The Sacking of Service Chiefs Will Not End Insurgency and banditry
By Abubakar Mohammed
I am aware of the fact that the security situation of the country is in bad shape. Things are getting out of hand. Both the rich and the poor are no longer safe. The northern region is now a cacophony of insurgency, terrorism, and banditry. Sometimes I also get scared of travelling, or even meeting with people simply because I don’t know who is an innocent person, a traitor, or a collaborator with the criminals.
It is a fact that insecurity is becoming alarming by the day. What I don’t agree with is that line of thought promoted by a vocal minority who said that the replacement of the Service Chiefs is the solution to this insecurity we are being confronted with. President Muhammadu Buhari is the Commander in Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, and he alone has the constitutional right to hire and fire the Service Chiefs. The President is in turn elected by Nigerians to exercise this right. The President values loyalty and competence, and wherever and whenever he sees these virtues, he places a high premium there.
No one queried the choice of the President in 2015 when he appointed the present Service Chiefs, and the Service Chiefs themselves displayed bravery, ingenuity, and courage in leading the military. Let us not forget that this Boko Haram insurgency was started by bad governance by some politician’s notable among them Senator Ali Sheriff and his ilk. Before then, President Olusegun Obasanjo weakened the Nigerian military through his policy of mass dismissal and/or retirement of gallant officers from the Nigerian Armed Forces.
He also downsized the Armed Forces and failed to do anything good to strengthen the Nigeria Police Force except the creation of a toothless sister organization known as the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps. When Taliban group and later Boko Haram group emerged, his NSA, Aliyu Gusau, we were told, told him that it was nothing to worry about. They failed to nip it in the bud and left it as a baby cobra for President Umaru Musa Yar’adua to deal with.
He did his best through the Army and decimated the group and captured their leader and handed him over to the police but the latter collaborated with some Borno politicians and summarily executed the man. The rest is now history. With our high level of illiteracy, out of school children, jobless youths, an armada of nouveau riche political thugs, porous borders, endemic poverty, failed local government system which made the government be absent at the grassroots level, and most importantly weak intelligence gathering institutions, the baby cobra which was angry because of the unlawful execution of Mohammad Yusuf grew and became a lethal organization targeting policemen and women.
This made the police to be weakened and traumatized. They are yet to recover from that trauma. Today the matter has gone out of hand so much that Nigeria has to use its last line of defence to fight these insurgents who now masquerade as bandits and criminals.
Let me make it categorically clear that the removal of the Service Chiefs will not solve this Boko Haram and banditry problem. Instead, it will make it worse. This insurgency was started with the support and collaboration of politicians, and therefore will require a political solution. I don’t care about Abubakar Shekau or Habib Muhammad Yusuf, alias Abumusab albarnawi; it is a fact that these individuals have bosses that they answer to, and take orders from. Some local politicians and international powers control these individuals who intern control or lead these factions of the Boko Haram insurgency. It is rather sad that after five years, the Buhari the administration is still unable to identify, arrest, and prosecute one big fish that is either supporting or collaborating with the insurgents.
All that we see is the soldiers killing hundreds and thousands of insurgents after which the bosses and financiers go on to recruit fresh blood. The President, to be honest, is no longer in the good books of some people so they will activate everything at their disposal to make the masses to turn against him. We all know that the timing of the kidnap of the schoolboys is not a mere coincidence; it was staged to embarrass the President.
If I can recall vividly, there was a time, Senator Kashim Shettima said heads will roll if he opens up his mouth to talk about Boko Haram. I think the government should start from there. These politicians should be investigated. The insurgency requires a political solution and none of the politicians is interested in that. Guns and bullets alone will not end this war. After all, the Army defeated Boko Haram insurgents but they ran away and submitted to ISIS and bounced back as an international terrorist organisation. The aficionados and scholars of insurgency and terrorism said insurgency is premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets (or government forces) by sub-national groups or clandestine agents.” Who are these clandestine agents? The politicians know them.
Instead of sacking the Service Chiefs, what I think the President should do is to declare a total state of emergency in Borno and Katsina States with immediate, and when I say the state of emergency, I mean the stepping aside of all democratic structures in the two states. The military should be allowed to take full charge of the two states for six months after which the democratic structures can be brought back. Former President Obasanjo did it so there it is not something new. Every indication required to impose a state of emergency is there for all to see but for those who do not know these are indications:
(a) The appearance of serious indications resulting from widespread acts of violence designed to eliminate the free democratic order established by the Constitution or fundamental rights and freedoms
(b)Violent actions causing serious deterioration of public order.
Mr President, it is high time to declare a state of emergency in Borno and Katsina State.
Furthermore, the police should be strengthened ad equipped to perform
their civic duty. At the moment the Army is the only veritable law enforcement tool we have in Nigeria. We use the Army to conduct elections, sometimes escort some VIPs, and patrol our cities. We are all witnesses to the ineffectiveness of the Nigerian Police during the EndSARS protest in Lagos and Abuja; the Army had to be called in to restore order. This is a matter of grave concern because it is not right for us to be using our last line of defence every time we have internal security challenges.
Let all those calling for the removal of the Service Chiefs understand that the critical asset required to defeat this insurgency is intelligence and not just brutal force. “No government can hope to defeat an … insurgency unless it gives top priority to, and is successful in, building an intelligence organization,” so the DSS, DIA and the NIA should wake up and be proactive. I should like to say that this is not a matter that should be left to the government security agencies alone; every patriotic Nigerian should be concerned. We must provide credible intelligence and support them in every way we can.