African Journal of
History and Culture

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Hist. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6672
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJHC
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 187


Fifty years after: Rethinking security/national security discourse and practice to reinvent its future

Adoyi Onoja
  • Adoyi Onoja
  • Department of History, Nasarawa State University, Keffi-Nigeria.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 22 December 2013
  •  Accepted: 11 August 2014
  •  Published: 31 October 2014


Fifty years after independence, the discourse and practice of security/national security in Nigeria needs re-examination. Security is a contested terrain amongst nation at different stages of development. At the moment, the contest is over the referent-state or people. Have Nigerians ever face national security threat of the scale in countries of the North that threatened the existence of the state in the last fifty years? Have not we faced national security threats of the scale not peculiar with countries of the North that has continuously threatened the existence of the state in the last fifty years? More Nigerians are threatened by government policies than by neighbouring armies. What were the objectives, priorities and methods of national security in discourse and practice? Have we not been discussing and practicing security and national security wrongly thus endangering the very basis of security-the people? What do we mean when we talk about security and national security? Or when we make policies to protect and advance national security? This paper surveys the discourse and practice of national security in Nigeria using papers presented at the Historical Society of Nigeria congress on “Historicizing National Security, Order and Rule of Law”.It examined the understanding of national security arguing that the ambiguity evident in the term sanctioned and legitimised similar disposition in its use by policy makers. It called for the people of Nigeria to be the referent object of security rather than the interest of the elite subsumed for the state.


Key words: Security, national security, state, human beings, scholars.