Arase, Falae, Boko Haram and the security challenge
There can be no nation without security. The very duty of any government is the safety and security of its citizens. Right now, every citizen is a sitting duck and potential victim of the general insecurity plaguing our nation. Boko Haram remains a potent distraction pushing armed robbery to the backburner of national discourse - it remains a serious drawback. Overtaking these ills is kidnapping for ransom. The reason these ills are of concern is that it plagues the downtrodden and excuses the rich elite with the money to hire the best public or private protection there is. If the elite class had been affected by these ills as they affect the downtrodden, a solution would have been contrived to arrest them by now.
This is why the spat between elder statesman Olu Falae’s family and Solomon Arase, the Inspector-General of the Police is a serious national scandal that must not be swept under the carpet. Falae’s abduction was the second most influential kidnapping since the mother of former Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. His abduction is a serious national embarrassment if ever there was one; Falae is a strong national and political figure. That he could just be picked up from his own farm is enough reason to instill fear in us all. It was so embarrassing that President Buhari ordered the police to do everything to secure his release before jetting out of the country. No doubt, the police high command must have taken that order seriously, except that it would appear that they did not succeed in either rescuing Falae nor arresting those responsible for the old man’s ordeal. Most scandalous is the report credited to the IG that his men rescued Falae apparently without a shot being fired. Falae was not and has insisted that his family had to cough out millions to secure his safe release.
It is scandalous that the IG was not properly briefed, but more so that he is yet to return to the nation to confess that he was lied to and then made to lie to the nation. Both Arase and Falae are men of integrity, so the truth must lie somewhere. Surely Falae has no reason to lie about his release. What is expected of the IG is the announcement of a highpowered inquisition and briefing of the nation quickly and aptly - his integrity is at stake here. If the IG was wrongly briefed, he should confess that and let the matter rest with an apology to the elder statesman.
At the national level, President Buhari or his in-coming minister need to declare kidnapping a national disaster and to set up an inter-agency task force to deal with it. In my view, Anambra State under Peter Obi got it right when it passed a law destroying the homes and property of kidnap kingpins and sponsors. We cannot run a country where Boko Haram kills people in the markets and malls while kidnappers pick people up on the way to their farms or offices.
While the army is now in the capable hands of a more dynamic leadership led by General Buratai, the Boko Haram terrorism has not abated. It’s attacks has been masked by other national scandals. It would appear that our army is now better motivated, maybe because it has received the needed weapons to fight the terrorists, at least its leadership is leading by example. The recent retrial and recall of soldiers is a welcome development aimed at restoring confidence of soldiers in their chosen profession.
While the army continues to do its best to secure the nation, its also needs to come clear on issues. There is need for a national audit of the fight against terror and coming clean on strategies, faults and plans going forward. The army must submit to civil authorities on all issues. To this end, there is need to bring to book those soldiers who recently stripped and maltreated a civilian and those who burnt buses in Lagos. The worst form of corruption is the diversion of resources meant for national security into private pockets. If this happened, as evident in the past regime, it should be probed.
The army public relations unit is doing well but it must consider strategic embedding of local journalists in its reportage. Talks of recent attacks being the spasmic thrusts of a decapitated terror group are just not it. As long as Boko Haram is still able to launch suicide or armed attacks leading to the maiming of one person, it’s not over. A high command briefing is a requirement. A monumental catastrophe is confronting us with displaced persons most of who are now orphans and widows. Those who surrendered would need doses of rehabilitation to reintegrate. Reports that the army would soon expose the brains behind terror are pure bull. If the army knows them, bring them to book with ironclad evidence or forever hold your peace.