IT is hardly surprising that the Borno State Government has resorted to enlisting the services of local hunters to assist in the war against the Boko Haram Islamist insurgents. The recent trip of a delegation of Borno leaders to the Presidential Villa to cry for urgent help to contain the resurgence of terrorism showed a need for extra measures by all stakeholders.
On Wednesday, January 30, 2019, Governor Kashim Shettima, the Governor of Borno State, oversaw the swearing of the oath of loyalty “not to betray our troops” by about 500 hunters drawn from all parts of the state. The hunters were asked to swear on the Quran and the Bible, depending on their religions. News of this event raised a lot of eyebrows and elicited a lot of discussions on the Social Media and several radio networks.
The questions on the table were: in what way could these oaths guarantee the loyalty of the hunters? How effective has oath-swearing been in keeping politicians and senior government officeholders true to their words? How has it promoted honesty, transparency and integrity in public office?
In spite of the oaths we swear on assumption of office, Nigeria is still rated as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Oath-swearing has rather become the sanctimonious smokescreen that people hide behind to perpetrate the very malfeasances they swear to avoid.
However, the Borno State Government has made it clear that the oaths are merely the icing on the cake. After ten years of living under the scourge of Boko Haram terror, the North East has gathered some useful experiences to cope. The hunters are being recruited to join the gallant Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) or “Civilian JTF” as a support vanguard for the heroic troops in providing vigilante and intelligence services.
According to Isa Gusau, the Director of Press to Governor Shettima, these hunters and vigilante members are carefully nominated, approved by community leaders and sent for screening and training by the Directorate of State Services (DSS) to ensure they have no links to the terrorist networks.
It is heart- warming that in spite of the depth of terror Boko Haram has inflicted on the people over the past decade, the spirits of the Borno people and their government have not been dampened. The terrorists have not yet succeeded in cowing the people into submission. The ordinary people are still willing to confront these foreign-backed anarchists until victory is assured.
We have, on this forum, repeatedly called for this manner of closing of ranks between the military, the populace and governments at all levels in the war on terror. No army can win a war without adequate civilian support.
To defeat the terrorists is a task that must be done.