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Nigeria - National Security Policy

Some argue that there are no conventional military threats from the contiguous countries to Nigeria, except perhaps the Republic of Cameron. From this perspective, the most potent threats to the Nigerian state, are the internal ones - the weak social structure and fragile economy remain a constant threat to the nation. The most serious threats are the preponderance of ethnic and religious crises.

Such assumptions do not shape the current National Defence Policy (NDP). The NDP recognizes that potential threats exist arising primarily from unresolved geopolitical issues. One of such unresolved issues is Nigerias extensive [about 4900km] and largely undemarcated borders with the four contiguous countries of Republics of Benin, Niger, Chad and Cameron. Nigeria will continue to experience border violations as long as these borders are not properly defined, demarcated and protected. Another source of external threats from the contiguous countries the social dislocations that might emanate from internal upheavals. Nigerias military strategic requirements are to be able to fight on two fronts and participated in Peace Operations abroad.

During the negotiation for Nigeria's independence, the British were said to have predicated the granting of independence on the signing of a Defence Pact as means of providing a security shield over Nigeria. The Anglo-Nigeria Defence Pact was signed in 1958 with the provisions for the establishment of a British Military Base in Nigeria and to train officers of the Armed Forces of Nigeria [AFN]. The Pact did not justify its existence and was abrogated in 1964 because of domestic opposition due to the neo-colonial aspectes of the agreement.

During the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970), the strength of the Armed Forces increased dramatically. This increase was easily sustained due to the oil boom of the period. However, the economic recession which followed immediately after the war made it increasingly difficult for the government of the day to adequately cater for the enormous demands and the need for the bloated Armed Forces. This led to the re-organisation, de-mobilization and restructuring of the Force level. Following this trend, there was the need for a Nigerian Defence Policy.

Based on Nigeria's national interests, core values and threat perception, a draft Defence Policy was designed in 1979. Like the Foreign Policy, it had three dimensional and inter-related focus: Nigeria, Africa and World peace and security. Since then, there have been a number of domestic developments such as ethnic and religious agitation, criminal activities, poverty, civil unrest and HIV/AIDS. Others are global subversive penetrations such as border violations and spill-over effects of conflict from neighboring state, terrorism, and globalisation, together necessitating a thorough review of the defence policy to accommodate such eventualities.

Since the dawn of democracy in Nigeria in 1999, the need to improve military professionalism has been frequently discussed, it has been apparent within the Nigerian Army (NA). Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, on assuming office in 1999 as President, Commander-in- Chief (C-in C) of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, formulated a Grand Strategy for National Security wherein he declared that the Nigerian Armed Forces face the challenges of modernization and transformation from a praetorian guard into a nimble, effective and efficient defence machinery.

Legislative oversight of the Nigerian military is still in its infancy. Fewer than 20 of the Committee on Defense 40 members typically participate in sessions of the committee. Members volunteer for assignment to the Committee, based on personal interest or military experience, but the final decision about who will be on the committee rests with the House leadership. The Committee on Defense is not the apex committee dealing with political-military issues; there are also separate committees, of equal precedence, that deal with the Army, Navy, and Air Force. There is no real sub-committee structure anywhere within the National Assembly, though ad hoc committees do occasionally form to work on specific issues. There is also little committee staff, only a Secretary to the Committee (as of 2006 an attorney with strong personal interest in defense issues) and an Assistant Secretary.

The Committee deals with oversight of issues related to the Ministry of Defense, Defense Headquarters and its staff (including the Chief of Defense Staff), joint military operations (including peacekeeping operations), tri-service institutions (such as the National War College and National Defense Academy), veterans' issues, and the annual Defense budget estimate. Oversight of issues affecting only one service are dealt with by those committees, not the Committee on Defense. The Committee also is supposed to serve as a grievance body for members of the Armed Forces (the Committee members described this as a Constitutional responsibility), and to ensure that states gain equally overall in recruiting and promotions -- a version of affirmative action called "protecting Nigeria's Federal Character." The Committee does not, however, have a role in confirming specific officers as service chiefs or other top positions.

The Federal Government made efforts to re professionalize the AFN. It sought the expertise of the Military Professionals Resource Incorporated (MPRI) from the USA to facilitate the re-professionalization program. It also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the British Government to provide a British Defence Advisory Team (BDAT) for the AFN. Desirable as this effort were, they did little to transform to needed changes especially because of the inadequacies in the National Defence Policy (NDP). Such inadequacies include poor identification, development andsustenance of military strategy and doctrine, technology and logistic support, structure, personnel, financial support and planning and implementation.

Federal Government said 5 January 2005 that the new defence policy is expected to meet the challenges of globalisation even as it identified military intervention in politics and religious fanaticism as the threats to the political growth of the nation. Delivering a lecture on "National Defence Policy Objectives" to participants of National War College Course 13, Minister of Defence, Mr. Rabiu Kwankwaso, noted that the new national defence policy must be capable of responding to global challenges and peculiar circumstances.

The framework of the Nigerian Defence Policy which had Africa as its center, has gradually shifted focus to the domestic, sub-regional and global levels. The existing NDP 2006 emanates from the National Security Policy, and focuses on the preservation of the safety of Nigerians at home and abroad and the protection of the sovereignty of the country and the integrity of her assets. In the making of this defence policy, a number of considerations were made, beginning with the hierarchy of policies which usually translates into: National Policy, Foreign Policy, Security Policy and Defence Policy.

The 2006 NDP has the following content that have impacted on thetransformation of the AFN. This include the NDP objectives, geo-strategicenvironment, peace support operation, technology and defence budget. Others are medical, civil-military relation, the military and media, defence management and manpower development. The NDP has greatly impacted the transformation of the AFN because it establishes modalities for the development of an effective AFN including capacity building for defence. The NDP 2006 has also addressed the security concern of Nigeria within the contextof a fast changing global security environment. The types of transformation in the AFN was rooted in the NDP. There is need for holistic implementation ofthe provisions of NDP to transform the AFN to a compact, flexible, cost effective and battle wining Armed Forces.

From the days of Aristotle through those of Clausewitz and Napoleon todate, the essence of the military is known. It is set up for the defence of a state. Various contingencies are envisaged for the employment of the AFN to contain. The consideration of these contingencies could determine the military strategy to be adopted in the employment of the AFN:

  • Attacks of Territory. The most likely attack on Nigerian territory could be from or through any of her neigbhoring territories by land, sea or air. Similarly, raids may be carried out against Nigeria for the purpose of coercion by any country. Invaders could take over and use airfields of other African countries to threaten Nigerias security.
  • Blockage and Raids. Blockades against Nigeria could take the form of interference with sea lines of communication or the disruption of shipping activities within Nigerias maritime zone, land blockade of trade routes to her neighbours or the enforcement of no-fly zones.
  • Internal Security and Other Low Intensity Conflicts. Due to the inability of the Nigeria Police and other para-military forces in handling some civil disorders and disturbances, the NAF has the additional responsibility to assist the civil power in times of civil disturbances; insecurity as well as conduct to counter insurgency operations.
  • Peace Support Operations. Nigeria is committed to internationalpeace and security. The NAF shall be involved in peace support operations and their attendant complex exigencies including humanitarian assistance as may be requested by ECOWAS, AU and UN.
  • Attacks on Embassies, Ships and Aircraft. Attack on embassies,ships and aircraft are all forms of international terrorism and piracy. Nigeria has the responsibility to protect her embassies; along with Nigerian registered shipsand aircraft within available means and reasonable limits. In cases where protection by host nations may not be forthcoming, the NAF shall have the capability to protect these assets.
  • Disaster Relief. The NAF shall participate in the provision of relief and the restoration of essential services to victims of disasters such as flood, fire, air crashes, collision at sea, epidemics and other such emergencies.
  • Search and Rescue. The NAF shall develop the capacity to conduct Search and Rescue (SAR) operations. The expected standard shall be the provision of search and rescue support at the point of incident within the shortest possible time.

The AFN has been involved in many Peace Support Operation (PSO) around the world for over 30 years and has performed creditably well during those operations. Between 1960 and 2007 it has participated in about 44 PSOthrough United Nation (UN), African Union (AU) and Economic Communityof West African States (ECOWAS). Nigeria's participation in PSOs asarticulated in the NDP is an expression of its will and ability to be a provider of security resources and a show of solidarity for collective international security. It also provides the necessary exposure to the Armed Forces working in cooperation with forces of other nations.

Nigerian Armed Forces has focused on development of capabilities for rapid deployment of highly mobile units, effective firepower delivery by light and compact weapon systems and Special Forces, better skilled and more efficient. Other capabilities are appropriate technological competency and use of information and communication technology, appropriate intelligence and early warning infrastructures.

Working with the Nigerian military, both as an operational partner for peacekeeping operations and with security assistance programs, is frequently frustrating, and the responses often do not seem to make sense. Whether difficulties stem from a nationalist reluctance to work with America, disagreement with policy, or an "oga" (Nigerian term for chief/"big man") carving out some bit of authority and making sure that everybody sees his power, the results are the same. When working with the Nigerian government on defense issues, whether for specific initiatives or toward broader goals such as counter-terrorism or a secure Gulf of Guinea, the Nigerians want to create a plan that they own. In principle, they will accept any donor proposal that comes with a budget, but there will be constant frustration from the donors when projects fail to move forward. Sometimes delay will stem from a lack of basic infrastructure in their headquarters (phone lines, dedicated computer access), but a significant part also comes from a lack of Nigerian initiative to follow through on programs that they see as imposed by the West. This is especially true when many military leaders question whether America can be trusted as a friend over the long term.

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