• Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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BusinessDay

Victory is indispensable… But it should not be written in ruin

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The ongoing war against terrorism in the North East and the initial incapability of our military to deal with the issue nearly destroyed the Nigerian nation as a whole. But it is reassuring to note that President Jonathan’s government is fighting its way back with a relentless military campaign against the insurgents. Notwithstanding, our leaders should not be contented to resting on their oars. It would be recalled that when President Jonathan announced the imposition of the State of Emergency in the three North Eastern States of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe in May 14, 2013, the Nigerian Army’s response to the Boko Haram menace was so swift and efficient that the insurgents were pushed out of the cities within the shortest period. Shortly thereafter, the government started acting as if a mere declaration of war would totally cow the extremists into submission. And, it was this laissez-faire attitude on the part of our government that enabled Shekau and his sects to spread their wings and emerged more deadly than the pre-emergency days. Apparently, Boko Haram became brutal and well-equipped, largely due to the poor monitoring of Nigeria’s border which gave the insurgents unfettered access to weapons from outside and manpower from neighbouring states.

While the fighting rages at home therefore, Nigerian border needs a proper and diligent monitoring to avert another Boko Haram’s attempt to reinforce and recruit new members from the neighbouring countries. To check the influx of illegal immigrants and terror suspects into the country, Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) is advised to maintain the strong partnership it has already established with various international security and intelligence agencies, particularly the INTERPOL. The NIS’s unhurried plans to set up 500 border control posts with radio communications and other security equipment across the nation’s borders, as part of measures to tackle the security challenge in the country, must be accelerated with utmost urgency and immediate alacrity. Corruption, which has become a stain in the NIS’s plain fabric, also needs to be checkmated. These recommendations require full implementation in order to stem the security challenge in the country and ensure that terrorists do not continue to exploit our permeable borders to bring in arms, hard currency and manpower.

Illegal immigration must be checked as there are too many illegal immigrants posing as Nigerian citizens in the country as at today. Letting them in without proper monitoring or approval can only produce one result: increasing the security threat. In a lighter mood however, isn’t it completely impracticable to allow others in when we can’t even cater for, and supply the needs of, the bonafide ones we have? To protect citizens, guard infrastructure and reduce our susceptibility to attack, our borders’ security must be tightened.

Book Haram will surely be defeated. But, should we continue to neglect the root cause of terrorism in Nigeria, other ugly vices might rear up their head in any part of the country sooner than we expect. How to permanently nip the crisis in the bud is to hasten the country’s economic recovery; create satisfactory employment for our teeming unemployed youth, provide shelter for the homeless and the destitute, offer safe and sound education for every citizen, and present affordable and sound healthcare facilities for all. To prevent people from turning to terrorism, we must tackle the factors or root causes which can lead to radicalisation or recruitment in Nigeria.

In the meantime, victory news is indeed cheering – and that is exactly what everyone should desire – but a battle cannot be considered to have been won when people’s means of survival have been destroyed; when innocent lives have been lost, and when numerous inhabitants of the region have been displaced. To record a clean victory, Nigerian government must urgently kick-start a plan that will address the pathetic issues of these unfortunate Nigerians.

Terrorism has brought devastating impacts on the inhabitants of the hitherto a peaceful zone. In the course of this racquet, families have lost homes; livelihoods have been destroyed, loved ones have passed on, hopes have been shattered and dreams have been quashed. Communities have lost businesses, jobs and services; schools have been shut down indefinitely, countless herds and farming hamlets have been taken over or destroyed by Boko Haram while numerous girls have been at risk of early marriage. In due course, the war has totally invalidated the so-called efforts on poverty reduction of yester-years. At the moment, two-third of the workforce is jobless, and more than half the population is living in abject poverty. All agriculture, pasturing and manufacturing have been brought to a screeching halt during this crisis. By the time it ends, many parts of the region will be lying in a smoldering pile of ruins.

To worsen the scenario, these refugees (who now scatter across Maiduguri, Yola and many other parts of the country, even as far as Cameroon) came from the areas that have been neglected by the government for a very long time; people who had been forgotten by their government are now being made to bear the brunt of the government’s inaction and inattentiveness. To make it up for them, the refugees must be properly catered for by the government. It is unfortunate that by the time the war ends, many of these people would not have any home to return to; no loved ones to fall back on, while many of their friends might have been the casualty of the war. These surviving ones must be properly resettled while the young ones among them are to be adequately rehabilitated. Many have died, but these surviving citizens will represent the voices of those who went the extra mile. Their fortitude and vitality in the light of the situation they went through will be a symbol and manifestation of the astonishing power of optimism and the determination to survive in order to tell their stories.

We are in a position now to make a difference. Without urgent action to address the humanitarian and development needs in the North East, Federal Government will be at risk of failing its citizens once more. Just because the figures are looking better now should not be an invitation to complacency.

ADEWALE STEPHEN Jeffery WA