GROSS FAILURE OF BUHARI GOVERNMENT ON SECURITY
Only United Mass Actions of Workers and Oppressed can End Insecurity
The security situation in the country has not just underscored the inherently inept nature of the Buhari/APC government and all state governments ruling through the major capitalist parties, but has also shown the inability of neo-colonial capitalism to resolve the national question and even the socio-economic issue facing Nigeria, nay Africa. In Nigeria today, basic right to life has been undermined as every Nigerian live under constant fear of one form of attack or the other. No other time in the history of Nigeria do Nigerians feel so unsafe and insecure.
By Kola Ibrahim
This again places the historical responsibility on the labour movement in Nigeria, as the most organised platform of the oppressed, to lead the struggle to end a state of siege currently imposed on the country by the bankrupt yet ruinous capitalist political class. A series of mass actions through coordinated mass protests, rallies, public mass sensitisation , capped with a national day of strike to demand immediate end to insecurity, will definitely cut across the base of deadly forces and their renegade big business backers. Moreover, there is the need for the labour movement to begin the process of discussing the idea of democratic and non-sectarian community self-defence to counter the growing spate of insecurity across the country. This can serve as a nucleus of a new form of societal organization, and an embryo of a new government of the working people and the oppressed.
We place emphasis on the labour movement not because other oppressed strata people do not or cannot play a progressive role, but because we recognise the fact that the working class, as a social class, represents the most organised class among the oppressed, which can play the leading role in a movement for building of a better society. The EndSARS youth revolt last year is a testament to the capacity of other social forces to fight. At its height, the youth revolt inspired the rest of society and gave a glimpse of what was possible to defeat the regime. Given their population, the youth is a significant force to consider in any struggle to change Nigeria. However, as the limitation and debacle of the EndSARS protest itself shows, the youth alone as a social force is not capable of leading the oppressed masses to transform society. Only the working class, given its position in capitalist economic production, can do this. It is not an accident that general strike in Nigeria has always meant total paralysis of the capitalist economy, because of the enormous and social power of workers, who create the wealth that the capitalist class cream off. Moreover, the call on labour movement to lead other oppressed classes does not mean that we do not recognise the failure and the treacherous character of the leadership of the labour movement, which has become, to a large extent, a fetter for the development of a genuine working class movement in Nigeria. On the contrary, we recognise this serious limitation, but we also maintain that it is through mass action of workers that they can reclaim their union by putting the leadership to test through actions and dislodging the pro-capitalist, anti-worker layers among them.
No other time is the role of the labour movement so central to rescuing the country from the security morass it has found itself than now. This is because the capitalist political class has not only reached its wit end, but has become a major contributor to the state of insecurity that has claimed thousands of lives in over a decade now; several tens of thousands since the emergence of the civil rule in Nigeria in 1999. At least 1,531 people have been reportedly killed in the northwest and north-central between 2020 and April 2021, according to Amnesty International estimate. These killings were as a result of activities of bandits, kidnappers and killer herders-farmers. Also, more than 41, 000 people have died as a result of Boko Haram insurgency since 2011 according to Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in its Nigeria Security Tracker (NST). In fact, more than 30, 000 Nigerians have been killed by non-state actors, including bandits, kidnappers, criminals, etc. between 2015 and 2021 according to the Tracker. Indeed, in one week leading up to September 25, 2021, at least 40 Nigerians including security personnel and civilians were killed in the orgy of violence across the country (Premium Times 26/09/2021).
In the southeast, the secessionist agitations that started on a seemingly peaceful note have led to blood-letting with civilians and security agents becoming victims of state-instigated violence and acts of individual terrorism by agitators. In the first two weeks of September, 2021 alone, at least 26 security officials and eleven civilians have been killed by gunmen, according to Guardian newspaper tally (Guardian 20/09/2021). Amnesty International noted that at least 115 people have been killed in the southeast between April and August 2021, with over 500 arrested by security operatives (www.amnesty.org, 5/08/2021). In the southwest, most of the intercity roads have become dangerous zones and kidnappers’ den.
Despite the grandstanding of Nigerian government, the state of security continues to worsen. Aside the institutional crisis that has meant the security agencies becoming lame as a result of gross underfunding, misuse and abuse of security agencies by the ruling class, and massive looting of the limited votes to security, the neo-colonial orientation of the security agencies has meant that Nigerians are left to fate when it comes to securing their lives. At least a quarter of the police force is reported to be committed to personal security of VIPs. Interestingly, the money purportedly gotten from this ‘odious venture’, running to over N135 billion in 2019, have not been accounted for by police leadership (Dataphyte, 22/11/2019. www.dataphyte.com). Worse still, the police and other security agencies are more of colonial outfits meant to protect the political and economic interests of capitalist ruling class, big business backers and the capitalist system they superintend over. This is why it is easier for police and SSS to use maximum force on citizens exercising their rights peacefully than fighting criminals. In fact, according to NST, nothing less than 15, 000 civilians have been killed by security forces since 2015, with most of the killings being extra-judicial. The security agencies have also turned into serious instrument of oppression with thousands of Nigerians being harassed and oppressed by security agents. Many of these right abuses were carried out ostensibly in the defence of the interests of capitalist politicians and big business people. Therefore, we cannot expect this kind of security agencies under this arrangement to secure lives, because they are more of occupation forces in the interests of the backward capitalist ruling class.
Despite over N8 trillion spent on security since 2015 (Guardian, 21/06/2021), the security situation continues to worsen. It is safe to add that, just like under the previous Jonathan government, a sizeable chunk of the security votes end up in private pockets. For instance, the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, once raised alarm over the whereabout of over $1 billion allocated by the government for the procurement of arms and ammunition to fight insurgency (The Cable, 12/03/2021). This is not only about the federal government, as state governments have also turned the issue of security into private cash-cow with over N240 billion spent by federal, state (N208 billion) and local governments in 2019 alone on security votes (24/09/2019). The security votes are shrouded in secrecy as they are not subject to legislative or public scrutiny. Many state governments have turned the security votes to personal funds as the case of the former Taraba governor, Jolly Nyame, who was jailed for looting security votes, revealed. There have also been reports of senior military officers diverting funds meant to fight Boko Haram to private pockets while rank-and-file soldiers, and even middle rank army officers have cried out over inadequate resources and arms to fight insurgency. It is then unexpected that the security agencies could not have simple gadgets to track bandits and kidnappers, who transact their criminal business openly. This has raised suspicion that security agents and politicians are part of the business of kidnapping and banditry.
It is thus not accidental that Nigerian security forces have suffered huge human casualties in the insurgency fight, while the Boko Haram/ISWAP and bandits have also been reported to have overrun military bases, with soldiers running for cover. In September, 2021 alone, bandits overran two military bases in Zamfara and Sokoto, in the northwest, killing scores of soldiers. Nothing exemplifies the helplessness of Nigerian security forces and the Nigerian state than the recent attack on the Nigerian Defence Academy in Afaka, Kaduna State by bandits, killing two officers and abducting one in August 2021 (Premium Times, 24/08/2021). Interestingly, Kaduna State is home to most military and security formations, yet the state is possibly one of the most insecure in the country.
Behind all these realities of failure of Nigeria security system is the backward, neo-colonial rent-seeking capitalist system, which ensures that the political and big business class continue to live parasitically on the wealth of the society, while working people continue to live in penury. This system also ensures that the capitalist class, rather than develop the economy on a productive basis, prefers to rely on rents from raw resources and foreign big business. This has generated a spiralling cycle of underdevelopment at every point. In this situation, capitalist politicians and big business classes cream off resources meant to develop the economy and the society. This subsequently leads to desperate struggle for survival among other strata of the society. This struggle takes different forms, but in the absence of a strong and vibrant organization of the oppressed people with principled and dogged leadership that can mobilise all oppressed for united struggle against a system that oppresses them, the struggle will take a reactionary and negative character. This will be reflected in rising social crime, divisive agitations like ethnic jingoism, violent religious fanaticism and anarchy. The bourgeois political and big business class, in their quest to control bigger chunks of the rents amongst themselves, also fuel insecurity through divisive politics that pitch the people against one another, under the guise of defending their ethnic group, religion, region, etc.; But in the real sense, this is only being used to secure better deals from their co-contenders for spoils. This is what currently defines Nigeria.
This is why all the piecemeal solutions being offered cannot work, and have not worked. The Operation Amotekun launched by the southwest state governments to tackle insecurity in the region has not produced any serious positive result; yet the operatives of the Operation have become human right abusers and agents/bodyguards of political class. Also, the attacks on military formations in the northwest by bandits have made nonsense of the propaganda about so-called new military hardware meant to “speak to the bandits in the language they understand.”
Consequent upon all this, it is important for the working people, youth and the oppressed to understand that adequate security is only possible through their collective actions. Aside building community self-defence councils democratically formed by workers, peasants, youths, etc., there is the need to continue the united mass struggle against a system that cannot guarantee security for the citizens, i.e. the neo-colonial, rent-seeking capitalist system being superintended over by the Buhari/APC government and its minions in states and other ruling capitalist parties. There is the need to fight for a socialist government that will nationalise the commanding heights of the economy under the democratic control and management of the working people and the oppressed; a system that will liberate the needed wealth of the country for provision of basic needs of vast majority and the development of the country. Building mass resistance/struggle against all anti-poor, poverty-inducing, corruption-enriching policies of the Buhari/APC government and its minions in states and other parties (PDP, APGA, etc.) should be the starting point in this agenda. Important also is the need to build a mass party of the working people, the youth and all other oppressed strata, to contend power with and dislodge the bankrupt, backward and corrupt capitalist political class, being currently led by the Buhari/APC government. The role of the labour movement in leading this process cannot be overemphasised.