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Insurgency: Kukah Criticizes FG On Use Of Military Option

Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Rev. (Dr) Mathew Hassan Kukah


Outspoken Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Rev. (Dr) Mathew Hassan Kukah, Thursday criticised the Federal Government’s military option to end the ongoing Boko Haram insurgency in parts of Northern Nigeria.

Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Rev. (Dr) Mathew Hassan Kukah

Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Rev. (Dr) Mathew Hassan Kukah

He said “we must appreciate the fact that the crisis dragged on because of wrong diagnosis borne out of ignorance, stereotyping and blind prejudice.

The Catholic cleric, who stated this while delivering the 43rd Convocation Lecture of the University of Nigeria (UNN) entitled  “after the Insurgency.”

Some Thoughts on National Cohesion in Nsukka, also blamed the menace on the federal government and Northern elites.

He regretted that the insurgency which would have been nipped in the bud at its early stage was allowed to escalate to the present worrisome state.

Bishop Kuka, also noted that the insurgency, got to the present alarming situation because both the federal government and Northern leaders failed to live up to their expected responsibilities.

According to him, there was need to appreciate the fact that insurgency involves a sophisticated, complex and multi layered matrix of actors, networks, financiers and often non-hierarchical networks, adding that the first thing to do therefore was to try to understand how it works.

Hear him: “Their success often feeds on the finding and exploiting a weak state architecture, safe havens (forests as in our case here), internal or external funding, recruits, supporters, informers within the larger society, enhancing and exploiting existing grievances, real or imagined, a political message and a charismatic leadership, manipulating tribal or religious or regional grievances (read marginalization) and so on.”

“The challenge here lies in how a country plans for the future of its Youth. Youth dreams and idealism need to be properly managed.

” It is the duty of the government to ensure that it creates the environment to trap the energy of the youth and to channel it towards national development. “When a government or a parent fails in this regards, other platforms will become available, drug barons, gang leaders, criminal rings and so on, will recruit our children and offer them a future. So, rather than glibly talk about jobs and jobs, there needs to be concerted effort to win the minds of the youth.

He said “Like everything else, the nobility of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC has come under question because not only are the children of the mighty getting postings of their choices, some of them never stay in their duty posts, but pay others to simply sign a register in their names and they only come home from New York, London, Paris or Dubai to line up and collect their certificates. Adult recklessness will produce a reckless generation of young people”.

The Clergyman, maintained that the federal government could have moved quickly to create the office for a Counter Terrorism unit, saying the unit should have been manned by experts drawn from different countries with expertise, working closely with Nigerian academicians and officers towards a proper understanding of the problems of insurgency.

“This is something that would have been done with discretion given the emotions and conspiracy theories among many northern Muslims regarding the West. This should be an area for the battle of ideas by serious scholars fired by patriotism, seeking to horn their skills and bring in their wealth of knowledge and expertise to serve the common good of the country.

“We will not resolve these issues by focusing on rehabilitating members of the armed forces, terrorism is a tactic and it requires science not sorcery, moral exhortations and pilgrimages to resolve the issues.

“For a successful counter insurgency programme, we need to address the following questions: What respect do the insurgents have in the community? In order words, to what extent do the local people feel that the insurgents represent them or their grievances? Are parents in the community aware of their children’s involvement or where they stand with the insurgency? How do parents and relations react to a sudden show of wealth by young people who were hitherto unemployed?

“Remember the father whose son came back with a huge amount of money boasting that he had made the money from being a member of Boko Haram. He handed him over to the Joint Task Force which summarily shot him, to his father’s approval). Elsewhere, this young man will be celebrated as an achiever and sent forward to represent his community at the next election as a favourite son!).

“To be sure, expenditures on Boko Haram have skyrocketed in a way and manner that is mind boggling. Perhaps this was evidence of the President’s commitment to ending the insurgency. “However, in my view, this was perhaps the first major mistake. For, I believe this was the product of a wrong diagnosis, namely, the belief that Boko Haram was essentially a problem of law and order and subsequently, a war.

“By raising the bar and making this a military engagement with humongous budget lines, the government created a situation that would naturally warrant a military solution and almost eliminate the human aspect of this crisis. For, as the military pushed on with greater firepower, we saw more death and destruction. As both sides escalated their war strategies, ordinary citizens became the victims of the excesses.

“Today, no one seems to know how or when it will end. However, as I said at the beginning, there may be no clear way of knowing how or when this war will end, but we can learn a few lessons from those who have had similar experiences. To address this”

“I will use just three examples of dynamics whereby nations have managed to integrate belligerent elements in the society and build platforms for national unity.

“It is important to restate what we have said in this paper, namely that Boko Haram has taken advantage and exploited a leadership vacuum that has existed among the ulama in the north. The north has survived by drawing its oxygen of legitimacy from claims of the legacy of the leaders of the caliphate.   “However, they have not paid much attention to some of the iconic and inspiring words of advice that their fore fathers offered them.

“For example, Othman dan Fodio, the founder of the caliphate, warned his people that, a nation can live with unbelief, but it cannot live with injustice 28. Secondly, his son, Muhammad Bello similarly warned: Know also that most of the evil that befalls the state comes from the appointment of officers who are anxious to have the appointment because none would be keen on such but a thief in the garb of a hermit and a fox in the guise of a pious worshipper, Whenever I was faced with a problem in my realm, I found out that the cause was the injustice of the governors29.

“However, what I think is most important is for us to address the nature of the lessons that we can learn as a country. Of course, Nigerians continue to look up to the President and they see the persistence of this war as a failure on the part of the President and by extension the Security agencies.

In his remarks, at the event which was chaired by former Nigeria,s  senate president, Chief Ken Nnamani, Vice chancellor of UNN, professor Barto Okolo, noted that over the years, UNN convocation lecture had served as a forum for candid and cerebral discuss of topics of national and global interest.

“Our 43rd guest lecturer was identified long time ago as a perfect convocation lecturer, who meets the expectations of the increasingly demanded audience found at the university of Nigeria” he stated


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