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Toks Ero: No Quick Fix Can End Boko Haram’s Insurgency

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By Toks Ero

Countries/Nations exist to guarantee the security and welfare of citizens and residents. To ensure that this objective is attained, thoroughly conceived plans are initiated, executed, sustained and periodically reviewed to adapt to changing circumstances.

The Bible in the book of Jeremiah chapter 17, verse 9 warns that “the heart of man is desperately wicked”. Past and recent events in world history and the evil perpetrated by men make this warning seem even less emphatic and understated. The world is a jungle where the strong prey on the weak; where the powerful seek to control the environment for their own advantage without consideration for the weak.

Nigeria is presently experiencing the reign of wickedness being perpetrated by Boko Haram. The government claims to be doing all they can stop this reign of terror yet positive results elude us. Boko Haram seems to be winning. A huge chunk of annual appropriation in the last couple of years has been allocated to security and the military; yet Boko Harams WAR on Nigeria rages on.

Securing a nation is a very complex and costly venture. Despite the cost, minus corruption, I believe Nigeria can afford to secure her territory with the latest security systems, apparatuses and technology available. Why have we failed to secure our country? A number of answers can be advanced amongst them government corruption, lack of will and incompetence. It is very easy for high ranking government officials to mouth and pay lip service to securing Nigeria as if it is an objective that can be achieved in a day.

Even if Nigeria, by Harry Potter magically waving his wand, succeeds in eliminating the Boko Haram threat, would there be in place a functioning security system to ensure that future threats are detected and contained in their gestation stages before growing into unmanageable and terrifying proportions? This is the crux of this article.

The leadership of Nigeria needs to initiate, adopt, execute and sustain a comprehensive security system that effectively defends the territorial integrity and internal security of Nigeria. I believe the present security agencies we have are enough to tackle our security concerns. Why they have failed can largely be attributed to corruption and lackadaisical attitude to duties and responsibilities. If funds made available to our security agencies are not embezzled, I believe they would be well equipped to cope with the demands and challenges of our present security problems. If agents and officers of our security agencies do not possess a lackadaisical attitude to duties and responsibilities, I believe crimes would be detected early enough and nipped in the bud before they threaten our collective peace and existence.

I am not saying that given ideal circumstances, we would not be facing some of these security challenges as terrorism that confronts us. What I am saying is that they will not overwhelm our security agents/agencies and the country in general as is our present reality.

At this stage in our national life, the Federal Government in collaboration with State and Local Governments need to set-up a think tank of qualified and experienced persons to review our security system as a whole. The basis and objective of this review would be to guarantee the sanctity of our territorial integrity and internal security. All our security agencies from the Armed Forces (Army, Navy and Air Force), Police, State Security Service (SSS), National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Customs, and Immigration to the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) must be thoroughly examined to determine their capacity to cope with present and anticipated challenges. Even private security firms should not be excluded from this process. This review would enable government make informed decisions as to whether we need new agencies to tackle special crimes such as terrorism and kidnapping, etc.

All these agencies have their statutory functions which I believe is expansive enough to cope with our present security challenges. What we may need perhaps are more specialized units within the already existent agencies; for example, a Counter Terrorism Unit within the Army but in active collaboration and cooperation with other security agencies. Of course our security system has a hierarchy such that the agencies that are composed therein have their primary functions. At the apex is national security down to even minor misdemeanour. In other words, layers of government agencies will be in charge at various security levels handling appropriate security concerns with proper information and data sharing systems and inter-agency collaborations if and when necessary. Also, high level diplomatic, intelligence and military collaboration between our neighbor countries would greatly hamper the operations of Boko Haram, mitigate trans-border crimes and guarantee border security.

Our various Legislative Assemblies must also be included in this review. They have been shirking their oversight functions. They must become active and live up to their responsibilities of overseeing the activities of the executive instead of sitting back as detached observers.

Some of the recommendations and policy outcomes from such a review would be to ensure the existence of police and military stations and bases respectively to cover stipulated landmass/number of people. Our forests should not be left out. Routine patrols must be carried out. Intelligence gathering officers must be embedded in local populace. Influential thugs and people of questionable characters must be put on surveillance so their activities are nipped in the bud. Personnel may need to play duplicate roles depending on the availability of men and resources. Citizen enlightenment and sensitization must be encouraged too.

A key issue is functionality. All of these agencies must be adequately funded, equipped and staffed with competent, patriotic, passionate and dedicated officers and men. They must be adequately remunerated and motivated. A punitive culture must be adopted and practiced where officers and men are found guilty of sharp practices, bad decision making, poor judgment, negligence, etc.

My thoughts above are nowhere near exhaustive and can easily pass for a summary. But what is clear is that a lot needs to be done and the process could be very complicated and capital intensive. However, it is a price Nigeria and Nigerians can pay to guarantee our peace, security and prosperity and pay we must.

God bless Nigeria!!!

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Toks Ero blogs at www.toksero.org and tweets via / @toksero

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