• Saturday, May 18, 2024
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The counterterrorism questions and agonies of the layman

The counterterrorism questions and agonies of the layman

The Global Terrorism Index in 2022 puts Nigeria at number eight (8) among the top 50 countries in the world and at number four (4) in Africa, and the implication is that the country is ranked very high in the number of deaths occasioned by terrorism in the world.

Another statistic opines that Nigeria suffers the most economic impact in a single country on the continent – spending about $142 billion fighting terrorism between 2007 and 2019. This huge socio-economic cost, coupled with the myriad of leadership challenges over the years, is sufficient to ruin any nation.

While national security strategies are not contemplations for the pages of national dailies, living with the stalk realities and their implications underscore the imperatives to demand a better deal from the handlers of such matters because one wonders at the steady escalation of terrorist violence and insurgency and its concomitant offshoots of unimaginable proportion since Obasanjo’s administration till date despite the enormous resources and military engagement in the last 17 years when Boko Haram emerged.

Last week, Nigerians were treated to another Nollywood blockbuster when Governor Uba Sani of Kaduna State received over 130 students kidnapped by bandits/terrorists some two weeks ago without paying a dime but many refused to believe Mr. Governor or the military about the ransom payment.

Whether ransom is paid or not, most Nigerians are bewildered at how a few rag-tag bands of criminals can perpetually and indiscriminately maim, kill and almost force the nation to its knees.

One of the biggest reasons Nigerians voted for former President Muhammadu Buhari was the firm belief that he would wipe out terrorism and insurgency from the country. Still, he ended up being the Minister of Petroleum for eight years and plunged the nation into dangerous dimensions. This nation does not need a President in charge of Petroleum or the NNPC, but the people of this country beg for a leader that will go after these terrorists like Barrack Obama went after Osama Bin Laden.

At what point will the nation agree that the characteristics, modus operandi, and access to resources and ammunition by these terrorists are not congruent with the psyche of the average Nigerian?

The emboldened resurgence and persistent incursion into our communities has a deep international syndicate and super-structure bent on milky the nation to fund operations elsewhere or progressively weakening our sovereignty for broader clandestine motives, which we must repel with equal proportionate force or more where necessary.

So, the reasonings of the layman are these: what is the total number of these terrorists put together? Are the so-called hard-terrains they operate from and launch their guerrilla-style attacks outside the precinct of the Nigerian nation? When these insurgents sometimes cross the borders to neighboring countries to evade our military forces, what are the security pacts with these nations to checkmate such marauders? Can we estimate the firepower of these groups scattered between the Northeast and Northwest? Why is it difficult to crack the funding trail of the sponsors of these dastardly acts?

Today, Gen Sani Abacha’s quote that any insurgency that survives 24 hours has the government’s hand in it has become a singsong on the lips of the layman. So, is the government complicit, or are its organs, like the military? What does it truly take one of the best armies in the continent to flush out these irritants? There are so many questions in the minds of Nigerians who are losing their loved ones to this carnage going on.

One hears such postulations that since the fight is asymmetric, defeating the enemies becomes herculean, but some wonder if there are not equally counter asymmetrical strategies like special operations and covert actions deployed in asymmetrical warfare, and at what point do such elements as rapid response to incidents and attacks become the norm rather than an event? What are the clear, effective, and result-oriented strategies for hostage rescue, anticipating and proactively nibbling in the board assaults through a robust intel mechanism? These are familiar grounds for the military, but the worries of the layman is, show me the results beyond the efforts because that is why some CEOs or marketing directors lost their jobs.

So, from the layman’s binoculars, when will the nation declare an all-out war against terrorism and insurgency in this country? When will the authorities mobilise like a real war scenario, vacate their barracks, get into the trenches, the forest, swamps, and deserts, and fight these insurgents from sunrise to sunset, daily and persistent for two months, and we cannot win this battle- which is simply inconceivable.

It does amount to being ignorant and unappreciative of the work of the military, given some successes and breakthroughs recorded so far, but for a nation under siege, it is about time to shut down the barracks and go after these criminals. There are several arguments against the kinetic approach rather than dialogue with the bandits, but the layman wonders the term of reference and the take home for parties on such a negotiating table. What will the basis of discussion between a sovereign state and a band of criminal elements – to share the national cake, that the bandits should stop their nefarious acts and be good boys, or the nation pay off these insatiable criminals? The practicality and sincerity of such advice remain suspect and clandestine.

As the nation adopts the stance of not negotiating with the bandits hailed by many, the government should also step up its game to know that nations with such positions go the extra mile to deepen intelligence and pound the terrorists consistently to fragment and neutralize their fountains. If we cannot cut off terrorism financing, deal with the culprits ruthlessly, and declare outright war on the bandits, then these guys will question our sovereignty someday.

Another disturbing worry for the layman is the proliferation of Small and Light Weapons, SALWs, freighted into the country, and statistic shows that the nation is fast becoming a hotbed for such weapons with dire consequences. However, such proliferations thrive on corruption and poor governance at the entry ports/borders, or how else do these weapons land in the hands of terrorists and armed criminals?

It behooves Mr. President to deviate from the possible strategies on the ground to combat insurgency in this country because, from the layman’s viewpoint, it has not delivered the goods. In short, it has become worse from one administration to the other. Again, It was on account of this most Nigerians came all out to vote for former President Buhari, but the outcomes after eight years will be one of his biggest regrets in life because Kastina State that was relatively peaceful before his emergence became a den of insurgents and the entire nation thrown into chaos.

Nigerians have faith in this President and the present crop of military headship, but repeating the same strategies and expecting different results is a dance of shame in the market square. Mr. President should eye-ball these Service Chiefs and give a marching order as he did over the Okuama saga- go wipe out the terrorists and bandits once and for all.