By A.A Gadzama
The State Security Service recently had cause to alert on reported plans by some individuals and groups to orchestrate activities that would undermine the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration. Such alerts were not the first in the life the government and not surprising since the government had previously taken against such activities. What however makes the latest reports intriguing and threatening is that they are coming amid equally disturbing resurgence of activities of insurgents and many criminally minded subversive groups to ferment public disorder.
It is instructive that the country in the last two months has also been besieged by renewed flare-ups of ethno communal clashes in states like Taraba and Kaduna, increased insurgent attacks in Borno and Yobe States and violent attacks by armed bandits in Niger and Katsina States. In addition to these threats to security of immeasurable proportion, many faceless groups have been masterminding huge public disaffection by whipping up ethno-communal and religious sentiments in parts of the country, such as the video currently in circulation threatening attacks on communities in parts of the country. Attacks by insurgents in Borno State and incessant bloodletting in Southern Kaduna also seem to suggest that these are the plans to trigger mayhem the State Security Service is talking about. The situation is further compounded by intermittent violent attacks by lawless groups in States such as Kogi.
Equally indicative of the precarious security situation in the country is the cold blooded murder of international aid workers in Borno State by the Boko Haram and their Islamic State West Africa Province affiliates recently. The recent ambush on Borno State Governor’s convoy further exposes a frightening situation in the North East. Although many people have given the impression that the insurgency in the North East has been uprooted, the situation, as confirmed by Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, the Senator representing Southern Borno, the Shehu of Borno and the Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, is far from over especially in most of the Local Government Areas on the shores of the Lake Chad and in Central and Southern Borno.
We are however of the belief that with the ongoing counter terrorism efforts, the much cherished legacy of President Muhammadu Buhari and the interest of the nation will better be served. The North East people will forever remember President Muhammadu Buhari’s achievements in halting the onslaught by the Boko Haram and the displacement and killings of hundreds of thousands of our people. Our people are however worried by the possibility of these achievements been reversed by the renewed activities of the deadly combination of burgeoning Boko Haram/ISWAP attacks and mayhem by ethnic militias. The ongoing counter terrorism efforts as many well meaning Nigerians have pointed out requires revamping in all facets. Suggestions have been made for revamping the security architecture by bringing on board fresh ideas and strategies. These suggestions should not be misconstrued to mean questioning the President’s right to decide on ideas being proposed. It is important to note that, all forms of war are won only by superior strategies and efforts.
It has to be pointed out that the situation the country has found itself in currently requires renewed efforts to stop the carnage in most parts of the country by insurgents, ethnic militias and mercenaries. It bears restating that the government loses its legitimacy in a situation where the lives of the citizens cannot be guaranteed and insecurity is pervasive. It should equally be noted that the President has repeatedly given directives and logistic support to decisively deal with the current security situation. What however is lacking is the failure of those charged with the tasks to put in their maximum best to deal with the situation. Public support of the efforts of the security forces is also dwindling.
The time to take far reaching decisions on the current security situation in the county is now. The country will be saved being pushed over the hill by immediately stopping the insurgency attacks and needless bloodletting in parts of the country. All that is required to bring the current security challenges to an end are galvanizing the support of the populace and equipping the security forces with cutting edge fighting capabilities. The other deficiencies that need to be addressed include manpower and equipment shortage and sagging morale of the security forces. As previously advised, an insurgency that has lasted a decade will require much more sustained and comprehensive counter and anti-insurgency efforts. No insurgency situation like the one we face has been successfully defeated only by the use of force. Equally important is the pursuit of a well structured mop up of dangerous weapons believed to be in massive circulation in the country. It is well-known that towns and villages in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States just like most parts of the country are awash with dangerous weapons. It therefore follows that as long as the dangerous weapons in the hands of miscreants are not retrieved, criminal elements will continue to use them to unleash havoc on the populace. A disturbing dimension to the insurgency in the North East that should be pointed out are disclosures that the insurgents are believed to have acquired weapons with long range firing capabilities. The reported firing of such weapons into parts of Maiduguri days to the Sallah is very scary. The other disturbing dimension of the insurgency is the regrouping of the dispersed insurgents and intermittent attacks on communities in the North East. These developments underscore the need for re-strategizing the ongoing counter terrorism efforts.
Another very dangerous dimension of the current security threats that should attract immediate decisive action from the security forces is the reported incursions of the Boko Haram/Islamic State West Africa Province elements into the North Central and North Western geopolitical zones. These developments portend the terrorist incursions into the country is taking a more daring dimension. These developments constitute very dangerous threat to President Muhammadu Buhari’s achievements in the last five years and national security.
One should not fail to also mention that the other collateral complication to criminality in the northern parts of the country are the activities of rampaging herdsmen in the North Central and armed banditry in the North West. The attacks are resulting in imminent food scarcity as farming in the last one year has been reduced by approximately forty percent. Worse still is the general state of siege that hangs over states in these zones. Something definitely needs to be done to arrest the drift into acute food scarcity in the country.
The current security threats in the country are ominous as they constitute a huge distraction to government efforts to provide the country with well thought out infrastructural development which is only obtainable in a peaceful atmosphere. As earlier pointed out, the determination of President Muhammadu Buhari to meet the yearnings of the people should not be distracted by poor handling of the current security challenges.
A. A. GADZAMA OFR, mni
Former DGSSS and Chairman
Of the Governing Board of National
Institute for Security Studies