INSECURITY: From experience, we can’t defeat  Boko Haram on battlefield — Bode George

By Dapo Akinrefon

CHIEF Olabode George, a retired navy commodore and former military administrator of Ondo State, is a leader of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. In this interview, George bares his mind on the war against terrorism and declares that there is a need for the Federal Government to negotiate with the insurgents. Excerpts:

What is your take on this issue of insurgency, especially Boko Haram?

The war out there is an unconventional war, which is regarded as guerilla warfare. Looking back in history, nobody has ever won a guerilla war on the battlefield. Do you know why? These Boko Haram people are from Borno, they dress, speak and culturally act the same way with the people of Borno. How do you now differentiate them from normal people?

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They will come in the day time to survey the environment and, in the night, they wreak havoc. We need to negotiate, find a way out of this menace. No amount of weaponry can win the fight against Boko Haram. The Nigerian armed forces are very classic, well trained. I went through it, so I know what I am saying.

What about bandits?

What is going on now is as a result of hunger, hunger does not have a tribal mark, the issue of unemployment is also supposed to be of great concern to everybody. People graduate and don’t have something to do.

The PDP did something, they set aside a substantial amount of money for skill acquisition, and the money was set aside in the Central Bank. Once you go into trade, irrespective of the skill, you go to FIIRO in Oshodi and at the end, when you graduate from the training, they will give you a certain amount of money for the start-up. Where is that now? I don’t want to start stating the problem, what is the way forward; first, we need to strengthen the skill acquisition system. People should be trained in different types of skills, and there should be dedicated funds.

A former United Nations Permanent Representative, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, recently said there is a need for Nigeria to revisit the 2014 confab to address insecurity in the country. Do you agree with him?

We have tried to ensure true federation; the military system of government won’t help us in this country. That is what we have introduced into a democratic system of government but it will never work.

That is one of the reasons we should visit the 2014 Confab report. There is no part of this country that God has not blessed, whether it is human or material resources. But why must we make money from crude oil and everything sent to Abuja? We copied the American constitution but we do not follow it.

In terms of internal security, they have state police and the FBI, here, we have only one Inspector General of Police, and he is expected to provide security for every corner of the country.

How is that humanly possible? What is even the total number of the police we have? I was a member of that conference, and for the first time in the history of Nigeria, from the beginning to the end, we started and we concluded, every item that was put before us, in a unanimous decision.

This system is not working and it will never work. Look at the process of elections from the polling units to the collation centre, everything manual in this country. When people are hungry and you think that is the will of the people. As long as we go on with this current system, we can’t move forward.

Every item, during the confab, was put to vote and was unanimously adopted. Look at California the fifth largest economy in the world but it is still part of the United States of America. When we submitted the report to then-President and the Federal Executive Council looked at the report and adopted it.

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I am happy that the present President of the Senate said they will take a look at it. You cannot perpetuate injustice, inequality and unfairness; it is not helping this country. Remember Vision 20:2020, we are now in 2020 but are we part of 20 developed countries in the world? We librated so many countries but we can’t solve our own problem, we need to look at things objectively, we need to question ourselves whether we are doing it right or not.

There was opposition when the Amotekun initiative when it was set up. Miyetti Allah warned the South-West to jettison the outfit or forget about the 2023 presidential agenda? Don’t you think it is provocative?
Unfortunately, we no longer teach history again in this country. The British planted this division, and the seed is still germinating.

The difference in our culture, approach to things should be our strength, no group can perpetually control another group, it will not work. Can’t we have a civilized conversation anymore? When General Gowon introduced the National Youths Service Corps, NYSC, after civil war, I said it was a good idea to experience other tribes’ ways of life. That is the only avenue we have now to, at least, be united.  I propose that all Yoruba children in primary school must be able to speak Igbo and Hausa before they graduate, while Igbo children must be able to speak Hausa and Yoruba; while Hausa children must be able to speak Yoruba and Igbo language; because language opens the door for unity.

People are of the view that the South-West governors may use Amotekun to oppress opposition figures?

First, they can’t employ people from Alimosho to come and do Amotekun in Lagos Island. You are not going to be asked which political party you belong to; the concept of developing Amotekun also matters.

The local governments will have a role to play in Amotekun just as the elders in each community. We are not saying Amotekun should be independent of police because if Amotekun grabs somebody, he can’t take him or her to court, he will still need to hand such fellow over to the police for prosecution.

All is not well in this country, I beg the managers of this country to call the conference of elders and professionals, lock the door and, for 24 hours, they must come out with a solution that everybody will applaud.

Crisis in PDP

Insecurity is creating so much instability in our concept of reasoning. Our party is not yet where it ought to be, but still better than APC. There are certain things the current managers are doing which are not acceptable in a civilized society. For the fact that you are a manager doesn’t give you absolute power to do whatever you want. Such an attitude destroyed the party.

To win the hearts and minds of the people, you must show commitment, you must show fairness, otherwise, people won’t follow you. The people who are not card-carrying people are more than those with cards and they are watching us.

Vanguard Nigeria News

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