By Yemi Adebowale; firstname.lastname@example.org; 07013940521
It was the usual rhetoric: President Muhammadu Buhari orders an immediate military action against Boko Haram for killing 65 mourners during a funeral procession in Badu, Nganzai Local Government Area of Borno State. He directs the air force and army to begin air patrols and ground operations to hunt down the attackers who struck on July 28. The President assures the residents of Maiduguri and those in IDP camps that they will receive increased protection from further attacks by Boko Haram
The Presidential statement adds: “The President has received assurances from the armed forces that the terrorists who committed the killings will pay a big price for their action. The federal government is firmly and resolutely committed to taking all necessary measures to safeguard the nation’s security. This administration is determined to end the menace of terrorism.”
Yes, that was how the federal government responded to the heinous crime committed by Boko Haram in Badu village. There was nothing new in the reaction. It was the usual razzmatazz and empty showboating. Those who approved the issuance of the instructions contained in the statement will not ask questions about the extent of compliance with the task assigned. The people hardly see results. The only thing that happens is that the terrorists will strike again and a similar statement will be issued.
I often wonder whether those who issue these statements read them before unleashing them on Nigerians. Military action against Boko Haram? Air force and army to begin air patrols and ground operations to hunt down the attackers? Increased protection for persons in IDP camps? We are simply being told that our military has not been doing these all the while. Surely, if they had been doing these, this country would not be in this mess with terrorists. Even when soldiers are killed by the terrorists, the killers are hardly apprehended. About two weeks ago, a Colonel and 20 soldiers were killed in an ambush by Boko Haram in Yobe State while another Colonel and six others, including a Captain, were killed in Borno State by the same Boko Haram. These two attacks in Borno and Yobe states bring to 52, the number of soldiers killed within June and July of this year by the combined forces of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and Boko Haram. The military is yet to capture these killers.
I thought when soldiers are killed by terrorists, other soldiers would go after them with so much viciousness. This has not happened. They have evidently failed their dead colleagues and can’t even protect their military bases. The Army has lost hundreds of gallant soldiers to Boko Haram without ferocious retaliation. This country has also witnessed unprecedented killing of officers by Boko Haram. Some of those killed included Lt. Colonel O. Umusu, Lt. Colonel K Yusuf, Lt. Colonel Abu Ali, Lt. Colonel B. U. Umar, Captain Victor Ulasi, Lt Col Yusuf Aminu, Lt. Col. A E Mamudu and Lt. Col. Azubuike.
When will these bastards that killed our gallant soldiers and officers pay a heavy price? We also expect the military to deal with abductors and killers of civilians. It has been over three weeks since bandits entered seven villages in Goronyo Local Government Area of Sokoto State – Kubutta, Ololi, Kammitau, Malafaru, Sarwa, Rijiyar Tsamiya and Gidan Magga – killing 29 people. As usual,Buhari described the attack as unfortunate and expressed government’s unequivocal determination to tackle the issue to a logical conclusion. No news yet on arresting the killers.
Nigerians are still waiting for security agents to free the six aid workers abducted in Borno State over three weeks ago. We are still waiting for security agents to apprehend killers of the Zamfara State Deputy Director of Budget, Kabiru Ismail, who was murdered near Kachia in Kaduna State.
For me, the gallant soldiers on the war front have not failed. It is the leadership of the military and that of the country that have failed Nigerians. The leaders of the military have failed the soldiers on the war front. These gallant soldiers are denied quality equipment and welfare.Our soldiers are struggling to contain the rebels because they are poorly motivated and poorly equipped. It is so depressing hearing stories of soldiers on the war front being owed field allowances.
Army Chief, Tukur Buratai, rubbed salt on the injuries of these gallant officers and soldiers when he accused those involved in the anti-insurgency war of indiscipline and lacking commitment. Buratai has never really been there for the soldiers. That is why I have consistently been advocating his removal. The lethargic leaders of the military are told to continue in office in spite of the fact that they have no result to show for all their years as chiefs. Military commanders have turned the Boko Haram war into big business. Many of them no longer want the war to end.
Another drawback to the war against Boko Haram is the persistent fabrications by the federal government that the terrorists had been defeated. Killings by Boko Haram and ISWAP will persist if the Buhari administration fails to face the reality that the war is far from over and tackle it appropriately. All the lies that the terrorists had been decapitated are falling like a pack of cards, with security agents struggling to hold on to areas under their control. The way forward is to engage mercenaries for this war against Boko Haram. The strategy for getting result is largely through aerial power. It requires quality fighter jets, quality armoured attack helicopters, technology, intelligence and quality manpower. Our military lacks the capacity for these. We must hire mercenaries to finish this war.
The Ruga Wisdom of Ganduje
I am not a fan of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State. However, I admire his recent position on the suspended Ruga programme for nomadic herders. Ganduje showed great wisdom in his analysis of the flaws of this prickly programme. For Ganduje, the Ruga programme shouldn’t be implemented in communities where indigenes are not Fulani. Yes, that’s the Kano State Governor talking. He added that the Ruga initiative ought to have come from the states and not the federal government.
Ganguje said: “Ruga is supposed to be for states where Fulani reside; you cannot implement Ruga where the indigenes are not Fulani. The programme should be for those states that will cater for Fulani. That is why in Kano State, we decided to develop a grazing area in form of Ruga where Fulani herdsmen will all live in one place and can be monitored…I am not happy with the manner in which they (Fulani) are being treated in the country. At the same time, I am not happy with the way they behave too because of their lack of education, which is gradually graduating into banditry.”
Only righteousness can exalt Nigeria. This is what Ganduje is calling for. Trying to entrench Ruga settlements outside Fulani land is irrational. All those behind the moves are enemies of this country. Knowing that Buhari was actively involved in the suspended Ruga settlement programme is depressing. I am still struggling to recover from the Ruga shock, weeks after it was eventually suspended.
Fulani herders must be encouraged to embrace ranching. This is what the sensible National Livestock Transformation Plan aims to address. Nomadic cattle rearing and open grazing is an aberration in modern societies. Cattle-producing states and the federal government must create an enabling environment for ranching to happen. They should assist the herders to establish modern cattle ranches with artificial lakes for water supply. Industrial boreholes will pump uninterrupted water to sustain the artificial lakes all year round.
Time to Sack Amnesty Boss, Dokubo
The demands for the removal of Prof. Charles Dokubo as Chairman of the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme are unending. The key stakeholders in this region are seething. This is because the programme, under Dokubo has derailed. The Amnesty office needs a proactive leader because the militants and their leaders are unhappy. This current leader has failed, with virtually all its programmes wobbling. I honestly think that Dokubo should just go to avoid another round of violent agitation.
The recent group demanding the removal of Dokubo is the Coalition of Niger Delta Ex-agitators under the auspices of “Creek Dragons.” I have spent quality time reading their grievances against Dokubo. They are making sense.
Creek Dragons maintained that Dokubo was alien to the Niger Delta struggle, stressing that his removal from the office would help the amnesty programme to progress. The ex-agitators accused Dokubo of incompetence, alleging that the entire amnesty programme had become a caricature and heading to nowhere with the current coordinator at the helms.
The group insisted that Dokubo must be sacked to maintain the fragile peace existing in the region, saying that the inefficiency of the amnesty boss made genuine ex-agitors strangers to the programme “while strangers are now owners of the programme.”
The Creek Dragons added: “We need people that understand the core issues of the programme; people that are in constant touch with the ex-agitators, it is pitiable that Dokubo’s activities have completely messed up the programme. The mandate of the Amnesty Programme remains unknown to Dokubo, hence, abuse has become rampant under his leadership.
“Contracts are now sold and awarded for projects not serving the purpose of the programme. Concubines are now the awardees. Students in tertiary institutions under the Presidential Amnesty Programme were asked to withdraw due to non-payment of tuition fees. Dokubo’s show of incompetence showed with the mismanagement of equipment worth billions of Naira in the starter pack warehouse at Kaiama.
“Our findings show that, since resumption of office, Dokubo has never visited any Niger Delta State, kingdom, clan or community. That alone tells that Dokubo cannot negotiate on behalf of the Niger Delta people. Hence, he should step aside for a more competent and struggle-friendly leader to take over.”
The Amnesty office is evidently sleeping under Dokubo. The Buhari government must act very fast to salvage the amnesty programme. Dokubo has to make way for a result-oriented person. This is the only way forward.
A Word for Governor Babagana Zulum
My dear Governor Babagana Zulum, I have strong fears that you may turn out to be a jester, considering your initial actions and inaction on the Boko Haram crisis. At a point, I thought you were aware of the enormity of the attacks by terrorists in Borno State. You once said the Boko Haram crisis was far from over because of the ferocity of the attacks and that they were now acquiring high caliber equipment like drones. Suddenly, this week, you ordered the Shehu of Dikwa and Shehu of Bama to immediately relocate to their respective palaces. Their district heads and relevant traditional title holders were directed to return with them. You also directed local government staff and primary school teachers to return to the war-ravaged areas.
You argued that if IDPs could indeed return to their respective local governments, there was no reason why the traditional rulers and local government staff could not return, adding, “We have now reached a stage whereby we must take our destiny in our hands.”
Haba! My dear Zulum, are you on a mission to endanger these people? Dikwa, Bama and several parts of Borno State remain largely unsafe. Civil authority has collapsed in all these places. Just four days ago, Boko Haram attacked a military base in Bama with heavy casualty on both sides. Early in June, Islamic State militants carried out attacks on military bases in Marte, Kirenowa and Dikwa. In May, the militants sneaked into Madu Musaha camp, in Dikwa Town around 3:30 am and opened fire on residents who were eating Sahur ahead of their Muslim Ramadan fast. Scores were killed. Dikwa is home to more than 70,000 displaced people who live in several squalid camps because many aid agencies are afraid of the insecurity in the town. My dear Zulum, what about moving your own office to Dikwa or Bama for a few weeks? Please concentrate on putting pressure on the federal government to do the needful in these troubled communities instead of trying to create more crises.
The other day, I overheard you asking for more soldiers to be posted to Borno. You need to get it right. This war will not end with more soldiers being posted to Borno. Technology, quality equipment and quality manpower will be needed to destroy Boko Haram. We need help from tested mercenaries to do these.