The nation may be winning the war on terror, but the insurgents are still on the offensive. Only a few days ago, they stormed a village in Borno State and killed 44 people, torched several houses and injured many. They are cowards. By leaving the field of battle and harming innocent villagers, they are apparently admitting defeat.
While the Joint Task force, civilian volunteers and others fighting this war celebrate the seeming victory, however, they must not rest on their oars. Everyone should remain vigilant. And, since the insurgents have taken the line of least resistance by attacking and killing hapless villagers, they must be stopped at all cost. Remote villages deserve military protection this time.
It should be understood that the war on terror is never-ending. Not with the proliferation of arms and ammunition in this part of the world. At a Ramadan lecture, Major-General Shehu Abdulkadir said 70 per cent of the 10 million illegal weapons in circulation in West Africa were in Nigeria. He was piqued at the worrisome development, which he admitted was stressing the military and other law enforcement agencies. Globally, about 500 million illicit weapons are in circulation; 100 million of these are in sub-Saharan Africa, with about 10 million concentrated in the West African sub-region. These weapons end up in the hands of illiterate and drug-addicted individuals hooked on some unfounded dogma.
Apparently, Nigerian terrorists have grown in sophistication. They now produce and use bombs or other improvised explosive devices as tools of their vicious trade. Tracking down and investigating the brains behind these activities have become a very necessary though herculean task. Perhaps, the authorities concerned need to go back to the drawing board to design strategies aimed at curbing this menace. The crisis at hand is probably worse than was initially envisaged. Political, religious, tribal and economic warlords now deploy arms to settle scores.
A combination of diplomacy, psychology and tactics could help to mop up these arms, sensitise the citizenry and decisively deal with illicit gunrunners, users, makers and financiers. Strict law and its enforcement will be a precursor to other long-term measures. As we have stated severally, good governance will fight and win the war on terror faster than any other weapon. Good governance will translate to more jobs for the youths, good education, eradication of corruption and enthronement of transparency and accountability. The game of politics also needs reform. Elections must be seen to be free, fair and credible. There should be no winner-take-all approach in sharing offices.
We commend all the men and women risking their lives on the war front. Victory over the terrorists is now in sight. One last push will bring them to their knees or to the negotiation table. But Nigeria must avoid clinching the gold medal in vices on the front burner of international discourse. Public funds wasted on the current anti-terror war would have been used to provide infrastructure.