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 Securing Africa:
Reconstruction of Mind of Africans towards National Security
Jun 04, 2013

Nigeria: -

Security is the primary requirement of living organism, hence it is often argued that survival or self-preservation is the first of nature. In the Africa continent where many societies are becoming increasingly ungovernable, ethnic and regional split are deepening; religious cleavages are more serious; Muslim fundamentality and Evangelical Christian militancy are on the rise; poverty, hunger and unemployment are ravaging the image of the nation. Africa and African societies continue to clamour for social reformation and National security.

     The picture which holds the mind of Africans captive is that of the armament as a great mirror containing various representations. Armament is so honoured such that to discover the cradle of the development of any nation is to discover the basis of the security of that nation. In affirming this, Africans have embraced the traditional conception of national security, which focuses on building up defence and security manpower, and amazing weapon systems so that once a threatening situation arose, the state could meet the challenges. On this note, the whole energy and resources of the state were concentrated on military manpower and armament.

     As we all know, there have instances when armaments failed to guarantee security and peace as conceived even by the most military powerful nations. For example, the United States, a superpower was humiliated in Vietnam in the 1970s. Also, the defunct Soviet Union left Afghanistan in shame. That is not all, in Nicaragua; the Sandinistas gave a bloody nose to the Reagan administration of America.

     Again, despite the awesome military might of the Soviet Union, it did collapse in 1991 due largely to ‘’domestic socio-economic problems’’. The most alarming one is that of September 11, 2001, when the United States, with all its military might, superpower technology, secret intelligence network, and huge economic wealth, was humiliated by simply ‘’Al Qaeda element that made nonsense of its (US) defence and security machines, in using hijacked commercial planes to destroy the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York.

    These clusters of illustrations show the limitation of militarism in the face of other variable that are not of military character. Thus confirming Nwolise’s position to the view that, ‘’a country may have the best armed forces in terms of training and equipment, the most efficient police force, the most efficient customs men, the most active secret service agents, and best quality prisons, and yet be the most insecure nation in the world, as a result of defence and security problems from within – bad government, alienated and suffering masses, ignorant, hunger, unemployment, or even activities of foreign residents or companies”.

                Hence, our task is to rid African of this narrow-minded line of thought. Africans must realise that for a nation to be really secure, security must be seen from holistic or comprehensive viewpoint. In this sense, bad press, bad laws, food scarcity, bad government, lack of transparency and public accountability, unemployment, hunger, poverty, and so on become critical element in the security of a nation, as threats.

                This spirit was captured by Robert McNamara, who while recognising the need for nations to have military forces insisted that development is essential for security. He point out; however, the ignorance on the part of leaders makes this fact problematic. In other words ‘’the rub is that we do not always grasp the meaning of security in this content. In a modernising society, security means development. Security is not military hardware, though it may include it; security is not military force, though it may involve it; security is not traditional military activity; though it may encompass it. Security is development, and without development there can be no security. A develop nation that does not recognise development, simply cannot remain secure for the reason that its own citizenry cannot shed its human nature. That is what we do not always understand, and what government modernizing nations do not always understand’’.

         In furtherance of this, McNamara warned that, ‘’any society that seeks to achieve adequate military security against the background of acute food storage, population explosion, low level of productivity and per-capital income, low technological development, inadequate and insufficient public utilities, and chronic problem of unemployment, has a false sense of security’’.

       This is no doubt the genesis of armed robbery, bribery and corruption, kidnapping, political thuggery and militancy among the youths and leaders in the part of the world. Hence, our task is to construct the minds of Africans. We must begin to understand that any discourse on national security must incorporate development, human capacity building (in terms intellectual awakening), high standards of integrity and moral decency.

       The point we are trying to make here is that; human security is an important precondition for sustained national security at any point in time which in turn provides the foundation for national and global peace and stability. Human security is to safeguard the vital core of human lives from critical pervasive threats, in a way that is consistent with long term human fulfilments. Human security means protecting the fundamental freedoms- freedoms from doubt and freedom that ensures a degree of confidence and assurance amongst members of the state.

        More challenging is fact that the preservation of human dignity is the core of human security, human rights and human development. It means using processes that build on people’s strengths and aspirations. It implies creating political, social, environmental, military and cultural systems that gives the people the building blocks of survival, livelihood and dignity.

        To achieve this, therefore, involves transforming the social and political environment that fosters intolerable inequality, endangers historical grievances and nurtures adversarial interactions. This may mean the development of social, political and economic infrastructure that produce tolerable inequality and prevent future violence.

         So when the above are addressed: taking into consideration the political, socio-economic, cultural and other internal conditions, the quest for true national security will be achieved. As Ujomu rightly noted, national security is not all about survival. For him, ‘’there is also the focus on the   attainment of peace and progress of individuals, groups and society.


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