Villascope with Lawrence Olaoye
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Maiduguri, capital city of Borno state, the epicenter of insurgency, again featured in the news recently for negative reasons. Innocent persons, about thirty of them, were roasted alive in Auno by the Boko Haram insurgents and the world stood still at the face of unimaginable horror.
Men, women, leaders, followers were moved to tears as attempts were being made to count the charred remains of barbecued human beings! Visibly touched governor of the state, Babagana Zulum, cried, bellowed, lamented that the carnage was avoidable had the authorities been alive to their responsibilities.
Though the soldiers deployed to fight the terrorists have done so valiantly with many of them having to pay the supreme price, it appears that the war is far from being won.
The demons in human forms have continued to traumatize the people, dimming hopes and ending dreams of innocent citizens. That people are dying due to the activities of the insurgents are not even as painful as the ways these people are being dispatched to the great beyond.
An eye-witness account of the roasting of the Auno victims painted pictures of cruelty and animalistic characteristics of the daredevils that is very difficult to fathom. A toddler was shot and the mother taken captive; pregnant woman were pushed into raging inferno! This definitely is the height of wickedness!
President Muhammadu Buhari, who was on his way back home from Ethiopia where he went to attend an African Union (AU) Summit made a detour to Maiduguri to commiserate with the people over the Auno killings.
The President saw the other side of the people who are unarguably frustrated by the incessant pounding from the insurgents as they trooped out as usual, this time not to cheer but to boo.
This shows that the people are gradually getting to the end of the tether. Their patience is being dangerously eroded and their confidence in the capacity of the authorities to guarantee their safety shaken.
The government needs to seriously devise means of reassuring the people of its capacity to deliver on her primary responsibilities of providing security and welfare to the people.
The mood of the mammoth crowd that came out to show their displeasure to the President was ominous. The government must take a second look at the strategies being employed by the military in this fight against terrorism at least to show that it has the capacity to safeguard the lives of the people.
Many, including Borno governor, have suggested political approach and time has come for the President to begin a wholesale assessment and re-evaluation of the current approach to the terror war.
Critics are beginning to deduce that the President’s popularity has begun to wane owing to widespread insecurity across the country. If the same people who gave the President 85 percent of their votes at the 2019 Presidential election could turn around to boo him the way they did last Wednesday, it only goes to show the gravity of their displeasure to the way the terror war is being handled.
In an obvious attempt to dare the President, the daredevils struck again, even when he had yet to settle down in the seat of power on arrival from the condolence visit to Maiduguri, as they attacked residents of Jiddari Polo. Casualties in this latest attack has yet to be made public.
But the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, has continued to maintain that the Boko Haram insurgents have been defeated. According to him, the Army is currently confronting terrorists just as he introduced another scary dimension when he said the insurgents have spread across the country.
Buratai’s disclosure only goes to indicate that the whole country has become a theatre of war. Surely, there must be a change in strategies. Perhaps time has come for the President to heed the House of Representatives suggestion of full declaration of state of emergency in the nation’s security.
The President should also take a second look at the suggestion of the overhaul of the country’s security architecture including the call for the retirement of the service chiefs.
The President however gave clues to new strategies that may help in defeating the agents of terror when he recommended synergies and intelligence sharing among the security agencies and the civil populace.
He also harped on the roles of the local leaders in the war against terrorism and insurgency when he said “I assure you that improvement in security will be pursued vigorously. The military will work harder and strategise with tactics to deal with the insurgents. This is however not possible without good intelligence and cooperation with local community leaders.
“Boko Haram cannot come up to Maiduguri or environs without the local leadership knowing because traditionally, the local leadership is in charge of security in their own respective areas.
I want to call on the leadership at various levels to cooperate with law enforcement agencies and let us deny Boko Haram access to our loyal citizens.”
But not a few stakeholders have argued that there have never been dearth of intelligence reports from the locals. For instance, in the case of Auno’s attack, the lawmaker representing Damboa/Gwoza/Chibok Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Ahmadu Jaha, disclosed that the army was alerted of the impending attack by the terrorists several hours before they eventually descended on their victims.
The lawmaker equally observed that the army are always reacting and repelling attacks from the insurgents noting that they have never attempted to take the war to their hideouts. He wondered why the Nigerian Army could not aerially locate the camps of the enemies and strike accordingly. This view, perhaps pedestal, is prevalent.
Evidently, the people are getting tired of the army’s lethargic approach to the war against the insurgents and their patience may not take too long before it snaps. They are gradually getting to the end of the tether and their reaction should only be left in the realm of imagination. The negative reaction of the people of Maiduguri to the President on Wednesday must not be politicized. It must be taken and analysed with all the seriousness it deserves.
Again, the Nigerians authorities must desist from dampening the morale of the soldiers by releasing those Boko Haram suspects back to the society under the guise that they have been ‘de-radicalized’.
There are reports that the soldiers at the forefront of the war are not happy that those that are daily giving them sleepless nights are being treated with gloved hands. There are fears that the so called ‘de-radicalized’ suspects released by the authorities sometimes find their ways back to rejoin the insurgents to continue their nefarious activities. This is, to say the least, demoralizing.