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Limits of intelligence gathering: Comments on the Galtimari Committee

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By John Amoda
BEN Agande in the News Section of Vanguard Thursday, March 8, 2012 provided the following summary of the review of the Committee’s findings by another committee headed by the Minister of Interior, Abba Moro. The method adopted in the work of the Galtimari Committee and Abba Moro Review Committee is worthy of notice.

The Galtimari Committee documented the basic issues that create agitation in Nigeria, albeit with special emphasis on the North East. Running through the review is the thinking that addressing the issues with adequate policy measures, the root cause of agitation would be also addressed and peace would replace agitation and violence.

The policy logic can be presented viz: agitations or peace are consequences of causes: Eliminate the causes of agitations and agitations will disappear being the consequences or effects of the basic issues producing the effects. In thus stating the analysis of the root causes of agitation we discover that only one side of the coin has been addressed.

The Galtimari Committee have addressed the negative part of the problem, that is eliminating agitations, violence, restiveness, militancy, etc, by eliminating their root causes. The positive part of the analysis is that of replacing agitation with peace and stability so that “we would have peace and then economic and political development can take place”.

When thus stated we begin to appreciate the real task that is yet to be addressed. In dealing with the negative part, that is the problem identification task, the Galtimari Committee would typically have taken depositions, memos, verbal and written of dissatisfactions generating disaffections.

Reports of issues that cause alienation and resentments are by definition reports of perceptions of wrongs to be righted. Unemployment, for an example, might have been identified as one of such triggers of disaffection but it is often forgotten by committees on righting the wrong that generate violence that there is no causal relationship between unemployment and violence but only a theoretical and assumptional link.

The above is the case because unemployment does not necessarily cause violence. For within the condition of unemployment, some (i) create entrepreneurial routes out of such conditions, (ii) others become criminals, (iii) while others seek additional training to enhance their employability, (iv) other migrate to other regions in search of employment, (v) some become beggars, (vi) others become thugs in the employment of politicians, (vii) while others seek the routes of religion and of spirituality as access to the benefits of unemployment.

There are thus many diverse cause–effect-action-plans for actors within the same socio-economic conditions. And as indicated above crises containing committees set up by governments to re-stabilize the conditions of governance often impose their own cause-effect-theories and assumptions when preceeding on the notion that their understanding of the problem is the understanding of the problem groups whose conduct they seek to modify through measures they recommend.

Let us apply this explanation of methods of political investigation of crises to the Galtimari’s Committee’s recommendation on dialogue with the Boko Haram sect. Ben Agande reports the principal recommendation in the following:

“The Federal Government has adopted some of the recommendation of the Alhaji Usman Galtimari Committee on security challenges in the North-East following a review by a committee headed by Minister of Interior, Abba Moro and has agreed to dialogue with the Boko Haram sect on the condition that the group renounces violence”. The problem of methods in this recommendation inheres in the proposal accepted by government.

The violence of BH is assumed to be their response to grievances unsatisfactorily addressed by government. And government on the other hand has taken the position that violence is not the only response by the aggrieved BH to the condition defined by them as unacceptable.

How does the Committee know how the BH appraises their condition of existence and why they have adopted the option of war? How does the Galtimari Committee know that the BH have not correctly appraised their situation?

What is their warrant for thinking that the BH choice of violence is not from their analysis the correct strategic plan for effecting change of condition from the unacceptable to the acceptable? These questions are suggested when Ben Agande’s report is read side-by-side with Ndahi Marama’s report on the same page and titled: Boko Haram kills village head, 5 others in Borno, Yobe.

“Few hours after suspected Boko Haram members killed four people, including three Igbo and a Kanuri teenage-hawker of petroleum products in Mafoni Ward in Maiduguri metropolis, the group also attacked the Konduga Police Station in Konduga Local Government Area of Borno State, burning down a local church close to the police station.

This is even as two persons, including a village head and security man were killed by Boko Haram in a separate attack at Geidam Local Government Area of Yobe State”. How and why in the face of the seemingly calculated rigor of use of violence by BH to advance their cause and to advertise their sovereignty of action, is the Galtimari Committee justified in presenting the Boko Haram as a group that can return to non-violence method of prosecuting its aim?

We have focused on the matter of how crises are appraised to point out how government extends its policy of “flaring of gases” to the intellectual and academic “flaring of sociological intelligence and expertise”. Government continues to think that it can do without involving in a systematic manner its pool of highly trained sociologists, political scientists, conflict resolution experts in its executive and legislative policy making.

In times of business as usual, this waste of intellectual manpower can be accommodated. But now is not such a situation in our country. The Galtimari Committee could be well intentioned in making its recommendations but Government would do itself a lot of good if it will seek expert opinions, within the Universities it funds, on the Galtimari and Moro reports.

The recommendation is made because what Government sets as a condition for dialogue needs to be subjected to expert appraisal if dialogue with the BH is being seriously canvassed by the President.


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