A BLUEPRINT FOR PEACE & PROGRESS
By Eke Urum Eke
For peace and progress in Nigeria, three conditions are a sine qua non:
The upshot of the three conditions above will be a slightly weaker government at the center. But if a slightly weakened center is the price Nigerians have to pay for peace, unity and progress, then so be it!
ONE ARMY, THREE COMMANDS
Drastic situations require drastic responses. Recognizing and actualizing this precept is the true measure of the worth a leader. For there to be unity and stability in Nigeria, the army (and navy) must be divided—along geographic and semi-ethnic lines.
The Nigerian army should be divided into three commands and the National Guards. Each command will be restricted to one of Nigeria’s three natural geographic regions. The Northern Command will operate in and be responsible for that area of Nigeria north of the Rivers Benue and Niger. The Eastern Command will operate only in the territory south of River Benue and east of the River Niger. The Western Command will operate in the area south of the Upper Niger and west of the lower Niger. The National Guards will have exclusive responsibility for the Abuja capital territory which, for purposes of this exercise, will not be in the northern command even thought it is located in the geographic north. Only the indigenes of each geographic region will serve in that area command, from the lowest recruit to the General Officer Commanding (i.e. the G.O.C.). The GOC for command will take orders not from the President of the Federal Republic but from the Second vice-President (SVP) for his region. (The office SVP is defined later in this blueprint.) In other words, any damn fool who succeeds in shooting his way into the presidential complex in Abuja will not automatically assume command of any of the regional armies without the collusion of officers and men from that region.
The three-battalion National Guards will be made up of one battalion from each regional command, for a 3-yuear staggered tour of duty. It will be commanded by the Commander of the National Guards, selected by and answerable to the President. The top echelons of the National Guards command shall come and go with each succeeding President of the Federal Republic. The battalion contributed by the Eastern Command will be headquartered 20 miles from Abuja on the Abuja-Kaduna road. The battalion from the Western Command will be headquartered 20 miles from Abuja on the Abuja-Keffi road, while the battalion from the Northern Command will be headquartered 20 miles from Abuja on the Abuja-Lokoja road. (Alternatively, any incoming President may be free to pick all three battalions from one regional command of the choosing, preferably during the regular staggered three-year rotation of troops.) Each battalion will have a platoon-strong outpost 50 miles from Abuja on its operation route to ensure that no group of soldiers without legitimate business is allowed into the Abuja territory; to ensure that no soldier of any rank comes into the Abuja territory with arms; and to serve as the first line of defense against any organized move on Abuja. If necessary, and only if necessary, the three army commands, the two navy commands and the air force may each establish a liaison office in Abuja, manned by a maximum of 10 officers and men.
Seventy-five percent of the army budget will be shared equally among the three commands. Of the remaining 25%, 15% should go to infrastructure for the new commands on the basis of need, while 10% goes for common facilities such as the military academy. Throughout the country, no solder or other military person will be allowed to carry any weapon whatsoever outside his barracks, and, even within the barracks, only when it is properly signed for, on a daily basis, from the ordinance depot. However, senior military officers of the rank of Colonel and up may carry unobtrusive personal weapons such as Colt 45, Smith & Weston, etc., except that these may not be carried into the presidential complex or into the governors’ or SVP’s office and residential complexes. Each group of state governments in any region may agree to contribute funds to augment in the infrastructural needs of the army in its command. The current ordinance and munitions of the army shall be shared equally among all three commands; any future purchases and or/manufacture shall be shared equally; and no regional group of states may import or produce additional armaments and munitions.
All army barracks shall be located not farther than 100 miles from Nigeria’s borders. All barracks currently more than 100 miles from the border should be privatized to raise money for the new barracks. The old barracks could become the nucleus of new communities or industrial enterprise zones. Apart from Lagos, no other major city should accommodate both an army barracks and a navy or air force quarters, except that Port Harcourt may accommodate both navy and air force units, but no army.
Nigeria’s President and First Vice President (FVP) will continue to reside in Abuja and will be elected as before. However, there shall be three Second Vice Presidents, one for each region. The SVP for each region shall be a governor of one of the states I the region and shall be elected by a simple majority of all the governors of that region at a summit meeting. Whereas the President and FVP will be in office for 5 years, the SVP will serve for only two years. This means that during any presidential term, each region will have three consecutive SVPs. The last one serving for only one year, unless he is reelected as governor in the following election, in which case he serves one more year as SVP without formal re-election. This office will be largely ceremonial and he will receive additional compensation not to exceed 25% of his governorship salary. But he shall be entitled to additional security protection and a few other perquisites. His full title shall be "Second Vice President & Commander-in-Chief of the Eastern Army."
In case of an external threat against Nigeria, it will be the immediate responsibility of the regional command closest to the source o that threat to start defensive maneuvers at the command of the region’s SVP as instructed by the President. If additional force is needed, the President will order the SVPs of the other regions to send additional support in men and materials. In other words, the President can give military orders to the SVPs, but the FVP and SVPs cannot and will not take orders from anybody in uniform. F there is an attempted coup in Abuja, any and all the SVPs will be duty bound to use troops under their coup in Abuja, any and all the SVPs will be duty bound to use the troops under their command to foil it or dislodge a "successful" one, by force or through negotiations. If the "successful" coup make cannot dislodged from Aso Rock within 30 days, then each of the three regions automatically becomes an independent sovereign federal republic, with defensible borders. No ifs, ands, or buts!
Like the army, the Nigerian Navy will be divided into two commands: Eastern Command and Western Command. Their ships, armaments and other equipment will be divided equally between the two commands. Again, only persons from the geographic east can serve in the Eastern Command, and only persons from the geographic west can serve in the Western Command. The northern states will be grouped into two equal numbers of states, northeastern another western. Persons from the northeaster group of states can serve in the Eastern Command of the navy, while persons from the northwestern group can serve in the Western Command.
The Air Force and Police will continue to have only one command each. The Police Force will continue to have primary responsibility for internal security. Every member of the Police Force will be required to wear small personal arms while on duty, but no rifles. Rifles will be issued from the ordinance depot of each unit only to those members of the unit about to be deployed in riot control or to suppress other forms of armed insurrection. When the police needs help, the local unit of the Army or Army Reserves can be called in to help.
As the principal binding force for peace and security in the country, the police unit in every community in every state should be well integrated with Nigerians from all across the country. For example, regardless of the actual population ratios in Lagos, the police there should be made up of 50% easterners and 50% westerners and northerners. Similarly for all the major cities of Nigeria—Ibadan, Ilorin, Kaduna, Kano, Jos, PH, Onitsha, Warri, Benin, etc. Meanwhile, the rest of the military (Army, Air Force, Navy) will have no powers of arrest over civilians and will strictly refrain from intervening in civilian disputes. They cannot mount roadblocks anywhere farther than 20 miles from our land borders. And they must NOT wear military uniforms outside their barracks except when on official assignment.
Rosedale, New York
Coming in Part II: Elections, the Judiciary and Resource Equity