Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala, is former governor of Oyo State and strong member of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). In this interview he speaks on his life outside government House and the current security situation in the country and how to end the cycle of insurgency among other burning issues.
YOU have been out of office for some time now, how have you been coping?
I have been enjoying myself. I have time to myself. As a politician I
have time to think of the past and focus on the future. I don’t have any office work bothering me. Since I left office, I have less of responsibilities.
2015 is around the corner, what are you up to?
I am thinking of coming back, I don’t think anything is wrong with that. I am am giving it a very serious consideration and I will soon come back to the race. And my chances are very bright, considering my track records. They have tried me before, they are trying another person now, and if you do analysis or comparison between the two of us I will be rated higher than the other person.
You are quoted as saying without you PDP is dead in Oyo State is it true?
Let me put it this way; I don’t want to arrogate that to myself alone, but myself and my associates. Without them and me I don’t think PDP will exist in Oyo State because anybody in the party now can never know PDP more than me. I have seen it all in PDP. We started the party. I thank God am in charge.
The security situation of the country is becoming alarming, as an
ex-police officer what do you think should be done to arrest the situation?
Security should not be left in the hands of the federal government alone.
It is the responsibility of all. The current security situation in the country is the problem of all of us. Each state government should be responsible for whatever is happening in its domain. Nobody in Abuja would help govern Yobe, Adamawa or Borno State; it is the duty of the governors in the respective states to take charge and ensure that there is peace and stability in those places.
But at the federal level, the government should allow police to tackle the menace being posed to the nation’s security before deploying the army. If I were the government, I would not deploy the army first; the army will be a backup for the police. The police should face the insurgents first and not the army.
The army should come in at the request of the police. The police are more civil, and the people we are looking for are not in the army. There are trained police officers and men, who are very conversant with the task of mingling with the civil society and getting the information that is required to tackle the enemy. That is why they should allow the police to be in the fore front. They should equip the police the more and allow them to tackle insurgency, which is not a normal war that the army can fight. The army does not know those we are looking for, but the police are everywhere in the country, so the police know how to give on-the-spot-assessment if given the chance. Intelligence gathering is very important, and if the police are well equipped they would have been trained on how to combat these insurgents. During my time I had the opportunity of going to Jaji and I was trained alongside the army. I was trained on how to face and combat this type of insurgence. They trained us every year. I don’t know whether they are still doing it or not. They trained us on how to deal with this particular situation we are in now.
With due respect to the army, no matter how sophisticated the army is, this is not a war they can easily win. It is one that everybody has to participate in order for the nation to win.
What they should do is to make sure the police are well equipped to face the challenge. If you see when they started they first of all scared away the police. They are attacking police station all over the place just to scare them. And they allowed police to be scared by bringing in army, no!
They should have fortified the police by giving them more money and vital equipment to enable them to face these people. The police are more widespread in this country than the army. We have police post in every locality, but soldiers are not everywhere. If you remember, at the commencement of the civil war, there was what they called police action first, but when they felt the police could not deliver, they brought in the army.
Right now, there is a department in the police called CIB, Civil Intelligence Bureau. The CIB will gather intelligence report, which will not be sent to anywhere but used within the immediate environment and action taken immediately based on the intelligence gathered and analysed by the officers.
If the police are in charge, they would send intelligence officers to mingle with the areas they consider as Boko Haram black spots to be able to gather vital information in dealing with them. So, my suggestion is that the police should be brought in; army should be in the background. Why we have mobile policemen is because of this type of situation, MOPOL is a sort of para-military and they are well armed and well trained to face this type of a threat to the society.
Have you ever advise the government on this?
No! No, because have not had the opportunity doing such. There was no effective way of communicating such to the government. You see there is a standard way of carrying over the operation of the police to the army.
I have not been able to see where the police will say they are not able to combat a situation and they transfer it to the army. All the information is from the police and again the army is talking too much. I was involved in Maitasine in 1980. Although we knew where they were, we could not enter and we suffered a lot of causalities. It was at that point that the military cordoned off the area and within some hours they were able to subdue the Maitasine fighters because they knew who they were going to fight and we knew their entry and exit points.
These Boko Haram insurgents are mobile and it is difficult to pinpoint their exit or entry point. If you approach them from the North, they will exit from the East and when they are moving, they do so in trickles and not enmass like the way they were able to identify them in Abia. My thinking is that the police are trained to dialogue while the military is trained to fight and kill.
So, what exactly should be done now? What advice do you give to the police authorities?
They should give more money to the police to be able to do their work effectively. I believe that if they give the police half of the money given to army, the police would do a very good
job. Why we had to invite the military against Maitasine was because they were not using guns but bows and arrows, which made it possible for them to target anyone anywhere they chose to attack. In fact, one could be targeted anywhere. In the present circumstance, I believe that there is a Divisional Police Station in Chibok and that they can detect the movement of people and take action against the insurgents.
The insurgents are wearing army uniform not police uniform. I am sure the police would have detected who is a police officer
and who is not. If you are not in my division and you are in police uniform and I see you, you will explain to me why you are in police uniform, but army formations are far apart and it is a bit difficult to identify who is not a real soldier.
I want to suggest the full involvement of the police in fighting the insurgents while the army is brought in only when the police feel it is necessary to do so.
But the police, particularly, the Mobile Police, should be deployed to assist in the fight because this insurgent is not a conventional war that the army can easily win.