Expert Opinion

Nigeria; The Need to Avoid a Succession Crises – By Samuel Diminas


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Terrorism, perpetrated by Boko Haram, a militant Islamist movement based in Nigeria’s north-east, remains one of Nigeria’s biggest security threat today, causing the loss of thousands of lives and the displacement of millions from their homes.

Barely a decade ago, terrorism and militant insurgency-ravaged the Niger-Delta region, causing the militarization of nearly the entire region by ethnic militia groups, Nigeria military, and mobile police forces.

The ensuing violence hit Nigeria’s oil industry with piracy, kidnappings, pipeline attacks and sabotage of Nigeria’s oil production, cutting production by as much as 60% by 2009, before a successful presidential amnesty program.

Barely a decade before the Niger Delta crises, the southwest of the country was torn by civil and political strife as a result of the annulment of the June 12, 1993, presidential election won by M.K.O Abiola.

In each case, an intense struggle for power amongst Nigeria’s elite had implications for the ensuing violence, terror and other forms of insecurity; this continues to be the case today.

Nigeria’s systems of governance lack long-term strategies and plans for dealing with national challenges. Very often, policy decisions are made with election cycles in mind rather than the sustainable long-term interest of the nation.

To address insecurity, terrorism, political violence, corruption and other vices, national policies and constitutional provisions should focus on the long-term sustainable future rather than the next elections.

Urgent solutions are required to reduce the negative effects from power struggle in Nigeria; this would involve managing ethnic and religious diversities through constitutional provisions for achieving regional equilibrium in government through office distribution arrangements

This can be achieved through constitutional zoning, office distribution, rotation of office and power-shift.

A zone, in the context of this article, can be described as an aggregate of states and ethnic groups into a number of smaller regional blocks; at the state level, the regional blocks are the aggregate of Local Government Areas and constituencies.

While zoning is practiced in several forms today, there is no constitutional backing for it; this has had grave consequences for security in the country.

Let us review a recent case.

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