The recent appointment of the new Service Chiefs for the country’s armed forces after several years of prevarications as replacement of the old and tired predecessors must engender a reversal of the current embarrassing level of insecurity in all parts of Nigeria.
The reason is obvious. The ravaging level of insecurity in this country is eroding citizens’ confidence in government’s capacity and capability to justify its existence, pursuant to extant laws, forcing frustrated victims to resort to atavistic self-help with its attendant lawlessness. Besides, contrary to all expectations, insecurity remains this administration’s albatross, defying introduction of motley military operations like Operation Puff Adder, Operation Rattle Snake, Operation Crocodile Smile and even Operation Lafia Dole, thereby making nonsense of President Muhammadu Buhari’s electoral promise of restoring national security.
Even more disturbing is the fact that no significant achievement has been recorded four years after the commencement of deradicalization of repentant Boko Haram members under the Operation Safe Corridor, a multi-agency programme which coordinated the deradicalization of a total of 882 “repentant” insurgents.
The fact that no constructive intelligence has been extracted from these “repentant Boko Haram” members and bandits alike after taking oath of allegiance, faithfulness, loyalty, discipline and obedience to the Federal Republic of Nigeria queried if not defeated the significance of the exercise in the first place.
At the critical point in the nation’s history, the recently appointed Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Lucky Irabor; Chief of Army Staff, Maj.-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru; Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Amao and the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Awwal Gambo have the challenge to rekindle the people’s confidence in our indefatigable armed forces. Indeed, the last four years or so have been mired by rampaging terrorism in both the North- East and North-West, banditry, which some perceive as a genre of terrorism, kidnapping in virtually all parts of the country and sundry internal security issues.
Daily, insecurity has degenerating to abysmal level due largely to regular savagery of Boko Haram who take on soft and tough targets alike, even as robbery and kidnapping have concertedly taken allure off road and rail travels. Similarly, farming has become a deadly adventure due to frequent cases of kidnapping, rape and massive destruction of lives and property by audacious herdsmen whose ranks have been infiltrated by suspected Fulani from Mali, Niger and other neighbouring countries.
Bearing in mind that the nation is in a state of emergency as the President rightly observed, Nigerians expect the Service Chiefs who are familiar with the war on terror to write their names in gold by exceeding the pushing back Boko Haram in the North-East, bandits in the North- West and the North-Central, but eliminating them altogether.
Whereas the hood does not make the monk, more than ever before, it is more imperative for the new Service Chiefs to give greater fillip to the war on terror, address very salient issues which have turned the war to a drab and huge business in the lasts six years. Plummeting morale of combatants, poor equipment and strategies, deficient leadership which either rebuffed and/ or punished officers over legitimate complaints, observed mutiny manifested in the shooting of commanders by troops, should be addressed. To regain confidence of the troops and eliminate cases of moles in the armed forces, it has become imperative for the new security chiefs to listen to legitimate demands of the troops combing the forests and suffered the misfortune of burying their colleagues mauled by the terrorists.
The Service Chiefs must design internal cleansing mechanism to root out fifth columnists from their ranks. The Service Chiefs must as a necessity change operational strategies, and or combine multiple strategies in the war, and desist from the current reactionary pattern where troops attack insurgents, reclaim former occupied towns, resettle residents without taking effective control and establishing military base. The military chiefs must apply structured analytical thinking in inventing solutions to the security threats; utilize powerful idea generation tools like morphological analysis, quadrant crunching, cross impact matrix, nominal group technique, structured brainstorming, virtual brainstorming and star bursting.
The era of inter-service rivalry considered the pitfalls of their predecessors should be consigned to history books and replaced with inter-service cooperation, reflected in tactical collaboration. A clearly-defined template capable of identifying and geo-mapping the entire country, with its peculiar security problem (kidnapping, banditry and terrorism) should be put in place and appropriate strategies and tactics on air, land, see formulated and reviewed periodically in conformity with their dynamism.
We commend the fact that the Service Chiefs had visited the Theatre Command of Operation Lafia Dole in Maiduguri, Borno State, the epicentre of the terrorist attacks to boost the morale of the troops. While this illustrated the significance they attach to the war on terror, we strongly suggested that this must send strong signals to the terrorists and provide fresh vistas that new sheriffs are in town. Besides the bold statement made by the visit to Borno State, the nation’s security must take a 360 degree turn as the military must comb the deadly forests in Niger, Kaduna, Zamfara and Sokoto states as well as other parts of the country where these criminals are making mincemeat of hapless Nigerians.