For some time now, terrorists have made the northern part of Nigeria an operational base with some places becoming theatres of war. Unprovoked attacks and suicide bombings have become the order of the day, increasing the population of widows, widowers and orphans in the country.
Though security agencies have reacted variously and have had a number of confrontations with terrorists, it is still believed in many parts of the country that the security agencies have not done enough to combat the scourge of terrorism sweeping across the country. While the Government continues to assure Nigerians that terror attacks will soon become a thing of the past, a vast majority of the 160 million-strong population has concluded that one of the main reasons why results are not being achieved in the war against terror is that security agents are not proactive. Most times they react only after the damage has been done. Incidentally, while innocent Nigerians get murdered by the terrorists, security agents are not spared. Security personnel have become an endangered species since the wave of terror began.
The status of the Boko Haram sect has remained a major cause of discussions all around the country, especially with the seeming contradictions that have trailed it. The Boko Haram sect was first categorised as a faceless group, later the President came out to say the group has infiltrated his government.
The Government came out recently to tell Nigerians that it has opened talks with the sect in a bid to find a lasting solution to the destruction of lives and property. The Presidency claimed that the dialogue was through third parties and not directly with the dreaded Boko Haram sect. The sect through its spokesman however denied opening any talks with the Federal Government, an indication that someone somewhere is not telling the truth.
Nigerians in some places are beginning to feel it takes violence to get the government’s attention. Cases in point include the militants that troubled the peace of the Niger Delta for years. In order to put an end to the needless war and bloodshed in the area, the Government extended an olive branch through the much applauded amnesty programme. The programme has however not been without its own flaws, especially as it has been speculated that some of the “warlords” are being “settled” on a constant basis. Many of the foot soldiers too have been sent to schools abroad while others are enrolled in vocational study centres while they are paid monthly stipends. It also made the news recently that some of the former militants are being paid huge sums to secure pipelines in the South South region.
With the current situation in the Niger Delta at the back of their minds, Nigerians have continued to advise that the Federal Government should open a dialogue with the sect in order to achieve the restoration of peace. Those who are behind the calls for dialogue have opined that if clampdown did not achieve any meaningful result during the Niger Delta crisis, it will not change anything with the Boko Haram sect.
When Haliru Bello Mohammed and Major Gen Owoye Azazi, the Defence Minister and National Security Adviser were shown the way out, the sack of the two men was seen as a step in the right direction by a lot of Nigerians. The appointment of Col Sambo Dasuki as a replacement for the NSA generated mixed feelings. While a set felt being a Prince of the Sokoto Caliphate, Dasuki would earn the respect of almost everyone in the North, terrorists inclusive, others believe having being indicted in a coup plot, Dasuki could not be trusted.
Questions bordering on the Federal Government’s seriousness about the war against terrorism have been raised by public commentators, for instance, “why did it take the United State’s declaration of Boko Haram as a terrorist organisation and the subsequent labelling of Abubakar Shekau, Adamu Kambar and Khalid al Banawi as foreign terrorists for the President to sack his defence chiefs?”
America’s decision to label the Boko Haram sect as a terrorist organisation has been described as an indication that Nigeria’s security agency may not be up to the task of quashing the sect on one hand and on the other hand, it is being peddled around that if Nigeria does not react in good time, Nigeria might soon be witnessing the influx on foreign troops who will come in the guise of coming to help in fighting terrorism, thereby compromising Nigeria’s sovereignty on the long run. A failed rescue mission in which British Special Forces attempted to rescue two European hostages from terrorists in Sokoto State was given as an example.
The recent attack on telecommunication masts and base stations is also an indication that the best is yet to come from Nigeria’s security agents. While the Boko Haram sect claimed it attacked the masts in Yobe, Bauchi and Borno States because telecommunication companies have helped the Government to track and arrest its members in various parts of the country, one wonders why the sect’s spokesman, Abu Qaqa who has been communicating with the outside world on behalf of the sect has not been apprehended yet.