Writing on insecurity is one of the most difficult and heartbreaking issues because it is talking about humans being killed under the watch of our so-called leaders. Anytime I place my fingers on keyboard to analyze and put my opinion on the Nigerian state of insecurity I felt so frustrated because the country is in serious danger and our leaders seem ruling the country from another planet. But we will not keep quiet watching things go wrong.
Recently, there were calls from some security-minded people from all the corners of Nigeria on President Buhari to sack the security chiefs over the persistent increase of insecurity in the country. It is in this situation that the House of Representatives issued a new warning asking the service chiefs to either resign or be sacked, but the president wouldn’t listen to the house, the security experts and the masses who voted him into office.
The concerned citizens have right for doing so because the security atmosphere in the country is alarming to the extent that many are questioning the sincerity of the service chiefs. Indeed, most security observers believe the service chiefs have conspired to perpetuate the Boko Haram insurgency for their unlawful financial gains. Despite massive expenditure by Nigerian government over the last one decade, these security chiefs and their forces recorded limited success in the fight against terrorism and other security challenges such as general banditry, cattle rustling and kidnapping.
This kind of negligence and widespread corruption in the security sector are the reasons Boko Haram, ISWAP, Ansaru and other bandits are still operating in Nigeria. When the insurgency first emerged in 2009, Nigeria treated it with kid gloves. And Buhari has refused to investigate why the counter-terrorism in the country is failing despite the massive resources invested. Institute for Security Studies (ISS) Pretoria reported that from 2010 to 2017, Nigeria spent over N6.7 trillion in the name of counterterrorism operations and other security challenges. This amount did not include the extra budgetary allocations such as the US$1 billion the government borrowed in 2013 to fund counter-terrorism operations and the US$21 million approved for the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) in June 2015. The report also did not capture security votes distributed across the country. Despite all these, the country is failing woefully.
Apart from corruption, the country`s security agencies are not cordial in discharging their duties. There is unnecessary rivalry and conflicts among the agencies involved in counter-terrorism operations especially between Nigerian military and police force. They do have poor relationship that most a time affects the intelligence gathering, strategic and tactics of operation. What caused this problem is the corruption that affects the sector.
It’s not surprising that terror groups and other criminals found the country very conducive to perpetuate their deadly acts; they have large operational bases in different parts of the country especially in the remote areas of northern region. Though, recently the police claimed that they killed over 250 Ansaru terrorist groups in Kaduna State, the report from the said communities said otherwise.
It’s in this context of increasing insecurity in the country that terrorists attacked Auno community, a town which is just 24 kilometers away from the Borno capital of Maiduguri. The report said there was no any single security agent at that time because they ran away when they closed the entrance to Maiduguri city and left the people at the mercy of the terrorist group. Another terrifying story is that the Boko Haram has good collaboration with some of the people from Auno who frequently provide them with information of motorists’ movements. There is need to have good civil-military relationship framework to enable us bridge the gap between the local communities and the security agencies involved in the counter-terrorism operations.
For Nigerian government to win this war, the authorities must investigate the security agencies thoroughly, change the service chiefs and also bridge the existing gap among the security agencies involved in the operation. Cooperating with border localities especially Lake Chad basin areas will help in curbing the terror groups’ activities. Finally government should address the issue of explosive population growth, unemployment and climate change. These issues are exacerbating economic anxiety and fomenting lawlessness especially in the communities in northern Nigeria that border Niger Republic, Cameroon, Chad and Togo.
There is also allegation against the perfection of operation safe corridor; it is an initiative for the deradicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration of all ex-Boko Haram combatants. Communities and some top military officials are not happy with the initiative. To them, government is taking care of the ex-combatants more than the real victims of the insurgence. This generates a lot of grievances and potentially encourages new sources of violence in the affected areas.
Nigeria can’t afford losing huge amount of money, resource, lives and property because of the attitude of some few unpatriotic security personnel.
––Idris Mohammed, Department of Mass Communication, Usmanu Danfodio University Sokoto