by Femi Owolabi and Ize Adava
Are these contradicting decisions reached based on passion, sentiments or military intelligence?
The other day, President Jonathan said Boko Haram are ghosts. Before that, he said Boko Haram are in his cabinet. And when the option of amnesty first came, he shut his ears. Government won’t negotiate with terrorists. Soon, he okayed the amnesty idea and set up a committee to work on it. The committee is yet to come with a report, however, President Jonathan has declared a state of emergency in three affected states. And one asks; what was the cumulative effect of the state of emergency once declared in some selected LGs in this area that would have inspired the recent declaration?
Hours after the declaration, the CAN secretary in Born0 State was assassinated and there have been explosions in Daura, all credited to BokoHaram.
There’s nothing more complicated than knowing how to subdue this war which is threatening to split the nation.
This week, my guest columnist– Ize Adava– writes thoughtfully on the matters arising.
When I was first invited to be the guest columnist, so many thoughts ran through my mind, the many columns and writers I read came to mind and I wondered how to fulfil this without obviously disappointing the one who graciously invited me to write? Then I wanted to make a well informed contribution by reading as many views on the subject of my writing today, believe me I ditched it at the last minute, here is why, I want to tell it like I feel it, akin to the man on the street, the woman in the market place, the child in school, the graduate combing the streets for jobs, the many acquaintances, friends and relatives of many who have lost one or more loved ones to one senseless killing and the many vices that plague us as a people and nation.
There are many opinions rife in the cyberspace via social network platforms and in the various forms of media. To avid readers of this column, I hope I will not disappoint you as I understand the tone and direction of presentation that is familiar on this space. I will be writing as a simple Nigerian with simplistic opinions on the matter at hand (I wonder where the academic opinions have taken us so far?).
The Boko Haram problem in my opinion has been handled wrongly from its outset. One opinion which I always refer to whenever this issue is brought up is the fact that Nigerians were told among other things that “… the Boko Haram issue is one we have to live with until it fizzles out. …” I need not bother you with my reaction to the foregoing statement when the C-in-C said it.
We have come a long way since then the insurgency grew, the losses are more and the insurgents seem to grow bolder by the day, making a mess of our security and our image before the world. Despite these, we are thriving, a recent report ranked Nigeria as one of the four major investment destinations and growth areas in the world – Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey (MINT). Impressive as this is, it is not enough to turn a blind eye to the calculated attempts by some myopic, small minded individuals who may have raised a pet boa constrictor that has grown to have a mind of its own and fulfil its proclivity.
Why have we failed as a people in addressing this issue? Why has the government failed in addressing this insurgency? Why has the government failed to assure the security of the citizens, why are the various arms of government singing discordant tunes? What message is being relayed to the enemy? Is it a stratagem being executed a la divide and conquer by the insurgents? What needs to be done to clamp down on the insurgents and take our states back, reinforce the security of lives and properties of our people.
The president’s last speech highlighted the extent to which the insurgents have gone. One question is if the government owned up to not knowing who the members of the insurgency are, how then will they be effectively rooted out? How concise is our security intelligence? What are our security handicaps? It is not enough to deploy troops, what will the troops be doing, how will they know who and where to clamp down on.
This brings to fore my concern on human rights issues in the troubled regions that may be perpetuated by the military ‘in line of duty.’ How do we know that whoever bears the brunt of military actions rightly deserves it? How do we ensure that collateral damages do not overwhelm the actual reprisals? What precedents do we have to the efficacy of state of emergency declarations? Bearing in mind that it was declared in Plateau by Obasanjo which witnessed more acts of insurgency and carnage than at the time of imposition, what then was the benchmark for success in that? Why would the constituted government still be in force even in the face of the declaration? So many questions, so few answers. As I sampled opinions crawling through threads I came across so many ideas on the way forward rather than hitherto failed palliative measures I found this interesting viewpoint with the only question on my mind being whether it is feasible. Here goes:
“The strength and weaponry of the terrorist are,1) Terror 2) Brainwashing or Indoctrination of their foot soldiers 3) Easy Funds 4) Intelligence gathering and 5) Networking. Therefore, it is only a holistic counterattack to establish a superiority that would erode their confidence and dismantle their organisation from the core that can, if not wipe them off completely; reduce them to the barest and bearable minimum.
It is good to try and match them terror for terror as the army would be attempting to achieve as they engage them now, but that alone as an isolated effort would not work. We must start with massive counter or re-indoctrination of Northern children, teenagers and youth about the sacredness of life and massive education beyond the lies and fraud of “nomadic education”. We must snatch potential sources of blind and willing “martyrs” away from their clutches.
Rapid development and job creation must be effected to engage every idle hand. All the sources of funds, hideouts, assets and armoury available to these evil men must be traced, severed, constantly monitored and frustrated.
Our porous borders must be sealed completely. We need a lot of sincerity and seriousness in properly identifying who is a Nigerian and who is not, especially in the North where foreigners can and do pass themselves off as Nigerians.
We must invest seriously in the training of operatives in espionage to take the battle to neighbouring countries. We must invest in technology and internet to spy on questionable activities within and around the country. Anything short of a complete multifaceted and continuous attempt at browbeating, outsmarting, outmanoeuvring and out-performing these hydra-headed ruthless enemies of life, development and peaceful co-existence are mere temporary palliatives and are bound to be inadequate and an exercise in futility.”
– Ize Adava is a soil scientist, research mobilization specialist, a multitasking individual who introduces herself saying “I am all things to all people at all times, how may I be of help?” She features frequently on a socio-political talk show “Speak now Naija” on Royalfm.net and is very opinionated.