Strengthening national security and prosperity nexus
Martin Ike-Muonso, a professor of economics with interest in subnational government IGR growth strategies, is managing director/CEO, ValueFronteira Ltd. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
February 8, 2021617 views0 comments
Peace, prosperity, and power represent the core of those desirables that every nation wants to achieve. Nigeria is not an exception. Accordingly, while the rule of law’s effectiveness and the military’s efficiency considerably deliver peace, it also creates the right kind of entrepreneurial and investor-friendly environment for prosperity. These form the necessary conditions for global influence or power which solid economic diplomacy satisfies. Therefore, these can fall into economic security and national security. Whereas both are delineable independently to simplify policy implementation, they are nevertheless intricately interdependent. The robustness of economic security, on the one hand, shapes the national security imperatives, while the country’s security conditions determine economic security outcomes.
Countries such as ours with flawed governance systems, faulty justice systems, and a near absence of the rule of law that collectively make most citizens economically vulnerable also naturally breeds insecurity. By extension, the resulting unfair resource allocation and the cannibalization of entrepreneurial efforts result in deprivation and hunger. Such unjustified hunger breeds anger and strife. However, our security policy focuses narrowly on military responses rather than on a comprehensive cocktail of strategies for which economic growth and development are deserving ingredients. Overall, the security and economic prosperity nexus are mutually reinforcing. Economic prosperity, minimizes despair, deprivation, and anger and concomitantly insecurity. Substantial national economic growth in an environment of a robust rule of law will most naturally not support strife and insurrection. Likewise, elevated security levels are the sine qua non for investment and entrepreneurial growth and development.
Therefore, national interest revolves around efforts to accomplish outstanding security, prosperity, and power. Since power connotes the depth of economic diplomacy and military might, it is naturally a consequence of success attainable in security and economic prosperity. A country like Nigeria in the throes of insecurity finds it substantially challenging to record meaningful economic success cannot reasonably command power beyond its shores. No one gives what he has not. If Nigeria does not have peace and security internally, how can it help its neighbours to possess it? How can Nigeria provide the prosperity that it lacks at home to its neighbours in the same vein? The elevated levels of security and prosperity garnished by robust diplomacy confer power to a country. Yet, every serious country must demonstrate some reasonable measure of strength to expend to control for imported insecurity. Nigeria’s intervention in Liberia in the 1990s was a demonstration of this power at the West African subregional level. By helping restore peace in that country, Nigeria proactively prevented importing the country’s crisis through refugees’ influx.
Unfortunately, policymakers wrap security decisions around military engagements and campaigns. The economy connection only enters the model in the form of the financial outlay for ammunitions and other war arsenals. Many times, the results are barrages of unintended consequences. For instance, heavy reliance on military campaigns in the fight against religious insurgencies will always result in further recruitments of insurgent fighters. Most of these fighters are also unemployed youth in the northern parts of the country with minimal education, making them easily vulnerable to ideological manipulation. However, assume that a fiscal boom enables the government to create employment opportunities that can absorb most of these militants. Consider a robust counter-narrative campaign that is so detailed in its execution that practically fortifies every young person in northern Nigeria against the insurgents’ ideological manipulation. Given these conditions, military campaigns may be less than desirable in restoring peace in the country’s hitherto war-torn regions. In effect, many of the security strategies that concentrate on military procurements and war execution may not be the optimal route.
A significant challenge for policymakers and stakeholders in the country’s security and prosperity management is strengthening the handshake between security and prosperity. Enhancing employment opportunities will considerably decrease the number of persons involved in criminal activities, all things being equal. Similarly, the country’s enhanced economic opportunities also provide the enormous capacity to implement strategies for achieving reasonable security and stability levels. Since both are mutually reinforcing, the critical concern is about which of the two [security and prosperity] receives greater priority and ahead of the other in policy sequencing. At least five initiatives are security-risk-minimizing and economic prosperity promoting. These five factors can also considerably strengthen security–prosperity nexus.
Strictly complying with laid-down rules and procedures for the country’s sound economic management will always minimize sectional injustice perceptions. It is the latter that usually ignites the embers of sectional conflicts. Therefore, the statecraft managers must considerably elevate transparency and zero corruption to unleash prosperity creating economic governance. Economic governance in budgeting and resource allocation, tax administration and tax revenue management, tendering and contract award procedures, and the application of merit-based processes in officials’ appointment will always boost prosperity and considerably minimize insecurity. Citizens are less likely to fall over each other in conflicts if government resources are lawfully, transparently, and efficiently deployed for the good of all and not some favoured demographics. Regrettably, this appears to be a tall order in Nigeria as politicians favour special groups that prop their aspirations. President Muhammadu Buhari made that quite evident regarding the southeast geopolitical zone’s considerations in his resource allocation plan shortly after his election to the presidency seat. These challenges are resolvable with consistent reductions of government’s role in the economic sphere and the private sector’s elevation as the driver of economic growth.
Therefore, robust economic governance cannot be productive in the absence of strong domestic laws and regulations. That is Nigeria’s tragedy. The Constitution’s foundations are weak and hardly evokes the citizenry’s desired level of loyalty. Several Nigerians of influence have demonstrated that they are above the law over the decades. Therefore, the law only serves to keep the poor and those without power in check. Exacerbated by pervasive corruption, the justice system is also considered ineffective. In most of Nigeria’s law courts, justice suffers painful delays that amount to a denial. Not many feel the supposed justice emanating from many Nigerian law courts as fair. Worse still, the police – an integral part of the justice system – is also not trustworthy. The Nigerian police are synonymous with bribery and corruption and justice’s perversion. Many dread police officers much more than they do the criminals. Correctional centres are also not left out. Several confirmed accounts of how people sentenced to serve jail terms could spend time at their homes and have children with their wives. Until we have laws and regulations that effectively prevent and deter aberrant behaviour among public officials, the hopes of minimizing insecurity and promoting economic prosperity may still be farther away.
It is also not enough to merely develop pro-market policies that essentially serve prominent entrepreneurs’ interest. Sufficiently broadening the market to include small and micro-operators is essential to minimizing possible attendant insecurity. It is common for the government to reel trade concessions that primarily target big-sized entrepreneurs’ categories. Micro and small investors or entrepreneurs rarely enjoy such privileges. Bigger firms also have easier access to finance, while micro and small firms suffer exclusion on myriads of grounds. Such exclusion of substantial segments of the society from participating in the entrepreneurial and income delivering benefits of the market also triggers discontent and insecurity. Employment and income deprivation arising from such marginalization further create additional armies of unemployed and poor people. It also weakens as well as sub-optimizes the potentials of the market.
Cooperation rather than confrontations also help minimize the unintended consequences that usually trail it. Alternative dispute resolution mechanisms and recognizing the place of economic well-being in promoting security should receive priority attention in framing security management policies. While military force can be necessary, let it be the last option when nonconfrontational approaches have been exhausted. It is unlikely for the government to utilize military force to quench sectional agitations primarily due to economic marginalization. In such instances which are quite ubiquitous in the Nigerian context, dialogue and rebalancing in favour of equity will deliver more productive outcomes. The Nigerian federal government successfully utilized these measures to manage the Niger Delta agitation and conflicts. It is correctly identifying economic marginalization and the loss of economic opportunities as the foundations for the origin of the original militancy and destruction of government assets, that led to the package of skill acquisition for the youth, overseas training, employment windows, and other noncombative engagements did the magic.
Secondly, encouraging ethnic and religious groups to dialogue and cooperate will always create appropriate headroom for conflict resolution that minimizes physical confrontations. Government alone cannot effectively do this. Paradoxically, government and political leaders manning the statecraft are at the very heart of creating the fire and fanning the country’s embers of instability. Consequently, their efforts at containing ensuing conflicts end up with less than desirable outcomes. Therefore, non-governmental organizations need to promote such security-risk minimizing options as the encouragement of domestic economic governance, the rule of law, and strengthening of market systems.
In conclusion, the pursuit of economic prosperity guided by the rule of law will always improve security. It minimizes military force deployment occasions, which can also create unintended consequences. On the other hand, all constitutional means, including the use of force in achieving security, also improve the environment for prosperity creation. Therefore, the guided pursuit of either economic prosperity or security enhancement will naturally positively impact the other. However, the conscious integration of nonmilitary channels for security improvement, particularly entrepreneurial and economic categories in the national security architecture, will boost domestic prosperity and enhance our global community’s power position.