National security is the protection of the people, preservation of national values, ensuring the protection and furtherance of the national socio-economic and political prosperity and the protection of the abstract State. No State has a life of its own distinct from the lives of the people who constitute the State.
However, in Nigeria, there has always been the neglect and assault on the people who hold the empirical sovereignty. Our national security agencies focus on protecting the regime and the abstract State instead of the people.
The framework of National Security has become so expanded in the 21st Century to include how the inherently fragile structures, processes, elements and attitudes we depend on to prevent a Hobbesian state of nature are politicized to suit the regime and enforce the deep State to the detriment of the people. This politicization of national security is exactly its moral burden. In achieving regime protection, the mechanics pretend to look like people protection. Our greatest challenge therefore, is the attitude of those who look after us. Those who politicize our challenges and tie our circumstances in narrowly defined national interests.
Suddenly, the Department of State Service (DSS) became so interested in warning against attempts by a group to truncate democracy in Nigeria through an interim government. The DSS was never interested in how people were attacked, maimed and obstructed from exercising their civic rights in a democracy? This is laughable for want of a better emotional expression. Does it mean that DSS is not interested in the process that led to the current debacle or they just cherrypick on what to stand for or against?
It is pertinent to note that, the structures, processes, elements and attitudes that govern our national existence from a brutish decline are necessarily not naturally occuring. These are purely fragile and requires very tender and careful management to exist, function and survive. The DSS is unintentionally stressing these very inherent structures with politicization of intelligence and national security. The Service remains the only surviving elite and purposeful national security agency which we must deliberately insulate from politicization.
Micheal Hayden held that, “the craft of intelligence pursues enlightenment values”. These values are the centrality of facts and neutrality in the pursuit of broader national interests and values. Therefore, the gradual erosion of these values would threaten the durability of the DSS and the practice of good intelligence. Intelligence shares a duty with truth telling as neutral competent professionals to preserve and protect the ability of the society to function in an equilibrium state. Wherein lies the protective shield for a society that was violated with violence on election day?
The DSS should understand that modern intelligence is not just for our safety but essentially for our liberties. The liberty to choose who to vote for and be voted for. They allowed us to be beaten, raped and maimed. Where is the morality of their warning under the pretext of guarding democracy?
If we continue the politicization of intelligence and security in Nigeria, we shall certainly experience a complete decline of all our national institutions. This decline effectively mirrors the disruptions in our social economy and cohesion. This indeed will be our worst times and we shall be weaker and wounded or permanently disrupted as a people.
Dr. Ody Ajike, Esq, a legal practitioner, writes from Abuja.