Maiduguri — Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, Wednesday said that Nigeria would require about 100,000 more soldiers to win the war against Boko Haram.
He, however, suggested at least 50,000 of the recruits should come from Borno, irrespective of whether or not they have western education, to prosecute the ongoing war against terror.
The governor urged President Muhammadu Buhari and the military to revisit the strategy used in 2016/2017 when Nigerians were almost celebrating the demise of Boko Haram so that the insurgents would be defeated once and for all.
Zulum spoke yesterday in Maiduguri while playing host to the House of Representatives' Committee on Defence led by its Chairman, Hon. Babajimi Benson.
Also yesterday, the governor, in a broadcast, declared Monday a day for statewide fasting and prayers against Boko Haram insurgents.
He said the war against insurgents could not be successfully won without manpower, technology and proper funding.
He said: "Take my words, they (the military) don't have the manpower; they don't have the equipment. Kindly advise the speaker and the Senate president to tell Mr. President to approve the massive recruitment of soldiers. We need about 100,000 more to be recruited into the Nigerian Army. They should come and employ the locals whether they have western education or not.
"We need to recruit nothing less than 50,000 men from Borno; we have able-bodied men that can join the Nigerian Armed Forces on an ad-hoc basis."
Zulum expressed doubt about Nigeria's readiness to win the ongoing war against insurgency, saying that "you cannot fight this war without manpower, technology and proper funding."
The governor added that he will always admit the fact that the Buhari administration did so much to degrade Boko Haram when it came to power in 2015, but the situation has already degenerated with the renewed attacks on the state.
He said: "I have always admitted that the federal government has done well under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari. At a time, about 20 local government areas were displaced but after May 29, 2015, almost all the roads were opened and the local government retrieved.
"But notwithstanding the gains that we had, between March 2019 till date, we have experienced horrific and simultaneous attacks throughout the state. As I told the Theatre Commander, we are experiencing the attacks in quick geometrical ratio.
"I therefore plead with Mr. President and as well as the Nigerian military to revisit the strategy used during 2016/2017 that we were almost celebrating the demise of Boko Haram so that we can deal with the insurgents once and for all.
"One important thing that we have to do is to take the fight into their enclaves. The whereabouts of the Boko Haram is known to all of us. It is known to the people of Borno State; it is known to the military. It is known to all of us.
"Another important thing that I raised is the issue of commercial activities. There is nexus between peace, security and development. There is nexus between poverty, unemployment and insecurity and in order to address causes of insurgency, we need to address our major challenges. And one thing I plead with the Nigerian military is to allow for free flow of commercial activities in Borno. This will reduce recruitment, fortunately enough the chief of army staff has lifted the ban on sales of fish and fish farming in Borno State, we have conveyed the message to the fish farmers.
"Then coming down to the challenges of the Nigerian military, I think the theatre commander can inform you better, but to the best of my knowledge, their major deficiency is manpower. They lack manpower. Borno State has a large landmass and therefore they need manpower; they need technological warfare; they need logistics. You cannot fight this insurgency to an end without technology and without manpower and without funding, this is very germane.
"Take my words, they don't have manpower. They don't have equipment."
According to the governor, military operation has to use stabilisation mechanism, which ensures stabilisation effort on ground during a military operation.
He added that to ensure this, the military needs manpower to hold a place as "without manpower, you cannot hold a place; without people going about their normal activities, going to their farms peace cannot reign.
"We have over 500,000 IDPs in Monguno, 120,000 IDPs in the Republic of Niger, we have 68,000 IDPs in the Republic of Cameroon that are eager to come back home and even in Dikwa how many IDPs do we have that have limited access to their farms. This issue will not stop until people have access to their farms.
"And honestly speaking, we need to increase the firepower of the police to augment the military as well as the Civil Defence Corps because of their importance."
He noted that the paramilitary, police and others have to be allowed to carry sophisticated arms.
"I think there is the need to allow for certain guns to be used by the paramilitary for certain period of time. After the insurgency is over, you can now go back to the old position," he stated.
Meanwhile, Zulum has declared Monday, a day of statewide fasting and prayers against Boko Haram insurgents.
The governor, in a six-minute broadcast to the people of the state, however, said there would be no public holiday on Monday.
The governor after enumerating ongoing collaboration with the military, including calls for mass recruitment, equipping and deployment of thousands of volunteers in the Civilian JTF, hunters and vigilantes, said his call for prayers was strange but a necessary decision made based on popular wish of the people of the state.
"Even though this decision is based on the popular demand of our people, some observers may rightly argue that it is a strange call. But then, Borno has been befallen with a strange evil since 2009; and sometimes, strange ailments require strange approaches.
"As your governor, I hereby declare Monday the 24th of February 2020 as a day of devotion to pray for the return of peace in Borno. I intend to fast on that day and I appeal to every one of us in Borno, who can, to join in that simple, but pricelessly rewarding spiritual endeavour. I also appeal for the sacrifices of all other well-meaning friends and associates of Borno who can, to join us in fasting on Monday, insha'Allah, for the restoration of peace in Borno State and rest of Nigeria," he explained.