By Simon Reef Musa |
When US President Abraham Lincoln defined democracy as a “government of the people, by the people, for the people”, he was trying to bring out the true essence of a political system that serves the overall majority within a political entity. Democracy is not without flaws as societal differences and obstacles trailing developed and developing societies have often constituted serious impairments.
While developed democracies have built strong institutions to protect civil governance, developing democracies are still entrapped in the dialectics of strengthening nascent civil authorities over forces opposed to the practice of democracy. Nigeria’s democracy is not devoid of challenges. After over 21 years of unbroken democracy, our nation is still learning the ropes in adhering to the norms of democracy. The long years of military interventions have cast long shadows on our nation’s capacity in standing up to the true essence of democracy. While political opponents may attempt to circumvent the long and windy to capture power, the slow music of democracy still remains unavoidable and wearisome.
Perhaps, the challenges of democratic governance have been made more obvious by anti-democratic elements to torpedo the ship of democracy in many countries. Any act that violates a nation’s constitution upon which democracy operates promotes rebellion against democracy. Criminal elements and blood-thirsty insurgents running wild over some parts of Nigeria have continued to constitute grave threats to the corporate unity of our country.
Democracy remains the only platform upon which the political system upholds the right of the overall majority through a representative government. Democracy may sometimes be captured by a ruling cabal and be manipulated to achieve certain interests, however, it remains an enduring system that could evolve with time to eventually defend the interest of the overall majority of citizens.
Amidst the present turbulence of frightening apprehension caused by insecurity, not a few people are questioning the capacity of Nigeria’s democracy to rein in the activities of agents of destruction and bloodshed tearing our country apart.
The North-east zone has become an area of perturbing cynosure for bloodshed through the activities of Boko Haram. The North-west is now home to fearless bandits and kidnappers engaged in cattle rustling and abductions for ransoms. In the North-central zone, the killing machines of herdsmen are devastating communities and turning towns and villages formerly known for their prosperity into horrifying and scaring ghost settlements.
If Nigerians once thought the threat of insecurity was only restricted to the North, the Southern part is also grumbling over the terrifying works of these outlaws. What distresses Nigeria as a country more than any other problem is the recurring challenge of insecurity. More than any professional group affected by the activities of these coldblooded insurgents and criminals is our military forces that are now making us feel safer and delivering our nation from the jaws of these terror gangs.
Last Sunday, the Department of State Services (DSS) alerted Nigerians of a subtle plot by some dark forces to compromise Nigeria’s sovereignty and cause a forceful change of government. This alert by the nation’s secret police is coming on the heels of growing concerns over the rising spate of insecurity.
Without delving into the many issues raised by the DSS, even the undiscerning is aware that the present times are troubling for our country. It is clear and undeniable that Nigeria’s military and other security agencies have been stretched beyond their limits in maintaining internal security and at the same time defending the territorial integrity of our nation.
More than any other time, despite the inadequacy of boots on the ground, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, has shown remarkable courage in introducing new strategies aimed at turning the tables against these blood-sucking and lawless bands. Under the battle-tested leadership of Gen Irabor, the army recently re-launched the military’s operational code name of ‘Operation Lafiya Dole’ (Operation Peace By Force) to ‘Operation Hadin Kai’ (Operation Cooperation) in confronting insecurity ripping the North.
Defeating these criminals cannot be achieved without synergies among security agents and other critical stakeholders, including the civilian populace. The war against insurgents and criminals must have support from members of the public and the media. As someone who has participated in several military operations in the war against Boko Haram, Gen. Irabor was not ashamed to admit a bombing error of an IDP camp in Rann village in Kala Balge Local Government Area of Borno state.
The Nigerian military of today is completely different from the military of yesteryears. Having declared complete loyalty to civil authorities for over two decades, our nation’s military men and women have come to embrace democracy as the ultimate goal in providing transparent governance to citizens. Therefore, staging of coups has become alien to them. All what our nation’s military seeks now is complete obliteration of security challenges facing our country to usher in a period of peace for all citizens.
More than any other time, Nigeria’s fighting forces are in complete agreement with the former US Army General Douglas MacArthur who once said, “The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.”
The security challenge our nation’s military personnel confront is different from that of fighting conventional warfare. The complexity of defeating an enemy that has kept our citizens in mortal terror cannot be achieved without introducing new approaches to instill confidence in our country’s fighting force.
We must note here that our military can only perform in line with resources made available to them. Politicians and citizens may have reasons to cast doubt on the past, but the present military under Gen Irabor, a former Commander of the Multi-National Joint Task Force after serving as Theatre Commander of ‘Operation Lafiya Dole’ in the North-east zone, is a patriotic soldier who has proved himself battle ready in fighting insurgents and criminals.
It is only in Nigeria that citizens and politicians spurn their fighting forces to the chagrin of the world. The attainment of any form of military victory in any part of the world cannot be attained without public support. Though a nation’s military may be laden with faulty decisions of politicians, the determination and resilience of such a military must attract commendation and not condemnation. Those who work against our military forces by portraying them in bad light are not only empowering these criminals but elongating our long nights in the fight against their mindless brigandage.
I am glad the military has reiterated its support for the survival of democracy. Accordingly, any attempt at instigating a coup is bound to fail. After over two decades of unbroken democracy amidst insecurity, Nigeria cannot afford any violent change of government. With Gen Irabor who is known for his patriotic zeal, and leading our fighting forces in battle against enemies of the Nigerian state, we all can go to sleep over any coup scare.
What the national leadership needs to do now is to provide funds to recruit more boots on the ground and acquire more fighting equipment to assist our forces complete the war against those who seek to destroy our nation.
It is true that ahead of 2023, politicians will attempt to deploy all tricks in the bags, including making insecurity a campaign point. What President Muhamadu Buhari owes Nigerians is to equip our military personnel to enable them to crush these criminals to make our nation safer for economic activities. Strengthening our military forces to perform their roles amounts to promoting democracy and creating a safer environment for Nigeria’s economic and socio-political development.