War is destructive. War separates families and friends. Human lives are lost when there is war. Peace and development elude warring communities and countries. Innocent blood is shed. This erupts as a result of insecurity. When security is hampered and there is fear of movement, insecurity is, therefore, heightened. In their bid to express themselves, politicians and other leaders exaggerate situations, inflame tempers and fan the embers of war.
The two wars in Nigeria have sucked away peace in the regions where they took place. The first was the Nigerian civil war of July 6, 1967 to January 15, 1970.
I was then a first-year student at Lagos City College, Yaba, Lagos. The war disrupted my education and that of many other children in the East and the northern part of Nigeria. Because of the raging war, my father recalled me to my village, Amaogwugwu,Umuahia, in present-day Abia State. At that time, my village became the hub of military activities. It was the camp for a Catholic humanitarian agency known as Caritas. The military also shared part of the camp. They flew in and out of my village’s secondary school, formerly known as Ohuhu Community Grammer School, Amaogwugwu, from Ulli Airport, which was hurriedly constructed by Biafran military engineers on the outskirts of present-day Anambra State for night flights from Sao-Tome lsland.
These flights were essentially to pick and drop medical items, medicines and other humanitarian packages. They flew in with their white personnel from different countries with different mindsets. Many of them were camouflage mercenaries.
It is unfortunate that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is tilting towards accepting the advice from some quarters that mercenaries should be invited to fight the war on terrorism in Nigeria. The Boko Haram terrorist war, which started in 2009, has claimed over 500,000 lives and created avenues for bandits, kidnappers and killer herdsmen across the country.
It is baffling knowing that the same Buhari administration, which discontinued with the mercenaries engaged by the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, which engaged the services of a South Africa-based mercenary military contractor, Mr. Eeben Barlow, to provide “specialized tasks.”
According to reports, President Buhari stopped them from carrying on fighting Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria in 2015. Barlow reportedly said, “President (Buhari) made it known that the company’s presence would not be tolerated under his administration.”
These mercenaries are as trained as our Nigeria military, who often upgrade their training more than the mercenaries, the only difference is that they have leaders that have the will to conquer and achieve success and are well equipped.
Had Buhari provided all that was needed by the army, police and other security agencies, with the political will to conquer and leave a lasting legacy, I don’t think we would be in this sinking boat of insecurity today.
I remember in 2009 that I was part of a three-man delegation sponsored by the United Nations peacekeeping mission to travel to Haiti, under the umbrella of the Inspector-General of Police, Dr. Mike Okiro. We were received by the United Nations commissioner in Haiti. The man was almost a carbon copy of our own Tafa Balogun. When he was told of the resemblance, he acknowledged knowing about that. The interesting aspect of our meeting with him was his constant commendation of the proactiveness and strategic tactics of both the army and police contingents from Nigeria despite the presence of countries like Senegal, Ghana, Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan who had their full contingents there. This is why the call for state of emergency and invitation of foreign troops by the National Assembly and some politicians should be regarded as very worrisome.
The same President Buhari had severally applauded the operational activities of our soldiers and the Service Chiefs. Why would the President now be the one supporting foreign military intervention in Nigeria? Only recently, 130 well-trained Nigerian security agents were deployed to Somalia to help solve the same problem Nigeria is going through. As a retired general, much is expected of President Buhari.
The country is going through turbulent times. As the Commander-in-Chief, the security agencies need full assurance from him, and the citizens need hope. This tilting towards the request of politicians could mean that the security agencies can no longer be trusted to end all this insecurity.
On the other hand, such a jittery stand by the Commander-in-Chief could make the troops despair and send discouraging message to their leaders.
Meanwhile, there is need to build up the morale of the police, which had pulmented since the EndSARS activities and the recent killings of policemen and burning of police stations around the country.
Last week, members of the TOTAL SECURITY PLATFORM (TSP), a platform congregated by retired senior police, army and DSS officers with the objective of proffering solutions to knotty security issues in the country, on the issue of state of emergency and invitation of foreign military assistance, retired Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Donald Iroham, succinctly asked: “Would the declaration of state of emergency stop the rising insecurity in Nigeria? The government should first clear the general suspicion raised by pessimists that there is an alleged agenda to create fear across the country that could lead to the call for state of emergency.”
Also on the same platform AIG Adisa Bolanta (rtd.) said, “I don’t think we need foreign intervention at this moment. Let us be honest with ourselves. Is it the banditry in the North-West that a well-equiped/trained PMF cannot overcome? If the government wants us to have security, we will get it. Instead of playing politics with our lives.
“Most of our leaders lack political will to implement the various recommendations put forward by experts over the years.Nigeria is never short of brains that can recommend for our leaders ways to surmount problems but the will to do that has always been our problem.
“We shall continue to agitate and agitate until the right leadership is elected.”
Also a retired British police officer, Mr. Vincent Onyekwelu, disclosed how the British government, in collaboration with a private organization, assembled wayward youths mostly from Nigeria, Jamaica and Russia who used guns, knifes and were on drugs to create insecurity in some parts of London.
“A programme was developed to positively engage them, smartly work with them, use sports, life skills, mentorship and education to keep them busy in an academic institution. The programme was so successful that a section of Greater London recorded massive reduction in criminality.
“The youths themselves invited more of their street friends to join the programme as they felt the benefits. The youths were assembling shotguns and they helped in exposing how to assemble plastic shortguns from photocopiers, which metal detectors cannot detect and can fire real lethal bullets.
“The institution partnered with them, gave them special classes and specially selected mentorship. They later transformed their street-wild intelligence to needed social skills, academic pursuits and added positive value to the society.
“In Nigeria, the question is can we create a social policy in Nigeria? Won’t Religion affect it ? Won’t funds earmarked for such programmes be stolen? Won’t the participants be selected based on affiliations?
“Good enough, Nigeria knows our specific threats and is not bereft of ideas to solve them.”