Abuja and Maiduguri — Stakeholders at the just-concluded Nigerian Army workshop have identified injustice, uneven development and exclusionism as some of the major reasons for separatist agitations and ethnic and regional tensions in most nations of the world.
They observed that non-state actors and their irregular forces constitute very serious human, national and international security challenges in contemporary times.
In a statement issued in Abuja yesterday at the end of the four-day event organised by the Nigerian Army on "Managing Asymmetric Security Challenges in the 21st Century", the participants admonished nations not only to be flexible and proactive in managing crises emanating from such developments but to be effective in managing deterrence approaches.
They also said citizens should be mobilised and intelligence given the right of way to lead national counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency efforts just as they said public education on the consequences of asymmetric security challenges should be the focus of the government.
According to the participants, nations are not collaborating enough in combating the asymmetric security threats today, given the level of destructions to lives, property, infrastructure, the environment and social values occasioned by the challenges. They also observed that asymmetric security challenges have international spread.
"Nations have no choice, therefore, than to unite, cooperate and collaborate to vanquish them and make the world secure and peaceful to live in, as no nation working alone can contain them," they said.
According to the forum, many national leaders have not developed the culture of dialogue in resolving domestic disputes, as they still prefer the use of force as a primary option. "This is not good enough as force in the face of injustice, exclusionism or poverty can radicalise citizens and generate asymmetric security challenges. The use of force alone does not have the capacity to defeat terrorism, insurgency or militancy.
To the forum, there is danger of chemical, nuclear, biological, and radiological devices falling into the hands of non-state actors through theft, corruption or other defaults.
"Identifying and cutting off the sources of terrorists' funds, weapons, hard drugs, training, fuel and other supports are crucial for effective management of asymmetric security challenges, and early defeat of their initiators," they said.
The workshop noted that different countries face different asymmetric threats, " therefore approaches to manage each nation's experience effectively should be adopted. In this line, military strategy should always be designed to adapt to changing security situations instead of the other way round.
The participants noted that since asymmetric security challenges especially terrorism is a global security threat, the national interest of states should not be allowed to impede efforts to defeat these global threats to human, national, and international peace and security.
They noted that the porous nature of the borders of some nations contribute greatly towards the encouragement of asymmetric security challenges through the proliferation of small and light weapons.
"Diverse identities in plural societies are not problematic in themselves. They only become security challenges when they are politicised, or when legitimate processes of expressing grievances are made ineffective, and grievances are unattended to especially over exclusionism, marginalisation, neglect, and injustice in the distribution of national resources including political power."
According to the statement, the major factor that threatens peace and security in most plural societies is the absence of dialogue, through which genuine grievances can be tabled and discussed and necessary negotiations and bargaining effected.
"Wining the hearts and minds of the local populace through their protection, respect for human rights, Quick Impact Projects, etc. are critical for the gathering of real time intelligence, and ensuring that they cooperate with the state, and its security agencies.
"Despite the shortcomings of Strategic Spiritual Intelligence (SSI) at this stage of its conceptualisation, it can be a useful tool in the deradicalisation and counter-radicalisation processes."
Meanwhile, suspected Boko Haram insurgents have killed three soldiers in an ambush while patrolling liberated communities of Damboa Local Government Area of Borno State on the northern fringe of Sambisa Forest.
A Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) leader, Modu Fanammi, and a top military officer attached to the Nigerian Army Battalion disclosed this yesterday in Maiduguri.
Fanammi said: "Three of our men were killed in the ambush by Boko Haram terrorists. The terrorists, who were in a large number, opened fire on the convoy of the commanding officer of 81 Battalion. Five other troops were injured in the intense battle that broke out when soldiers engaged the attackers."
The military officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to talk to journalists in Maiduguri, said the arrival of reinforcements forced the rebels to retreat.
A commercial bus driver who was also caught up in the ambush stated that some soldiers were killed in the ambush with a few sustaining injuries.
"I was one of those trailing behind the military convoy when Boko Haram opened fire and soldiers responded with fire," said Ahmed Musa in a telephone interview.