We are in a very difficult period that calls for both concern and sympathy from all well-meaning people. Concern because precious lives have been wasted and the economy in some parts of the country has been brought to its knees. Security matters are very difficult issues to comment on without access to the nitty-gritty of the factors responsible for the very disturbing phenomenon. It is evident that Nigeria is fighting an asymmetric war that is a typical war ‘’between a standing, professional army and an insurgency or resistance movement militias who often have status of unlawful combatants’’. The fact that several lives have been lost and the society thrown into confusion are enough reasons for the cacophony of voices demanding explanations from their leaders.
But we must go beyond rhetoric to examine the influence of our immediate society and our joint commitments to issues pertaining to insurgency, and go beyond these to also examine other social and criminal vices that have thrown these problems on the laps of all Nigerians and how our joint commitment to national issues could bail us out of our predicament. It is noteworthy that Mr. President through some media outlets and pronouncements has in the past few days continued to assure that the situation would be addressed with every seriousness it deserves. That assurance must soothe frayed nerves while efforts are put in high gear to save lives and property.
As usual, we are publishing this piece to invite attention and promote discourse in a manner that would bring about positive results at this crucial period. For the nation’s leaders, this is indeed a very sobering period as the nation grapples with regrettable incidents. Nobody would naturally wish to find himself/herself in this type of situation. However, this piece will not comment on the capabilities of war commanders and others at the theatre of war because we have no empirical facts to assess capabilities and security situations. It is possible there there are foreign backers of Nigeria’s opponenets given the sophistication of their offensives.
To fully understand the problem of insurgency and what could be done militarily to end the destruction of lives and property, it is important to seek the hows, whys, constraints and long-term measures that could effectively check the rebellion initially attached to religion but which has been found to be antithetical to Muslim religious beliefs. Former Emir of Kano, an old venerable royal father was almost bombed to death. The group first came into limelight in 2009 as a Jihadist group that blames Western influences for what it calls ‘’Nigeria’s culture of corruption that has contributed to a wide gap between the few rich and the many poor.’’ In essence, one of the reasons adduced is poverty or inequality. It got strengthened in 2010 when it commenced attacks on soft targets in what was believed were reprisal attacks for the death of some of its members in some encounters. This piece will not delve into security issues connected with the war on account of lacking the information to run an informed commentary on the prosecution of the war.
Opinions over the years have cautioned that the types of attention our youths receive will determine their emergence as good tools of development. The elite and political classes at all levels know the importance of youth development and many have paid particular attention to philanthropy. And the solution is that of the society with the government taking the lead through the creation of an enabling environment. Today, unemployment is viewed as the key factor. Some actions have been taken to cater for the post-Covid-19 period. We must give glory to God that the insurgents thought it proper to also attack influential leaders of Islam; otherwise this occurrence could have resulted into a religious war because Christians would never have believed that Muslim leaders have no hand in the crises.
INSURGENCY – BEYOND THE ORDINARY
This writer, had in a September 2019 piece on this same channel called on the global community for assistance and collaboration given Nigeria’s strategic influence in Africa. I noted that ‘’the effects of conflicts in the African continent have been terribly disturbing. A UNESCO report on culture and cultural values states in part: ‘’Since the upsurge of terrorism in the late 1960s, there has been a serious trend of increasing terror. ‘’The targets and methods change, but the problem remains one of the challenges to international order. ‘’Greater vigilance and more direct counter-actions may have helped to control the problem, but offers no solution.’’ It is a global mailaise which is possibly why UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the situation of conflicts all over the world as ‘’a new wave of madness that is sweeping across the globe’’
Speaking at a national workshop for judicial officers on anti-terrorism held in Abuja, former Chief Justice of Nigeria, the Hon. Justice Mariam Aloma Mukhtar noted that terrorism poses serious challenges to any nation unfortunate to experience it, as it has the risk of undermining core values of a nation such as the Rule of Law, respect for human rights, protection of civilians, tolerance among the various ethnic groups. ‘’Its motivation, financing and support mechanisms, methods of attack and choice of target are constantly evolving, thus adding to the complexity of any effective strategy to combat it. Mukhtar asserted that ”There is no doubt that the state has the right to employ its full arsenal to crush, repress and prevent terrorist activities, but with a caveat: ‘’It should do so within the ambit of legal and constitutional permissions, as human rights law makes ample provision for counter-terrorist action, even in the most exceptional circumstances.’’ This is one of the constraints.
INSURGENCY & CLIMATE CHANGE – A DANGEROUS COMBINATION
A personal effort at researching insurgency reveals that it is a global phenomenon that might take a long time to conquer which is why special and warranted efforts are required. Social and criminal vices have already been entrenched in the minds of people. But having to combine insurgency with problems of climate change is troubling. Yet, not many of us know much about climate change to be able to educate millions of people open to the risks of this global cncern. From studies conducted on how these challenges were handled by some other nations, it is important to know that insurgency will not go away soon. We are no security experts and will, therefore, not go further to relate this to the Nigerian situation. It will certainly take years to win this war permanently because the mindsets of those involved and the young ones already indoctrinated must be garnished, while also prosecuting the war. Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General posited that: ‘’No bridge is too broken to rebuild, no past too difficult to overcome, no conflict too complex to solve’’ We all have inputs to make into combating all these threats to human existence.
Examining the trend of insecurity including kidnapping, armed robberies etc, it would be discovered that it is mostly about money, comfort, inequalities and hunger. Obviously, there is the need for an urgent intervention in our norms and values at a time that the whole world faces multi-dimensional challenges, including security breaches, and criminal and social vices that are threatening peaceful coexistence and values that were handed down by progenitors. We have come a long way. That oil boom era bred several multi-millionaires and promoted the high propensity of Nigerians for the acquisition of wealth. If we could avoid naked display of wealth, this could help the situation. There are remedies. It is important that we discuss our changing social, economic and political circumstances in order to reconcile all opposing interests and assuage our various feelings. And it
seems to me that we could commence this process from our individual homes.
CORRECTING THE SITUATION
Delivering a keynote address at a ceremony organized by the UN in the North-east last year, UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria Edward Kallon urged the Federal Government to continue with its “carrot and stick approach” to ending insurgency. Kallon said: “In this very critical period, we must redouble efforts, with the support of everyone at all levels locally, nationally and internationally. “Against a backdrop of increased and violent attacks against civilians and humanitarian actors, more than ever, we must unite and combine efforts to secure progress and achievements. “We must continue building on years of relentless solidarity from first and foremost, Nigerians, government actors, civil society and local communities who have themselves suffered loss and from the international humanitarian community.”
PARENTS TOO MUST WAKE UP
Accordingly, the need for review of policies on children and the family is underscored by the fact that in several homes, youths are abused and children are indoctrinated into horrifying activities at impressionable ages. There are lots of irresponsible parents all over. Children must be accorded adequate attention before getting indoctrinated through exposure to dysfunctional family structures, social marginalization, and poverty. Serious concerns such as economic inequality, cultural norms, access to guns, alcohol, illicit drugs, and other issues that promote delinquency must be addressed on a long-term basis. As indicated above, taking personal interest in the welfare of the target audience in the society would go a long way in correcting perceived anomalies. Given the increasing and alarming incidents of condemnable vices and unusual occurrences of broken homes, and acts that could cause all forms of violence, there is a compelling need for intervention through a collaborative approach and for everybody, including organizations with parental responsibilities and governments to be vigilant and be more committed to the development of the growing ones.
For now, we require an immediate committed involvement of parents in monitoring the development of youth, increased involvement of government in an attempt to correct differences in perceptions and viewpoints, and correcting expectations and prejudices which may lead to false assumptions. There is the need for proactive measures to shape the conducts of the young ones in their formative years through adolescence.