alarm is the communication by an agent of a risk, threat, or breach regarding the perimeter for which he/she is designate. An alarm should not normally be raised by non-agents. If it is, an agent should be required to validate it.
A strategy for public security against terrorism can only be successful if it is community-centred. This is driven by the following observations:
The status quo is often better known to the community than security services or a vector. Because the status quo itself is dynamic, only local observers can continually monitor, assess and report on changes.
If the status quo in a perimeter changes, there is a far greater likelihood that an agent will be present than a national or state security personnel. The agent is therefore the best hope of raising a timely and accurate alarm. A vector that is local or embedded within a perimeter can be detected quicker and more precisely by an agent. For these reasons documentation, monitoring, reporting, and initial response are more efficient where local resources are connected with and backed up by security services in the management of risks, threats and breaches.
Present strategy and tools of security services are at odds with the modus operandi of violent anti-establishment groups. We therefore need new strategies, tactics and tools to deter, contain and neutralise nascent risks as they emerge. Such strategies recognise that “security is everybody’s business”. The #SeeSayKeepSafe approach is embedded in the strategy, i.e. if you see something, say something to someone, so we all remain safe. Using the concepts mentioned earlier, a new engagement model is being set out. It is a public engagement plan for mobilising common people into a security network. It is leaner, cheaper, and far more effective than the approaches articulated in the West. The implementation of these strategies offer us better hope for safe streets in the near future.
Oyewole, Olanrewaju J (Mr.)
No 66, London SE18 3PD
+44  793 920 3120
Social and political commentator, blogger, and technology consultant. With significant experience in the security sector, having worked on key IT initiatives for the UK police and army
On Thursday December 15, 2016 the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria held an executive session during which it rejected the nomination of Mr. Ibrahim Magu as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by President Muhammadu Buhari based on an adverse ‘’security report’’ authored by the State Security Service (SSS).
Unsurprisingly, the decision of the Senate has triggered controversy on whether Mr. Magu can validly continue in his capacity as the Acting Chairman of the EFCC in the light of the disapproving decision of the Senate. This intervention seeks to offer clarification on the issue based on the enabling and relevant legal authorities.
On the mode of appointing the Chairman of the Commission, the relevant statutory provision is Section 2(3) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act Cap. E17 LFN , 2004. It provides thus:
‘’The Chairman and members of the Commission other than ex-officio members shall be appointed by the President and the appointment shall be subject to the confirmation of the Senate.’’
The above provision subjects the appointment of the Chairman of the Commission by the President to the concurrence and confirmation of the Senate. We submit that the EFCC (Establishment) Act does not expressly provide for the position of an Acting Chairman of the Commission, it only provides for a substantive Chairman.
Flowing from the above, two issues necessarily arise for determination:
Where does the President derive the power to appoint an Acting Chairman of the Commission?; and
Can Magu continue to act as the Acting Chairman of the Commission despite the rejection of his nomination, having regards to Section 2(3) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act quoted above?
In resolving the twin issues formulated supra (above), the provisions of Section 11 of the Interpretation Act Cap. 123, Vol. 8, LFN, 2004 are apposite. For clarity and ease of reference, the said provisions are wholly reproduced infra (below):
(1) Where an enactment confers a power to appoint a person either to an office or to exercise any functions, whether for a specified period or not, the power includes−
(a) power to appoint a person by name or to appoint the holder from time to time of a particular office;
(b) power to remove or suspend him;
(c) power, exercisable in the manner and subject to the limitations and conditions (if any) applicable to the power to appoint−
(i) to reappoint or reinstate him;
(ii) to appoint a person to act in his place, either generally or in regard to specified functions, during such time as is considered expedient by the authority in whom the power of appointment in question is vested.
(2) A reference in an enactment to the holder of an office shall be construed as including a reference to a person for the time being appointed to act in his place, either as respects the functions of the office generally or the functions in regard to which he is appointed, as the case may be.
Before proceeding to examine the ramifications and effect of the elaborate provisions above, it should be borne in mind that the Interpretation Act is a special piece of legislation that gives direction on the meaning of words, expressions and interpretation of the provisions of all other laws enacted by the legislature. Where there is an interpretative lacuna or controversy in a statute regarding the meaning and application of certain words, expressions and or provisions, the Interpretation Act is usually resorted to by the courts for succor.
It is our firm contention that the President has the requisite vires (powers) to appoint an Acting Chairman of the EFCC. We reference Section 11(1)(c)(ii) of the Interpretation Act in support. The said provision has clothed the President with the authority to appoint another person to act in the place of a substantive Chairman of the EFCC. Unlike the appointment of a substantive Chairman which requires the confirmation of the Senate, the President does not need the confirmation of the Senate to appoint an Acting Chairman of the Commission.
On the second issue, we submit that the decision of the Senate to reject the nomination of Magu for the position of substantive Chairman of the EFCC has no upsetting consequence in law on his earlier appointment as the Acting Chairman of the EFCC by President Buhari on November 9, 2015.
The Interpretation Act does not specify the term of office or period for which the acting chairmanship is to subsist. Section 11(1)(c)(ii) of the Interpretation Act seems to give the appointing authority the discretion to determine how long the acting or temporary appointee is to serve. This reasoning appears inevitable given the use of the expression ‘’during such time as is considered expedient by the authority in whom the power of appointment in question is vested’’ in the cited provision.
It is an elementary principle of statutory interpretation that where the words and expressions used in a statute are clear and unambiguous, they must be given their natural and ordinary meanings unless to do so would lead to absurdity or inconsistency with the rest of the statute. See the recent decision of the Supreme Court in Okoye v. C.O.P. (2015) 17 NWLR (Pt. 1488) 276 at 320. The expression ‘’during such time as is considered expedient by the authority in whom the power of appointment in question is vested’’ is clear and unambiguous.
In the instant case, the President is the appointing authority under Section 2(3) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act. He is the person vested with power under Section 11 of the Interpretation Act to appoint an Acting Chairman in lieu (in the absence of) of a substantive chairman. Accordingly, Mr. Magu will continue to act as the chairman of the EFCC if his retention is considered expedient by President Buhari. It does not lie in the mouth of the Senate to say what is expedient in the circumstance. The parameters for determining the expediency of Magu’s continued acting leadership of the EFCC belongs to President Buhari.
However, we submit that there are two identifiable limitations or exceptions to the power of the appointing authority under Section 11 of the Interpretation Act to determine the duration or tenure of a person appointed in an acting capacity based on what is considered expedient by the appointing authority. These exceptions will be shown using the present case of Ibrahim Magu.
First, we submit that Magu cannot legally serve in an acting capacity BEYOND the term permissible for a substantive chairman of the Commission. Section 3(1) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act states that ‘’the Chairman and members of the Commission other than ex-officio members shall hold office for a period of four years and may be re-appointed for a further term of four years and no more.’’ It would be absurd for anyone to suggest that a person who is appointed in an acting capacity can serve in that capacity beyond the statutorily allowable tenure for the substantive appointee. The President’s power to appoint an Acting Chairman of the EFCC under Section 11 of the Interpretation Act is derivable from and only incidental to his power to appoint a substantive Chairman under Section 2(3) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act. Therefore, Magu cannot continue in his acting capacity beyond the four years term (in the first instance) allowed for a substantive Chairman.
Second, it is our humble view that Magu’s tenure as the Acting Chairman of the Commission MUST BE LESS THAN the four years period stipulated for a substantive Chairman. The gravamen of this contention is that the words ‘act’ and ‘acting’ when used in relation to a position, by their ordinary grammatical and juristic meaning presupposes a state or status of temporariness as opposed to permanency. Few dictionary definitions will suffice. The Interpretation Act does not define ‘act’ or ‘acting’. The Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary, 6th edition, page 11 defines ‘acting’ as ‘’Doing the work of another person for a short time…’’. Law Guide, (www.thelaw.com) an online legal source, defines ‘acting’ as ‘’Temporary performance. Frequently referring to a temporary position performing and carrying out the duties of an office without actually holding the position.’’ Lastly, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, online version, variously defines ‘acting’ as ‘’performing a job for a short time’’ and ‘’holding a temporary rank or position’’.
Does the law give recognition and effect to dictionary definition of words in the interpretation of statutes? The answer is in the affirmative. Reference is made to a recent decision of the Court of Appeal in Alechenu v. University of Jos (2015) 1 NWLR (Pt. 1440) 333 at 361, paras. C-D, where the appellate court, per BDLIYA, J.C.A., held inter alia: ‘’Where words used in a Statute are not defined therein, a resort to the dictionary meaning of such words is permissible…’’
The totality of the above exposition is that a person who is appointed into a position in an acting capacity cannot exhaust or complete the full term of that office or position. A person can either be appointed in an acting capacity to complete the remainder term of the substantive appointee whose office has become vacant either by reason of death, resignation, removal or for other cause OR to occupy the position temporarily pending when a substantive appointment is made. Anything other than this is legally indefensible.
The legal implications of the two exceptions espoused above are that Mr. Magu can continue in his position as the Acting Chairman of the EFCC at the pleasure of President Buhari. However, the President in deciding the expediency for the continued retention of Mr. Magu in an acting capacity must ensure that Magu’s acting tenure does not exceed, but is actually less than the four years period stipulated in Section 3(1) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act.
As a postscript, the President is at liberty to re-submit Magu’s name to the Senate for re-consideration and possible confirmation. The Senate’s decision whether to accept or reject the nomination is absolute, provided same is done in conformity with the constitutional requirement for quorum and the Standing Orders of the Senate.
The fight against corruption in Nigeria is being trivialized. President Buhari should bear in mind that if he fails in his anti-corruption campaign, he has failed in everything. It is indeed a tragic irony that the very infamous Senator Bukola Saraki-led Senate, with all its scandals and embarrassing pedigree, is lecturing President Buhari on corruption.
The fact that the alleged indicting security report which formed the fulcrum upon which the Senate acted in rejecting Magu’s nomination was authored by the SSS, an agency under the presidency, loudly evinces the apparent lack of coordination and effective leadership in the country. It is either President Buhari is not in charge of his government or he is trying to use corruption to fight corruption.
The troubling message from this unsettling scenario is that Nigeria is far from being salvaged. We can only hope that the evil forces in the corridors of power will not completely pollute and destroy our nation.
Inibehe Effiong is a Lagos based Legal Practitioner and Convener of the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (COHRD) and can be reached at: email@example.com