The military gains in recent years in routing out the Book Haram insurgency in Borno and other neighboring states are commendable and showed a high level of resilience and sacrifices in human and material resources. We are all aware of the high level of loses the Nigerian Military were exposed to during these seven years war and we all will continued to pray for the souls of our departed heroes who gave their lives for peace and tranquility to reign in our home.
One factor that stood out in this discourse is the fact that a more independent observer of this theater of war will confess that its either the Kanuris have a preponderance to repeatedly use the same names over and over again for their cities or this war kept going on in circles. the cities and towns librated over and over again in and around Baga and Sambisa shows a sign that something is not being done about securing and holding liberated cities properly by our conquering army.
The fact could be given the large area within which this groups operates, the number of soldiers needed to continue fighting and holding the erractic BH fighters at bay in conquered cities is not readily available. The military is involved in over 20 other states in the country and regardless of funding you can’t create good fighting men on cue. You need long term planning to get more men with good abilities in place and given further constraints in facilities for training and development, the Military is restrained from getting as much men, it needs to pursue its plans effectively.
In a period like these, thinking out of the box should become the new policy thrust. The military needs support from other security agencies in the country to achieve its aims and reduce operational bottlenecks it faces now. The Nigeria Police Force has over 390000 men in its arsenal, they are all averagely trained in basic offence, defense, intelligence gathering and other security maneuvers needed to secure and maintain a liberated city from being overrun while the troop moves on with conquest of newer territories.
The need to secure liberated areas become more important so as not to alienate locals who are easily worn out with repeated gun fights on their lands. Most civilians want to live their lives without any form of stress. Wars results in unwanted collateral damages which cannot be justified to victims families. Repeated engagements ultimately always create unnecessary enmity from locals. Winning the hearts of the locals has been championed by British and US armies in areas of conflict globally to reduce indoctrination and radicalization of locals by extremists.
To win this war of ideas against the Boko Haram, there should be a complementary force deployed to maintain and secure liberated town from being overrun and becoming battle areas again. The numbers if IDPs in Nigeria kept increasing while resources to maintain them are winning, clearly lives in those IDP camps are far below national average.
The IDP camps might become the new grounds for indoctrination and radicalization given the high level of suffering and lacks being experienced in those places. It is our job to as fast as practicable create safe haven for these people return to their homes. The reconstruction and rehabilitation of these towns with direct supports of the displaced groups from these areas will go along way in creating a job for the displaced through direct labour in building their own homes.
The Presidential Initiatives of North East and other programme designed to rehabilitate Northeast should refrain from being a normal government taskforce, always with all the answers. They could break the IDPs into groups based on areas they come from and design for them cooperatives to use direct labour in building and resettlement of their own people using states approved funding.
These methods has been employed in Italy to resettle victims of Mafia attacks and other victimised. Government indirect approach to help will create better cohesion amongst returnees as they systematically design and implement a proper framework for a workable society. Imposing order on people has bee known to lead to dissidence.
The need for newer training for a new policing structure in these newly liberated cities should be encouraged. The recruitment and use of locals as policing authorities could be experimented. The IGP could be prevailed upon to directly recruit and train special squads from current Civilian JTF and deploy under management of seasoned police officers to manage and secure these liberated town. The new force aside from understanding the challenges of the people, should be able to tactically withstand attacks from Book Haram insurgent when needed and design a proper security mix that will reduce infiltration from extremists as a kind of early warning system.
Intelligence driven security system, could be arranged covertly turning these areas into a highly policed environments thereby increasing exposure for budding radicals. Increased security patrols has been successful even in Pakistan and Iraqi where insurgency has become a way of life.
Education of locals using NGOs, CBOs and FBOs should be a major thrust of public spendings immediately. Education authorities should deaignate these areas as education emergencies which could be handled by locally approved educators and leaders. Government may direct one third of current military spending on CVE towards these projects to give it real bite. Youth and women development groups and associations should be formed to improve youth access to government resources and youth working in groups with state supports.
Funding for agricultural and basic start up investments could be specially designed for youth and farming cooperatives in resettlement areas. Local FBOs could be used to manage and dispense these loans on behalf of the state. Education of these startup owners could also be designed as conditions for loans.
Regardless of any other form of challenges northeast must return to its glorious past, we all have to collectively work to put an end to current hemorrhage of our collective Commonwealth currently going on in the area. God help Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Don Michael Adeniji. MA, Fpnm