Insecurity in Nigeria has assumed a frightening dimension despite repeated claims by the Federal Government that it has degraded the terrorist group, Boko Haram. It is, therefore, not surprising that Nigeria has emerged the third most terrorised country in the world for the sixth consecutive year. In the 2020 global terrorism index released recently by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), Nigeria only came behind Afghanistan and Iraq which came first and second respectively. According to the index, the number of deaths attributed to Boko Haram increased by 25 per cent between 2018 and 2019.
Decrying the sorry state of affairs in the country, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar 111, lamented that insecurity in northern Nigeria has assumed a worrisome dimension. Speaking at the recent fourth quarterly meeting of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council in Abuja, the Sultan said that over 76 persons were killed in a community in Sokoto in a day.
The Sultan is not alone in this lamentation. The Northern Elders Forum, in a statement last week, noted that life had lost its value under the present administration and warned that famine was imminent due to limited food production in the North.
The recent concern about insecurity in the country heightened when Boko Haram terrorists invaded a farm at Zabarmari village in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State, recently, and slaughtered at least 67 farm workers. Initial reports put the death toll at 43. The figure could be higher.
There have been similar massacres in different parts of the North in recent times. Last year, the terrorists killed 70 people at a funeral in Badu, Nganzai and 60 in Rann all in Borno State. Generally, it has been estimated that over 40,000 have perished in the hands of terrorists in Nigeria in 10 years. Over 2.5 million others have been displaced. This year alone, former Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, estimated that 2,800 attacks had occurred in Borno State. Apart from Boko Haram, some other groups terrorising Nigerians include the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP), the herdsmen and sundry bandits and kidnappers.
Nigeria has not been able to contain the insurgency because of obvious lapses in the prosecution of the war. At a time when the entire arsenal of the nation should be massed against the insurgents, the Federal Government started what it calls amnesty programme for repentant Boko Haram terrorists. What this indicates is that crime pays and whoever takes up arms against his fatherland should be rewarded. Ironically, some innocent, peaceful protesters have been harassed. Some of the campaigners of the EndSARS protests have been crippled financially as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) froze their bank accounts.
Besides, the soldiers fighting in the war front have been poorly equipped and motivated. Some of them have paid the supreme sacrifice on account of this. The other day, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, claimed that foreign powers had refused to sell sophisticated ammunition to Nigeria. The foreign powers obviously know how insincere and corrupt some Nigerian officials can be. They know that there have been alleged diversions of resources meant to fight Boko Haram in the not too distant past. They are aware of the allegations of sabotage levelled against some military top brass in the insurgency war.
Obviously, the security situation is scary to the extent that some Nigerians believe that it has reached a tipping point. Degrading Boko Haram and similar groups will require restructuring the security architecture of the country. This is why we support those who have been calling for the sacking of the service chiefs because it appears they have run out of ideas. Reiterating this call last week, the Senate informed the President that he was in breach of Section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution over his inability to perform his primary duty of securing lives of citizens. The House of Representatives, on its part, summoned the President to appear before it over insecurity.
Government should also be more tactical in executing the war on terror. Terrorism thrives where poverty is endemic and the citizens prone to erroneous beliefs and indoctrination. Government should use all possible means to dissuade people from certain wrong beliefs. It should strengthen the intelligence unit of the military realising that intelligence gathering is the best way to tackle terrorism.
Above all, the war against terrorism should be given more boost in terms of modern military equipment, partnership with neighbouring and friendly countries that have passed through similar situations and adequate motivation of troops. It is also time to consider recruiting locals who understand their terrain to join in the fight against insurgency and general insecurity.