By Nick Dazang
Our paths first met in 1983. This writer was an intrepid and starry-eyed intern with the Nigeria Television Authority, NTA, Kaduna.
The swashbuckling General Mohammed Magoro was Commandant of the Nigeria Army School of Infantry, NASI, at Jaji. He had graduated from the prestigious Bida Provincial School also known as Government College Bida.
He was in the “Incredible Class” of 1962 which later produced a remarkable number of Generals among which are: Ibrahim Babangida, Abdulsalami Abubakar, Garba Duba, Gado Nasko, Sani Sami, the late Mamman Jiya Vatsa, etc. General Magoro had seen action, as a Lieutenant in the fratricidal Nigerian Civil War. He had served as Federal Commissioner for Transport under General Olusegun Obasanjo. His political exposure, as at 1983, however, did not detract from his high sense of professionalism and gruff, martial manner.
Fast forward: After serving as Minister of Internal Affairs under the watch of General Muhammadu Buhari as military Head of State, he at various times, during the Ibrahim Babangida administration, supervised the defunct Nigerian National Shipping Line, NNSL, the Nigeria Railways and the Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA. General Magoro has served as Senator, representing Kebbi South from 2011 to 2015 and is Chairman of Oando Group, a petroleum marketing company created through the privatisation of Unipetrol.
From this enviable pedigree, General Magoro has not only paid his dues for serving his country with devotion and distinction, but he can also, for good measure, pass for an elder statesman, his having been born in 1941. It is against this background that General Magoro, deeply worried by the insecurity facing this country and the unsurpassed humiliation which the victims suffer in the hands of vile Boko Haram/ISWAP insurgents, bandits and kidnappers, was spurred to enunciate a plan/strategy that will, in his considered view, end the insurgency which we face in six months.
In audio that trended and went viral on social media shortly before January 2022, General Mohammed Magoro proposed as follows:1) that the Federal Government should set up a Traditional Rulers Intelligence Consultative Council (with emphasis on those at our border communities) to harvest intelligence given their proximity to the grassroots; 2) that youth unemployment represents a clear and present danger and should be tackled through the establishment of industries; 3) that as a corollary to two above, peace and security should be guaranteed and requisite electricity and infrastructure provided; 4) that the legal issues encumbering the Mambilla Hydroelectric project and the Ajaokuta Steel project be removed expeditiously to pave way for their take-off and flowering respectively; 5) that collaborators who aid and abet insurgents, bandits and kidnappers be apprehended forthwith and dealt with; 6) that as it is, the Nigerian Army is outnumbered by the insurgents/bandits.
Consequently, discharged soldiers and veterans of United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon, UNIFIL, Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group, ECOMOG, and United Nations -African Union Hybrid Operations in Darfur, Sudan, UNAMID, be recalled so that the Armed Forces can benefit from their experiences; 7) that all retired officers from the rank of Lieutenant to Brigadier General be recalled and given command positions; 8) that in advance of this proposed massive deployment, all insurgents, bandits and kidnappers should be given a moratorium of one month to surrender, failing which they should be eliminated in the war that should not take Prisoners of War, POWs.
This is predicated on the wickedness they have visited on their victims; 9) that President Buhari should engage with Russia and China with a view to putting in place an air bridge for freighting desperately needed military hardware.
He argues that the Soviet Union was exceptionally supportive during the Civil War; 10) that Nigeria should engage with President Emmanuel Macron to elicit the robust support of our French-speaking neighbours and to call to order elements who might be providing logistics to the insurgents;11) that the President should prevail on the government of Turkey to check the activities of one of the jihadists that are allegedly linked to it;12) that the Buhari administration should use its goodwill with the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and Morocco in bringing the insurgency to an end.
It should be noted that though the above salient points do not exhaust the entire plan articulated by General Magoro, they are anchored on our recent history.
A similar plan was said to have been deployed by General Yakubu Gowon during the Civil War. From a mere five battalions, General Gowon was reportedly able to create more units, draw from the experiences of World War 11 veterans and put more boots on the ground.
Secondly, in 1983 when some islands, including Lake Chad, were annexed by rebels, the then President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, directed General Buhari to flush them out.
General Muhammadu Buhari who was General Officer Commanding, GOC, Third Armoured Division with headquarters in Jos, relocated to Maiduguri. He gave the rebels a bloody nose and drove them out of Nigerian space.
Besides, a recent study by Dr Murtala Rufa’i of the Uthman Dan Fodio University suggests that in Zamfara State alone, there are not fewer than 60 separate bandit groups and each bandit group boasts of 150-2000 followers.
The pattern of attacks by insurgents/bandits across the North East, North Central and North West shows that they always descend on their victims in large numbers, thereby dominating their environment and denying their victims a fighting chance.
The significant point which the Magoro Plan underscores, and which we should latch on to, is that if this kind of plan had worked and its initiators and implementers are alive to guide us, why don’t we replicate it, even if with modifications? If General Buhari could trounce the Chadian rebels at the behest of President Shagari in 1983, what stops him from defeating the insurgents, bandits and kidnappers now that he is the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces and he has at his disposal a bevvy of intelligence agencies? This writer believes that the Magoro Plan is doable.
The President has another 17 months to go, and mercifully, he is not campaigning for re-election.
All he needs to do is to change his mindset from that of resignation or surrender at our security challenges to a robust re-engagement with them.
He should focus on the Magoro Plan like the laser beam for one year. In addition to these, President Buhari should be reminded to look at the bigger picture and his place in history.
He should also re-examine his conscience: As President, he swore on the Holy Quran to secure and defend the country. Has he done so? Secondly, he solemnly pledged to Nigerians that he would solve the challenge of insecurity in six months.
Six years and counting, has he lived up to his pledge? How will Nigerians judge him if he were to bequeath to yet another administration the sordid and painful legacy of insecurity? Why would the President not seize this moment by rising to the challenge of insecurity, as he had pledged, thereby etching himself positively in our consciousness? Shakespeare once wrote:” There is a tide in the affairs of men Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea we are now afloat; And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures.”
Mr President, this is the moment of decision.
Dazang, a former director at INEC, wrote via: firstname.lastname@example.org
Vanguard News Nigeria