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In line with our mandate that promotes discourse on contemporary issues, in particular, socio-economic and political development of Nigeria and the Third World, we publish the concluding part of a lecture on National Security delivered by an expert in security matters and political scientist, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, a former Federal Minister of Education


Major Schools of Thought on Strategic Thinking
In the field of strategy, schools of thought cannot be discussed in absolute categories. In international Relations, one could conveniently talk about “realism”, “idealism”, “behaviouralism”, etc. , Here, we are confronted with, a stream of thoughts deriving’ from historical’ circumstances, personal ‘experiences of warriors and Generals,’ and the variable perspectives, of military historians and the conceptualization of strategy analysts.

Generally, however, some definable categories could be identified as representing significant modes of thought in the sphere of strategic thinking. Within such a broad framework, we could talk of a ClausewitzianSchool which sees “the battle” as the object of strategy, with strategy’ at the same time forming or being the plan of a war. This implies that apart from focusing on the destruction of the enemy’s military force, propaganda, espionage” diplomacy and .subversion are viable weapons. Traditional and neo-traditional conceptions of strategy buttress such thought processes.

There is’ the group of classical Cold War strategists which, Significantly, sees war beyond the theatre of conflict and its associated factors but would insist that wars are best prevented through adequate preparation for war. To this group, potent means at the disposal of a nation (military economic, political, technological, socio-cultural) are to be deployed toward the attainment of desired goals without recourse to war. Focus is largely on’ the psyche of would be aggressors or the leadership of adversary states who are sufficiently inflicted with fears as to abandon thoughts of ‘war or resistance without being fired at!

There is the general tendency to ignore some schools of thought during the last century, especially post World War II and focus on nuclear strategists. There are two that are, however, worthy of note. In the tradition of Hannibal Hamilcar Barea (he was indeed a great strategist in spite of his defeat at the battle of Zama by Scipio Africanus in 205 BC due to poetical circumstances), mobility, tactical skills and maneuverability were built upon by Adolf Hitler in making his blitzkrieg contribution to the art war. The speed, fire power, dynamism and tactical manoeuvers with which the Maginot Line was circumvented and Paris Overran not only attest to the efficacy of this approach but informed part of the post-World War II military strategies of many European countries.

GUERILLA WARFARE: The other school I wish to draw attention to is the guerrilla warfare (meaning “little war'” in Spanish).If blitzkrieg places emphasis on fighting quickly and winning or conquering quickly, guerrilla’ warfare is along drawn, battle. It is to subvert or overturn the conquest which the former promotes. While the sound strategic and operational principles upon which blitzkrieg were built had been compromised by Hitler’s racist philosophy 01 life, and as espoused in his book “Mein kampf” – My War, guerrilla warfare is viewed by its proponents as a war of liberation while its victims or’ non- sympathizers view it as the operation of bandits or terrorists.

From Asia to Africa, the Arab world and Latin America, we see classical cases of guerrilla warfare: tactics of ‘sneak attack rather than mass confrontation, irregular troops and attacks at irregular terrains. The military-strategic thought in this regard suggests that the art of war requires more than knowledge of one form of war – conventional warfare/The strategic principles of guerrilla warfare have been best elucidated by such thinker/actors as Chinese Mao Tse-Tung (On Guerrilla Warfare – 1961), Cuban Fidel Castro and Ernesto “Che” Guevara (Guerrilla Warfare- 1961) and Baljit Sigh (The Theory and Practice of Modern Guerrilla Warfare – 1971).

While from such perspectives as’ contained in Norman Angell’s The Great Illusion (1909 and 1933) we encounter a School of thought that examines the assumptions about national power, armaments, national prosperity and war and concludes that war does not pay and that arms security and indemnity even for the victorious are futile, most nuclear strategists think otherwise. If we could pierce through the post-Cold War fog it would be possible to identify the dominant thoughts on strategic thinking from the middle of the last century to the beginning of its last decade. Beyond mythology and philosophical abstractions, the global environment suddenly changed with new political and social expectations emerging to confront the prevailing security doctrines and the impulse of leaders and strategists.

For the records, however, the nuclear’ age threw up two schools of thought especially in, the United States, Continentalism and maritime, with concern mainly for the protection of – Western Europe and American interests while avoiding the dangers of nuclear war. Associated with these, were the postulates on which strategic nuclear forces were based. Here, the dominant concepts were defence as strategy, ‘fighting war for deterrence (including ECBM, etc vulnerability and credible deterrence) and socio-political dimensions that would affect strategic options.” The basic strategic dilemma has transmitted over the years. And so have some of the assumptions which prompted my postulations concerning Africa?

Overview of Nigeria’s Strategy for National Security
Out of President Umaru “Musa Yar’Adua’s” 7-Points Agenda”, .two.issues concern security specifically. ‘One is “food security” with emphasis on agriculture and water resources to ensure adequate food supply for local consumption and export. The other is “security” (qua security) to be reflected through a policy that pays adequate attention to the provision of security of lives and property and practical solution to Niger Delta issues.

I am aware, that, under the leadership of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), the Armed Forces of Nigeria has designed some strategy for national security”. This is within the framework of our country’s National Defence Policy (NOP) promulgated by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 2006. A National Military Strategy (NMS) should therefore ·be seen as one of the two components of national security, the other being the non-military dimensions.

Two basic assumptions predicate the NMS. One is that the proposals would be endorsed by the Federal Government (the civil authority), and secondly, that they would be reviewed periodically. The essential goals of the NMS are:

  • Transformation of the Armed forces of Nigeria into a modern, professional, integrated and credible fighting force;
  • Institutionalization of capacity-building aimed at ensuring regular acquisition of professional knowledge and technological know-how for overall efficiency and effectiveness of the Armed Forces;
  • Assured response to the changing paradigms of national security occasioned by domestic challenges and the external environment.
  • Calculated operationalization of the concept of “Active ‘-‘Defence and Flexible Response;’.
  • Integration of a restructured and credible Armed Forces of Nigeria ‘with other instruments of national power and into the ECOWAS and Gulf of Guinea regional collective security structure.
  • Acquisition of capabilities for joint operation, early warning, quick reaction, integrated networking, efficient decision-making system and civil-military cooperation (especially collaboration between civilian bureaucrats and military personnel).
  • Identification and regular review of key vulnerabilities of the Armed Forces with a view to checkmating them.
  • Programmatic backing of the defence management policies of the political authority to ensure the protection of the nation’s core values and interests from internal and external threats .

 The non-military dimensions are the non-military. strategies for national security. The threats to national security.in this regard come from within and without.’! They are, elemental, incremental, personal, corporate-based or group-derived, institutional and constitutional. They range from assaults on the nation’s core values, socio-political injustice, the economic situation (characterized by ravaging poverty and untamed greed), disasters, the prevalence of HIV J AIDS, child trafficking, oil bunkering arid armed robbery to political challenges and system dysfunction and, of course, the disruptive features of reactions which they generate. They also include challenges to Vision 2020 and President Yar’Adua’s 7-Point Agenda as well as the non- military external projection of interests, the global economic. (Recession) and socio-political order which impact upon both the consciousness of Nigerians and the reality of their existence.

 Various institutions exist, specifically established to cater for the challenges posed by the national security issues noted above. The responsibility resides largely in the executive arm of government but the legislative arm has often employed its power for resource allocation and oversight functions to influence and affect the various strategic plans. On the whole, an overview of Nigeria’s strategy for national security presents a picture of considerable awareness and good intentions on the part of the relevant authorities but inadequate networking, un-reconciled and undeveloped capacity and a recurring gap between promise and performance.

 Proposed Strategy For Nigeria’s National Security
There is no doubt whatsoever that it is the National Defence Policy (NDP), published in 2006 and subject to periodic review, which provides the authentic framework for the Nigerian defence system and the strategic guide for the National Grand Strategy (NGS). And; unlike what one could observe to be taking place in other lands, there is no bitter or raging debate in Nigeria today with regard to our national strategy, the course which Nigerian policies should pursue – especially the extent of threat confronting our nation and the strategy by which that threat should be countered, including the military force levels required to implement the chosen strategy. There are, however, contending – .perspectives on the state of national security, the factors which account for it and all that need be done.

 In proposing a strategy for Nigeria’s national security in the tradition (or from the perspective) of strategic thinking, I wish to establish a premise. It is bad strategy to learn by or from experience. The alternative, which is better, is to learn from the experience of others. Or, to quote that popular dictum of Ginlio Donhet, “Victory smiles upon those who anticipate the changes in the character of war, not upon those who wait to adapt themselves after the changes occur”.

 I am quite aware that time will not permit us to go into some issues ‘that could provide a defining insight that would illuminate the essence of national security. Nevertheless, we could still go beyond the sphere, of conventional imagination. If only by modifying the proposed military strategy, we must ‘confront the past in our attempt to shape the future.. The bureaucracy has always been’ the cemetery of strategic initiatives and this is where the task must begin. I will return to this aspect shortly,

 To some analysts, the grand strategy for national security depends upon the economy of a nation, the level of resources available for defence. This is so only to an extent in that there are competing sectors with the physical defence structures and here the leadership factor c es into play. That is because national security strategy is not only systematic and purposive, it is manipulative, dialectical and political. In this regard, the bureaucracy is the take off point. We know in the military (or it should be known) that a. Commander could get the best from his ‘subordinates’ if he gave them freedom of action to the limit of their abilities. If, we liken the relationship between the General and the Army to that between a horse and a rider and we extend this analogy to the political leadership and the bureaucracy we would get the appropriate signal: the horse should be cared for with adequate training and maintenance, and ridden to the hilt.

The modification to the current military thinking concerns the essence of capabilities’ and control in a changing world. The nature and concept of national power are changing. American power is failing presently in Iraq just as it did in Vietnam. Our records of peace-keeping around the world, especially in the West African sub-region, have been largely a wavy chain of success.and looking out and inwards we see the need to continuously monitor our Sub-region while paying more serious attention to the Niger-Delta, and the essence of the new agenda for peace propounded by United NationsSecretary-General BoutrusGhali in 1990.

With regard to the West African sub-region which continues to be among the countries ranked’ lowest on the. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Index, we are not over yet with the intractable and destabilizing conflicts with what has been referred to as their complex human and political emergency? During the Second Republic I postulated some scenarios concerning the Niger-Delta ,which were plausible and have been considered by some people as a provocative prophesy which have painfully become self- fulfilling’. Even now, our self-righteous anxiety over the Niger-Delta is bellied by a policy which permitted the assault on Bonga.

Since security remains a precondition of development, conflict prevention should be, central to any viable Strategy of national security as conflict destroys infrastructures, encourages criminality, discourages investment and disrupts normal socio-political and economic activities. Indeed, security of the people must be the foundation of security of the state, the real condition precedent. An integrated (and adaptive) National Security System will be the end result: The following auxiliary sources of threats to national security also need to be factored into the loom:

The use of information technology and globalization

  • Constitutional inadequacies and shortcomings w i h promote a culture of intolerance and impunity.
  • The material attraction of politics.
  • The imperial postures and activities of Politicians.
  • The politicization of misery and poverty.
  • Infrastructural inadequacies.



Being the concluding part of a lecture delivered by TUNDE ADENIRAN, PH.D, OFR; PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE & EXPERT’ON SECURITY, STRATEGY AND POLICY ISSUES at the National Defence College, Abuja; 2009.








 Notes and References

See Chapters 7 & 8 of the Book of Judges in the Holy- Bible and John Laffins Links of Leadership – Thirty Centuries of Command (London: George G. Harrav& Co. Ltd., 1966) pp.17-26.


Von Clausewitz, On War (trans. J. J. Graham, 1908), reprinted London: Routledge, 1966, p.165


  1. H. Liddell Hart, Strategy: The Indirect Approach (London: Faber, 1967) p.335


  1. Aron, “The Evolution of Modern Strategic Thought”, in Problems of Modern Strategy! Adelphi Paper 54, 1969 (Feb. 1969) p.7 –

Ken Booth, ” The Evolution of Modern Strategic Thinking”, John Baylis et al. Contemporary Strategy – Theorie and Policies(London: Croom Helm Ltd., 1976) p.23

For a detailed analysis, see Stephen J. Cimbala (ed.) NationalSecurity Strategy: Choices and Limits (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1984)

See’ Tunde Adeniran, “Nuclear Proliferation and Black Africa: The Coming Crisis of Choice”, Third World Quarterly October 1981 (Vol. 3 No.4) pp.673-683; and Tunde Adeniran, “Black Africa Reacts”, TheBulletin of the Atomic Scientists August/September 1982 (Vol. 38 No.7) pp. 36-38           ‘

A major step in this regard was the setting up of the Armed Forces Transformation Committee whose report was turned in for consideration in April, 2008

Ramsbotham Oliver Woodhouse Tom, Miall Hugh, ContemporaryConflict Resolution: the Prevention, Management and Transformation of Deadly Conflicts (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2005) p.80