By Stephen Ubanna
When John Onayeikan, the Kogi state born Archbishop Emeritus of Abuja Catholic Diocese said in an interview recently on Channels Television that no one is safe in this country, not many people took him serious. He was lambasted from different quarters by apologists of President Muhammadu Buhari who believe that he has improved the security situation of the country from what it was prior to what it was under former President Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
Archbishop Onayeikan may have stepped on powerful toes with such statement. Now Kkalifa Dikwa, a Professor and Dean, BEF, Borno Elders Forum, described as the home of the Islamic Fundamentalist Group, popularly known as, Boko Haram and Islamic State of West Africa Province, ISWAP, where the Katsina state born Nigerian President had spent much of the government security votes to train and equip the military personnel to stand their ground in restoring normalcy in the state may have narrowed Onayeikan Statement to the north east state.
Dikwa had said that in the same Channels Television where the Catholic Archbishop had made his declaration that ‘’aside from Maiduguri, the Borno state Capital, nobody in any other part of the state is safe. The Professor who is worried about the rising insecurity in the state despite large presence of security operatives in the state including NAVAL personnel in Bama fishing Community, had said that ‘’Even though the insurgents may not be physically on ground in the state to carry out their attacks, but they are psychologically there disturbing the people’’.
The aggrieved Professor had said that ‘’from time to time they ride in their motor cycles, come and harass them to pay their levies and so on’’, an indication of a religious government functioning t in a Civil government. He had said that the security situation in the state could not have degenerated to the current state if the military Authorities had heed to the advice of the Private Military Contractor, PMC, to man the country’s land borders, particularly, the north east states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe land borders after they had ‘’decimated’’ the Abubakar Shekau’s men, in 2014.
He noted that the military Authorities should have allowed the other security agencies, particularly the Force, to take over control of the recaptured areas and move to the land borders to protect it but had stayed put in the liberated local government areas in the state. The unmanned land borders in the north east may have opened the gateway for the insurgents to flood the Borno state with their sophisticated weapons and carry out occasional attacks in Adamawa and Yobe state Communities to scare further scare the people.
Dikwa, who could not hide his feelings had said that the Shekau and ISWAP Group recruits are everywhere in the state that ‘’even if Yusuf Tukur Burati, a Lt. General and Chief of Army Staff, CAS, decides to deploy all the military personnel outside Borno to contain the activities of the terrorists, they may not be able to make any appreciable impact in the state.
He has his reason. ‘’There is no synergy between the military and the other security agencies personnel” . He fears that they may be a rivalry between the security agencies personnel when they should be collaboration among them to be able to deal decisively with the insurgents operating in the north east geo-political region. The Borno state born Professor and Socio-political analysts may have sent a message to the military Authorities that that fight against insurgency in Borno state and other states in the north east cannot be handled by the military alone .
This is where he wants the Nigerian President to stamp his feet down and give a marching order to General Gabriel Olonisakin, Chief of Defense Staff, CDS, and the Service chiefs a limit, say one or two months maximum to end the crisis in the north east. He had expected the Nigeria President and Commander –In-Chief of the Armed Forces to read the riot act to the CDS and the Service Chiefs that if they fail to complete the assignment within the time limit they should consider it over in the Service by submitting their letter of resignation
Dikwa that if the Nigerian President had taken such a bold initiative from the onset it would have forced the military Authorities to devise strategies to contain the activities of the insurgents long ago to avoid playing into the hands of the retired army General, who might have no option but to place them with fresh hands with fresh ideas to prosecute the BokoHaram war.
Many believe that the Nigerian President may have given Olonisakin , the CDS, and Service Chiefs the blank cheque to prosecute the anti-terrorist war in the north as if it would never end which may have informed why it is dragging on despite the promises made to contain the activities of the insurgents in the north east over the last five years.
Aware that the military Command structure is not helping matters in the north east , the Dean of BEF, has called for the decentralization of the Command system to give the junior Commanders opportunity to give Command in case of threats in the region. The BEF, Dean noted opined that the Borno case is a special emergency issue that requires emergency solution to handle it .
He insists that the junior Commanders should be allowed to give Commands when they foresee threats in their areas of operations instead of waiting for orders from the military High Command in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, which takes time to get to them.Dikwa, may have said it loud and clear that that for the military to contain the insurgency in the three flash point north east states, the Army High Command should give the sector Commanders the Authority ‘’to give instructions to the junior Commanders in the field’’.
Since November 18, 2020 and now, BokoHaram and the splinter group, ISWAP, according to eyewitness accounts have launched series of attacks in Bono alone, killing scores of people. The most worrisome of such attacks was the killing of 44 rice farmers in Zabarmari in Mafa local government and the sacking and looting of food items in four Communities in the state.
The United Nations, UN, Office for the Coordination that more than 30,000 people have killed by the insurgency groups and another three million displaced in their homes in different parts of the north east states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe over the last 10 years. It is orecord that more than 60,000 Borno indigenes are currently in refugee Camps in the West African country of Chad and the Central African country of Cameroon.
This is in addition to the thousands of others in various internally Displaced People’s Camps in Munguno, Damboa, Gamboru, Ngala, Gujirin, Bama, and other major towns in Borno state. The rising insecurity in Borno, over the last one and half years may have turned Babagana Zulum, the 51-old , as weeping governor of the north east, who is now praying day and night for his first term in office to elapse to return home a safe person instead of seeking re-election in the upcoming 2023 general elections.