The appeal, for the umpteenth time, by Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno state for the federal government to engage mercenaries to prosecute the ongoing war against insecurity, deserves a listening ear as well as a proactive action. The governor, whose state is the epicenter of the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east, surely knows where the shoe pinches and his views can therefore not be ignored.
Professor Zulum presented the demand last week during the weekly briefing organised by the Presidential Communication Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. He said developed countries with superior military power are also engaging mercenaries.
Zulum said, “We want clearance of the shores of Lake Chad. Again, in conclusion, while the challenge of insecurity is being solved gradually, it is not yet over. I have said time without numbers that in addition to what we are doing, there is a need for the government to rethink and look into the possibility of hiring mercenaries.
“I have said it times without numbers, there’s nothing wrong. America, Britain and many more countries that are stronger than Nigeria used to seek support outside, there’s nothing wrong because this problem has been compounded.In apparent response to Governor Zulum, President Muhammadu Buhari said his administration was embarking on a revised approach to addressing the 13-year conflict and insurgency in the North-east.
President Buhari, who also said his government would not relent in its efforts towards a return to peace and normalcy, pledged that Nigerians in the region would, in the coming months, witness a change from the protracted insurgency to peace and development in their respective communities.
The president spoke at the inauguration of the Presidential Committee on the Repatriation, Return, and Resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North-east of Nigeria, which preceded the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The president stressed that the committee’s terms of reference entails a shift from managing the situation to activating a permanent solution for effective and practicable restoration.
He said the committee, among others, is expected to develop a concise three-year action plan by the end of March 2022 that incorporates national and state level plans, providing a clear pathway for the restoration of peace and development in the North East.
President Buhari said the committee would also develop and implement a phased plan for the repatriation, returns, resettlement of IDPs and restoration of livelihoods, incorporating global best practices that give dignity to the affected populations.
He added that it would also be responsible for the development and implementation of a coordinated peace building and reconciliation programme that is culturally appropriate and community driven.
President Buhari directed the committee to submit monthly progress report whilst the first progress review meeting would be held in the first week of March 2022.
It is instructive that last week, the senate urged the federal government to, as a matter of urgency, send fighter jets to flush out terrorists (kidnapping and killing innocent Nigerians) from their hideouts.
The call was made during plenary in resolutions reached following a point of order raised on the “Urgent need for the Federal Government to take drastic actions to bring to an end the act of banditry and kidnapping in Faskari local government area.”
The point of order was raised by Senator Bello Mandiya (APC Katsina South).
Relying on Orders 42 and 52 of the Senate Rules, Mandiya noted that the act of banditry and kidnapping had become a daily incidence in Katsina state with huge consequence of loss of lives, means of livelihood and displacement of communities.
The lawmaker recalled that, “on Sunday, 31st January, 2022, gunmen struck Ruwan Godiya a community in Faskari local government area of Katsina state where Thirty Eight (38) members of the community were kidnapped.”
He stated that the federal government had made frantic effort at curbing the menace by setting up Operation Sharan Daji and Inter-Agency Task Force to tackle cases of banditry, cattle rustling and kidnapping in Katsina state.
In his remarks, Senate President Ahmad Lawan said the repeated cases of kidnappings and killings made it imperative for the military to “wake up” to protect Nigerians. He wondered why full scale action was yet to be carried out by the military in spite of increased funding for security in the 2022 budget by the Executive and National Assembly.
We urge the Buhari government to act swiftly and decisively on the demands of Zulum and the upper legislative chamber of the National Assembly. Having failed in series of strategies to end insecurity, particularly the Boko Haram insurgency which has killed over 20,000 people and displaced over 2.2 million others from their ancestral homes in the Northeast, the federal government should listen to wise counsel in order to bring an end to the nightmare.