Nigeria is in a state of war. A few months ago, the war was in the northeast. But today, it is ubiquitous. The entire country is now the theatre of violent engagement.
Up until January this year, and raging as they were, Boko Haram had no Nigerian territory under their control. But today, they are looking stronger and have conquered new territories not only in Borno, but also in Yobe and Niger. They are threatening and aggressively pushing southwards.
Bandits have taken over a good part of the northwest, and states like Sokoto, Zamfara, Kaduna and Katsina are no longer safe territories for residents. Many schools in these areas have become no-go areas for pupils and students. Hundreds of innocent citizens of this country are still being held in the dens of kidnappers.
The northcentral has been under intense bombardment by bandits, armed herders, cultists, and kidnappers. Recently, the nation had to bury eleven soldiers and officers who were ambushed and murdered by these miscreants. Boko Haram cells are beginning to mature in the area, especially in Niger and Nasarawa States.
IPOB has lately unleashed a reign of terror in the southeast, attacking and burning down police stations, breaking jail houses and setting free felons who pose real danger to society, killing policemen and prison wardens, and unleashing fear and mayhem on the civil populace. They have also had the temerity to attack the house of the Imo State Governor, to demonstrate that no one in the region is safe.
The southwest and the southsouth have continued to be hotbeds of violent cult and kidnapping activities. Following on the heels of armed herders who have murdered numerous citizens are bandits who are beginning to show some sparse presence in the two areas. Armed highway robbers have seized upon the prevailing state of insecurity in the regions and now perpetrate highly organized operations right at city centres.
The entire country is in a state of war. There are guns everywhere. There are shootings, killings and violence everywhere. Lately, several foreign missions, agencies of government, corporate organizations have been writing and sending out security advisories warning and trying to protect their own against the insecurity in the country. But who cares about the ordinary citizens of this country?
The Nigerian military is fighting the Boko Haram terrorists in the northeast, the bandits in the northwest, bandits, armed herders and now Boko Haram terrorists in the northcentral, IPOB terrorists in the southeast, kidnappers, cultists and armed herders in the southwest and south-south. But for the Nigerian military, this country would have broken into pieces. We doff our hats for the Nigerian military!
The entire country is embroiled in gun battles and violence. The enemies of Nigeria have risen from various nooks and crannies to unleash havoc on innocent citizens, bring down the government, and break up the country. They will not stop at anything unless they are comprehensively eliminated. And that is the task before the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, his service chiefs, and their officers and men.
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To President Muhammadu Buhari, and to the leaders and citizens of Nigeria, we say that this is not a time to negotiate with those who seek to destroy this country – Boko Haram, IPOB, bandits, armed herders, and kidnappers – or to deal with them in any sympathetic or sentimental way. Now is the time to go all out and crush them. Kill all the bagas, before they kill more thousands of innocent people, bring down the government and break up the nation. President Buhari, now is the time to kill the bagas! If you don’t kill them now, they will kill thousands, and probably hundreds of thousands of innocent Nigerians in the months and years to come.
Nigeria is at war and President Buhari should declare a state of emergency now. It is to the President’s great advantage that the two arms of the national assembly and even the leading opposition party, the PDP, have all called on the President to declare a state of emergency in the country. (Every sane person understands the gravity of the Nigerian security situation, and stares at the naked truth that ‘whatever goes around, comes around’). Parliament and the main opposition have given their support to the idea; in fact, they own the idea. So, President Buhari does not have to struggle to sell the idea to them.
A situation of countrywide armed conflict and civil unrest is more than enough constitutional reason for the declaration of a state of emergency. A state of emergency in the security sector would empower the government to use extra-constitutional and martial means to pursue and implement policies and programmes that will quickly kill off insurgency, banditry, and all armed conflicts in the country. It is a strategy of governance that offers government the required latitude to deal with very uncommon insecurity issues, disasters or threats to lives and properties.
Nigeria needs massive recruitments into her military in the first place. The current personnel strength of the entire Armed Forces of Nigeria is less than 200,000 active officers and men. Even in normal, peaceful times, the number is very inadequate for the nation’s landmass and a population of over 200 million people. In the context of the war that the nation is fighting today, the number is a joke. Over fifty years ago when Nigeria fought the Civil War, the strength of the army was quickly multiplied from 5000 to 250,000 officers and men. Nigeria would never have defeated Biafra without that strategic move.
The need for massive recruitments into the Nigerian Armed Forces is even more today than it was during the Civil War. Nigeria today needs at least 400,000 soldiers in the army alone. We need to inundate every theatre of conflict with well-equipped men in boots. The nature of the large-scale recruitments required in the military can only be justified with the declaration of a state of emergency. At this point, the nation needs massive military presence in every state of the federation. Massive presence!
There are thousands of soldiers who have been in one theatre of conflict or the other for over one to two years. Many of them are beleaguered but keep trudging on, in spite of the conditions that negate the rules of their engagement. That is not how to win a war. But the numbers are simply not there for the quality of rotations required.
Massive recruitments come with lots of implications in terms of training, equipment, welfare, etc, and these can all be effectively dealt with in an emergency situation.
Certainly, the acquisition and deployment of modern warfare technology are critical to winning the war. But the reality is, even critical equipment that had been ordered and paid for several years back have not been received by the military. On the one hand, there are international political dynamics to contend with in terms of technology acquisition. On the other, even when required equipment is received in the required volume, notwithstanding the deployment of technology, the nation still needs large numbers of soldiers on ground. The deployment of modern warfare technology will definitely ease the execution of the war, but will leave behind a lot of work to be done by the soldiers on ground.
The dimension of simultaneous land and air operations should be given a strong bearing in the war against insecurity in the country. Such would offer strategic advantages in terms of the positioning of platforms and the deeper engagement and displacement of targets, among others. But it can only work with certain numbers of soldiers on ground in various places. Moreover, does Nigeria have the numbers in terms of fighter aircraft and pilots? The answer is NO.
President Buhari has to take the bull by its horns and deal with the matter of Nigeria’s security and sovereignty decisively.
The example of Sri Lanka in ending terrorism and restoring peace to the country is most instructive. As has been captured in some military circles, government must be ready to engage the media in new ways that would deny the enemies of Nigeria access to the media (conventional and social) and restrain the media in terms of access to and coverage of anti-Nigeria groups and sentiments.
Government has to embark on an international task that would effectively strangulate such anti-Nigerian groups wherever they are outside the country, and also deny them access to the United Nations and strategic international organisations and donors, as well as local and international human rights organisations.
An immediate agenda should be to isolate and eliminate the sworn enemies of Nigeria as quickly as possible. Everyone who takes up arms against the Nigerian military or the citizens is an enemy that should be eliminated. Their sponsors and enablers should also share in their fate. Except this is done, the enemies of Nigeria will remain empowered, and will pull the nation down into hell.
This is the time to save the country. The citizens of Nigeria wait in fear and trepidation, and hope that President Buhari will save the nation. This is a season that calls for strategic thinking, strategic planning, and strategic execution. This is a time that demands uncommon leadership.
Please, President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerians beg you; declare a state of emergency now, and fix Nigeria!
Udu Yakubu is Editor-in-Chief of The Journal. He can be reached at: email@example.com