Terrorism poses unusual challenges and defeating it will require some radical, unconventional and in some cases strange decisions from the politico-military leadership.
The reality today in Africa is the challenge of terrorism. We have had to cope with the deadly acts perpetrated by the notorious al-Shabab in Somalia, Tanzania and recently in Kenya. We are equally witnesses to the ruthlessness of Boko Haram in Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad. We need not forget so soon the havoc wrecked by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda for many years. At the centre of this reality is the question of overcoming this monster of terrorism.
During 2015 presidential election campaign, General Muhammadu Buhari made it clear that at the top of his priorities when elected as Nigerian president is to see the end of terror and its attendant evils. This was at the period when the dreaded Boko Haram was at the peak of its nefarious activities in the Nigerian North-East region.
It was on this note that President Buhari gave an unusual order during his inaugural address to the nation on May 29, 2015 for the Military High Command to, with immediate effect, relocate to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State in the North-East, which is also one of the terrorists’ stronghold. This order has been given different interpretations in several quarters within and outside Nigeria. Irrespective of anyone’s interpretation(s) of the order, one thing is clear – fighting terrorism requires taking some hard and tough choices, like moving the entire military brass to the terrorists’ strongholds.
Terrorism poses unusual challenges and defeating it will require some radical, unconventional and in some cases strange decisions from the politico-military leadership. No one recalls terrorism being a “Nigerian” issue some two decades ago. Terrorism was almost missing from Nigerian glossary of terms over a decade ago but it features prominently today. This is why it must never be taken lightly. It is on this note that the recent formation of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) led by Nigeria against Boko Haram makes a lot of sense.
It appears the AU fell asleep immediately it achieved its mandate of “eradicating colonialism in Africa.” One would have thought that since all African countries are now politically independent, the AU would have sought a new mandate, which should naturally be, “eradicating terrorism, insurgency and poverty in Africa.” One will equally have thought that the change of name from the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) would have meant a change in approach, philosophy, tactics, mandate and perspectives.
Since the new administration was sworn-in almost three weeks ago, the terrorists have done their very worst in intensifying assaults against the Nigerian state. In doing all these, the terrorists may only be taking the chance that the Buhari government is yet to properly form. This is why I will advise President Buhari to cut short his “honeymoon” and get to work before things get out of hand!
I will also advocate that Nigeria must wake up to its historical role of providing leadership at the continental level. The formation of the MNJTF is welcome but that alone will not be enough to defeat terrorism. Nigeria provided leadership during the struggle against colonialism. Nigeria must canvass for the African Union (AU) to take a stand against terrorism. It must insist the Union put its feet down and roar ferociously against insurgents across the continent.
President Buhari must canvass for an AU High Command, a special Anti-Terror Squad, or under any appropriate name, comprising volunteers from member-states in our bid to conquer insurgency.
It appears the AU fell asleep immediately it achieved its mandate of “eradicating colonialism in Africa.” One would have thought that since all African countries are now politically independent, the AU would have sought a new mandate, which should naturally be, “eradicating terrorism, insurgency and poverty in Africa.” One will equally have thought that the change of name from the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) would have meant a change in approach, philosophy, tactics, mandate and perspectives. The Union must come to the realisation that the rise of insurgency on the continent is a direct attack on the corporate existence of the AU. This is where President Buhari can come in and seek to make a difference.
Some may question the workability of this proposal. One can then quickly point out that Nigeria is on record to have helped found the then powerful OAU organ, the Liberation Committee. The Committee, with its Secretariat in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania trained guerrilla fighters in its determination to achieve the core mandate of the defunct OAU. Nigeria supported groups such as the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), the African National Congress (ANC), the South West African People’s Organisation (SWAPO), Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) and the likes. Probably OAU’s support for these groups made it difficult for it to give a definition to the word “Terrorism” at that period. If the same passion deployed to fight colonialism is deployed in our war against insurgency, it is only a matter of time before we prevail.
This is just a piece of advice to President Muhammadu Buhari on this matter.