13 July 2014

Nigeria: How Not to Tackle Terrorism in Nigeria

The notion that there is never a bad peace or a good war is true. It is a pity for Nigeria to be listed among the sixty-one (61) war ravaged countries and party to a total of five hundred and forty (540) different militias - guerrillas, extremists, separatists and anarchic groups worldwide. The crises ranges between civil war, war against rebel groups, uprising against government, war against secessionists, war against fundamentalists or war against narcotic trafficing groups.

In those days, Nigerians were fun of making jest of foreign war and terrorism news which rented the air mostly from Mogadishu in Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and recently in Libya, Mali, Central Africa Republic, Egypt, Kenya, Tunisia, Sudan and South Sudan, and so on. Outside Africa, history also list Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Syria, Colombia, Mexico, Yemen, Bahrain,Thailand, Philippines, Sri Lanker, Israel, Palestine, Russia, Ukraine,Chechnya, mention a few. Apart from the civil war, Nigeria in 2009 started facing security challenges as a child play from Boko Haram (BH) which until today uncontrollably graduated to devastate the international reputation Nigeria has been enjoying since independence. President Jonathan unfortunately inherited the insurgency from his former boss Late Umoru Yar'Adua who instituted dialogue cum amnesty to resolve youth restiveness and militancy in the treasure-trove ofNiger Delta.

In peaceful reciprocation, Mr President also needs to employ Yar'Adua dialogue/amnesty style to solve insurgency in the North East so that part of billions of naira earmarked annually for security can be used for amnesty for insurgents, so as to broker peace. Except on a personal relations, no sane country, individuals or group of investors, for security reasons, will presently prefer Nigeria as their target country for investment even in the safest zone of the South West. The insecurity in the country has turned off many potential investors from Nigeria while Nigerians in the diaspora are treated with utmost disdain. This reminds me of an ugly but a funny day in a hotel in Freiburg, Germany, December 2013 when I was chatting with some Iraqis. They made a mockery of BH insurgency in Nigeria while I swiftly teased back on the age-long Iraqi insurgence before and after the fall of Saddam Hussein. So with the unexpected response we quickly shelved the issue and departed.

My humble advice is that Nigerian should go back to God for divine intervention on the security challenge facing the country. Mr President seriously needs to convene an inter-faith national prayer summit in Abuja through Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) from across the 774 Local Government Areas to pray against the fanatical insurgency that has claimed thousands of innocent souls. Another way forward is for President Jonathan to patriotically realign with past Presidents and Heads of State specifically former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the only Southerner who understands the North since he was Vice President to Late General Muritala Muhammad in 1975 and a detribalised nationalist who maintains strongest tie with the North. To counter terrorism and guarantee maximum security in the country, Mr President should inaugurate a high-powered national dialogue committee called Presidential Committee on Anti-Terrorism (PCAT) to be headed by Chief Obasanjo. Discounting sentiments, it is only Chief Obasanjo, the Nigerian two time President who can design counter-insurgency measures in the country, if permitted.

The peace-seeking PCAT that will dialogue with Boko Haram leaders may comprise all former Presidents and Heads of State, Vice President, National Security Adviser, Defence Minister, Service Chiefs, Senate President, Speaker, House of Representatives and Northern Governors. The PCAT may also include the following geminent Nigerians from the North, West and the East; the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar III; Alhaji MaitamaSule (Dan Masanin Kano) who was the Nigeria's Representative to the United Nations in 1979 and former Minister for National Guidance in 1983; Professor Ango Abdullahi, Spokesman for the Northern Elders Forum andformer two term Vice Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former Governor of Lagos State (1999-2007); are renowned Islamic Scholar,Imam Abdul Rahman Olanrewaju Ahmad, National Missioner, Ansar Deen Society of Nigeria, Lagos; Dr Nasir Dejo Raimi, former Secretary to the State Government (SSG) in Ex-Governor Kolapo Ishola administration in Oyo State and former Pro-Chancellor, Federal University of Technology, Akure; Chief Alex Ekwueme, former Vice President in the Second Republic and last but not the least, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, Executive Governor of Imo State, among others.

Let me state that the country is presently at war and at crossroads. A war that, if care is not taken, can spill over to the so assumed war-free geo-political zones after clearing the North East as the ongoing operation fire-for-fire in the NE will not nib terrorism in the bud. If the suggested Obasanjo-led PCAT constituted by Mr. President to dialogue with Boko Haram leaders, the rest will be history.I therefore implore Mr. President to dialogue with Boko Haram members through the proposed Presidential Committee on Anti-Terrorism (PCAT) under the leadership of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, before it is too late, so that the good people of Nigeria can experience another historical 'No Victor, No Vanquished' moment as soon as possible. I further wish to sympathise with Mr. President, families of the fallen heroes and those killed so far by the insurgent group and also condole Federal Ministry of Education and parents of the abducted Chibok school girls while I pray for their quickest and safest return. Finally, I would like to persuade all of us to fervently continue praying and fasting as one family for a one and united Nigeria.


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