Are we fight­ing the wrong war against Boko Haram? (II)

Daily Trust - - SPORT - -Carl Von Clause­witz, On War

The first, the supreme, the most far-reach­ing act of judg­ment that the states­man and com­man­der have to make is to es­tab­lish … the kind of war on which they are em­bark­ing; nei­ther mis­tak­ing it for, nor try­ing to turn it into, some­thing that is alien to its na­ture.

Let us be very frank on this mat­ter. The bla­tant con­tra­dic­tory state­ments on the Boko Haram in­sur­gency are very un­for­tu­nate and di­ver­sion­ary. The sig­nals are con­fus­ing. Ei­ther we are fight­ing a war against an in­sur­gency or we are play­ing pol­i­tics. And the Federal Govern­ment must take a ma­jor part of the blame.

While the re­cent re­newed push by the mil­i­tary, and the new coun­tert­er­ror ap­proached just an­nounced by the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­vi­sor are both highly en­cour­ag­ing they are bound to be limited by po­lit­i­cal pos­tur­ing and even man­u­fac­tured “find­ings” ped­dled by Pres­i­dent Jonathan and his pro­pa­ganda out­fit. It is not just the PDP Na­tional Pub­lic­ity Sec­re­tary Olisa Me­tuh, or the eth­nic-na­tion­al­i­ties ide­o­logue Ben Nwabueze that are re­peat­ing the mantra of­ten enough with the hope that by con­stantly say­ing it people would be­lieve the lie, but even the pres­i­dent seems to have bought the fic­tion that Boko Haram was cre­ated by frus­trated north­ern politi­cians to fight him.

What is im­por­tant how­ever is not to be di­verted by base­less as­ser­tions but to seek to un­der­stand the tech­nique of the “big lie” and why the fic­tion is be­ing prop­a­gated in the first place? In his book “Mein Kampf ” (My Strug­gle) Adolf Hitler ex­plains the ap­proach thus:

“… the most bril­liant pro­pa­gan­dist tech­nique will yield no suc­cess un­less one fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ple is borne in mind con­stantly and with un­flag­ging at­ten­tion. It (the Big Lie) must con­fine it­self to a few points and re­peat them over and over. Here, as so of­ten in this world, per­sis­tence is the first and most im­por­tant re­quire­ment for suc­cess.”

The trick is not to tell small lies; those can be eas­ily re­futed. Tell big ones like “my people are bet­ter off un­der me”, “this year’s har­vest is fan­tas­tic” or even “the poor caused their own poverty.” It won’t be easy to dis­prove, and if enough people keep re­peat­ing it even the se­rial doubters may be­gin to think there is some truth in your as­ser­tion. Boko Haram was there be­fore Jonathan? That’s ir­rel­e­vant. More north­ern­ers have been killed by them? So what? Gov­er­nors, Emirs and even Imams have been at­tacked? Pure fic­tion!! Stick to your fic­tion and enough people may come

The trick is not to tell small lies; those can be eas­ily re­futed. Tell big ones like “my people are bet­ter off un­der me”, “this year’s har­vest is fan­tas­tic” or even “the poor caused their own poverty.” It won’t be easy to dis­prove, and if enough people keep re­peat­ing it even the se­rial doubters may be­gin to think there is some truth in your as­ser­tion. Boko Haram was there be­fore Jonathan? That’s ir­rel­e­vant. More north­ern­ers have been killed by them? So what? Gov­er­nors, Emirs and even Imams have been at­tacked? Pure fic­tion!! Stick to your fic­tion and enough people may come to be­lieve it.

to be­lieve it.

But why em­ploy this ap­proach? Partly be­cause Pres­i­dent Jonathan him­self was con­vinced his ad­min­is­tra­tion was be­ing tar­geted; at least ini­tially. More im­por­tant how­ever, it came to serve a pur­pose. The Govern­ment can al­ways blame its’ per­ceived en­e­mies for any fail­ure to bring the in­sur­gency to an end. Sim­ply keep on blam­ing oth­ers. Ge­orge Bush once mu­ti­lated Abra­ham Lin­coln by say­ing, “you can fool some people all the time, and those are the ones you would want to con­cen­trate on”. As 2015 ap­proaches, a friend told me, the “blame game” would only get worse.

This tech­nique works if it is kept very sim­ple. Now, how­ever, it is be­com­ing com­plex and is start­ing to lose its edge. Also, ev­ery­one is cur­rently fight­ing back. The Op­po­si­tion is also blam­ing the Govern­ment for in­com­pe­tence. Oth­ers are blam­ing Libya, Sudan, Al Qaeda, the Amer­i­cans and oth­ers for the in­sur­gency. Some are even say­ing it is a plot against the econ­omy of the north. Many people I know even deny that there is Boko Haram at all claim­ing it is the Govern­ment or its agents that are desta­bi­liz­ing the coun­try to scut­tle 2015 elec­tions. When con­spir­acy the­o­ries meet “the big lie” what we have is a re­fusal to ad­dress con­crete is­sues.

Add to the mix the un­sub­stan­ti­ated claims re­gard­ing AK 47 wield­ing “Fu­lani” herds­men ran­sack­ing vil­lages in the mid­dle of the night, and the more cred­i­ble re­ports of he­li­copters fer­ry­ing arms to the in­sur­gents and ban­dits, you be­gin to won­der if the con­spir­acy the­o­rists are not cor­rect af­ter all. We can­not fight too many wars at the same time and we should not turn this, or any other in­sur­gency, into pol­i­tics. On the part of the govern­ment it could back­fire; 2015 can­not be worth this price. For all of us we risk ig­nor­ing the lessons to be learnt. Un­less we start tack­ling the root causes this may not be over even af­ter a mil­i­tary vic­tory. Mas­sive cor­rup­tion, dis­pro­por­tion­ate coun­tert­er­ror, tor­ture and ex­tra-ju­di­cial killings are fur­ther com­pli­cat­ing the un­sta­ble mix­ture and alien­at­ing even those disgusted by Boko Haram’s sense­less ter­ror.

The Federal Govern­ment is the only body con­sti­tu­tion­ally em­pow­ered to have armed troops, and has the ul­ti­mate re­spon­si­bil­ity for fight­ing the war against Boko Haram. It is re­spon­si­ble for en­sur­ing law and or­der, pro­tect­ing our ter­ri­tory and in­fra­struc­ture. These it can­not do in isolation. It must bring the other tiers of govern­ment on board to de­fend and sus­tain our eco­nomic, fi­nan­cial, ad­min­is­tra­tive and le­gal in­sti­tu­tions, pro­tect the rights, lives and property of cit­i­zens so as to deny these in­sur­gents the phys­i­cal and pro­pa­ganda space to es­tab­lish them­selves and their mis­guided in­tents. They are the en­emy, not the state gov­er­nors or the or­di­nary cit­i­zens. We are in­volved in a con­flict which is not just phys­i­cal but one that in­volves the loy­alty and trust of our people. We should not be guided by other con­sid­er­a­tions, fi­nan­cial or po­lit­i­cal. That has gone far enough. Gov­er­nors Nyako and Shet­tima are try­ing their best and should be sup­ported not be sac­ri­ficed in the in­ter­est of petty pol­i­tics.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.