Nyako’s view on fight against in­sur­gents

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

The federal govern­ment’s han­dling of the fight against in­sur­gency in some parts of the North was the fo­cus of a scathing crit­i­cism by Gover­nor Mur­tala Nyako of Adamawa State. In what, to some people, sounded as an­other of those con­spir­acy the­o­ries that link govern­ment and se­cu­rity of­fi­cials to stok­ing the in­sur­gency for po­lit­i­cal aims, Nyako spun a long yarn of his own, con­nect­ing them all. Speak­ing at a three-day sym­po­sium held last month on the theme Se­cu­rity Chal­lenges in North­ern Nigeria at the United States In­sti­tute of Peace (USIP) in Wash­ing­ton, DC., Nyako sought to ex­plain the ap­par­ent re­silience of the in­sur­gents to strike at will by al­leg­ing that they could be get­ting safe pas­sage from top federal govern­ment of­fi­cials and the mil­i­tary brass

The se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion, he said in his speech, “could be spon­sored, fi­nanced and sup­ported by evil-minded and over-am­bi­tious lead­ers of govern­ment and the so­ci­ety for po­lit­i­cal gains”. There was no one in the en­tire North-East with the where­withal to foot the bills of the ac­tiv­i­ties of Boko Haram, he said. The gover­nor also sug­gested that the arms, am­mu­ni­tion and ex­plo­sives used by the Boko Haram are not man­u­fac­tured in Nigeria, and there­fore could not have been moved through the nu­mer­ous mil­i­tary check­points that dot the en­tire North East re­gion in far greater num­ber than dur­ing the civil war, with­out the author­ity and con­nivance of the high­est of­fi­cials of the federal govern­ment and the mil­i­tary high com­mand.

Al­lud­ing to re­ports that in­di­cate that the in­sur­gents at­tack cer­tain tar­gets only af­ter se­cu­rity per­son­nel are with­drawn from check­points in such ar­eas, Nyako said that these were ev­i­dence of co­or­di­na­tion be­tween the mil­i­tary com­man­ders and the Boko Haram. The at­tacks of­ten last for long hours with­out coun­ter­at­tacks from the mil­i­tary, even in cases where the soldiers are lo­cated at a hear­ing dis­tance, he added. Gover­nor Nyako cited, as il­lus­tra­tion, the case in which Gen­eral Muham­madu Shuwa, a civil war hero, was killed by al­leged Boko Haram mem­bers in front of soldiers de­tailed to pro­tect the area, with­out a re­sponse from them. In an­other case, a fleet of Air Force air­craft was de­stroyed by sus­pected Boko Haram mem­bers near a unit of the mil­i­tary with no op­po­si­tion from the mil­i­tary.

String­ing these bits to­gether, Nyako de­clared that they pre­sented a com­pelling pic­ture suf­fi­cient for the people of the re­gion to be­gin to sus­pect a grand strat­egy to throw the re­gion into an­ar­chy to pro­vide al­ibi to can­cel the 2015 elec­tions there. Nyako made sev­eral other al­le­ga­tions to sup­port his the­ory. The one that is per­haps re­veal­ing be­cause of its im­pli­ca­tions was his as­ser­tion that he had writ­ten sev­eral times to Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan to raise ques­tions whether the govern­ment ac­tu­ally knew the na­ture of war it was and should be fight­ing; whether it was against ter­ror­ists or against the North.

Like the Borno State Gover­nor Kashim Shet­tima be­fore him, Nyako’s re­marks may be at­trib­uted to frus­tra­tion that af­ter more than three years, and a 10-months old state of emer­gency that has all but crip­pled eco­nomic and so­cial life, the federal govern­ment and mil­i­tary au­thor­i­ties have still not brought the in­sur­gency un­der con­trol. Given his an­tecedents, and as one in­volved in gov­er­nance is­sues in the coun­try, and a re­tired Ad­mi­ral of the Nige­rian Navy to boot, Nyako’s plat­form should have been lo­cal, like the Nige­rian De­fence Academy, the Na­tional War Col­lege, Armed Forces Com­mand and Staff Col­lege, or the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Pol­icy and Strate­gic Stud­ies, not the United States, to make such far-reach­ing state­ments.

It may be con­ve­nient, even es­capist, for many to in­dulge in spin­ning con­spir­acy the­o­ries around the tragic se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try to­day. Should Nyako’s al­le­ga­tions be con­sid­ered part of these, or are too se­ri­ous to be dis­missed or wished away? As a se­nior pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tor, Nyako may be ac­cused of not choos­ing a more re­spon­si­ble chan­nel to air his be­liefs. How­ever, the prob­lem is that there are sig­nif­i­cant por­tions in this coun­try, in all the re­gions, and given the de facto politi­ci­sa­tion of the se­cu­rity is­sue by the very govern­ment that is fund­ing ef­forts to tackle it, who think that Nyako’s state­ments con­firmed what they had long sus­pected. It also begs the ques­tion what kind of in­for­ma­tion-shar­ing there is be­tween the Com­man­der in Chief and mil­i­tary of­fi­cers on the ground on one hand, and be­tween him and the gov­er­nors of the af­fected states on the other. From Nyako’s state­ment, and the Shet­tima’s com­ments the other day, it seems there is lit­tle, or none. And that’s tragic.

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