All Progressives Congress (APC) national leader Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu yesterday identified five solutions to the Boko Haram insurgency.
He said the dreaded sect is the greatest security challenge to Nigerian since the civil war 40 years ago.
Tinubu said so far, government policy on tackling the problem has been unimaginative and mainly a one dimensional military approach.
The Goodluck Jonathan administration, he said, implements its own policy half-heartedly; resulting in the sect’s evil spreading geographically, with its operations becoming more complex.
The former Lagos State governor, in a statement, said government policy needs reform in five important ways.
First, he said the government must admit its solely military approach is inadequate, as Boko Haram’s challenge has economic, political and social dimensions that have been ignored at Nigeria’s collective national peril.
Second, he said to address the non-military aspects of the crisis, government needs to reach out to the North, especially those areas most blighted by terrorism.
Tinubu said that region now suffers severe economic depression, and that he believes only a small minority of people actually support Boko Haram.
The real problem, Tinubu said, is that most people in the affected areas think ill of the government and are thus indifferent to the fight between government and the sect.
“Despite Boko Haram’s homicidal ways, the population does not see government as coming to their rescue.
“They see government as another layer of suffering and oppression. Until government breaks this perception, it will have a hard time breaking the back of Boko Haram,” Tinubu said.
According to him, the most effective way to counter this impression is through a development plan for the North, under which the government will inaugurate infrastructural development that not only creates a platform for economic growth, but will provide employment for many young men.
Such legitimate employment, Tinubu said, will lessen the pool of desperate youth from which Boko Haram recruits its foot soldiers.
“Deplete the numbers of recruits and you diminish the group’s ability to operate. Also, this policy builds goodwill among the people,” Tinubu said, adding that ultimately, it is the people who will defeat Boko Haram when they see government as their ally and true guardian.
Tinubu’s third solution is the need to refine military operations, which he described as clumsy.
“The military’s hand has been too heavy and indiscriminate. It has committed abuses against the innocent in its clumsy attempt to pursue Boko Haram. These offenses only increase the pool of disaffected people from which Boko Haram recruits.
“To be seen as the true protectors of the people, government security forces must restrain themselves so that they do not lash out in frustration against innocent people for the harm Boko Haram has done,” he said.
The fourth solution, according to Tinubu, is that the government must improve its intelligence-gathering capacity.
This, he said, is partly a function of the people’s disposition toward government, as their distrust makes them reticent to provide information.
“All intelligence gathering is first local. There is a lot of sense in the community policing in Western nations where the police is welded to the community and security is every citizen’s business.
“In our case, I am afraid, security have alienated the locals and in that process shut the door to the floor of useful information about the dangerous gang.”
Finally, Tinubu said a regional summit is needed as the Boko Haram challenge has a regional dimension. He said elements of terrorism are now trafficked across borders.
“As the largest nation in West Africa and the nation most affected by this problem, Nigeria has the standing to convene a regional summit to discuss with our neighbors ways to end this problem before it becomes a hot and pressing issue for our neighbors as well,” he said.
On the abduction of girls from the Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, Tinubu said their disappearance shows a lack of contingent planning by the government.
He said most major militaries around the world have developed plans for major challenges, adding that it is a terrible lapse that Nigeria’s security apparatus failed to make such plans.
He also questioned the response on the ground the day the girls were seized, saying such abduction is logistically a major operation that takes planning and execution.
“How is it that Boko Haram is better at planning and execution than our trained professional security agencies? How could this have taken place without detection and a rapid response?” he asked.
Tinubu urged President Jonathan to talk to Nigerians on the issue. “The nation is in anguish yet the president has not talked to us directly.
“Let him make a broadcast to the nation at this time of hurt and pain to assure us, in broad terms, that he has a plan to free our daughters.
“He did not give us operation details but he needs to more actively and visibly lead the nation at this time,” Tinubu said.
The APC national leader said he was not seeking to take advantage of the security situation to score a political point.
“No matter what and no matter who is in office, our security should never sink below to a level where widespread death and destruction can descend on us with impunity…
“While I have no interest in partisan bickering at the moment, I also cannot allow the mere fact of my political affiliation to silence me on this transcendent issue. All Nigerians have a right and responsibility to let their voice be heard on this matter,” he said.
Tinubu said many non-Muslims would see Boko Haram as an Islamic assault, but that the sect’s activities make a mockery of his faith.
“I am Muslim and abhor Boko Haram for it mocks not honors the tenets of my faith. There is nothing Islamic there except that it uses the legitimacy of Islam to lure the ignorant, gullible and hopeless into their sordid trap.
“Boko Haram exalts violence, not God. It kills Muslim and Christian alike because its faith is not Islam but mayhem and lawlessness,” he said.
According to him, without the extreme poverty and the great disparity between wealthy and the poor, Boko Haram would be a small fringe movement capable of nothing except petty crime and making periodic noise.
“Government policy has been ineffectual. If it maintains this present form, government policy will continue to be ineffectual. This means the situation will either remain the same or deteriorate, with the latter being more likely. Either road is impassable if the objective of our trek is a better Nigeria.
“Some now say parts of Nigeria are ungovernable. I disagree. The issue is not that parts of the nation are ungovernable. The real problem is that the current administration seems incapable of governing these and other areas.
“No parts of the nation are ungovernable. All sections are amenable to good governance if only good governance were to be had. Trouble commences where there is bad or no governance.
“This government, by folly or omission, has done too little good. It has lost legitimacy among segments of the population. While it may hold predominant power and money, this government is approaching the point where it is morally spent.
“This government is a bumbling monument to barren policy and corrupt practices. Given the obvious danger before us, may this government regain sobriety and a sense of purpose equal to the moment and the challenge we face,” Tinubu said.