Good Governance And Security Go Together–Obasanjo

Posted: May 29, 2012 in Uncategorized


Nigeria marks her 13th year of straight democratic governance without interference. So far, it has been an eventful period for everyone, not only by virtue of being the longest stretch of uninterrupted democratic governance we have ever had since we achieved independence in 1960, but by what we all have learnt in terms of the potentials of the country to rise above her challenges and find a way forward.

I want to congratulate all Nigerians for their investments and patience in reaching this important milestone, there is no doubt that there is a lot of room for improvement and progress to be made on so many fronts even as we ponder over another 13 years.

Discourses on governance and security presupposes a desire, by those holding the discussion, to review and/or continue to understand the evolving nature of the “state”, which provides the framework for “governance” and “security’. It also enables its citizens to have a better grip on how they can achieve their purpose and their goals both individually and collectively. It could also be inferred that discourses like this can and should throw up new ideas and also boost the commitment of the elected or selected representatives of the citizens, in conducting the affairs of the state such that majority of the citizens at any given time would benefit the most.

Historically it is evident that all social and economic phenomena are constantly evolving in nature and that new realities always give opportunity for-a revision of established norms or traditions. Thus History and time ensure that nothing remains constant; everything, even inanimate objects, will eventually yield to something, either better or worse than the last. We as human beings and citizens have a responsibility to constantly review the phenomena that direct our existence on earth and our path in our communities. We also have a responsibility to review the ideas and philosophies, derived over many years of observation and interaction and which keep us going forth in our communities.

Although we may be in danger of repeating what has been said before or established, there is also the likelihood that it could be said in another way that might hit home harder. It is also likely that someone will take away something significant and that this will eventually make a difference somewhere someday. This for me is one of the strongest methods of passing ideas, lessons and thoughts from one generation to another generation, from peer to peer, from the learned to the learners, from group to group and indeed, from one individual to another.

I am comfortable knowing that I am not restrained by the title (Governance and Security) and should be able to pass something tangible to those who have the interest of societal progress.

“Governance” and “security” are all essential elements of the “state” to enable it function effectively and deliver on its obligations. It also enables interactive engagement between the state, its citizens, and the institutions of governance for the sole purpose of driving and directing human activity, purposely and meaningfully, to a desired end normally positive, but for which a negative end could also result.

It therefore follows that “governance” and “security”, which could be regarded as part of the processes and services of the State, are not necessarily on their own! They exist or are in place to ensure that the State is able to conduct or fulfill its primary purpose effectively and or with less vulnerability.

In terms of legitimizing the State, it could be argued that, they essentially crystallize the legitimacy that have been given or ceded to it by its citizens, individually and collectively to the state. States therefore derive their power and legitimacy from their citizens.

The concept of legitimacy usually is understood as the popular acceptance and recognition, by the public, of the authority of a governing regime, whereby authority has political power through consent and mutual understandings, not necessarily coercion. Drawing from here, political scientists have noted about three types of political legitimacy as follows;

I. Traditional legitimacy is derived from societal custom and habit that emphasizes the history of the authority of tradition. Traditionalists understand this form of rule as historically accepted, hence its continuity, because it is the way society has always been.

Therefore, the institutions of traditional government usually are historically continuous, as in monarchy and tribal chiefs.

II. Charismatic legitimacy derives from the ideas and personal charisma of the leader, a man or woman whose authoritative persona charms and psychologically dominates the people of the society to agreement with the government’s regime and rule. A charismatic government usually features weak political and administrative institutions, because they derive authority from the persona of The Leader, and usually disappear without him or her in power. Yet, a government derived from charismatic legitimacy might continue if the charismatic leader has a charismatic successor.

III. Rational-legal legitimacy derives from a system of institutional procedure, wherein government institutions establish and enforce law and order in the public interest. Therefore, it is through public trust that the government will abide the law that confers rational-legal legitimacy.

Following, I should add quickly that, “governance and security” are not the exclusive preserve of “states” or their administrative representations. Indeed “governance” and or “security” are also deployed by other institutions that are not governmental in nature. They could be deployed by organizations and other such institutions. In this instance, they can be seen in the context of corporate administration of decisions or ideas or even project implementation and other forms of administration.

For this purpose, I shall dwell on the perspective that serves the needs and aspirations of sovereign nation-states.

The State
Although definitions of the state are not sacrosanct, many sociologists, political scientists as well as historians and economists address this from a wide variety of perspectives. Although for the purpose of this address, I shall adopt the definition of offered by the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary of Current English. My reason being that, most people who are interested in checking the meaning of “state” are more likely to look into a dictionary first, before they look for other materials with perhaps more complex definitions and amplifications. I wish therefore to connect with that simple definition. The Oxford dictionary defines “state” as a country with organized political community controlled by a government”.

As I said earlier, this definition is by no means exhaustive. Other political scientists and sociologists have offered differing perspectives depending on the characteristics that they have elected to associate with the state. Some variables, however, in the determination of the physical nature of the state, have remained constant.

A state generally consists of a territory with boundary, a people or a community of citizens, a set of laws, principles or guides, written or unwritten, which could be referred to as the “constitution”, and a government. The capacity of the state to engage into relations with other “equal” states or foreign relations then makes the state sovereign by political definition. Sovereign states are therefore states that have the capacity to engage and or manage relations on behalf of its citizens, including war, with other states. It is not dependent or subject to any other power of the state or otherwise. An abuse of the sovereign is usually taken to be a declaration, of sorts, of war.

Governance Going back to the dictionary meaning, the operative word for me in this definition is “controlled”. You will probably agree that replacing the word “controlled” with “governed” and the definition may not entirely lose its meaning, at least in this context. The connection with government is further clarified if you agree that the “state” and by extension, the desires of the state needs to be “powered” or “governed” or “auctioned” by government institutions for it to achieve its primary purpose.

Governance can therefore be seen as the process of administering government ideas, programmes and policies deliberately to either create the conducive environment for citizens to interact, or the process by which legislations are developed and enacted to guide the actions of either the government on its own, or the citizens individually, corporately and or collectively. The judiciary’s actions are also part of governance as they seek to interpret and correct anomalies in government and corporate procedures and engagements.

Government without “governance is, therefore, not possible. It is an absurdity. Governance or acts of the state’s machinery to provide and fend for its citizens then becomes a very important means for the state to undertake its mission and realize its vision and duties and responsibility to the citizens.

Fundamentally governance involves interactions and engagements; interaction and engagements involve perception and understanding and the will to act, while perception, engagement and the will to act involve a whole lot of values, principles and determination that affect successful and or failure of delivery. At the end, the executive, the legislature, the judiciary, the press, finance institutions, the regulatory bodies, the police and all other such institutions of government become the medium for which governance is applied on the state.

I have tried to place this perspective to show that, at any given time, “governance” is being conducted to administer, manage, influence and execute the functions of the state through their representatives in government.

Security (and the State)

The abiding quest for security for the individual and community citizens including corporate citizens is a long lasting one and will last for as long as humans and their communities persist. In the past, it used to be argued that the stability of a country in terms of physical security is a necessary pre-condition for economic development within the context of inter-state rivalry and competition. It was further argued that the state legitimizes itself further in the eyes of its citizens when it provides the necessary conditions that guarantee its own survival and then the survival of its citizens individually and collectively.

Historically, “security” tended to be “state-centric”. This implied that the focus of all security activity was to ensure the survival and sustainability of the “sovereign state” before anything else. The implication of this was that, a disproportionate and high percentage of national resources used to be dedicated to the procurement of military hardware and maintenance of large military forces in the hope of promoting physical security. These were achieved at the expense of quality of living for the citizens.

With the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s however, the dominant focus on states with its “mutually assured destruction” and military security briefly enabled a broader concept of security to emerge. The exponential rise in the spread and consolidation of democratisation and international human rights norms opened a space in which both ‘development’ and concepts of ‘security’ could be reconsidered.

Seeking to influence the outcome of the UN’s 1995 World Summit on Social Development in Copenhagen, Dr. Mahbub ul Haq first drew global attention to the concept of human security in the United Nations Development Programme’s 1994 Human Development Report. The UNDP’s 1994 Human Development Report’s definition of human security argues that the scope of global security should be expanded to include threats in seven areas: economic, food, health, environmental, personal, community, and political security. These are citizen-centred.

These redefinitions and re-scoping of the term “ security” then gave impetus to many extensions, including a review of state policies and government approach to matters of “security and indeed governance. It deepened programmes for the benefit of the citizens, and this in my opinion, is where the clear lessons for Nigeria should stem from or be projected from.

Of the seven areas listed by the UNDP Report, Nigerians today are more concerned and agitated by the aspect that relates more with personal security. The UNDP summarizes that personal security aims to protect people from physical violence and death by violence, whether from the state or external states, from violent individuals and sub-state actors, from domestic abuse, or from predatory adults. For many people, the greatest source of anxiety is crime, particularly violent crime.

Until very recently, the greatest source of anxiety in terms of personal security is violent crime.

Today, bombing of targets in occupied public buildings or in the open areas where people congregate has become the greatest anxiety of personal security for almost all Nigerians and non-Nigerians living in Nigeria. It is already giving us a very bad image and it is adversely affecting investment in Nigeria. But personal insecurity is fed, invariably by political, economic, food and community security issues. In other words, personal insecurity fed by other security issues may be direct or indirect consequences of governance. Governance and security go hand-in-hand. The welfare and well being of the people starting with their personal security is the sole purpose and duty of government.

The effectiveness or performance of government may be measured by the level of security enjoyed by the people. It must be clearly stated that every citizen has obligation and duty to contribute to the collective security of the community or the society. It is the main civic duty of every citizen and it enhances relationship and interaction within the society. Inadequate security of any sort and particularly widespread personal insecurity erodes from the authority and standing of the government and diminishes unity within the society.

Being a presentation by Olusegun Obasanjo in a lecture on Governance, Ethics and Morality, delivered in Jigawa State


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