Fellow Nigerians, these are times that try the souls of men. Our nation faces a most severe and unfair test. The decisions and actions taken in the next few weeks and months may well determine whether we emerge from the pit into which violent terrorism has pushed us or shall we sink deeper still into lawlessness and disorder. The challenge we face is much bigger than the pursuit of office or individual ambition.
Even without the Boko Haram crisis, the nation ran itself as if on auto-pilot. The Jonathan Administration did little and depended on the ingenuity of the Nigerian people to fend for themselves and cover up governmental shortcoming.
However, a crisis has come which no amount of private ingenuity can resolve. Only government can answer this call. The time has come for strategy and action. The time has come but government has been found sorely wanting. Just as they have left the girls in the forest and at the mercy of armed terrorists without mercy, this government has left the nation in the cold.
We must acknowledge that the nation has been brought low. We now suffer more violence and destruction than many places that are formally at war. For too many, Nigeria has become not a place to live but a place to die. We must change this evil equation.
At moments like these, Nigeria needs a leadership that is bold, coherent, sincere and focused. Unfortunately, that is not the case right now for our dear nation. Given what is at stake, people of goodwill must speak up to offer suggestions on how Nigeria can pull itself from her present security quagmire.
As a party, the APC has watched with great trepidation the deteriorating state of our country and its security institutions. We have consistently offered suggestions on how to resolve this crisis. We have said only a non-partisan approach can help resolve the huge crisis we face, even though the Jonathan Administration has pointedly ignored this. But we remain undaunted.
Today, we call on President Jonathan to earn his epaulet as the Commander-in-Chief and stop passing the buck. We remind him that as the Chief Security Officer of the nation, he cannot and must not pass the buck. We remind him that having imposed a state of emergency on Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, he has assumed full responsibility for the security of those states, and that it is disingenuous of him to point accusing fingers at the Governors of those states, who cannot even move around their states freely without clearance.
Because we in the APC remain resolute that Nigeria can overcome this evil group, if only we all come together to fight the common enemy, we hereby advocate a multifaceted strategy, the outlines of which we now place before the Nigerian people for discussion and comment:
The government’s response against Boko Haram has reached a strategic stalemate – a situation of parity in impacts. This strategic stalemate is to Boko Haram’s advantage for it wins as long as it exists and continues to disrupt and terrorize. Government policy needs to reform in a few important ways viz:
1. DEVELOP AND/OR PUBLISH A COUNTER -TERRORISM STRATEGY:
Presently there is poor coordination between and integration of military means and political and economic objectives. There is currently no publicly known counter-terrorism strategy guiding the response to BH, and the impact of this can be seen in at least three ways: first is the chaos and confusion surrounding the government’s intention to explore a negotiated settlement by dialoguing with BH. One minute the government favours and
seeks to dialogue and grant amnesty to BH, the next minute government rules it out. There are mixed signals from the government. Second is the lack of use and coordination of military, political and economic means, yet successful counter-insurgency requires close coordination of military, political and economic means and objectives.
2. BUILD A NEW INTELLIGENCE GATHERING INFRASTRUCTURE:
In 2012, Nigeria announced plans for a new intelligence fusion centre to coordinate, improve and integrate intelligence gathering and sharing across agencies. We need to obtain more timely and actionable intelligence from local sources in the areas affected by Boko Haram. We would also establish an office of the Special Anti-Terrorism Coordinator.
3. IMPROVED INTELLIGENCE:
The solution to preventing, limiting and responding better to BH attacks does not lie in deploying more troops but in improving intelligence and increasing force enablers. The fight against BH will be enhanced if government focuses on these two elements.
4. IMPROVE CONTINGENCY PLANNING:
Most major militaries around the world have plans for the major challenges they are likely to face. We need to begin to create plans and conduct training exercises that reflect the challenges we will face. In this manner. Our security apparatus will be better prepared if and when a situation arises.
5. PURSUE AND ALIGN MILITARY WITH POLITICAL (NEGOTIATED) SOLUTIONS:
Boko Haram is unlikely to be defeated militarily. Most insurgencies are ended through some form of negotiation. Government must develop a strategy along the lines of the policy followed by President Yar’Adua (over the MEND insurgency in the Niger Delta) at least to the extent that we use employment and other rehabilitative incentives to separate the rank and file from Boko Haram’s leadership.
6. DE-RADICALIZATION STRATEGY:
The Northern region is in urgent need of a counter-radicalization program to prevent many more young people (illiterate and unemployed) from being radicalized. Such strategies would require initiatives to counter violent extremist ideology and create positive incentives against radicalization (beyond the current focus on punitive measures – arrest, detention and killing), give voice and representation to young people in the region, etc.
7. REGIONALIZE (ECOWAS AND AU) RESPONSE:
The government to solicit the operational involvement and assistance of ECOWAS and AU, including deploying multinational security operations across the Sahel to track and hunt down Boko Haram operational chain. It is clear that Boko Haram is no longer a ‘Nigeria-only’ problem, but now a regional security menace that requires regional responses.
8. EFFECTIVE INFORMATION MANAGEMENT AND STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION:
The government needs to reform the way information is released and managed on Boko Haram. This goes beyond official information management and government agencies to include working with print, electronic and online media organizations, and local (grassroots) information channels.
9. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PLAN FOR NORTHERN NIGERIA:
The proposed recovery fund for the North East is grossly inadequate window dressing. A real and massive effort is needed. Clearly more financial resources are needed. Economic revival goes beyond providing substantial funds – it has to be guided by clear objectives, roles of public and private sectors and civil society groups, and must include social (education, health, religion, culture and traditional institutions), environmental, and political aspects, in addition to economic issues.
10. INVOLVE CIVILIAN PEACE BUILDING ORGANIZATIONS (MILITARY AND POLICE CANNOT BUILD PEACE):
Uniformed personnel are never peace builders. The government needs to urgently involve local and international peace building organizations, including NGOs, CSOs, etc. to design peace building initiatives for the NE.
Our nation stands on the rim of crisis. A stupendous national disaster beckons. But this current leadership can help avert disaster if they wake up to what true governance is. The time for excuses and half-measures is long past.
The well being of the nation hangs in the balance. If we do not act decisively, the demands of the moment will find us wanting and history will issue a terrible verdict against us. We seek to protect this nation and her children.
We seek to establish a legacy that shows the feats to which this nation can aspire when it stands united and strong against the threat of evil.
We seek to make Nigeria a land where no one will ever have to demand that our girls be returned because in a better, more secure Nigeria they never will be taken!
Thank you and God bless this nation!
ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS.