23 September 2012

Nigeria: Stop Attacks on Telecom Sites


Just when residents started getting some relief from terrorist activities in the north, several telecommunication sites were systematically attacked and destroyed. Only recently, gunmen attacked MTN, Airtel and Visafone sites in Zaria, Kaduna State, and in Mubi, Adamawa State. There are fears that the ugly trend will continue.

This critical infrastructure must be protected at all cost. It is worrisome that these telecom sites are vulnerable because most of them are located in remote areas in all parts of Nigeria. The clear and present danger is that the attacks may spread to other parts of the country.

Already, we have started witnessing poor services from the telecom providers. If we cannot communicate with each other, conduct business transaction or surf the internet, all the gains of the so-called telecommunication revolution would come to naught. Nobody stands to gain from this - terrorists and non-terrorists alike.

Since the beginning of the war against terrorism in the country, the wrong strategies have been applied: they have been reactionary, not proactive. We wait for things to happen; then, we make a lot of fuss and noise and promise that it will never happen again. It happens again and we follow the same procedure. This is frustrating. Thousands of lives have been wasted and billions of naira worth of goods have been destroyed, yet the end is not in sight.

A few weeks ago, the federal government announced a change in strategy in the fight against terrorism: it declared it would go after the sponsors and financiers. By now, some positive signs ought to have appeared, but, instead, the terrorists have devised new strategies with more devastating effects.

What has happened to the N1trillion budgeted for security this year? The police, armed forces and the intelligence community under the direction of the National Security Council should fashion out a holistic strategy that will check this terrible development.

Protection of telecommunication infrastructure in the country must not be toyed with. Soldiers should secure them and conduct air patrol with helicopter gunships to ensure that optic fibre routes are not attacked. If need be, we can seek the assistance of countries that experience similar security challenges.

Above all, we must begin to address the socio-economic problems of this country: massive corruption, inequitable distribution of wealth, high unemployment rate, crumbling and decaying infrastructure, high inflation and a traumatised national psyche. In governance and statecraft, we must put the people first: they are the heart and soul of the nation.

To effectively fight terrorism, the people must stand behind the government. By the same token, the government must continue to show great concern for the good people of this country. The terrorists themselves should realize that there cannot be winners in any violent struggle.

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