Insurgency: Do something new, Mr. President
The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 states that sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government derives all its powers and authority. Since not all Nigerians can be exercising the sovereign power at the same time, elections provide the means of constituting government and investing on it powers to be exercised on behalf of citizens. Thus, Nigerians have invested by delegation the sovereign authority on the Federal government. Sovereignty is defined by the Black’s Law Dictionary as the supreme, absolute, and uncontrollable power by which any independent state is governed; supreme political authority; the supreme will; paramount control of the constitution and frame of government and its administration; the self-sufficient source of political power, from which all specific political powers are derived; the international independence of a state, combined with the right and power of regulating its internal affairs without foreign dictation; also a political society, or state, which is sovereign and independent. It further includes the power to make laws, to execute and to apply them, to impose and collect taxes and levy contributions, to make war or peace, to form treaties of alliance or of commerce with foreign nations, and the like.
A fundamental pact of delegating sovereign powers to a government is for the protection of lives and property and the maintenance of the territorial integrity of the nation. In the Nigeria of today, following the insurgency of the Boko Haram sect, a majority of Nigerians are not satisfied that the sovereign powers bequeathed to the Federal Government has been properly exercised in the larger interest of all. The territorial integrity of Nigeria is grossly under threat and there are vast sections of the country where the government is no longer in control of. These vast lands are controlled by insurgents who have unequivocally renounced and repudiated the authority of the government. The insurgents have their own flags and an agenda to found a republic based on their narrow and warped ideas of religion. They have constituted themselves into authorities of their own and take joy in the destruction of lives and property. They have remained essentially unchallenged to the extent that they operate without let and hindrance in the night and in broad daylight. This has gone on for so long that they have developed an audacity beyond the common courage of fighters to ask a Nigerian community to quit their ancestral land or face total extermination. Yes, this is the fate of the people of Chibok after their daughters have been kidnapped and have not been found for months; several attacks on the community and now the declaration of intent for the final solution.
What is worrisome in this threat is that similar threats in the past by these insurgents, according to media reports, had been carried out unchallenged. Several reports of soldiers and policemen abandoning their duty posts and fleeing without a fight or fleeing from apparent superior fire power are not only incredible but ranks Nigeria as a Banana Republic. The stories make every right-thinking person to wonder whether s/he is watching a Nollywood movie, the incredible Charly Boy Show or a new tragic-comedy by whatever name called. Media reports have regaled us with stories of attacks by insurgents that lasted over four hours and the insurgents were still unchallenged by the sovereign power of the state. If there are no nearby military base or Mobile Police units, how long will it take to move troops by choppers and other aircraft? Or, we do not have functional military aircraft again? Is it that our troops and their commanders no longer get information and calls when these incredulous crimes are being committed?
We are told by the military, intelligence and security high command that they are doing their best in the circumstances. But Nigerians are dying in their numbers and no one is taking sufficient action that would stop the daily killings. If it is not in communities in Borno, Yobe or Taraba State, the Kaduna area becomes the new killing field; Abuja, Kano, Jos, Benue and other parts of Nigeria keep exploding with deaths and grave harm to lives and properties. It is no longer the localised affair in the North-East; it is virtually all over Nigeria with a threat to get more vicious. Their best apparently has not been good enough.
After each bombing with many people dead, there is a promise from the highest level of government to get the perpetrators arrested, tried and punished and to forestall similar occurrences. But before the victims who were wounded could get their wounds healed, another one erupts. Thus, Nigerians are tired of promises that do not seem to be matched with action. The vast majority of Nigerians are ready to collaborate with the authorities to stop this madness because only the living have a stake. The American and other examples, where the people rally round their government when insurgents attack, are also matched by government following up speeches with visible action. In this way, winning the war against the insurgency is given a boost.
Winning this war against insurgency is not inter-planetary science; it requires only honesty of purpose, focus and galvanising the resources available in the country towards the struggle. These resources include human, financial, technological, environmental and other resources. We even have contributions from world powers; but this has not reduced the attacks. Our soldiers have always done well on foreign missions. However, the story we are fed with is not in tandem with this nobility of purpose. So, what is amiss in this context?
Mr. President, everything stops at your table. Hire the men you need for this assignment. Dismiss those who are not performing. Caution those who want to sabotage the war on insurgency. You cannot be fighting an insurgency of this type and have your generals fighting the media and alienating civil society. Every support you can get is important. Set targets and deliverables for your security heads and determine their suitability for continued employment with their performance scorecard. Feel the pulse of the people, get out of Aso Rock once in a while to get the truth so that you do not become hostage to the men you hired. Investigate what has been done with the resources appropriated for security which evidently were not well spent. There are prima facie cases of mismanagement starring us in the face. The Abuja CCTV procurement is a case in point. Ensure that every kobo voted for the welfare of security operatives is not withheld by the higher levels of command; probe the procurement of tactical and sophisticated hardware and vote new resources for new acquisitions. Get all political parties to the table to commit to fighting this raging insurgency. Get to discuss one on one with the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the Chief Judges of the states; impress it on them the need for speedy trial of terror suspects without the usual Webster v Cecil idiosyncrasy and technicalities of the courts.
Finally, Mr. President, renew your faith in Nigeria; not everyone will like you or appreciate what you are doing. But history will be kind to you if you do your best within the context of the bounteous and available resources in Nigeria. May God continue to bless Nigeria!