Amicable Conflict Management

Government and the Instruments of Power

With a borrowed concept of democratization from the United States of America, it is critical for Nigerians to reflect on the instruments of national power in the light of the prevailing situation of security in our county. The unwholesome activities of Boko Haram insurgents, armed bandits, commercial kidnappers, suspected Fulani herdsmen and secessionists shows that the security agencies are overstretched. What is more, it is either security has been compromised, or we are living in a failed state. From American perspective, the instruments of national power include, diplomacy, information, military and economy.

By way of clarification, national power stands for “the sum of all resources available to a nation in the pursuit of national objectives.” The elements of national power otherwise known as instruments or attributes of power are either “national” and or “social.” The national include things like geography, resources, and population, the social concerns things like economic, political, military, psychological and informational attributes.

The US uses diplomacy as the principal instrument for engaging with other states and foreign organisations to advance their, interests and objectives as well as solicit for foreign support for its military operations. Through diplomacy, the US organizes coalitions and alliances with states and non-state entities as partners, allies, surrogates, and or proxies. The goal in view is the interest, welfare and security of lives and property.

Because information is a key instrument of national power and security, the US invests heavily in investigating on how non-state actors like terrorists and transnational criminal groups use information to further their causes and undermine those of government and its allies. To this effect, the government is interested in how interconnected global networks or emerging social media platforms are used by all to either promote state causes or undermine national security. Here, the US government is deliberate and strategic.

Based on international best practices, the US’s Armed Forces abide by its core values, constitution and standards for the profession of arms. By this, it employs the military instrument of national power at home and abroad in support of its national security goals. The goal is to win the Nation’s wars by securing the nation against external aggression. In non-conflict situations, the military provides foreign relief.

In the US, National power is tied to the economy. This is why they belief in an open economy which provides access to global markets and resources for the betterment of the citizenry. This is with a view to ensuring economic growth, raising standards of living, predicting and preventing economic and financial crises. While the US engages with other governments and international financial institutions, the aim is the general welfare of the US and all Americans.

Comparatively, in Nigeria the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) is at the front burner of gathering intelligence for the country from outside of Nigeria through diplomacy and espionage. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is supposed to provide diplomatic cover for NIA staff in Nigerian Missions abroad. Experts opine that “realism like Nigeria’s defence policy is highly state-centric and this does not address the current trends of national defence and security. The increasing relevance of non-state actors in international security shows another pitfall of realism that recognizes states as the key actor in international politics” (Sunday & Shimawua, 2018).

As regards information, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, National Orientation Agency, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) are expected to not only provide information for the generality of the citizens but work in synergy with other security agencies like Department of State Services (DSS) to counter fake news and hate speech. The high volume of non-state actors especially the dreaded terrorists and transnational criminal gangs such as Boko Haram, armed bandits, commercial kidnappers, Fulani herdsmen suggests that we have failed in information gathering and sharing.

Armed forces which comprises of Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Air Force is responsible for securing the nation. While these security agencies have performed excellently in peace keeping operations abroad, it defies logic that the nation appears to be under siege by foreign invaders (terrorists). With accusations and counter accusations of diversion of monies meant for procurement of arms, the nation bleeds. While the army won the Biafra war and dislodged Maitasine, we are overwhelmed by Boko Haram insurgency.

National security affects the economy. In his 6 years of leadership, President Muhammadu Buhari promised to corruption, insecurity and the economy. Sadly, the reality on the ground does not suggest it is Uhuru. Apparently, national security has been swallowed by corruption. As a consequence, the economy is hemorrhaging badly. Even the National Economic Council (NEC) which was established by the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended; Section 153(1) and Paragraphs 18 & 19 of Part I of the Third Schedule) and inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari on 29 June 2015 has not been able to reverse our national fortunes.

In conclusion, the basic assumptions of our malaise have been long years of military intervention in our polity, visionless leadership occasioned by nepotism and cronyism as well as lack of political will to do the needful. Unless the government of the day recruits more police officers and buys into the state policing, the military who have become used to civilian affairs will continue to overstay their welcome. No institution rivals government in owning the instruments of power. Therefore, in the interest of our national objectives, military might should be used as the last resort. In the interim, it behooves on government to use wisely diplomacy, information, military and economy in exercise of national power for the good of all.

Fr. Dyikuk is a Lecturer of Mass Communication, University of Jos, Editor – Caritas Newspaper and Convener, Media Team Network Initiative (MTNI), Nigeria.


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