By Auwal Musa Rafsanjani
Let me first commend the President for listening to voices of reason and has finally sacked the service chiefs. This is long overdue!
Sadly, things have deteriorated to a level where kidnapping is no longer limited to the South but the entire country. When kidnappers are now abducting hundreds of school children from their school premises and making away with busloads of travellers. As cross-border bandits are out killing in their dozens, food insecurity looms because farmers are either being killed or those displaced are afraid of returning to continue with their cherished vocation. Yet, there is no let-up in armed robbery.
This should be a point of entry for the new chiefs. Good enough, their credentials suggest that they are well experienced in tactical and strategy which is the immediate fresh breath that is required to engage going forward. The new service chiefs should be professional and not politicians in uniform. The situation where on every issue the army issue statement to condemn human rights groups and media for calling on the security agencies to respect human rights should not continue under this dispensation.
They have reviewed the current strategy on terrorism and counter insurgency, the de-radicalization without community victims healing is not productive.
Secondly, they need to provide proper facilities and equipment to enable soldiers to effectively deal with the insurgents. Besides, Nigeria needs to take care of the welfare of her troops. Not only should they be paid all their entitlements while out there defending their fatherland, they should also be well equipped to be able to repel the forces of terror. Issues that should lead to soldiers protesting or scampering away from battlefield should be avoided.
If soldiers have overstayed their appointed time, they should be replaced with fresh blood to avoid fatigue setting in. The new regime should as a matter of urgency investigate the resignation of over 127 soldiers in recent weeks as well as non-payment of pension to veterans. By so doing, a standard template for transparency and accountability will be institutionalized.
The rivalry between the different security organizations must stop. This dispensation must strike the rhythm for effective coordination, collaboration and synergy as diamond formation to victory. But, above all, to win the war against Boko Haram, the government has to win the war of the mind. Most of the people conscripted by the terrorists are brainwashed to believe they are fighting for God and would go straight to heaven if they die in the process.
This is the most difficult aspect of the war to fight. Until the government and religious leaders are able to counter it effectively, only very little progress can be made in the war against terror. The new regime must therefore work very closely with stakeholders on the non-kinetic aspects. CISLAC has recently launched a Technical Working Group on Protection of civilians and Civilian Harm Mitigation, it is a robust platform that can support new and ongoing efforts of the armed forces with strategic communications to the communities.
While militancy, a major security threat in the oil-producing Niger Delta region, has receded remarkably, herdsmen killings have grown in scope and intensity. The first approach from the new chiefs will be to dwell more on intelligence led response. This will save money, time and casualties.
A whole lot must go into building confidence and resilience from communities and partnership building. There is a huge disconnect between the people and its armed forces and this clearly suggests that information is not adequate and has a huge potential of drifting citizens into a deeper resentment with the security institutions.
Auwal Musa Rafsanjani is Executive Direcor Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)