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Home News Counter-terrorism: Nigeria needs strategy overhaul!, By Abiodun Komolafe 

Counter-terrorism: Nigeria needs strategy overhaul!, By Abiodun Komolafe 

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Counter-terrorism: Nigeria needs strategy overhaul!, By Abiodun Komolafe 

As of today, the basic problem with Nigeria on the war against terrorism is that she is following a defective strategic front. This is what the situation is and it is very sad! All the empirical evidence in the last ten or so years have shown that Nigeria has been following a wrong policy in her counterterrorism warfare and all eyes can see it. The problem is that we are fighting unconventional warfare in which our security forces are not trained in terms of equipment, strategy and mindset. To get things right, the reboot must start from the military academy and the method of recruitment, for the people who are recruited to fight unconventional warfare might not be exactly the same as those who are recruited to fight conventional warfare. In other words, it is a multidimensional problem which must start from the military and its structure.

For Nigeria, her problem with terrorism dates back to the Maitatsine Riots of the early 1980s, during the Shehu Shagari era. A Judicial Enquiry was set up and its Report was prophetic. For example, it saw the plans being developed and suggested ways of ameliorating the social crisis which was bound to get deeper. Had the Judicial Report on the Maitatsine Risings been taken seriously and implemented, starting from the time of Shagari, Nigeria would most certainly not have gotten to where she is at the moment, if not nipped in the bud. It’s not possible! But the political will, even the interest, was not showing. That’s why we are now spending about 20% of our national budget on something that was preventable. Regrettable, there is no end in sight! It is now inevitable for Nigeria to go back to the Maitatsine Report if she must find a solution. It is important dear fatherland learns from other places about how to prevent a never-ending war by engendering an effective Defence Budget.

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In 1959, General Dwight Eisenhower in his last major speech as President of the United States of America warned about the entrenchment of a military industrial complex. Of course, Eisenhower’s warnings foretold the future. Unfortunately, Nigeria is among the countries that are currently bearing the brunt of not taking his forebodings about the future seriously. The fact of the matter is that the military industrial complex, once entrenched, becomes self-perpetuating, leading to ever-increasing Defence Budgets and never-ending wars. President John. F. Kennedy, who succeeded Eisenhower, took the warning seriously by appointing Robert McNamara, the then Chief Executive Officer of one of the world’s largest corporations, Ford Motors, as his Defence Secretary. McNamara’s job was to devise and implement Planning, Programming, Budgeting Systems (PPBS) in order to streamline the Defence Budgeting System, eliminate waste and duplication and make it more effective.

In 1983, President Shagari, in his 2nd Term, brought in the late Omowaye Kuye as Director of Budget to work out a PPBS across the board, not just for the military but also Housing, Health, Roads and other sectors. Sadly, that regime did not last 100 days! Basically, if Nigeria is to avoid the trap of a never-ending terror war, it’s time she devised her PPBS in order to have a more cost-effective Defence Budget which will at the same time robustly tackle terrorism. There is no alternative! The PPBS should also be applied to all the internal security mechanisms: Military, Police, Civil Defence, Intelligence Agency, even Customs Service.

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That 287 innocent schoolchildren could be kidnapped from a school and Nigerians are moving on as if nothing has happened is not only surprising but also infuriating. So, where are the Emirs and why are they keeping silent in the face of a deep cavity in their region’s future? For God’s sake, is there something the suffering masses need to know which successive governments have been keeping away from us? By the way, who says Kuriga cannot happen to the Southwest and who says Ekiti cannot resurrect, especially in the region’s low-hanging states? In rebooting therefore, it’s better for other regions to learn fast and get fully prepared. Since it may not be politically expedient to hire mercenaries, Nigeria must develop and equip Special Forces with the fierce urgency of now even as technology such as sensors, drones, aerial surveillance systems, magnetics and artificial intelligence must not only be incorporated but also be at the heart of the reevaluation of the Defence package. Data scientists and forensic experts such as industrial chemists, biochemists and others in that mould must also be incorporated into the heart of the new strategic framework.

Nigeria has to start anew as she has already fallen into a trap. Those in authority are well-advised to move into the realm of critical thinking and take more than a cursory look at the magnificent works of the past such as the former Commander of the British Land Forces, Lt. General Frank Edward Kitson’s path-breaking ‘low intensity operations’. Originally published in 1979, about 17 contemptuous chapters of Kitson’s work are still not published and that’s on the orders of successive British governments, for it gives a valuable insight into the nature and strategies of the anti-insurgency warfare.

Throughout history, once policy is not separated from procurement, a never-ending war becomes an option because some people are bound to benefit from the spoils of a failed system. Tragically too, the more out-of-school children the country produces, the more it continues to feed the war machine because those untrained and uncatered-for children are ready recruits. Since counterinsurgency war in Nigeria has become as big a business as the Ministry of Works, the country must reevaluate its spending pattern if it must make headway. Feeding the procurement machine without working out the strategic imperative can only be likened to moving amiss. So, Nigeria must embrace a collective sense of responsibility and countermeasure devoid of ethnic and other primordial sentiments if she is to make any gains in the onslaught on the blood money merchants.

One advantage that Nigeria has today is that she has as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces a man who came into office from the managerial background. So, President Bola Tinubu must see the current war against terrorism and banditry as a crisis of project management and strategy. Thus, Nigerians expect Tinubu as a proven manager of men and resources to deploy his proven managerial skills which he demonstrated as governor of Lagos State into the war against terrorism and let the madness come to an end now.

Well, yours sincerely has never been an apostle of the declaration of a state of emergency because its usefulness has not been felt in Nigeria. The more reason the presidents has Tinubu also has to up his game for Nigerians will be disappointed if he goes the Muhammadu Buhari way. At a time like this, Nigerians need clarity on some burning issues and the national government needs to communicate to Nigerians but it seems as if the president’s men are not looking in that direction. The notorious truth is that we can’t keep talking about attacking insecurity in Nigeria without building trust and this is where sincerity of purpose on the part of the government is most useful. So, the president has to recalibrate his plans. He also needs to change his style, if need be. Tinubu will do well by suspending other not-so-important engagements for decisive decisions that will make his regime different from his predecessors. Nigeria is burning and the president needs to reassure Nigerians that he is up to the task. In sane climes, the police and army chiefs would have long relocated to the forests to rescue the victims.

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!

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