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Editorial: Militants Siege: From Experimentation To Actualization

 By Tajudeen Balogun, Head, Nigeria Bureau, Lagos

The reality of the contextual idiomatic expression – ‘when stay at the convenience is overdue, infection by plagued flies is abound’ is presently staring Nigeria at face. In the past, various sections of the country have been under siege of sectarian, communal and inter – tribal onslaughts, orchestrated by different militia groups.

Boko Haram Leader Abubakar Shekau

Boko Haram Leader Abubakar Shekau

The Nigerian communities have one time or another been terrorized by the militia organizations like Odua Peoples Congress (OPC); Egbesu Boys; the Niger Delta creek warriors; Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State Of Biafra (MASSOB), not to mention the Maitatsine bloody uprising, then the latest Boko Haram’s dragged and extreme insurgency.

Two common features in these militia groups and mentioned carnage were that the attacks launched by them were shotlived and operations were sectional. This is not the case for the latest Boko Haram, which invasion was dated 2009 and cut across the states as well as geo political zones in the country.

Although, some of the groups still exist despite the fact that they have been one time or the other either been proscribed or blacklisted as terrorist group, yet cases of violent attack by them remain reasonably low. It is a contrary case for the dreaded Boko Haram.

Specifically, the group’s name was first heard in 2009, during late President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua and incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan as the Vice. Besides its ostracized crusade against western education, the bloody attack by Boko Haram is deep rooted in the politicking of Borno, its origin state.

It is on record that the resignation from the Former state Governor, Ali Modu Sheriff’s administration, the Boko Haram’s alleged financier and Commissioner for Religion Affairs, Buji Foi did not only foster a frosty relationship between Sheriff, his ex EXCO member as well as his group, but the development sent jitters into the Governor’s camp, this culminating in rancour between the group members and security.

In the end, a leader of the group, Muhammadu Yusuf was arrested and later killed due to bloody confrontation between Boko Haram members and security operatives. The fracas recorded colossus death in all sides – police, insurgents and innocent civilians.

Now began what may be described as experimentation insurgency as Boko Haram rampages, invading security base – sometimes involving arson, killing and looting of armouries. The North Esatern and Western are the mostly touched in this terrorism up till date.

Gradually, the insurgents went wild and began bomb throwing in communities, villages of the affected states. The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is not spared as series of eruptions have been recorded at many public institutions including the Force headquarters, United Nations (UN) secretariat as well as many areas in the city and its environs.

As if the group is testing its might and challenging the constituted authorities, Boko Haram added abduction to the staple of its invasion. The shocking news of kidnapping of over 200 girls of Chibok Secondary school, Borno state in the midnight hit the news waves on April 15, 2014. Perhaps it may be established the combination of declaration of fruitless state of emergency in the North Eastern states, the unyielding tactics of the joint security operatives as well as yet to be established the real and official outcome of foreign security collaboration to ensure the abducted girls were freed gave the militants the gut to progress in a more fatal and dearly dimensions.

The is evident in August 7, an attempt by the insurgents on a Police academy near Gwoza local government area of Borno state. They were resisted, but made a retreat about two weeks later and over ran the academy base, dislodged the personnel, leaving 35 police officers missing. Till now, not less than 27 officers whereabouts remain unknown.

After the weekend invasion of Madagali town, a 20 kilometres enclave from Gwoza, Abubakar Shehu in obviously what can be described as announcing actualization of an formerly experimental mission, appeared in yet another shocking video clip, informing about secession of the terrorized Gwoza, declaring it an “Islamic Caliphate”. This happened Sunday, August 24. The following day witnessed fresh engagement in Gamboru and Ngala towns in which terrorists dislodged and sent on the run 480 national troops, forcing them to seek refuge in a Cameroonian border town.

Why did the insurgents has gone and survived this long? Certainly, the challenge is not about good budgeting for the security force, rather the problem lies on failure of leadership to coming to terms with the reality with the militant veracity and subsequently a marching due and sincere commitment.

The touted stories of obsolete weapons in the country’s military arsenal is appalling and fraudulent, given huge budgetary votes to the sector. Fraudulent and misleading as the same government which shamefully wages unsuccessful war against the disgruntled and advanced insurgents recently showcased highest parade of of security personnel in the country.

If the combined 50,000 and not less than  73,000 security officers together with trucks, Amoured Personnel Carriers (APC), ambulance and patrol vans, could be deployed to Ekiti and Osun states for the recent governorship elections, what stops multiplication of these figures to the war prone zones?

President Jonathan maintained and justified that the heavy deployment were to check the break down of law and order. Which violence? Which break down in places where the majority of people knew and very very resolute about the direction they were heading?

Now, this must be said. President Jonathan should take a cue from the standard of the world exemplary leadership style. The laxity and negligence in handling Boko Haram is unthinkable. If there is a strong and radical resolve to humble the insurgents, with respect to security personnel deployment, accountable logistic spending and distribution, patriotism and discipline on the sides of the government, the security chiefs and the troops, the experimentation of Boko Haram would have been curtailed.

What is required is proactive and result – oriented actions. It is disturbing these are lacking. For umpteenth times, the opposition has offered to work with the ruling party on the intimidating security lacuna. If Jonathan is willing to collaborate, he should invite them without delay, if not, the opposition can please hold back to his strategy and I do not think people really care about this.

Mr. President, this government is yours; you take the lion responsibility for the credits and errors linked to it. Therefore, you are free to woo, invite, talk with anyone or interest group of your choice, for a lasting solution on the current national security embarrassment. Also hold Nigerians may not really care.

Rather, what good people of this country are keen about is the fact that if Mr. President says ‘he is in charge’, people really want to see that, indeed you are in charge – in the national economic performance, working security, inclusive social welfare, good investment to achieving quality education and standard public health. Nigerians are tired of and no more interested in reactionary comments and blame trading. Which are the reasons why urgent actions should be initiated against the recalcitrant insurgents. This is very important as the present level described as an ‘accomplishment’ of the insurgents stage may later become another experimentation when they surge further to achieve more – capturing of more places, banking on inaction of the government.

Still, there remains an unpleasant and emerging dimension to militancy in the country.   The formation of para military force – Federal Task Force, purportedly to be an affiliate of Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) and an offshoot of SURE –P calls for worry and questions. Some young men and women are now being trained on para military training across the country for yet to be defined objective(s). In actual fact, this security apparatus is not known to any established law as at present in the country. Even the law that established FERMA, nor its parent’s institution (Federal Ministry of Transport) is alien to this ‘orphan’ para security organ. So, the Federal government has the big task before it to do the needful if truly the purpose for the existence of this body is for the common good of all.

The danger in doing otherwise and sustaining keeping as well as equipping these young hands will remain this same manner the conditional romance began between some militia groups and some state governments in  the past; whereas, when they fell part, the weapons, the orientation and whatever form of training they might have received remain with them. This is evident in the case of former Governor Sheriff vs dreaded Boko Haram. Warning in this regards has been handed down in the past.

Finally, Mr. President should be reminded that he enjoys the special benefits and privileges not available to non, in the country including his cabinet members. This is not for any other reason than owing to the enormity of responsibilities and demands of your office. Therefore, as repeatedly advocated, you as the father of this nation, as at today, is the rallying point. So, a responsible father will take nothing for granted to ensure the security and eventual success of his child, whatever it will take. So, morally and by the constitution  specification, President Jonathan you have the obligation to check this overdue and belated insurgency. The present efforts are are obviously inadequate and uncoordinated. We must brace up before it is too late.

Re: Godwin Emefiele: A Reformer Or Conspirator?

The piece of (Thursday, June 5, 2014) in my column was with the above headline. It was actually the day the current Central Bank Governor (CBN), Godwin Emefiele resumed officially to his new office. About two days later, Emefiele unveiled his 10 – point agenda, which summarily assured would be people – friendly and a strive towards poverty reduction and alleviation.

It is now becoming clearer which side of the table the CBN Boss belongs with respect to recent Automated Teller Machine (ATM) card new policy. The former N100 ATM charge per transaction rested by Emefiele predecessor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is back in another trickish and offensive form.

The CBN, under the present Governor has announced N65 charge per transaction. The apex bank has explained that when effective, the policy “shall apply as from the fourth ‘remote on us’ withdrawal (in a month) by a card holder, thereby making the first three ‘remote on us’ transactions free for card holder but to be paid by the issuing bank. “All ATM cash withdrawals on the ATM of issuing banks shall be at no cost to the card holder.” The implementation takes full effect nationwide this Monday, September 1,  2014.

The apex bank has adduced high charges by inter switch on commercial banks on the use of the cards. This argument is very weak and lopsided. What is Emefiele saying? Nigerian banks have so many other ways in which huge incomes are made through their customers, notably among which are monthly service charges, COT and ATM issuance charge which costs not less than N1000. Is CBN saying these sources are not enough to augment the claimed charges? And does it mean the charges were not involved during former CBN Governor? Even if they were, how come they were able to survive the pressure while Lamido was still in office?

No matter the technicalities and jargon CBN brings up, there cant be justification for the policy. Rather, the emerging regime at best can be described as a conspiracy between the Governor and his banking boardroom colleagues against the Nigerian banking public. They only benefit from the charges.

Interestingly, Nigerians are dynamic and very critical people. Therefore, just like they did to – resistance to attempt by the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) to outlaw old number plates for the new, through all permitted means, including legal action, it is not impossible similar steps will soon be taken against this anti – people, retrogressive and self conceited policy.

More ironical and stunning is the fact that the policy is coming when the cashless policy just took effect almost in all states of the Federation.  So, if Emefiele is sincere and not under the influence of stone age, he should be told the incoming policy runs contrary to the principles of cashless policy of the institution he boasts to grow, hence its total failure! Even my nine years old son knows this fact, when he interjected innocently, policy will create run on the bank, thereby returning excess cash to the circulation,  while following my discussion with some colleagues on the debate.

Finally, except Emefiele is only for his colleagues and against the teeming country’s banking audience, this policy remains. Otherwise, he should immediately order the reverse and maintaining the status quo. Customers are the investors on this issue, so their interest matters and is superior to others, his professional mates inclusive.

tjaysuccess10@gmail.com; Tweeter: @tajudeen balogun



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