By Suleiman Umaru
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who incidentally was a former governor of Lagos state, and who Zoe Yujnovic , the Global Upstream Director, of the oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, had commended for taken the bold steps in the early stage of the Administration to forcefully remove oil subsidy and unify the country’s multiple exchange rates system that would renew Nigeria’s pride of place as an investment destination in the African Continent appears set to deal decisively with the terrorists, bandits and kidnappers across the country.
The former Lagos state governor who has vowed to defend the nation may have sent a message to the Islamic Fundamentalist Group, BokoHaram, the Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP, terrorising residents of the north eastern states of Borno and Yobe from the Sambisa forest and the Lake Chad region including the Bandits Groups operating in the north western states of Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Kaduna and the north central state of Niger and other criminal elements that there is nomore hiding for them. The message was very clear that the era of carrot and stick in dealing with them is over, meaning that military force would be used to eliminate them.
As a prelude to carrying out his military threat to the terrorists bandits group and armed Kidnappers to restore peace and ensure that ‘’the country becomes an attractive investment destination’ may have informed why the Lagos state born Nigerian President on Monday, June 3, 2023, met with Nuhu Ribadu, a former Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commissiion, EFCC, and now the National Security Adviser, NSA , and the service Chiefs , including Kayode Egbetokun, the Inspector General of Police, IGP.
The Nigerian President may have known that the terrorists and the other criminal elements who have been operating in different parts of the country since 2009 that had threatened the peace and stability of the nation and should not be allowed to continue to kill and go. The Nigerian President was said to have made it clear to the NSA, and the Security Chiefs and the IGP, that ’’to effectively tackle the security menace, the country’s security doctrine and architecture would be reformed’’.
He has every reason to do so. He was said to have urged the service Chiefs, to work as a team, noting that ‘’there is work to be done’’. Already Ribadu, the new NSA, who disclosed that service Chiefs have pledged their loyalty to the President and Nigerians had said that they have expressed their commitment ‘’to work tirelessly to secure and accomplish that objective of securing the country, establishing peace and stability’’.
Between 2015 and 2023, during the former President’s Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration, going by verifiable data published by Channels Television, in its online report, over 55,000 people were said to have been killed by the terrorists, bandits, and other armed gangs in different parts of the country.
Convinced that the Nigerian President is determined to deal decisively with the terrorists, bandits and the other armed gangs including Kidnappers to restore peace in the country may have encouraged SPDC, to declare its willingness to increase its investments in oil and gas operations in the Niger Delta region , particular, the deep-water assets by pumping in billions of dollars.
Recall that in May, 2021, the Royal Dutch oil giant had threatened to divest from the country’s oil and gas assets because they are plagued with security issues. The Company was said to have contacted the Nigerian government about divesting its onshore holding through its Onshore Joint Venture SPDC.
The Company was said to have cited the increased spills it has continued to experience in in the Niger Delta region through’’ pipeline sabotage and other issues related to onshore like Community blockade of its oil wells and flow stations’’. True to its decision, it was said to have divested 45% take of Oil Mining Lease, OML, 17 to Heirs Holdings linked to the business mogul, Tony Elumelu.
Meanwhile Ahmad Yerimma, a former governor of Zamfara, described as the home of the bandits, and who has dubbed himself as the father of the state may have read the body language of the Nigerian President at a private meeting at the Villa, last Monday that he is determined to use military force ‘’to end the crisis in the country to attract foreign investors’’.
The former Zamfara state governor who do not believe in the use of force to deal with the terrorists, bandits and kidnappers operating in the different parts of the country, had said that ‘’the best way to handle the issue is to start with dialogue , give them opportunity to defect or to repent’’, stressing that ‘’it is only if the Negotiations fail that the government can then go ahead to eliminate them with the use of the military force’’.
Giving reasons why he had said that the government should Negotiate with the terrorists and bandits, for a start, he had said that ‘’it is to avoid the collateral damage that may come up if the extensive military operations are directed , that will be the last option’’.
But Bulama Bukarti, a security expert, based in the United Kingdom, UK, who may have observed Tinubu, as a Nigerian President in a hurry to end the intractable security crisis in the country has urged him and the security Chiefs not to succumb to pressure’’ to Negotiate with the criminal elements who has done the country more harm than good ‘’ stating that the use the military force to end any form of terrorism and banditry’’ should not be abandoned.
The UK, based security expert, who could not hide his feelings , had appeared on Channels Television, monitored by the Value News last Monday, where he categorically said that ‘’dialogue and Negotiations have no place in ending security challenges within the country’’ .
According to him Dialogue or Negotiations , as being canvassed by Yerima, a former governor of the north western state of Zamfara, ‘’ implies sitting around the table and conversing with the terrorists , bandits and giving them something in order to get something from them’’. He has described Dialogue and Negotiation with the terrorists and bandits, particular, as a form of ‘’ compromise’’, noting that ‘’it is not how to deal with them but ‘’to start with the stick’’.
Bukarti, had made it clear to those that cares to listen that what the Tinubu’s government needs to do is ‘’to go hard on the military side of things and after the government have used enough military power on them, it may then open the door not for Negotiation and for amnesty because you don’t Negotiate with terrorists, bandits and criminal elements bearing arms to kill’’.
The security expert insists that it is the process, the world over to use military force to deal ruthlessly with the terrorists, bandits and other criminals and not about Negotiation or Dialogue. He had alluded to the fact that the former Katsina state born Nigerian President who had bowed to pressure to negotiate with the terrorists and bandits, even offering them amnesty but nothing came out of it.
There is no gain saying the fact that Bukarti, the UK, based security guru, may have soft pedaled in his hardline position on how to deal with the criminals when he urged the government ‘’to allow the terrorists, bandits and other armed gangs that want to repent to lay down their arms and turn themselves in to the Authority .
Bukarti’s earlier position that the Nigerian government should use its military might first to show that it can ‘’ crush them’’ and then allow those that want to defect or repent to do so was basically to teach them the hard lesson about counter-terrorism operations.
The then Buhari government was said to have Negotiated and released a BokoHaram Commander, one Shuaibu Moni, in 2018, and who later had threatened to show the country hat the Group is still fully in control of the Sambisa forest and which clearly confirms what Bukarti had said that’’ the government should not Negotiate with terrorists, bandits , kidnappers or pay ransom to them’’ .
In March, 2022 the terrorists who had attacked the Abuja-Kduna scheduled passengers train and abducted scores of the passengers were confirmed by Garba Shehu, a former Senior Special Assistant to Buhari on Media and Publicity to have deceived the government after Negotiation, which was said to have met their demands but on their own part failed to release the hostages as promised. The then Presidential Aide had said that the bandits has asked for ransom, which the government was unwilling to pay.
The then Buhari government according to Shehu, had kept to its own part of the deal with the terrorists and bandits which includes the release of their wives and children from military custody. The former Buhari Media Aide had may have shocked Nigerians when he disclosed that one of the women released was the wife of one of the Bandits Group gang Leaders