There is need for new strategies to prosecute the war

After being held captives for five months, four aid workers who devoted their lives to helping the most vulnerable communities in Borno State were recently murdered by the Boko Haram terrorist group on 13th December. The four men were among the six aid workers on their way to provide humanitarian support to victims of Boko Haram violence when they were abducted by an armed group. During the attack, one of the drivers was killed and another was reportedly executed on 24th September. The whereabouts of the only woman in the group, Grace Taku, is still unknown. The aid workers were all working on a health project implemented by the Action Against Hunger, an International non-governmental organisation (NGO).

Last week, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, bemoaned the increasing violence against humanitarian workers. Last year, two female aid workers with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were killed while 26 others have been killed since 2011. “I am deeply saddened and outraged by the news of the tragic killing,” said Kallon. “Violence against humanitarian actors jeopardises access to much needed assistance for people affected by the armed conflict.”

The chairman of Northern Governors’ Forum and Plateau State governor Simon Lalong regretted the fate that befell the well-meaning citizens “that had offered themselves to serve humanity and help those in need.” Similarly, a provoked Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) called on the federal government to review its negotiation strategy with the terrorists and ensure that all kidnapped persons still in the captivity of the Boko Haram including Leah Sharibu and the Chibok girls “are rescued and released to their families.”

Indeed, after a decade-long costly counter-insurgency war, many are getting weary of the tactics and strategy being used by the politicians and the generals to prosecute the war. The country is not being served optimally as the security strategies put in place are not effective in tackling the maddening foes. On a daily basis many innocent lives are still being lost to the protracted insurgency reportedly empowered by outside support. As it is said, to defeat an insurgency “you must provide enough security for ordinary people to live their lives.” Unfortunately, it is evident that the country is not doing enough of that. The rebels are more or less still shaping the story even if the facts on ground are against them.

The prevailing despondency is exacerbated by the wave of senseless killings occasioned by free-wheeling kidnappings, armed robberies, cattle rustlings, cultism and other crimes which have aggravated insecurity in the land. There is need for new approaches to contain the widening scope of insecurity. We must commend our military for the critical role they have played in the fight against Boko Haram and in making enormous sacrifices on behalf of the nation. However, the federal government needs to reappraise its strategies and rise up to the occasion as we can no longer continue to lose innocent lives and valuable property to these senseless terrorist activities. In the past one week, Damaturu, the capital of Yobe State has been under the bombardment of Boko Haram. Even though they have been repelled by our gallant soldiers, the audacity of their challenge points to the growing strength of the insurgents.

While reviewing the security strategies to tackle terrorism and general banditry at a conference last week, the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd) noted that a nation’s success was determined by the government’s ability to guide its affairs through planning for review of the past, managing contemporary issues and articulating for the future. The government must listen to rising importance of public opinion by reviewing the list of top generals prosecuting the war.

Government needs to reappraise its strategies and rise up to the occasion as we can no longer continue to lose innocent lives and valuable property to these senseless terrorist activities