Lift the state of emer­gency in North East, but...

Daily Trust - - VIEWS -

he state of emer­gency im­posed on Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states for the past 6 months is due to ex­pire on May 12. Taken to­gether with the ear­lier one im­posed by Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan on May 20, 2013, which ex­pired in Novem­ber 2013, the three states have been un­der emer­gency rule for one year. Ex­pect­edly, opin­ion on its sta­tus is sharply di­vided, with calls both for its con­tin­u­a­tion and ter­mi­na­tion be­com­ing more and stri­dent. The govern­ment in these states and oth­ers close to them, and the rest of the North, have called for its ter­mi­na­tion, while a hand­ful of oth­ers, most promi­nently re­li­gious groups and eth­nic lead­ers mainly in the south, point to re­cent vi­o­lent ac­tiv­i­ties blamed on in­sur­gents as rea­son for its con­tin­u­a­tion.

In the pe­riod of the re­newed emer­gency mea­sures, the ini­tial lull in in­sur­gent ac­tiv­i­ties soon gave way to a bru­tal in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion of the cam­paign that saw towns and vil­lages sacked and razed to the ground. The in­sur­gents, mem­bers of the Boko Haram, car­ried out an orgy of mind­less de­struc­tion of hu­mans and ma­te­ri­als across a huge swathe of the North East. All this was un­der­taken un­der the noses of those charged with main­tain­ing se­cu­rity. Iron­i­cally both groups – the pro-emer­gency rule and those op­posed to it, have cited the wors­en­ing se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion to sup­port their po­si­tions. The one ar­gu­ing that emer­gency rule has not only failed to cur­tail the in­sur­gency, but that the at­tacks, which had been at a low ebb have now in­ten­si­fied, be­com­ing wide­spread be­yond the ca­pa­bil­ity of se­cu­rity out­fits to con­tain. The other group, on the other hand, points to the es­ca­la­tion of the in­sur­gency as the very rea­son why the emer­gency rule must re­main.

A rea­son­able ar­gu­ment can be made that both sides mean well for the re­gion and seek its speedy re­turn to nor­malcy to en­able it to prop­erly re-in­te­grate, so­cially and eco­nom­i­cally, into the coun­try. The fact how­ever is that crit­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tion of the im­pact of the emer­gency rule since its im­po­si­tion has shown that it has gone on for far too long; pro­long­ing it would be­come in­im­i­cal to the val­ues of per­sonal free­dom and democ­racy now be­ing deep­ened and strength­ened in the coun­try. By now, even the most in­vet­er­ate ad­vo­cate of scorched-earth tac­tics must have re­alised that while the in­sur­gency must be de­feated, this would be achieved grad­u­ally through de­ploy­ing more than the con­ven­tional means of fight­ing wars. Of ne­ces­sity, this would in­clude force of arms as is be­ing done presently, but more im­por­tantly, the com­ple­men­tary use of other softer ap­proach aimed at dis­suad­ing young people from be­com­ing will­ing re­cruits to the ig­no­ble cam­paign of the in­sur­gency, and cred­i­ble enough to even cause those sworn to vi­o­lence to foreswear it.

This multi-prong ap­proach to com­bat­ing the in­sur­gency would re­quire win­ning the hearts and minds of the people of the en­tire North East. This is by no means an easy task un­der the cur­rent trau­ma­tis­ing regime of emer­gency rule whose of­ten dra­co­nian en­force­ment has cre­ated hos­til­ity against the mil­i­tary among the people, and raised ques­tions of what rules of en­gage­ment they had been given. Thus, it would not be ad­vis­able for the emer­gency mea­sures to re­main in place when it ex­pires.

Dis­con­tin­u­ing the mea­sures how­ever does not mean the mil­i­tary forces on the ground would be with­drawn im­me­di­ately; it should not re­sult into the es­ca­la­tion of in­sur­gent at­tacks be­yond what has been wit­nessed, par­tic­u­larly if con­tain­ment is done whole­heart­edly and prop­erly with­out any po­lit­i­cal mo­tive. When se­cu­rity vig­i­lance among the civil pop­u­lace is fully height­ened, other mea­sures can then be taken to com­ple­ment the use of force, and this should in­clude well thought-out com­mu­nity ini­tia­tives to ex­plore means of di­a­logue and sua­sion as ways to bring peace. Thank­fully, age-old chan­nels and pro­cesses ex­ist to fa­cil­i­tate this through es­tab­lished tra­di­tional of­fices of the Shehu of Borno and other royal fa­thers whose good­will and clout in their com­mu­ni­ties should be put to use.

Across the length and breadth of Nigeria, there is no place that has not evolved a uniquely po­tent tra­di­tional means of bring­ing spon­sored machi­na­tions to a sum­mary end. It is long past the time that com­mu­ni­ties in the North East ex­plored that pos­si­bil­ity as additional ef­fort to bring an end to the in­sur­gency. The highly politi­cised at­mos­phere does not lend it­self to any ra­tio­nal con­sid­er­a­tion for the ex­ten­sion of emer­gency mea­sures in the three states.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.