Nexus Between Electoral System and National Security
By Zakari Usman
At a recent workshop on election security and management, organised by the Nigeria Police for its officers and men, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, called for synergy, professionalism and patriotism among security agencies ahead of the 2023 general election.
Assuring that Nigeria was exploring initiatives to reposition its policing system to deliver peaceful and credible 2023 elections and to enhance capacity to stabilise current internal security challenges, Monguno emphasised the crucial nature of political security to all other components of national security. “A successfully policed and peaceful election circle is a fundamental variable in the quest by any nation to advance its democracy and deepen its democratic system,” he said.
The NSA has been at the forefront of efforts championing an environment conducive for the citizens to exercise their franchise in a peaceful and credible manner in 2023 and beyond. As co-chair of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES), Monguno has demonstrated on several occasions the present administration’s commitment to political security of the electoral system. At the first quarterly meeting of the ICCES for the year 2022, he tasked the Independent National Electoral Committee (INEC) to address all logistics and operational challenges ahead of the 2023 general elections, noting that one of the triggers of political insecurity in developing countries is the process of political transition in form of elections.
According to a Human Development Report, political security is one of the seven security frameworks associated with human security. Other securities within the policy circle are: economic security, food security, health security, environmental security, personal security and community security.
Political security is concerned with protection of human rights and well-being of all people. It also includes protection against people from state repression such as freedom of press, freedom of speech and freedom of voting. Abolishment of political detention, imprisonment, systematic ill treatment and disappearance are also covered under political security. It is also the focal point of other security frameworks – economic, health, environmental, cyber, food, maritime and border, etc.
Nigeria’s National Security Strategy (NSS, 2019), a policy blueprint developed by Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), outlines how the country’s national security is being coordinated. Page 44 of the NSS states on political security: “The nexus between political stability and economic prosperity calls for appropriate measures to be taken to ensure the political security of Nigeria. Accordingly, the objective of political security is to aggregate and unify the aspirations of individuals and groups in the Federation through reasonable distribution of power as well as wholesome generation and equitable distribution of resources.
“To achieve this objective, we will ensure the exploitation of the opportunities provided by our endowments in terms of size, resources, population and strength inherent in our diversity. We will equally foster the interdependence of our people, while taking deliberate measures to overcome the challenges of managing diversity.”
The NSS further states that Nigeria’s political security measures will include multi-sectoral responses such as: promoting unity and national cohesion by fostering a culture of civility and inclusive public discourse; ensuring political stability based on multi-party democracy, grassroots political participation, political inclusiveness, strong democratic and political institutions and a free, fair and credible electoral process devoid of all kinds of violence; enhancing good governance based on development, accountability, zero tolerance for corruption at all levels, sound regulatory mechanisms, due process, rule of law and human rights; promoting non-discrimination among all Nigerians irrespective of gender, religion or ethnic origin; ensuring sound fiscal federalism as a deliberate socio-economic strategy; and ensuring freedom of information, national orientation, de-radicalisation and political education of the populace as a political strategy to facilitate citizens’ commitment to our national security goals, among others.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria will drive the implementation of our political security measures under the principle of delineation and distribution of responsibility among the different tiers of government. To this end, we will employ all national strategic assets to coordinate the achievement of our national political security goals,” the document states.
Indeed, the newly-assented Electoral Amendment Bill represents a classical statement on the firm commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari to the deepening of the Nigeria’s democracy and invigorating its political security in accordance with the NSS. As demonstrated in the off-cycle elections in Ekiti and Osun, the new Act contains innovative provisions that would enhance credibility of the election process and further sustain peaceful transition of power in the country.
Whether it is in the United States or, more recently, Kenya, the world is full of examples of how the electoral system can either pose national security threats or strengthen the democratic process. In Nigeria’s case, it is evident that President Buhari is committed to the aspiration of every Nigerian and friends of Nigeria to have free, fair and secured elections in 2023 and beyond. So far, the president has refocused the polity towards a citizen-centered, credible and demilitarised electoral process. And it is an established rule to which the security and electoral systems have adhered.
Zakari Usman writes from Abuja.
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