By Sunny Ikhioya

IT is time to end the Boko Haram and other insurgency battles in this country. The solution is embedded in an integrated force, with a combined will and purpose. But we must, first of all, eliminate those tendencies that have made these wars to drag on for so long, with only a minuscule few enjoying to the detriment of the whole nation. Nigeria has become a country of ‘anything goes’; anyone can come in, carry out attack and vanish into the bush, like it happened in Taraba State a few weeks ago.

We do not know now whether it is the Cameroonian separatist group or their military that carried out the attack. That has become our situation, nobody fears us anymore. What are those tendencies that have prolonged these wars? Wars are not fought with emotions and sentiments, otherwise, it is bound for failure, the way it had been with the Boko Haram insurgency.

There is nothing new under the sky; countries have fought insurgency battles in the past and have triumphed over them; ours is not the first and definitely will not be the last. There was once upon a time, a separatist group in Sri Lanka, a group known as the Tamil Tigers; they fought the country’s army to a standstill for 26 years.

You must have heard of the suicide bombers’ vest; they introduced it to the world, long before others took the cue. But in May 2009, they were brutally suppressed and annihilated. The Tamil Tigers have since gone into extinction, you now only read about them.

You cannot win the war against terrorism through pacification; the enemies will always thirst for more blood; you make them to surrender through force and brutal retaliation; that is the only way to put them in permanent check. Even with all the hostile countries surrounding Israel, terrorists are hesitant to launch attacks against them because they know that they will receive more than adequate retaliation from the Jewish nation.

Sadly, this is not the case in Nigeria with Boko Haram terrorists killing our soldiers, including top Generals, and we are begging them to repent. Before you carry out rehabilitation, you must be very confident that the enemy is totally under control, with no pocket of resistance. 

At the end of World War 2, the allied forces, led by the United States, introduced the Marshall Plan to rebuild Germany and other nations affected by the war; this was after the enemies had totally embraced peace and on their own, going after those among them that instigated the war. The Nazis are being hunted till today all over the world.

The same thing happened with the rehabilitation efforts after the Nigerian Civil War in 1970. We are spending a huge chunk of our budget, building infrastructure in war-ravaged areas – schools, railways, agro-allied industries and others. Unfortunately, all of these will come to nought if we do not aggressively contain activities of these Boko Haram elements and bandits. It is, therefore, safe to conclude that, to eliminate these Boko Haram insurgents and bandits, we must eschew sentiments.

A person killing, raping and destroying your property is not your brother; those in charge of our military strategy must realise this. They should bring these people down to their knees before any further negotiations can take place.

Recently, it was in the news that the family of the slain Brigadier-General Dzarma Zirkusu, a commander of the Army 28 Task Force, claimed that someone leaked the movement of the General to the enemies and that was what made the ambush possible. Although, it is a conspiracy theory, it cannot be far-fetched; this is an indication that the army is not fully united. It means that there are still disgruntled elements in its midst. 

In a situation like this, battles are very difficult to win. We must eliminate those tendencies capable of dividing the military. We claim to have a professional armed forces; if this is so, ours must behave like true professionals. We must integrate all ethnic nations in Nigeria, with equal opportunity for service and progress. When the combined armed forces is of the right mixes, it will be very difficult for one group to sabotage the other.

While doing this, it is also important for merit to be the sole determinant for hierarchical movements; that is one sure way of building loyalty, trust and efficiency; a people must be united to confront the common enemy. We must de-emphasise ethnicity and religion in our armed forces. It is not too late for the President to do a proper structuring in that area; it is very crucial to the future success of our military.

There is also this tendency to depend on foreign assistance in everything we want to do, whether military, civil or others; if we do not look inward for solutions to our problems, both in human resources and technology, we will never succeed. We know how long it took the United States to release the Tucano fighter aircraft for the battle against terrorism; we now understand that they are dictating to us on who to use the aircraft against and under conditions approved by them.

We cannot trust them; the developed countries of the world are afraid of seeing the sleeping giant of Africa come alive. If they are really interested in seeing banditry and terrorism end in our land, they would have, at least, helped with satellite surveillance, showing movements of these bandits and terrorists; surely they have the technology for this in their possession.

The interest of foreign powers in seeing Nigeria in perpetual conflict must be properly examined by those in charge of our war strategies. Keep information to yourselves and execute with swiftness that will take all enemies by surprise. Most times, we even confide our strategies to these foreigners in the name of collaboration; this has taken us nowhere.

Work out a strategy with the people involved, set up defence forces and give them the necessary back ups – weapons, information and training. Part of the reasons the Tamil Tigers failed in their battle was because the people lost confidence in them after a long time of fighting with no positive result.

We are beginning to see pockets of resistance and agitation from the people, in the manners this battle is being handled; we must factor the peoples involvement into our strategies of containing these bandits and terrorists. It is clear that our soldiers cannot fight this war alone, as it is asymmetrical, other unconventional methods must be adopted.

We must adopt strategies that will totally put these terrorists and bandits to permanent rest, never to rise up again. In doing this, we must realise that, except we finally put these terrorists and insurgents away, nothing else will work in this country, let us end these wars once and for all times.

Ikhioya wrote via www.southsouthecho.com

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