November 25, 2020

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AfricaTopForum – News Around Africa

The war on insecurity

4 min read

Igboeli Arinze

 

This nation since 2009 has been at war with a ragtag army of terrorists who have launched a guerrilla like war against the Nigerian nation.

Unlike conventional warfare, this war has targeted the Nigerian military and civilians alike sparing none of the two, Boko Haram has taken to the war to all, attempting to torture the psyche of the nation as it wages war against reason, civility and democracy.

At first, it did look like the terrorists were winning the war. Bombs went off as Christmas fireworks in the North including areas like Kano, Kaduna, Adamawa and even Abuja. Our soldiers were not equipped to face off the terrorists, Boko Haram even occupied an area the size of Belgium declaring a caliphate.

We cannot forget the Chibok girls experience where 276 females were kidnapped by the terrorist group whilst the then administration lived in denial. It was that bad.

Whilst this war raged, the likes of Sambo Dasuki turned the war against terrorism into a private enterprise dipping their hands into the National till and distributing the funds to perceived friends of the government. We were filled with ludicrous stories of how monies amounting to 2.1 billion Dollars meant for our soldiers in the battlefield was given to individuals for marabouts and a number of payouts even a five year old would definitely rule out as not required in a script to fighting a war.  For while our soldiers lacked the basic arms and ammunition, while they and other civilians died in their numbers, towns, villages and homesteads were devastated the likes of Raymond Dokpesi and co were beneficiaries of huge payouts.

Enter President Muhammadu Buhari and the nation begins to notice a resurgence in that war, with his return to power, Nigerians begin to see the armed forces push back the terrorists, Boko Haram’s Caliphate inch by inch was greatly contested, the dreaded Sambisa forest, Boko Haram ‘s Tora Bora, which many had thought impregnable was taken, Boko Haram has been technically defeated.

Kudos must be given to Buhari, just as many realistically did not expect the terrorists to give up the fighting, not with the terrorist group’s alliance with ISIS, the dreaded Sunni terrorist group that had spread its way from the Middle East to North and West Africa. The mere fact that the bombs have stopped going off In a number of areas is a plus to Presidency and the security architecture.

Again, the military has made much gains against the terrorist group, confining them to limited parts of the NorthEast region, mostly in Borno and Yobe, limiting them to hit and run attacks , the normal tendency from this kind of opposition.

Thus the recent resurgence of the terrorist group much ought to baffle the Commander in Chief. For while things are not now as bad as they were in 2012-2014, the situation on our hands now require some thinking outside the box. Nigerians all over are rattled that despite the humongous funds allocated to the Defence sector, the terrorists seem to be having a field day. The Buhari administration has spent roughly over 5 billion Dollars on security, with the failings in security, Nigerians are merely agitating about the security lapses.

But I will not be too quick to go down that line of argument. Why? A comparative analysis between Nigeria and a country like India, two countries which largely share similar challenges spent a whopping 53 billion Dollars on Defence alone in 2018 compared to Nigeria which spent 1.9 bn in that same year. Even Algeria spent 9.8 billion dollars last year against Nigeria’s 2.04 billion dollars.

But again, there are arguments  that It is not just about pouring in money- there is need for a total overhaul of the nation’s security architecture which to many seems incapable of handling the present security challenges, some have even gone further to call for the sacking of the service chiefs and the appointment of new service chiefs.

True, the security architecture is quite obsolete and requires an overhaul but I thought that had been done or was in the process of been done with the submission of the reviewed new National Security Strategy (NSS) to President Muhammadu Buhari. Much as a majority of Nigerians are being kept in the dark about its workings, I do not want to believe that the strategy is yet to be implemented and could be the reason behind the resurgence of the attacks? Or could it be that it is already been implemented but could require some time for Nigerians to see its benefits?  To the calls for President Buhari to fire the service chiefs to me may not be the silver lining in the clouds. The present service chiefs have to the best of my knowledge done very well, on what basis then should they be fired or retired? Is changing the service chiefs at some point going to cause Boko Haram to surrender and embrace peace, who knows.