According to Mr. Eugene Nweke, a professor of political science, the Nigerian State is quickly slipping into a level of fragility that has not been seen since the end of the civil war.
Nweke, a vice chancellor of Ebonyi State University in Abakaliki, made the claim on Thursday during the institution's 18th inaugural lecture series, which took place in the ICT center's Main auditorium.
Professor Nweke, the inaugural lecturer, urged both State and non-State actors to take action against the risk of "Statelessness" and loss of "Statehood" in Nigeria in a speech he gave under the title "Politics And State Fragility: The Open Governance Narrative."
He averred that “the fragile statehood we are experiencing is due to political apathy and apoliticism of the greater population of the citizens”, noting that “political participation is an essential civic obligation, an indispensable right and responsibility of the people to be involved in the governance of their affairs.”
“Without prejudice to our perspectives of politics, democratic politics and development, are the most desirable aspiration of the people, but under constant threat by the fragility of State,” he added.
According to Professor Nweke, fragility of the Nigerian State is peculiar, and the one -size- ﬁt-all approach cannot be applied to the current predicament unless the restructuring of Nigerian State is done.
“The Nigerian state is not indigenous but a ﬁgment of European imperialism instituted by the British colonial regime within the political economy of bullionism and mercantilism. This fault line of fragility is the prelude to the prevalence of predatory state actors who have the competence to advance good governance but did not due to their preference to consolidate the rent-seeking legacy of imperialism.Presently, the Nigerian State is transiting into the fourth stage of domestic neo-colonialism.
“The process started with the post- independence state captors, also known as Nigerian Nationalists. The nationalists were more concerned with the struggle to control the Nigerian state to the detriment of state building, hence the complex and irreconcilable political unrest that led to the ﬁrst military Coup d’état of 15th January 1966.
“The Military Coup d’état introduced the second brigade of state captors. This group co-opted the political elites to assist and legitimise the internal plundering of the state. The end of the Military era on 29 May 1999 marked a new generation of political cliques. The Cliques ordained by the military recaptured the Nigerian State to date. The common phenomenon of these periods is the unity of political elites in sustaining the skewed Nigerian state for their interest.
“The emerging fourth set of internal captors is the virulent ethno-religious political insurgents, terrorists, and bandits. These four sets of internal colonialism, as I call them, have consistently sought, recruited and controlled the machine politics of the Nigerian State. The devices of these groups are the bane of fragility in Nigeria, and the hope for effective government is uncertain unless the Nigerian state is decolonised,” he explained.
Mr Nweke lamented that “the fragility of the Nigerian state is making human beings, especially children and women, vulnerable and exposed to insecurity, poverty, and extreme violence. At the receiving end of these are the people who are on a daily struggle for survival.”
He further noted: “This inaugural lecture is, therefore, beyond an academic responsibility; it is a declaration, advocacy, and a clarion invitation of State and non-state actors to rise against the risk of ‘Statelessness’ and loss of “Statehood” in Nigeria.
“The signiﬁcant cause of statelessness is discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, language, or gender. Non-inclusion of speciﬁc groups in the body of citizens for discriminatory reasons is linked to protracted and large scale statelessness in the country of birth. States can also deprive citizens of their nationality through changes in law using discriminatory criteria that leave whole populations stateless.
“The majority of the world’s known stateless populations belong to minority groups (UNCHR, 2014). These are undesirable, and they portend unimaginable danger for human livelihood Security, and National Security in Nigeria.The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP 1994:23) notes that “Human security can be said to have two main aspects. It means, ﬁrst, safety from such chronic threats as hunger, disease, and repression. And second, it means protection from sudden and hurtful disruptions in daily life – whether in homes, jobs or communities.”
“In Nigeria, human security has become a luxury. The rich are losing to severe disruptions of daily life as the 90 million Nigerians who live in extreme poverty (World Poverty Clock, 2021) are greatly threatened.Human security does not diminish the importance of national security. The concern on human security recognizes that national security and human security are mutually supportive (Axworthy,2000). National security is the ability of a state to perform its function of guaranteeing safety and security and protecting the citizenry.
“Therefore, an effective, democratic state that promotes and protects the welfare of its people is a precondition for strengthening the legitimacy, stability, and security of its existence. In this case, security of the State is not an end in itself and difficult to guarantee unless the individuals are secured.
“Achieving this responsibility in Nigeria has become a dire task because: The country is fast diving into the worst form of fragility since the end of the civil war and the country has increasingly become overlapped with the worst security and economic crises, as well as palpable social tension, featuring identity fanaticism, sprawling insurgency, and banditry, which signiﬁcantly compromise Nigeria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“The non-state violent actors are taking over territories and controlling the affairs; conﬂicts in Nigeria are snowballing over the borders as alliances are with independent militant groups outside Nigeria’s shores; array of evidence of where the Government is failing, where basic rights to life and security are violated, where basic food is a luxury, and water, health, and education are no longer guaranteed, are with us as we watch and read from the media, and many children and youths are the agents and tools for terrorising and fuelling conﬂicts and instability in Nigeria, especially in rural areas.”
On how to reduce the problem of fragility in Nigerian State, Professor Nweke advocated for an open governance system, which he said, is “a culture of governance based on innovative and sustainable public policies and practices inspired by the principles of transparency, accountability, and participation that fosters democracy and inclusive growth.”
He also called for decolonisation of Nigerian State and rethinking governance, noting,” I have argued that the Nigerian state should free herself from the vestiges of imperial regimes. One of the decolonization processes is restructuring the state, government and governance to address the peculiarities of ethnic nationalities.”
Other ways to reduce fragility, according to Professor Nweke, include: enhancing Policy Dialogue for National Stability, saying no to poverty paradise and livelihood insecurity, engaging with Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) to End State Vulnerability, Overcoming Deﬁcit will in Security Sector Reform and Education for societal stability.
High point of the event was the induction of Professor Nweke into the league of distinguished Professor of Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki.