“…security is development; without security, there can be no development.” – Robert McNamara.
It is no longer news that the security challenges confronting the nation has assumed a frightening and worrisome dimension. Unarguably, it is becoming intractable by the day.
The gnawing fear and apprehension is palpable. It is choking to say the least. The menace has unfortunately become a constant, dangerous and terrible part of our new normal way of life.
We are on a daily basis inundated with the horrendous stories of the evils perpetrated by many of these notorious criminal groups in the country. For over a decade and counting, the nation is stewed in the blood of innocent citizens murdered either by Boko Haram/ISWAP, bandits, herders, armed robbers, unknown gunmen, cultist and kidnappers.
Has the nation applied the right approach to putting an end to this menace? Those at the helm of affairs genuinely need to look inward to find the desired answers.
Daily Trust’s recent report revealed that 1031 people were brutally murdered as a result of insecurity in Kebbi and Niger stated in June, 2021 alone. In Borno state for instance, Boko Haram/ISWAP has established over a decade of presence and undisrupted murderous attacks.
They have audaciously imposed taxes in their strongholds and formed a well tailored administrative structure with the appointment of a governor. Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State had recently admitted that 10 out of the 34 Local governments in the state are under the control of rogue elements.
An Abuja community for instance had received a letter from kidnappers demanding for the sum of one hundred thousand Naira per family or be ready to face the consequences of their insubordinate actions. Private homes, travellers and even peasant farmers are not spared in these constant attacks and kidnaps either. Unfortunately, innocent school children have become soft targets and items of exchange for ransom.
The ugly events of Tegina Islamic School Niger state and Bethel School Kaduna and many others are sad reminders of the obvious state of hopelessness and damage insecurity has inflicted on our society. In recent days, the kidnap of traditional rulers has been added to the staple of the barbaric acts. Report has it that 113 traditional rulers were kidnapped within a period of three years in the country. Who is next one may ask? The gory tales of the woes which have befallen the nation are mind-boggling and echoing almost everywhere.
The nation is deeply engulfed in a sanctuary of violent extremism/terrorism, secessionist agitations and other forms of security challenges capable of plunging the nation into anarchy. The number of refugees and internally displaced persons produced by insurgency in North East only is a testimony of the level of humanitarian crisis the nation is contending with. More than 13,000 lives or more were also said to have been lost in ten years including properties running into millions. With renewed attacks in Benue, Kaduna, Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina and Niger states; they are currently faced with one form of humanitarian challenge or the other.
It is obvious that the Infantry Corps of the Nigerian Army shoulders major burden of military interventions in all the rising security situations in the country. The military generally has always and promptly risen to the occasion of defending the sovereignty of the country. Therefore, they should be commended for their dedication, sacrifice and professionalism in discharging their duties especially while dealing with the rising wave of insecurity which has taken a toll on the nation for over a decade now. The appointment of Major General Victor Ezugwu as the Commander of the Infantry Corps by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Farouk Yahaya like every other key appointments made by the Army Chief are well intentioned to reposition the Nigerian Army for efficiency. Major Gen. Ezugwu was the Acting GOC 7 Division Nigerian Army, Mauduguri thus, he understood the urgency of the responsibilities at hand and the challenges to create the desired impact.
In conjunction with the new theatre Commander, Joint Tasks Force, Northeast, ‘Operation Hadin Kai’, Major General Christopher Musa and other field Commanders; their professionalism and cooperation will largely come to bear in winning the war. In fact, one would be right to conclude that the Army is highly overburdened and also fatigued. Weapons and artillery to conveniently wage the war are said to be in short supply. Video outbursts of some officers and men expressing their frustration on the reality on ground in front lines are rife.
While it could be professionally embarrassing for the military to hear and watch such sad commentaries made by soldiers, the Army could run with the message for greater performance and general efficiency. In the final analysis, the concerns raised by these soldiers are good for immediate adjustments.
They serve as that unwanted vehicle for improvements and introduction of new strategies. The Army cannot do it alone in this increasing spate of insecurity in the land. One finger cannot remove a lice from the head goes the old saying. That is why sustained joint military and intelligence operations (aerial, ground and water if necessary) are key to confronting the challenge.
The roles of the Department of State Services (DSS), the Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA) and other sister security agencies are also vital components relevant to addressing the melee.
Community related cooperation and assistance in conflict areas should be maximised. Intelligence gathered from and information volunteered by those directly negatively affected by insecurity does more than one could imagine.
Occasional aerial bombardment of enclaves of the bandits and kidnappers by the Nigerian Airforce had no doubt yielded some level of desired results with a high number of them neutralised, arms recovered or destroyed. Some have surrendered, repented and reintegrated into the society.
However, more of this aerial campaign is required in addition to corresponding ground offensive. With once upon a time assault, the criminals are given ample time to regroup, refocus and restrategise and continue with their evil business. At least a six months sustained combination of both aerial and ground assault is good enough to create the needed confusion in the camps of the criminal elements.
The audacity of the bandits to serially sack military formations and capacity to shoot down a fighter jet even in the night is a pointer to the rising sophistication of the groups. It is now more glaring that these people should be exactly addressed and adequately treated as who they are. Terrorists! The military in its entirety and the Nigerian intelligence community should brace up even more stronger with required strategy to be able to conquer.
Eze writes from Kaduna via sunnyeze02andahoo.com, 08060901201