BY ZANNA HASSAN BOGUMA, FEBRUARY 15, 2022 | 11:35 AM
While we commend and salute the courage and efforts of men and women of Nigeria’s Armed Forces as well as other security operatives who have continuously been making huge sacrifices in the fight against terrorism and keeping the country safe, we shouldn't ignore the statement made by our governor of the growing wave of attacks by the ISWAP in Borno and their connection to the international terror organizations. For the sacrifices of our men of the armed forces not to be in vain, the nation should build a new defence and security architecture to effectively and permanently destroy the seed of terror, uproot banditry and kidnapping across the nation, we are requesting the Federal Government to take note of the Borno State Governor Prof. Babagana Zulum’s warning that Nigeria’s existence is threatened by the growing number of Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP) fighters in some parts of Borno state.
Looking at their recent growth and daring attacks on military facilities and on communities, allowing them to grow would spell doom for the nation. “With all manner of armed groups within two-hour drive to Abuja (the nation’s seat of power), from Niger and Kaduna, we shouldn't downplay this threat.”
From the government's report of the sponsors of the terror network at least 123 companies and 33 bureaux de change were linked to the terrorists. Therefore, the Zulum warning was timely and that the war in the Northeast and the insurgency in the Northwest required a new defence and security template and a proactive approach to tackle it.
Nigeria has been grappling with this monster for over a decade with an unprecedented loss of so many lives and properties while expending trillions of Naira on military hardwares in fighting terrorism. If between 2015 and now the government has allocated approximately N5.081 trillion to defence, including the appropriation of N4.669 trillion to the Federal Ministry of Defence from 2016 till date and spent $1 billion on military equipment, the template on the fight on terror requires political responses that must tackle the underlining causes of these threats.
The root causes of insecurity are rising poverty, illiteracy, bigotry, and hate, Nigeria would be able to rise again once the nation commits to tackle the causative factors of insecurity, even as the nation strengthens the security architecture and structure of governance. It has become imperative that our political leaders should unite “in order to agree on a workable agenda to stabilise our bleeding nation” and stop it from collapsing.
To tackle the problem and to ensure a lasting peace is returned to all the regions, there are s the need for the establishment of a Defence Co-operation Agreement (DCA) with friendly nations to halt the enemy’s advance, especially the nation’s friends who have triumphed over such threats before.
“Those who are fighting Nigeria are from all over the world, the enemy is multinational in its composition,” as such, we should also have a rethink in our strategies. There is also the need to create a framework for states and local governments to have their police to control internal security.
“Terrorism and other threats from non-state actors constitute a new war which modern armies are not too familiar with in their training and general operational orders. It is now that nations of the world are doing all it take to study these threats and mapping strategies in tackling them.
“The way and manner by which the forces of Taliban swept through Kabul unchallenged in Afghanistan is too fresh in our minds to make anyone go to bed with his two eyes closed.
That's why when the Boko Haram decided to surrender recently, we cautioned the authorities to treat the surrender with caution because the motives might not be what we may believe seeing from their antecedents of being slippery and untrustworthy.
It was in the height of these surrender that the ISWAP and their foot soldiers increased their attacks on innocent citizens and on military facilities.
The ISWAP were bold enough to be taxing and controlling trading in some part of the state.
Finally, the alarm raised by His Excellency the Executive Governor of Borno state shouldn't be just ignored but should be seriously taken into consideration. The government has to proactively respond with more strategic response and the military to redouble their efforts.
Currently, the recent acquiring of sophisticated arsenals and fighter jets by the federal government has changed the landscape, but there is still the need for more efforts and new strategies to nip in the bud the remnants of the terrorist group, their sponsors and collaborators.
Foreign countries suspected to be funding and arming these groups should also be identified and sanctioned while international humanitarian organizations having hands in facilitating terror activities be shown the way out.
Zanna Boguma of Borno, Chairman BECCF
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15 January 2022