The reduction in the frequency of attacks carried out by the boko haram sect over a period of time seemed to have marked the triumph of the co-ordinated joint military efforts in the region and Mr. President as usual was all over with the Boko Haram days are numbered slogan.
My intentions here are not to play the blame game nor paint Mr. President in any different light; it’s bad already! What is more important is to x-ray the challenges this insurgence poses and the utterances/character of people in government.
The somewhat overpowered sect came back with a supposed turbo-charged killing spree; an action that finally brings to the front burner the fact that most of the responses of the Nigeria military and the whole security apparatus as a whole is far from water-tight nor properly co-ordinated.
Nothing was done about this sect until it became a monster. The very first opportunity to understand how this sect operates was sabotaged when men of the Nigerian police killed the then leaqder of Boko Haram. Muhammed Yusuf was shot dead after he was handed over by men of the Nigerian Army.
It is important to go back to history has it sets us on the right angle from which this analysis should flow and that takes me to the first issue.
There must be a display of professionalism over emotions. The need to be professional in discharging their duties would help the security forces see clearly what the challenges are, who they should be talking to, who should be engaged and who should be kept for questioning. Unfortunately, the thought of dead colleagues and quest for vengeance would do professionalism so much harm and we are already seeing the impact of this. Even in the heat of crisis, the ability to calmly interrogate, subtly manage and manipulate the thinking of a captured criminal helps in fortifying the strategy being adopted.
This is a guerrilla war-fare and we can’t expect that adoption of a convention war tactic would take us anywhere. The militants don’t have a particular way to identify them nor do they speak any language different from their host communities. The security forces stand at a disadvantaged position as they are waging war against the ‘invisibles’. This situation therefore calls for some careful management of information and again, professionalism. While we can’t rule out innocent causalities; a common factor for guerrilla situations, the need to be sure the enemy is the one being shot cannot be over-emphasised and here is the immediate implication. For every innocent person killed, a potential boko haram loyalist is made as this sect offers such a person the platform for revenge. For every man wrongly jailed, a boko haram apologist is made immediately he is set free by them. In the final analysis, the best recruiter for boko haram is the security forces put in place to fight it! Every bullet leaving the nozzles of the guns should be hitting an insurgent!
The onslaught on this sect if treated in isolation of other security challenges is doomed for failure.
Boarder security for one is a huge challenge that has made it possible for this sect to thrive. As long as more attention is paid to the bags of rice, cartons of turkey, apples and tokunbo cars ahead of infiltration of fire arms, illegal entry into the country and unchecked exit, this battle is very far from over. This is not to say we shouldn’t enforce anti-smuggling laws but that boarder security is a whole package in itself. Where do this arms come from? Where do this foreigners come from? More bags of rice have been seized and more cartons of turkey destroyed while very little of the arms being brought in on daily basis have being intercepted.
The political will to curb this menace is yet another issue that unfortunately has damped the morals of Nigerians. Do we really have a leadership committed to fighting beyond lip services? If yes, does the elitist political class have the same will?
The lack of political will has fueled other agents that by implication encouraged the insurgence. Poverty and illiteracy are two issues that come to mind. Unemployment?, you can say that again.! We may also want to begin to understand the true need for a crime database, national identification scheme and national census.
The security system also seem to lack co-ordination and is terribly detached from the people. No pre-emptive actions in any sense; all we get are reactions after attacks and information about casualties has always been in contention. We have seen several instances when eye witness accounts put a number at say 100 and one officer within the comfort of his office insists on ‘just’ 18. This in itself is so annoying and tells how mindless our security/information system is.
The character of our leadership is just one of the issues we are battling with. At times of distress, people look up to their leaders for direction and assurance. These two we have never gotten from our President. He is always coming up with some very ‘comic’ to say the least, comments. I used to place his words side by sides the Bush, Obama and Clintons of America but now I am lot more matured and realistic; I would be doing Mr. President so much disservice to expect him to either talk or act in that capacity. Apologies Mr. President
Needless to say, a lot of innocent people have been killed, more would still die at this rate unfortunately and we just can’t pretend we are making any progress. The life of an innocent Nigerian whether brutally killed by the terrorists or angrily gunned down by men of the JTF because he has long beards, is very important to us as long as we claim to be a people within a civilized enclave and not a jungle. The lives of our security officers are also very important to us; unfortunately again, they are not properly protected, paid nor insured against eventualities. These are the men we expect to protect us? Common, let’s be a little smarter.
These are issues and I am most certain people would see more. They are issues that could be dealt with but would they? I beg they are, or else, WE ARE IN DEEP SHIT!!