The national security of a state or nation is a term that has, over the years been closely associated with war situations and elements that impinge on external aggression.
In fact, the earliest definitions of national security, in the words of Walter Lipmann, was a situation whereby a nation or state does not have to sacrifice its legitimate interests to avoid a war situation, and is also able to maintain such interests by war, when challenged. But with the advent of democracy and its attendant modifications of governance and leadership, the definition and scope of national security, even, was not spared. It also came to embrace other facets of the subject which were not hitherto on the fore, as well as springing up newer dimensions to an all-round appreciation of the subject. It thus became the requirement to maintain the survival of a state through the use of economic, diplomacy, power projection and also political power.
The non military aspects of national security came to include unexplored avenues such as environmental, economic, and energy security, which began to enjoy massive consideration, outside the stockpiling and improvement of military arsenal. Even the scope of security threats broadened too to accommodate origins such as violent non-state actors, narcotic cartels, multinational cartels, non-governmental organisations, and even natural disasters.
Today, in order to be fully confident of a secure nation, one has to make apt and extensive use of diplomacy to isolate threats, protect classified information and also safeguard the state from internal threats. Anti-terrorism legislations, importantly, should be in place. There also has to be an airtight and formidable armed forces to go with it, while beefing up efforts at emergency preparedness and disaster contingency and all the while empowering the resilience of the people.
The concept of national resilience is one that has come on the heels of modern administration to occupy a most prized and integral position in ensuring the holistic security situation in a nation or state. In fact, in many parlances, national security has been woven around national resilience, which is the concept of empowering and supporting the indigenes, by deliberate and conscious effort at federal, state and grassroot levels to be first responders and preventers of critical emergency situations.
In the Nigerian context, national resilience, which is to security what blood is to life, is a concept which understanding has been grossly impaired and its grasping and implementation summarily dehydrated. This was what the National Security Adviser, Gen. Owoeye Azazi was trying to put across to the public albeit in a manner that seemed bereft of the professionalism and tact which his sensitive office hoisted. Gen. Azazi spoke the truth and the fact. His boss announced that some members of his cabinet were security risks, associated with Boko Haram, even Prof. Wole Soyinka addressed them as "nest of killers." The NSA is just an adviser, therefore President Jonathan should resign if impeached or be accepted, tolerated and be guided till 2015, but he wants to continue which is his entitlement but the ballot box must determine. He was trying to give a brief sequence of how the people factor had been progressively stifled and subsequently hand-tied by bad party leadership, which in effect makes them powerless and ill-equipped in occasions as this. But it came to his audience as an unforgivable faux pas which must cost him his office. But they forget that in the international front, the Detroit-bound airplane was prevented from exploding to smithereens because of the concerted efforts of the passengers, who braved all risk to get a bomb blanket around the delinquent Farouk Abdulmutallab.
Similarly, in September of 2001, the terrorist-hijacked Delta Airlines was saved from crashing directly into the all-important Pentagon, by a patriotic pool of bravery-induced actions, which foiled that attempt. In Israel, they have a culture of national resilience ingrained into their psyche and national system, such that the term eventuality has long ceased to translate into disaster, no matter the magnitude and causative factor. It is therefore without mincing words that I wish to state that national resilience is key, if not substitutional to national security. Security in its essence is not about fabulous and grandiose sums of money daily exchanging hands in the name of security votes; it is all about empowering and sustaining the people factor in security operation. It is sad that a country of this standing in the international community has little or no plans towards emergency preparedness and response, in an era where it has become a yardstick for evaluating the healthcare delivery index of nations. Pre-hospital care, paramedics and simple first aid and its effluent contingencies is a facet of healthcare that is in dire need of government an even private sector exploration and investment, and our country would most definitely be the better for it.
-Nwobu can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org