Nyako’s view on fight against insurgents
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Alluding to reports that indicate that the insurgents attack certain targets only after security personnel are withdrawn from checkpoints in such areas, Nyako said that these were evidence of coordination between the military commanders and the Boko Haram.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.