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« Ozodi Osuji Lectures #17: Nigeria and International Organizations | Main | The 2005 MBNG UK Pageant »

October 21, 2005

Ozodi Osuji Lectures #18: Extra-legal Governments in Nigeria:: the Military, Religious Groups, and Transnational Corporations

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji (Seatle, Washington) --- In the modern polity, there is a designated government, usually elected by the people. But whereas the government formally rules the county other social forces participate in governing the country. These informal rulers of the country are often very useful in maintaining law and order.


Consider religion. Men obey the laws of their societies for many reasons, including the fear of the hang man, the fear of God’s punishment and, of course, in a few cases conviction that the laws are just and ought to be obeyed.

Man is that creature that desires to live forever and some of them believe that there is a God that judges and punishes them should they do bad things to each other.

Some religions tell man that if he is a sinner and dies that he may go to hell. Apparently, man does not want to spend eternity in hell. The fear of burning in eternal hell fire scares some men into doing what is right with their fellow human beings.

If a society relied only on secular authorities to bring about law and order it would be fighting a losing battle.

Atheists who say that there is no God may not have appreciated Dostoyeski’s observation in Brother’s Kalamazoo that without God and his absolute morality that every behavior is permissible. Without God’s laws of white and black, there is no reason why the individual should not do what he wants to do. Stealing? If God does not exist and there is no punishment in the after life, all that one has to do is figure out a way to avoid being caught by police authorities and being sent to jail. Nigerians do this too well. They cheat, take bribes and are corrupt and as long as the law does not catch up with them, it does not matter.

In the current secular society of the West, there are no absolutes, no right and wrong, every thing is relative. Folks ask; why not? Why should I not do it? Why shouldn’t I do drugs? Who said that one should not take drugs? Who said that I should not have sex with animals? (Bestiality is very common in America…in Seattle, a few weeks ago a man bought a horse for the specific purpose of having sex with it and died from choking from sucking the horse’s penis.) Who gave that person the right to tell me what to do? Who gave the Catholic Church the right to say that Homosexuality is wrong? There is no authority apart from the individual.

Believing in the fallacy of absolute freedom, folks do whatever they now want to do. If you push it, they ask you: who defines what is natural or not? Other people? Why should one accept other people’s definitions? Natural ness is whatever the individual says that it is. Go get lost with your bogus morality, they tell you. There is no morality in nature; the universe is an amoral place. Thus every behavior is now permitted in America and Europe.

This is a recipe for a fall. The West is on a fast track to self-destruction.

If you remove God and religion from human affairs you create a society where every behavior is permissible. In such a situation, law and order tends to breakdown. Chaos and anarchy reigns where there is no religion and belief in God.

There are those who say that through pure reason that human beings can figure out what is good for them and do it without belief in God and parasitic religious clergy. This is the view of secular humanists. Alas, whereas a few persons are given to reason the run of the mill human being does not predicate his behaviors on reason. Perhaps, only about ten percent of human beings are actually thoughtful. The rest are like animals and need the structure provided by religions and belief in God.

On a personal note, I believe that there is God. In fact, I know that there is God. God is the only reality there is, the rest is noise. I believe that we live in a moral universe.

I know that our behaviors have consequences for us and for other people. The individual’s private behaviors and choices have public consequences. In as much as the individual causes others harm, he is responsible for so doing. The individual’s choice is cause and his behavior is the effect. Whatever I choose to do has effect for me and for those around me.

There is no such thing as independence. We are interconnected and what each of us does affect all of us; we are all adjusting to what each of us is doing. Since we affect each other, the individual ought to choose to only positively affect other people. If he does what brings pain, instead of pleasure to other people, they have the right to protect themselves from his negative behaviors. One way to do so is to jail him or even kill him.

If a man engages in pedophilia, his personal choice, he hurts children and, therefore, should be in jail for the rest of his life. He has no right to walk the streets endangering defenseless children. In as much as he is a coward and imposes his perverse sexuality on children who cannot defend themselves from adults, he ought to be shot, killed. Cowardly perverts have no business living to commit their depravity in darkness.

The individual’s rights ends where other peoples well being starts. To insist on personal right to do as one wants in every situation is unrealistic. Does one have the right to steal, kill, rape etc? In nature, may be, but in organized society nothing prevents those affected by the individual’s negative behaviors from defending themselves against him. The best defense is offense. Remove evil persons from society before they strike. Build jails and prisons and put these people away.

In as much as every cause has an effect (good or bad) the individual ought to choose those causes that have positive effect for society. If not, society must protect itself by punishing the anti social individual.

The earth is a reflection of eternity. If the individual does negative things to other people, just as society punishes him, I believe that the universe also punishes him. How this works I am not quiet sure.

All I know is that Africans sold their brothers into slavery and nothing will work out well for Africans until they make amends for that evil behavior. They must ask African Americans to forgive them. I have suggested that African countries give black Americans 1% of their GDP for a generation, 34 years, as symbolic of their atonement. I have also pointed out that whereas the West appears to have gotten away scoot free from using blacks that the West will pay a heavy price for its evil behavior.

I expect America to collapse in a spectacular manner. Contrary to her self-perception as a superpower, her sins are so great that she must be punished. She is already punished. That society is so decayed that if you get to know America well you look away with disgust. America is hell on earth, not the heaven we are told that it is.

Many Americans seem to have anti social, sadistic personalities. As such, they calmly and remorselessly abuse blacks. They must pay a price for this criminal behavior. How they go about doing this, I do not know. They can, of course, make amends and ask blacks to forgive them and pay reparations to black Americans for a generation (not to Africans). For a generation, 34 years, all black children ought to be provided with universal free education, from elementary to university, preferably in the physical sciences. This would help equalize the playing fields so that they can compete on the same basis with whites. Until this is done, America will know no peace. She is condemned to conflict and must seek false salvation in drugs and stupid sexuality.

Because we live in a moral universe, as I believe, the bad behaviors people engage in are punished, how I do not know.

I believe in God and accept religion as a mechanism for approaching God. I, therefore, advocate religion and belief in God. Christianity, Islam, Buddhism etc are useful religions. The individual is free to gravitate to a religion of his choice. Government cannot tell the individual what religion to adopt, nor should government stifle religion.

From a pragmatic perspective, as Machiavellian observed in the Prince, if there were no God and religion, society ought to invent them, for those enable people behave appropriately.

A young man under age 25 who does not have God and religion in his life is more likely to engage in anti social behaviors than a religious young man.

Simply stated, religion plays a critical role in society. Therefore, religions leaders tend to exercise a great deal of influence on people. When this influence is positive, they make people behave lovingly towards one another. Unfortunately, religious authorities, for their own evil purposes, can be a negative force in society. They can incite people to hate, harm or even kill other people.

Religion and religious leaders are therefore partners with government in securing law and order in society. In every society religious authorities are, more or less, a partner in governing the people hence we call them extra legal government. They are not legal in the sense that the people do not elect them. But they are, nevertheless, partners with the elected government in socializing and making people law abiding.

In Nigeria the main religions are Christianity in the South and Islam in the north. We also have residual animists, that is, African religionists, all over the place. For all intents and purposes, however, we have two main religions in Nigeria, Christianity and Islam.

Both of these religions are fine religions. In fact, they have common roots in the religion of Abraham, Judaism. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are the same religions, really. All three are monotheistic, they believe in one God. All three worship one God. Jews approach God through Moses; Christians approach God through Jesus Christ and Moslems approach God through Mohammed. All three teach morality based on God. All three teach love and forgiveness. In my opinion, these religions are excellent religions and ought to coexist with one another. I am a Christian and respect those who are Moslems. We can respect each other.

For our present purposes, religious leaders have enormous influence on the citizenry of any polity. The Pope says something and Catholic Christians fall in line. The Mullah says something and Moslems do it. Therefore, every rational polity must seek ways to get along with religious leaders. Since we need religion to have a law and ordered society we must, therefore, cooperate with religious leaders rather than antagonize them.

Whereas it is unacceptable to have a theocratic society, a situation where religious leaders rule, as Popes used to rule Europe and Mullahs rule Iran, we must listen and, in fact, consult religious leaders. If religious leaders rule, since they are human beings and have egos and vanity, they are more likely to mistake their ego wishes as the word of God.

Human wish is not God’s will. Since none of us is God, we are the children of God, we should not speculate on what God’s will is. Nevertheless, as Christian, I personally believe that the will of God is that I should love every person around me, Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa, black and white, men and women. God is one and has one family. All people are parts of God’s one family. All people are my siblings and I love them all. My Christian religion tells me never to do harm to any of God’s children.

However, if any of God’s children is anti social, I want him arrested and put in jail, and while in jail, re-socialized, corrected, taught the Bible, Koran and other Holy books until he learns not to harm any one. He should only be released to the community when he makes a personal commitment to care and love all people and work for social interest. If he fails to do so, his parole is revoked and he is returned to jail for further training in pro-social behaviors.

In my view, we must have religions in society. In fact, I do not see how we can have a civilized humanity without the positive influences of religion. I have studied man long enough to know that he is inherently self-centered. Man is a fallen creature.

In eternity man obeyed the will of God, love, and loved God and all people. But he fell from God’s grace and chose to not care for the whole but to care only for himself. Hence we have selfish Nigerians.

As long as we are selfish, we must have religion reminding us that we have common interests and asking us to work for each other. I do not mean communism using secular power to take from each and give to others. We need to give to each other voluntarily.

Religion enables us to be our brother’s keepers. (Cain asked: am I my brothers’ keepers? The answer is yes. I am my brother’s keeper. I must love all my brothers.

Who is my brother, Jesus asked and responded with the story of the Good Samaritan, the man who helps the weak on the roads of life is his brothers’ keeper. Care for all people and, in my view you are a good Christian and Moslem. Live only for yourself and you are not a religious person.

Human beings come in all sorts of varieties. As such, some religious leaders are egoistic, proud and vain. They attribute their ego interpretations to God and take their views as God’s Will. These folks often incite their religion’s members against other people. Instead of preaching inclusiveness they preach exclusion. Thus we have religious uprisings in Nigeria, with Christians and Moslems at each other’s throats.

This needs not be. These people should get along with each other. Religions leaders ought to be preaching love for all children of God, Allah.

One is not naïve regarding the nature of things; there will always be rotten apples that misguide religious people. Good government can arrest and jail such unproductive so-called religious leaders. We must monitor evil religious leaders and make sure that they do not generate riots in Nigeria.


Another very powerful institution in society is the military. As I have pointed out, man is a fallen creature. He places his self-interests ahead of others interest. Given the opportunity, he will oppress other people. Man is man’s worst enemy. The strong can enslave the weak. Therefore, we set up government to enable us have security, to prevent other people from abusing us.

Government provides us with internal security as well as security from external enemies. For government to provide us with security, it must have a strong internal police force and an army ready to fight external enemies. We need the police and military to enforce laws in the human polity.

If you make laws and have no police to enforce them, arrest and punish lawbreakers, the chances are that no one would obey the laws. You do not have far to look. Look at Nigeria and see what the devil has made. Nigeria has good laws but no one enforces them.

As pointed out in the lecture on international relations, the international arena is jungle where the strong eat the weak. Therefore, we must have a strong military to have a balance of power with our neighbors hence deter them from attacking us.

Unfortunately, those we hire to protect us can also abuse us. We give the police and military weapons with which to protect us. We all know how the police abuse their positions by using guns to extort bribes from Nigerians. We all know that the military intervened in our politics and seized power. We have pointed out Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu’s illegal seizure of power in1966, thus initiating military miss rule of Nigeria.

It would be nice to say that the military ought not intervene in politics, but that is an idealistic statement. The fact is that as long as the military has guns that it is always tempted to intervene in politics and rule through the barrel of guns.

A good society must find mechanisms to prevent the military from intervening in politics. We hire the military to protect us, and the world being what it is, a dangerous place, we cannot do without them.

We must, therefore, incorporate the military into governance. In one of his exuberant writings, Nnamdi Azikiwe talked about what he called Diarchy (the man liked to invent his own words), a situation where the military becomes part of the government. I do not think that we need to do that. What we need to-do is do what they do in Britain and the USA and consciously cultivate respect for the military and use it as training ground for political leadership.

In my view, no one should contest elections in Nigeria without first serving in the military for at least two years. If one is under age 65, one ought to belong to a reserve military unit, National Guard, and continues receiving military training. The military trains for leadership.

Exposing all men to military service intertwines the military with political leaders, without the military becoming directly involved in ruling the country. The military must indirectly be involved in ruling the country; it does so if all leaders are ex military and hence subject to military influence.

Real politics dictates that we pay the chap welding guns well if we do not want him to turn his guns at us. The military ought to be well paid. Moreover, the military ought to get most of their budgetary requests.

I personally want a strong Nigerian, and eventually a strong African military. Our military must have the best weapons available in the world. In fact, in the not too distant future, I want nuclear weapons for Nigeria. As long as White men have nuclear weapons, they will use them to intimidate black men.

White men tend to act as terrorists and use their overwhelming power to threaten blacks, to harm or kill them if they do not do as asked, obey whites. To avoid white terrorism, we need a strong military. We need all the equipment our white enemies have. But I am a realist and know that this situation isn’t going to happen soon. First things first, restructure Nigerian realistically, along ethnic lines and have a strong central government and develop the Nigerian economy.

We all know what the military is. We have lived with them since 1966 when they intervened in our politics. No Nigerian is a stranger to soldiers. But for the sake of academics let me say a few things about the Nigerian military.

Nigeria came into being when the British embarked on ruling us. Prior to establishing the Nigerian polity, the British squabbled with the French, competing with them as to who should exercise control over the territory that eventually became Nigeria.

The British recruited Africans into the military and officered them with Britons. This was called the West African Frontier Army. They were mostly composed of Hausa soldiers.

Hausa soldiers were used to taking orders from authorities and the British were more comfortable with them than with the Igbos who insisted on near wild independence and resisted organized authority.

With the West African Frontier Army, Lord Lugard marched through Nigeria, pacifying the lower Niger. Along the line, 1902, he destroyed the Arochukwu oracle that insisted on slavery. The Aro had utilized their false god in subjugating Alaigbo. Upon destroying the long juju of Arochukwu, the British easily conquered Igboland.

The Nigerian Army grew from this small force hastily put together by the British to fight off the French and eventually to subdue hostile African tribes.

During the First World War, the British increased the number of Africans in the Royal Nigerian Army, to help them prevent Germany from attacking Nigeria from Cameroon and Togo, near by German colonies. Ultimately, the British fought with the local German garrison in these African countries, defeated them and took over governing the area. These were really not real wars, just skirmishes.

A small Army existed to help the colonialists rule Nigeria. Then the second world came along and the British recruited quite a few Nigerians into their Army. These folks were used for guard duties, some as far away as North Africa. When the war ended, most of these African service men were demobilized and Britain retained a handful army in Nigeria.

In 1960, Nigeria gained her independence from Britain. Nigeria had a small army, less than ten thousand men. As far as armies go, this is not even an army, just a couple divisions. A typical army is over 100, 000 men.

The structure and training of the Nigerian army was like the British army. In fact, many of the officers were trained at Britain’s prime institution for trainings its officers, Sandhurst (the equivalent of the American West Point, in New York).

The organization of the Nigerian military is as follows: the lowest soldier is a private. Usually, he has about three months of boot camp training to transform him into a soldier. He then begins his service in the military and progresses upwards. If he is good, he is promoted to non-commissioned officer status, beginning as lance corporal, then to corporal, to sergent, to staff sergeant, to company staff sergeant, to regimental staff sergeant. His career essentially ended with that rank: RSM.

If the would be soldier has secondary school education he could be recruited into the officers class and trained to become an officer, at the officer academy. It usually took four years to complete the training, which gives the man the equivalent of bachelor’s degree in a university. While in training he is called a cadet. Upon commission, he is called second lieutenant. He leads a platoon (22 men). If he is good, he rises in leadership ranks and is promoted to full lieutenant, then to captain (commands a company, usually 100 men), then to major, then Lieutenant colonel (commands a battalion, 1000 men) and then colonel. Here he ends his career as a junior officer.

Very few officers make it to senior officer status, for that requires political skills as well as military skills. Generally, politicians, the head of state, the Commander in Chief, are involved in appointing generals. Any way, the successful colonel is promoted to brigadier (brigadier general, in America, one star general), then to major general (two stars), then lieutenant general (three stars) and finally to full general (four stars). There the typical general ends his carrier.

A major general leads a division. A full general leads an army (many divisions). One of the generals is made the chief of general staff, coordinating all the other generals,’ divisions and armies.

The chief of staff works with the civilian minister of defense, so he must be politically savvy, know how to keep quiet and listen to his civilian masters. If there is a major war, a few generals may be promoted to five star generals (field marshals).

The military has three branches, army navy and air force. The ranks in the other two branches correlate with what we have just narrated except that the names may change, private may be called seaman/ensign, general may be called admiral (or air marshal in the air force), you get the idea.

The military that Nigeria inherited from the British was well trained. It was probably as good as the British army itself? The manner in which Nigerian officers executed the civil war (1967-70) tells one that they knew what they were doing. Their tactical and strategic planning was as good as found in the US army. Even their discipline appeared good enough, though not as good as in the Prussian army. (I take interest in military strategies. I like to know why Napoleon, or Nelson or Molkte or Montgomery, or Patton, Romel, or Zukov did what they did; what blunder made Von Paulus allow himself to be encircled by the Russian army at Stalingrad, why was he unable to break out? Clautzwitz in On War observed that war is politics by other means. I say that Politics is war by other means.)

The military ruled Nigeria from 1966 to 1979 when Obasanjo handed power to Shahu Shagari. In 1984, the military returned to power via Buhari and Ideagbo. Ibrahim Babangida, then came to power. There was the civilian rule of Shonikan before Abacha put the man out of his misery. Abacha died in office and his second in command, General Abdul Salami took over. This man wrote a constitution for Nigeria and had elections and made general Obasanjo a civilian-military President of Nigeria.

(As already observed, I believe that only former military officers ought to be in politics, so I do not regret Obasanjo’s rule. However, I regret his lack of vision and plan for what he wants to accomplish in office.)

In all human polities, the military are powerful behind the scene. Nigeria is no exception. If the present government continues to be as corrupt as it is, it is quite likely that the military will return to power in Nigeria. My prediction is that if the next civilian government continues the tradition of corruption that Nigerians would be so fed up that they would welcome a young colonel taking over power. May be this time we shall be lucky and find a real nationalist in uniform and he transforms Nigeria.

The military has many uses. Nigeria is a multi ethnic country; military experience and its building of spirit d’ corps tends to inculcate a sense of one Nigeria in military personnel. In that sense, the military is a useful instrument in making Nigeria a unified polity.

Military men tend to be posted to all parts of the country and get to see how others live and develop respect for them. In fact, many military men marry from outside their tribes. As I pointed out elsewhere, Nigerians ought to be encouraged to marry outside their ethnic groups. This makes for national feeling.

All said, the military is a positive force in the country. All Nigerian males ought to be trained in the military and required to serve two years (after schooling, of course, if schooling ends with bachelors degree, one goes into the military right away for two years, if it ends with a four year technical training, one goes into the military right away and serves two years).


In our interconnected world, businesses know no borders. They go wherever they can make profits. This phenomenon will rise in the future when borders break down, as they are bound to break down. The borders have already been put aside in Europe, meaning that any business from anywhere in European can expand to anywhere in Europe.

The future holds more, not less transnational corporations.

Nigeria really does not have many MNCs. Nigeria essentially has oil. Therefore, MNCs into the oil business are found in Nigeria. Shell, BP. Texaco, Mobil AGIP etc are found in Nigeria. These explore for oil and eventually mine them and ship the crude to overseas and sell them. They pay Nigeria royalty.

Nigeria’s revenue comes almost exclusively from oil (at least 90%…this is an absurdity for when oil goes missing Nigeria goes broke; the rulers of that kleptocracy should have struggled to diversify the economy).

Nigeria is a mono-economy. The cash crops that she used to export (cocoa, Palm oil, Palm kernel etc) are now neglected. Even such possible alternative source of energy as coal is untapped.

Obviously, Nigerians rulers do not have brains. A reasonable person does not put all his eggs into one basket; he diversifies his source of income.

There are other MNC such as what remains of the Royal Niger Company, today’s United Africa Company, UAC (it operates super stores like Kings ways). There are some MNCs involved in telephone and so on.

For our present purposes, the relevant point is to know what MNC do in third world countries. These American and European companies have the resources to bribe and even topple African governments. We have noted that Nigeria relies almost exclusively on oil revenue. That means that oil companies like Shell and BP literally control the Nigerian economy. These people have the resources to bribe military officers to remove civilian governments that they do not like.

If the government engages in policies that MNCs deem detrimental to their pockets they know what to do. First, try carrot and if talking fails, you contact the homeboys, the CIA etc and have them do their thing, remove the non-complaint African government. The role of the CIA in killing Patrice Lumumba and other African leaders is yet to be fully documented. But such is life.

If you are in politics, you must anticipate that foreigners are trying to eliminate you, especially if you truly work for your people’s interest and not for Western interests.

We can talk about the specifics of what MNC’s do in Nigeria and Africa but that is not possible in our one-hour lecture. Suffice it to say that these business corporations are so powerful that they participate in governing African and third world countries. Hence we regard them as extra legal governments in third world countries, just as religious and military leaders are.

We do not need to moralize about reality. Politics is war by peaceful means. Westerners are at war with Africans and African politicians ought to know that fact and prepare to checkmate the Western warriors in their midst. It is childish to pretend that we do not know that the West wants to make profits at our expense. Our goal ought to be to do to them as they do to us, no personal feelings.

MNCs possess a lot of technical expertise we need. We need to understudy their business and technical practices and when we master them replace them with African managers. But do not replace whites with unqualified Africans. Instead, have Africans work their way up, from the bottom of the ladder and when they know what they are doing, then have them replace foreign managers.

We cannot make the mistake of nationalizing MNCs and give them to green, inexperienced Africans to manage. If we do so, those companies would collapse from poor management.

Management is acquired slowly through understudying experienced managers. Learn what they know before you attempt to get rid of them. In fact, do not get rid of them, form partnerships with them.


In this lecture, I have pointed out that whereas the people have formal leaders that, in fact, there are informal leaders that are as powerful as formal leaders. This phenomenon occurs everywhere in the world.

The military, religious groups and big business tends to play roles in governing the human polity. In America, a chief executive officer of General Motors once said that what is good for GM is good for America. American politicians and appointed secretaries of government departments tend to come from business backgrounds. There is a lot of influence from the business sector in the public sector. President Dwight Eisenhower, in his departing speech, warmed of the military industrial complex, the fact that military, and businessmen increasingly rule America. What else is new? This is reality all over the world. All we can do is building in checks and balances to protect the interests of the common man.

The military and successful businessmen usually rule the human polity. Such is political reality and we need not cry about it.

We need a lot more relationship between the military and business and political leaders in Nigeria, not less. We need to cooperate with religious leaders and nevertheless avoid theocracy. We must relate to religious leaders and take their views into making policies, particularly in the sphere of ethics and morality.

Ozodi Thomas Osuji

October 22, 2005

Next lecture, #19, Nigeria and the Business world, October 23

Posted by Administrator at October 21, 2005 12:42 PM


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