By; SEGUN OLATUNJI
At this juncture of our nation, all bets are off: no more of run-of-the-mill approach to our security disaster. It is high time we thought out-of-the-box or adopted a completely outlandish strategy as elixir for our rumbustious security debacle. The outlandish approach and its strategic execution may emote the wrath of the powers-that- be and the orthodoxes, but who cares? This writer cares less about their feelings but concerns more about saving this country from the death roll of the Boko Harem’s internecine jihadist campaign, bandits’ plundering blitzes, ISIS-WA’s blood- thirsty pushes for Caliphate, and the Fulaniherdsmen’s fatal land-grabbing thrusts and pillage. After all, there is no person or collectivity that monopolizes solutions on our security fiasco.
Patriotism is not an exclusivity of any government or any public official, but a shared love, respect and support for, and devotion to one’s country which no one group or individual has a monopoly. USA President Trump, Pol Pot in Cambodia, Idi Amin in Uganda, Mobutu in Zaire and so on are instances of unpatriotic governments. Therefore, the government cannot take refuge in being more patriotic than anybody or any group.
Both civilians and the military have been senselessly slaughtered by the deleterious quartet actors of pecuniary opportunism- cum- Islamic militancy pillaging the whole country. The Boko Harem and ISIS hold sway in the Northeast; the bandits wield influence in the Northwest and North Central; and the Fulaniherdsmen foist apprehension on the South. For clarification purposes, these four terror groups are classified as terrorists because they have maimed hundreds of thousands of Nigerians, killed tens of thousands of co-patriots, deracinated millions into refugee camps, kidnapped tens of thousands citizens and pocketed billions of naira in ransom.
Despite the pervasive carnage inflicted by these terrorists for over a decade, some people are still offering apologia for the nugatory efforts of the governments in obliterating the omnipresent malignant cancer of terrorism which have triggered mass exodus from arable lands causing inflation, business flights, desolation, destruction of social amenities and infrastructures, tourism stoppage, foreign debt balloon, ungovernable swath areas, and national siege and apprehension.
Needless to opine that we cannot do reruns of the same thing and expect different outcomes. The failure of our military to permanently defeat these terrorist groups is not lack of military personnel but conspicuous deficiency in intelligence gathering, training against unconventional warfare, type of weaponry, and non-arming of the residents of the war theatres coupled with brazen siphoning of designated fund for military preparedness.
Inasmuch as the attention is on replacing the service chiefs, mobilization of farmers in the affected areas; racking up human and technological surveillances; outsourcing the military training to terrorist-battle-tested countries like Russia, Israel, USA, Indonesia, Philippines and India; procuring state- of the- art munitions; adoption of flexible and proactive strategies; the epicenter or the glue of all the afore-listed parts is the retailing of the overarching plan to the residents of the campaign theatres to execute. The residents know their terrains more than terrorists and the military. Thus, the military continued minimal involvement of the natives is at its peril.
The residents near or in the war fronts should be armed, fortified in military crash programmes and reconnaissance, unexpected raids on the terrorists, coordinated offensive and defensive war campaigns along with neighboring villages against the terrorist groups. The government may be mulling arming of the natives in the campaign theaters as counter-productive but such thinking is parlous. Awash the indigenes in military tactics and weaponry usage to defend themselves and conduct incursions into the terrorists’ strongholds will hasten the defeat of the terrorists and fill the void left behind by late arrival of our military because they are stretched too thin. After all, the United States armed and trained rag-tag Afghans with array of weaponry to defeat the Soviet military.
The enlistment of the autochthtons in the struggle to defeat the terrorists is an age- old tactic to complement standing military. Chairman Mao availed the support of rural dwellers to defeat the imperial army in China; the North Vietnam Nationalists employed the locals to kill and spy on US soldiers and their allies. The prevailing inconsequential usage of the natives is a hamartia to say the least. The military strategies must incorporate operational reliance on the natives as their epicenter.
The indigenes know the terrorists; they know the terrorists’ camps; they live in proximity to the terrorists; they suffer the brunts of the terrorist campaigns. Therefore, they are more motivated to liberate their ancestral lands than other Nigerians. Even, the displaced indigenes in refugee camps would volunteer to liberate their ancestral lands if they are militarized.
Whatever the future actions of the federal government, a well-thought-out strategy to annihilate the terrorists must be holistic, proactive, flexible and daring. The failure of our military campaigns so far is mostly strategy failure: inbreeding of ideas, lack of flexible execution, real-time feedback deficiency, insufficient anticipation of the scope of terrorist activities, inadequate training, absence of appraisal of applicable weaponry, inadequate methodologies, and the list goes on.
The focus of planning is to exhaustively consider all the relevant issues. No issue must be jettisoned because it is atypical or too outlandish! Remember, the fight against terrorism is far different from conventional war, especially when most of the terrorists’ foot soldiers are citizens. Regardless of whether our military or the mercenaries are conducting the war campaign, the success or failure of the operations is still a function of the level of inclusion of the natives at operational stage.
Failure to promptly deploy actionable plan to terminate the snowballing of successful incursions of the terrorists all over the nation can spawn national instability: new insurgencies, mass hysteria, popular uprising, coups or civil war. This is the more reason the clamor for restructuring has perseverated. Thus, the government must be attentive to patriotic advice from anybody or any quarter.
The worrisome idea of what will happen to the distributed weapons after the defeat of the terrorists is not as important as defeating the terrorists. Such a concern can be addressed through program of money-for-weapons. In the USA, periodically in the big cities, the law enforcement agencies buy back illegal weapons in their communities. After the terrorists’ defeat, we can adopt the policy. In alternative, we can incorporate the battle-hardened youths into the military. Or, both strategies can be concurrently implemented.
Failure of our government cannot be excused any longer. The slapdash and nugatory actions of the government cannot be allowed to fester. The indigenes of the war fronts cannot continue to flee their ancestral lands in millions. The time is overdue for the natives to preserve their lands and protect their lives by arming themselves anyhow, anyway, anywhere and by any means. Even if it means procuring the weapons from black market, so be it!
Failure to facilitate the military fortification of the indigenes or countenance the procurement of weapons anywhere for defending their lives, lands, cultures, and infrastructure is complicity of the government in the destruction of Nigeria and Nigerians. Therefore, the government should be wary of its culpability in elongating the debilitating war and in creating dystopia in Nigeria.
Enough of turning the other cheek. The terrorists procured their weapon of mass destruction illegally. The terrorists are compensated with rehabilitation program, enlistment in the military when captured, and appeasement in billions of naira by the government for their booties. All at the expense of the decimated natives. Why can’t the autochthons resort to self-help? All hands must be on deck to help the locals with the militarization through procuring weapons for all the adult residents.
The government must abandon its special pleadings (assuming without considering opposing view). Our main desideratum is security, without it there cannot be economic development, political stability and social growth. Without more, this is an occasion where the end justifies the means! It is not important how this insecurity is crushed, but to be crushed immediately expediently is all that counts!
Segun Olatunji writes from UniWorld Legal Services, Lagos