Flush out terrorists, make Nigeria safe again

Recent reports of Jihadi fighters occupying portions of Nigeria’s Northwest portend an escalation of insecurity, a menace the country has grappled with for over a decade without much success. The government should liaise with security operatives to quickly investigate the reports to prevent another major insurgency in the Northwest, which is already ravaged by banditry and terrorist activities. Ashes of Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast are still smouldering, with last week’s suicide bombings in Gwoza, Borno State, that claimed more than 20 lives, according to a military source. Simply put, the battle against terrorism is not over and we cannot allow a resurgence.
  
The Associated Press (AP) reported that Jihadi fighters, who had operated in the Sahel have now migrated into Nigeria from neighbouring Benin Republic, in search of wealthier West African Coastal nations. The fighters, who are believed to be linked to al-Qaida, are said to have quartered at the Kainji Lake Park. The Park, a once flourishing 3,500-square kilometre tourism haven in Niger State, is now reported to be deserted for more than one year due to insecurity.
 
The report is further corroborated by other international and local media, with video evidence of suspected Islamic fighters hanging out and milling around unchecked. Natives and locals are said to be helpless with many abandoning their businesses and homes.
 
The Tinubu government should go beyond vows and vague statements to tackling the menace headlong and proffering measurable timelines. President Tinubu has repeated the desire of the government not to slow down until insecurity is eliminated. He spoke when he declared open the North-west Peace and Security Summit held in Katsina. The summit had the theme: “Regional Cooperation for Securing Lives and Livelihoods in North-west Nigeria,” put together by the North-west Governors’ Forum in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
  
The President reported at the summit that the strategy put in place to address insecurity in the country “has begun to provide redemption.” That assertion is contestable, going by regular news reports of insurgency attacks.  There cannot be redemption when farmers are being daily chased out of their farms by terrorists and bandits, with communities repeatedly invaded and hapless citizens carted away for ransoms. The unprecedented high food inflation is easily traced to a lack of security in traditional farming communities.
 
On Sunday, June 9, over 50 people, including four policemen and two members of the state-owned security outfit, Community Watch Corps (CWC), were reported killed in coordinated attacks in five communities of Kankara Local Government Area of Katsina State. The President condemned the attacks, but that added no value to anti-terrorism campaign.
   
The government must go beyond routine condemnation to actual prevention before killings and attacks are launched. President Tinubu should be reminded that insecurity is worsening under his watch while his administration proclaims victory that has not been achieved.
   
According to SBM Intelligence, within the first 45 days of this government, 600 people were killed across the country by bandits, terrorists, robbers and ethnic militias. Within the first three months of 2024, Amnesty International (AI), using data analysis done by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), reported that 2,336 people were killed in various attacks across the country. The implication is that there remains a lot of work to do concerning making the country safe for citizens and attractive to foreign investors.
  
So far, there is little to show that this government has adopted a different security approach from that of the government that preceded it. In eight years, security worsened under All Progressives Congress (APC) government of General Buhari. In 2014/2015 presidential campaigns, the APC promised to vanquish insurgency in a matter of months. But the menace spread from Northeast and has hibernated in the Northwest in the form of banditry and kidnapping. It soon engulfed the North-central, from where it suffocated the entire country. Yet, the defence budgets rose steadily from the N443.1 billion in 2016 to N1.248 trillion in 2023, according to the Budget Office, in addition to the $1 billion government appropriated from the Excess Crude Account in 2018.
   
Yes, the Tinubu government “inherited security compromises, historic injustices and institutional frailties”, as it lamented in Katsina. But that is another episode of lamentation afflicted communities cannot take to the bank, or to their homes and farms. It is high time government outgrew blame game and tackle insecurity as was promised during the 2023 campaigns. As candidate in the 2023 presidential election, Tinubu promised to end insecurity as the economy could not thrive in an insecure environment. He boasted he would apply the same approach he used in Lagos.
    
He said: “I used the same approach to tackle the bad security situation that faced me when I became governor of Lagos. I created programmes and institutions to solve the real and dangerous challenges Lagos faced. I shall increase security personnel and better equip them. Advanced air and ground surveillance technology will identify, track and attack the criminals until they are utterly defeated.”
 
Talk is cheap. The government should walk the talk. The challenge is grim, just as the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Sa’ad Abubakar 111, warned at the Northwest summit, that it might take decades to get out of banditry and terrorism. If that happens, what will remain of the country is anybody’s guess.
  
It is generally agreed that security is local. President Tinubu should recognise the urgent need to return the country to its original federal structure and allow states and geo-political areas to manage regional security, instead of appropriating and wasting huge federal budgets but achieving little under a humongous security architecture.
 
To be continued tomorrow.  

The post Flush out terrorists, make Nigeria safe again appeared first on Guardian Nigeria News.

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