Last week President Muhammed Buhari held a virtual meeting with new U.S. Secretary of state, Mr. Anthony Blinken and a positive takeaway is that the federal government is now favourably disposed to external intervention or assistance in the war against insurgency and banditry in the country. This is particularly so with the request by President Buhari for the relocation of the Africa Command from its base in Germany to the continent.
It was a clear and desperate admission that the present situation of insecurity in Nigeria in particular and the sub region in general, has become unmanageable and beyond the capacity of the countries involved. Before now, calls by Nigerians to seek foreign help had before arrogantly dismissed by the government, which had always affirmed its’ preparedness and readiness to annihilate the violent threat to our territorial sovereignty.
It was Governor Zulum of Borno state, the home of the insurgency and violent carnage to life and property in the past 10 years who was the the first public official to plead with the federal government to ask for external help since it appeared our military were out manned, and out equipped to tackle the menace. It was a call that received popular endorsement from Nigerians given the worsening insecurity which has spread beyond its original theatre to different parts of the country.
The call was not something new: Before the 2015 election which brought the present government to power, the previous government, denied access to needed military hardware by the conspiracy of the Nigerian political establishment and the U.S. under President Obama, was forced to engage defence contractors or mercenaries to flush out the Boko Haram insurgents to permit the holding of elections. Even the U.S. had also used them in Iraq and Afghanistan.
However, this government has proved foolhardy to good counsel on not only security but virtually every policy initiative, which has caused the country unimaginable pains. It is not a failure for one to admit his/her weakness. Although the government came to power with a three pronged mandate of security, economy and corruption, it was obvious that the party, the APC, was at the time simply unaware and unprepared for the challenges of governance and did not understand the enormity of the problem. It simply wanted power for its sake.
“The security challenges in Nigeria remain of great concern to us and impacted more negatively by existing complex negative pressures in the Sahel, Central and West Africa, as well as the Lake Chad Region,” Buhari told Blinken.
“Compounded as the situation remains, Nigeria and her security forces remain resolutely committed to containing them and addressing their root causes. The support of important and strategic partners like United States cannot be overstated as the consequences of insecurity will affect all nations hence the imperative for concerted cooperation and collaboration of all nations to overcome these challenges.”
President Buhari’s request for the relocation of AFRICOM to Africa and possibly Nigeria is akin to one swallowing his pride. Nigeria had in 2000 resisted the location of AFRICOM in Africa with the Army led then by late Gen. Victor Malu, threatening to overthrow the government of Obasanjo if he signed off on the policy.
Gen. Williams, pioneer Commander of AFRICOM, in a recent interview with ARISE, said that the decision by African countries led by Nigeria to reject the initiative was a strategic mistake that placed politics above the security of the continent.
According to him, AFRICOM was initiated to arrest the arising threat of terrorism and insurgency across the continent and other parts of the world and could have curbed the security degeneration in different parts of Africa.
Buhari’s appeal to the U.S. on Tuesday, came on the back of what was considered one of the deadliest days yet on Monday; a day which saw the killing of at least 46 people, including four soldiers, 14 policemen, two vigilantes, six civilians and 19 herders killed in attacks in Anambra, Imo, Kebbi, Rivers, Katsina, Borno and Kebbi States.
The truth of our present situation is that nowhere in the country is safe anymore. North, East, West and South, there is blood and destruction everywhere, leaving many people at a loss whether there is government again in Nigeria. Only an incorrigible optimist would continue to be comforted by the empty assurances of government spokespersons, while lives are being lost every day, especially the growing spate of school abductions.
The time has come to take concerted and proactive action to deal with the worsening security situation to avoid the country slipping into a state of anarchy and failed state. Although we commend the armed forces for their gallant sacrifices and commitment to winning the war, it is the sincere belief of this newspaper that the challenges of the war go beyond the capacity of the military, which is under equipped and underfunded as revealed by the current senate probe on the funding of the military.
Without a shadow of doubt, we believe that the present military would not be able to win the war, which is a conventional army fighting a guerilla warfare. It has never worked anywhere. Also there is a political aspect that is being ignored, namely, over stretching the capacity of the army by using it for civil and police duties. And the reason is simple: the police itself has been neglected and overstretched – a 400,000 force policing two million people. So there is need for state police to augment and strengthen local policing for better effectiveness.
At present the army is involved in 35 states, which seriously undermines their performance. Without state police to relief the army from its internal and civil operations, it would be difficult to achieve the high level of troop deployment and efficiency to win the war. Also with the economy in a doldrums, it would be difficult to attain the level of funding necessary to properly equip the army.
Also the government should engaged defence contract to help the army achieve the need result to give the country a relief from day violence.