Enemies of the state; which state?

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Enemies of the state

During political arguments on Nigerian issues, defenders of status-quo label people with opposing voices as enemies of the state. The label is meant to express a high level of irresponsibility or treachery of an individual to a binding agreement. In the ancient times, the tag was used for people who exhibit lack of honour and integrity by reneging on their vows to civic responsibility. Americans boast as patriots for love of their country, and greatly despise being tagged traitors – enemies of the state. Hence, referring to people as enemies of the state should have had a high level of stigma in Nigeria.

Restartnaija History of Nigeria


What is a state?

A state is a politically organized community living under a single system of government.[1] It is a gradual partnership that progresses from among families, villages and cities who seek some good,[2] to satisfy their needs.[3] Human beings have various needs for actualizing their potentials, self-perfection and happiness: food, shelter, family, health etcetera.[4] They continually search for means and resources for obtaining and sustaining these elements. So the state was formed to ensure wilful collaboration of members of the society towards multiplying and distributing resources for common good.[5]

workable social structure

The first element of state in modern times is a constitution – documented agreement of the people to collaborate. Constitution is a covenant of duty between members of a society to collaborate for their safety, development and satisfaction. It is a document from which government is formed as the political group mandated to exercise authority over a particular territory.[6] Governments derive their legitimacy from the free consent of the governed, which is codified in a constitution to guide the collaboration between people for common good.[7]

executive and law enforcement in Nigeria
Constitution as agreement between members of the society


Does Nigeria truly qualify for statehood?

The most important feature of state from which government derives its authority is legitimacy – free consent of the governed.[8] Rationality and legitimacy of a state are seen in the free acceptance and submission of indigenes to conditions of a social partnership. Unfortunately, the social relationship between the different peoples in Nigeria was not born out of agreement or free acceptance. “Nigerians have never agreed – or been given the chance to agree – what Nigeria is.”[9] It is a country of several ethnic states/communities who were clashingly bound by the colonial powers for exploitation. Nigeria is like a cage of incompatible beasts, who may never collaborate for development because of their mutual suspicions.[10]

Jobless Nigerians


Like other African countries, Nigeria has experienced a civil war and several crises. “These wars diminished in number after the turn of the millennium, but their chief cause – the lack of common nationhood – remains. Africa’s nation states were formed by foreigners, lines drawn by Europeans on maps of places they had often never been to. They carved out territories, cut up kingdoms and societies of which they had little idea They [African nation states] lack a common conception of nationhood.[11] The Nigerian constitution is a militarily-imposed document which did not represent the interests of the ethnic communities trapped in Nigeria.[12]

Armed forces in Nigeria
Nigerian constitution has been sustained by military force


With the colonial-imposition of a cage-like government on different ethnic states, the new government militarily seized access to people’s mineral resources.[13][14][15] Different government regimes that sincerely wished to birth true development are frustrated in their efforts to build a progressive nation on a faulty foundation. In the colonialist-imposed cage-state, there is no hope for collaboration, productivity or development because there is no access to resources. There is never a sufficiency of life-sustaining commodities because there is no access to resources for productivity. Hence, there may never be any better outcome in attempting to raise skyscrapers on a faulty foundation.


The necessary elements for making a true state are lacking in Nigeria. First, the CONSENT of the governed to live together in peace is missing, since Nigerian communities are held together at gunpoint. Second, there is an obvious absence of the collaboration between the Nigerian ethnic states for PRODUCTIVITY and development.


Who are the people tagged enemies of the state?

These are the people who have observed the futility of dogmatically holding to Nigeria’s unproductive social arrangement. They are emotionally and mentally disturbed by the degree of institutionalized injustice in the present Nigerian structure. In many occasions, their diplomatic efforts to effect changes are met with stiff resistance by beneficiaries of the unjust status-quo, or those who are incapable of reasoning beyond the theories of status quo. Also, their confrontational efforts to address the questions of social injustice and state-illegitimacy are met with military resistance.

Enemies of the state

Should the opposing voices to social injustice be ashamed of being called enemies of the state?

Those tagged as enemies of the state should be ashamed if they are disrupting a structure that was well-established for social justice. They should be ashamed if they oppose a purposeful social-partnership to whose terms they had freely consented. They should be ashamed if their opposition is only motivated by their desire to obtain shares from the benefits of injustice.


Humans have a duty to their active consciences, a duty that supersedes the impositions of unjust and tyrannical human laws.[16] The human conscience is guided by common sense from natural observation, religion and other forms of education. Noble teachings of religion, educators and common sense identify social justice as the best ingredient for peace, unity and progress. When I was sick, hungry, naked and homeless,[17] you pleaded my cause. Allah Loveth those who do good.[18]So give what is due to kindred, the needy, and the wayfarer, that is best for those who seek the countenance of Allah.”[19]


Hence, those who peacefully oppose unjust social arrangements should never be ashamed of being called enemies of the state. Their peaceful resistance against exploitative and unjust social arrangements contributes to the history of honour. Resistance against exploitation and injustice aligns the opponents with historical icons like Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther.

On what conditions can calls for justice become unjust?

When the approach used in the search for justice violates the codes of honour and civil engagement. When an individual inflicts more havoc on humanity in search for his own justice, he contradicts what he set to achieve. Therefore, verbal and physical restraints are not only advised, but irreplaceable in the call for social justice. Violence ignites the fury of the bully, who takes it as an excuse for inhuman abuse.

Hence, when defenders of Nigerian status-quo begin to label opposing voices as enemies of the state, one is prompted to ask: which state? Altered states with ordinary miracles;[20] naturally-enriched but unproductive states with heavy dependence on importation; disorganized states held down by military force, social ignorance and exploitative foreign policies; states lacking in honour and respect for human dignity and sustenance; states, whose support implies a stand against humanity and social justice.

“A society that robs an individual of the product of his effort, or enslaves him, or attempts to limit the freedom of his mind, or compels him to act against his own rational judgment – a society that sets up a conflict between its edicts and the requirements of man’s nature – is not, strictly speaking, a society, but a mob held together by institutionalized gang-rule. Such a society destroys all the values of human coexistence, has no possible justification and represents, not a source of benefits, but the deadliest threat to man’s survival.”[21]

In the end, I will rather be an enemy of an unjust state than an enemy of humanity and social justice.


[1] Thompson, Della, ed. (1995). “State”. Concise Oxford English Dictionary (9th ed.). Oxford University Press.

[2] Cf. Aristotle, Politics, Book 1, part 1

[3] Joseph Omoregbe, Socio-political philosophy and international relations. (Lagos: Joja Press, 2007) p.14

[4] Cf. ibid

[5] Cf. Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, Ed. Michael Oakeshott (New York: Macmillan, 1962).p187

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_(polity)

[7] Cf. Ayn Rand, The Nature of Government, https://campus.aynrand.org/works/1963/12/01/the-nature-of-government/page2

[8] Ayn Rand, The Nature of Government, op.cit

[9] cf. Richard Dowden, Africa, altered states, ordinary miracles. (New York: Public Affairs, 2010). p.445

[10] Chukwunwike Enekwechi, Nigerians are not DNA corrupt. http://restartnaija.com/2017/06/01/nigerians-are-not-dna-corrupt/ retrieved 28/09/2017

[11] Richard Dowden, op. Cit. p3

[12] Ogban Ogban-Iyan, Re-inventing Nigeria through Pre-colonial traditions, in Issues in contemporary political economy of Nigeria, (ed.) Hassan A. Saliu. (Ilorin, Sally & Associates, 1999). P77

[13] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 2

[14] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 2, paragraph 1

[15] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 3

[16] Thomas Jefferson to Isaac H. Tiffany, 4 April 1819. https://founders.archives.gov/

[17] Matthew 25:31-46

[18] Al-Baqarah 195

[19] Ar-Rum 38

[20] Richard Dowden, op. cit

[21] Ayn Rand, op. cit. p2