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President Tinubu, reclaim Nigeria from insurgents, bandits

Terrorists and bandits appear to be daring the government and security forces with audacious, but outrageous group abductions of women, girls and school children in…

Terrorists and bandits appear to be daring the government and security forces with audacious, but outrageous group abductions of women, girls and school children in Borno, Bauchi and Kaduna States in the last seven days. Without mincing words, the criminal adventures by the outlaws effectively deflated claims by top government officials that insecurity had reduced drastically, and that some 95 per cent of the terrorist elements in the ranks of Boko Haram had been either killed or put in disarray through diverse military and non-kinetic strategies.  

Before they could celebrate their ‘triumph’, Boko Haram abducted about 200 women and girls from Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Ngala Local Government Area of Borno State; bandits, in broad daylight, on Thursday, March 7, 2024, abducted 285 students and pupils from the Local Government Education Authority (LGEA) Primary School, Kuriga (1) in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State. Though a primary school, the educational facility doubled as a secondary school premises where government had relocated students from schools prone to bandit attacks. The third other publicized case of abduction in recent times was in Tara village in Ningi Local Government Area in Bauchi State, where six persons were victims.

The foregoing instances of abductions and many others that have gone unreported in the mass media provide wide and loud evidence that the criminals who have been troubling this country in the last 15 years still have enough space to operate fearlessly because military operations that have gulped a huge chunk of the country’s revenues over the years, have not dented their courage and resolve to carry out the attacks. Most times when government claims that terrorists had been decimated, or bandits curtailed, or kidnap kingpins captured, or that herders-farmers conflicts reduced to the minimal, it uses comparative data between the previous administration and the current one.

It is an error to use the failure of the previous administrations to measure the ‘successes’ of the current government, as the common denominator among the past and present administrations is the half-hearted, superficial and apathetic approach to this existential war. Successive governments have deceitfully fought our common enemies with the gloves of regional, political and even religious sentiments. But these criminals have none of these considerations; their interest is to kill, steal, and destabilize the country. This is why the Tinubu government must rethink its strategy in tackling terrorists and bandits in order to reclaim Nigeria from the enemies of the State.

From the circumstances surrounding the group abductions in Borno and Kaduna States, it is very clear that previous efforts to curtail terrorists and bandits have not yielded genuine victory. The young women abducted from the IDPs camp in Ngala ventured into the forest, few kilometres from the local government headquarters, to fetch firewood for sale in order to augment the food items they accessed with government’s coupons. The food handout to IDPs is grossly inadequate and unsustainable, and this is the more reason why terrorists must be chased from villages to enable the people return to their homes. Though, government has claimed that the low number of attacks by terrorists was evidence of the decimation of Boko Haram and ISWAP, this may not be the true situation. It could be that the attacks are fewer because most villages have been abandoned and left for terrorists to control. For instance, Boko Haram insurgents only recently went to Gaiibo village in Dikwa Local Government Area and burnt down 25 houses newly constructed by the Borno State Government to facilitate the return of IDPs to the village.  While government’s presence is felt in IDP camps in LGA headquarters, the vast villages remain unsafe despite repeated attempts to return the IDPs to their communities.

This story is similar to the situation in Kaduna State, where bandits have overwhelmed rural communities in at least seven local government areas. Such LGAs in Kaduna include; Igabi, Giwa, Chikun, Kajuru, Kagarko, Birnin-Gwari and Kachia. For instance, in Kuriga where about 285 school children were abducted last Thursday, there is no police presence, and the only police outpost there was dismantled in 2022, due to incessant attacks by bandits. In these local governments, the people can no longer farm; they have abandoned their farms to bandits.  

The piecemeal approach of this government to the spate of insecurity is too feeble to deal with the gravity of the problem at hand. There must be a grand offensive against terrorists and bandits, who have seized our forests and rendered hundreds of communities ungovernable. It is clear that other strategies employed to cajole and persuade terrorists and bandits have failed. Negotiations, amnesty, compensation, unsolicited repentance, rehabilitation, and even financial grants have not doused the havoc brought upon Nigeria by terrorists and bandits. From Zamfara to Benue; Kaduna to Katsina, Niger to Kogi, Sokoto to Borno these bandits are holding Nigeria by the jugular, taunting government and security operatives. No serious government can continue to keep its cool in the face of such challenge.  It must also be stated that no country can develop under the current security situation in Nigeria.  President Tinubu must come up with a new security strategy – as previous ones have failed – to smoke these criminals out of the Nigerian space. And it must be done now.

 

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