Nigerian Governors Forum,
Ekiti State Government House,
Insecurity in Nigeria : An Open Letter to the Nigerian Governors Forum
Trust this open letter meets you all well. This letter was conceived from a burning desire to see that Nigeria overcomes its security challenges as soon as possible. However, there are a few points we would like to raise preparatory to your meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari and the Service Chiefs in the country. It must be stated that these points are in the overall interest of the country and with all sense of commitment to the Nigerian cause.
The Burden of Leadership:
Your Excellencies, the task of leading Nigeria on the path of progress have been placed on your shoulders as governors. We recall that the majority of you, if not all indeed promised the people adequate security during the campaigns. While some have matched their words with action, some either by commission or omission are lagging behind in this critical aspect.
The burden of leadership requires that even on bad days, we have a responsibility to our people to be fair and consistent. We must set the example in everything we do, every day, and lead every minute of every day through words and actions.
It must be stated that if not for anything, Nigerians are desirous of credible leadership at all tiers of governance and as Chief Executives of States, the bulk ends at your table and therefore no amount of reasons would appeal to the people if they continually live in fear.
No Security No Development:
If we must be sincere, we must also admit that Nigeria cannot experience sustainable growth and development in an atmosphere of insecurity. And the recent upsurge in the level of insecurity in the country should elicit concern from all stakeholders, including governors who are the Chief Security Officers of their various states.
The Role of Political Authorities in Borno State:
Your Excellencies, This brings us to the security issues in Borno State occasioned by the upsurge in the activities of the Boko Haram terrorist group, which is indeed a national concern. If the truth must be told, with the way and manner the political authorities in the state are treating the threats posed by Boko Haram, we might experience the worse soon.
In our opinion, it is an anomaly to assume that the task of securing Borno state is the exclusive preserve of the Federal Government alone. This is on the heels that should there not be any form of cooperation with the Fedora Government that is the primary custodian of the Nigerian military from the political class; all efforts would go down the drain, and the innocent women and children would bear the brunt.
It suffices to state that since Boko Haram began its violent campaign in North-East Nigeria in 2009, all the states in North-East Nigeria were affected. The question now is why Boko Haram is more active in just Borno State? What happened in Adamawa state? What happened in Bauchi, Yobe and Gombe States? It is a known fact that Borno State was the epicenter of Boko Haram but that has changed drastically since the Nigerian military under the present Commander – in-Chief took the battle to the nook and cranny of the state.
Your Excellencies, the true answer lies in the fact that the political authorities realized the importance of supporting and partnering with the military in their operations and the result is the relative peace and tranquillity witnessed in these states. These states have also done one thing that Borno State is yet to do which is discouraging their ethnic militias and political thugs from dissolving into terrorism. This much has not or seen t be done in Borno State under the current leadership. The military can continue to kill the terrorists but we must know that they labour in vain if the virus is not treated from the root.
Why Borno State Alone:
Your Excellencies, the case of Borno state is unfortunate because it has remained the unresolvable base of the insurgency not because the Federal Government has not lived up to expectations, but because the current government in the state has not deemed it necessary to support the military in their operations. Despite the fact that Borno state has the most significant military personnel in the whole of North-East Nigeria; yet, Boko Haram keeps laying ambushes for the military and attacking pocket of communities.
The question we beg to ask is what is the state government doing to assist the military in securing the state? Has the state government been cooperative with the military authorities towards ending the Boko Haram scourge? These questions are because all we see in the media is either the state Governor is attacking military commanders at checkpoints or his Deputy speaking to our selfless men and women in very derogatory manner. No military anywhere in the world has been vilified as much as our troops have seen in the hands of your colleague, Gov. Zulum.
Your Excellencies, we trust that you would demands answers to these questions in all sincerity. It is our considered opinion that indeed questions must also be asked as to whether the level of poverty in Borno State could be a factor responsible for the festering of the activities of Boko Haram in the state. What about majority of Borno politicians who engage in illegal businesses such as smuggling through the Lake Chad route ? What has the state government done towards addressing the threats posed by these groups too?
Yobe, Gombe, Adamawa and Bauchi:
Your Excellencies, that the threats posed by Boko Haram have been curtailed in Yobe, Gombe, Bauchi and Adamawa states are not a function of magic, but rather collective efforts between the political authorities in the states and institutions of state and we must not fail to commend them as well as encourage others to tow the same path in the bid to addressing the various security challenges not just in North-East Nigeria, but also other parts of the country.
Banditry and Kidnappings:
The issues of banditry and other forms of criminalities is also worrisome. As Chief Security Officers in the various states, you all must own responsibility and not shift the blame to the military because the military alone cannot execute the task and not in an environment of extreme sabotage and conspiracies. We fear to say that it is the military that is not engaging in bridge-building across ethnic and religious lines. We fear to insinuate that it is the military that has not empowered our youths who became political thugs prior to the last elections and now taking to criminality.
As sad as this might sound, any state that is experiencing insecurity is a function of lack of cooperation from the political authorities in those states with the relevant security agencies. The South -East Governors in handling the threats posed by IPOB as dangerously as it were have shown that as Chief Executives, Governors have a lot to contribute to the peace of the country by coming together to proscribe the IPOB as a terrorist group.
This is the line of action that all Governors must tow as a sign of seriousness and signal to the terrorists that there would be sacred cow. We consequently wonder how we can then expect tangible results in terms of security without such inputs.
The Invaluable Efforts of the Military:
Your Excellencies, we must realize that the military has been stretched in all of its operations across the country and the least the expect we all expect is nothing more than cooperation and not castigation and rebuke. This would serve no meaningful purpose but further dampen the morale of the troops and bolster criminal activities. It is unfortunate how discourses on this important subject matter have been allowed to degenerate to punishing the Service Chiefs who are being castigates in some quarters for simply refusing to lend the military to political agents during the last general elections.
It must also be stated that the military can only carry out kinetic operations but cannot embark on rebuilding processes such as youth empowerment and other endeavours hence the need for cooperation from the various state governments which by and large is not forthcoming.
The Role of Other Stakeholders:
Your Excellencies, as leaders of the people, more engagement with stakeholders are required especially in embarking on alternative dispute resolution mechanism, ensuring fairness and justice in conflict between communities and providing the enabling environment for all citizens to cohabit with one another without any fear of molestation.
Governors must also provide leadership at the various levels, including the local governments and communities to ensure that political thugs who were armed during the last elections are disarmed and deradicalized as quickly as possible.
Governors must also ensure that those militating factors that are responsible for fueling conflicts in their states are addressed as a first before the military comes in for the restoration of peace.
Military as partners in Progress:
Your Excellencies, there is also an urgent need to see the military as partners in progress and not competitors. You all must recognize the invaluable role of the military in the sustenance of peace in their various domains and their sacrifices in ensuring that the country is safe for all.
The governors of Yobe, Bauchi, and Adamawa and Gombe states have indeed set examples worthy of emulation for their continuous support towards ensuring there is no resurgence of Boko Haram in their domains. This they have achieved by working day and night with the military.
Governors as Chief Security Officers are aware that resources are needed in security operations. As such, they must advocate for more resources for the military to aid their operations.
The military must be encouraged and appreciated to continue to give in their best in the task at hand. The psychological implication of these cannot be overemphasized.
Your Excellencies, as you meet with Mr President to discuss issues of national importance, please be circumspect, take responsibility and proffer solutions where necessary. The task of ensuring peace and tranquillity in Nigeria is a collective endeavour.
We wish you fruitful deliberations, and we desire that the meeting would indeed prove valuable to all and sundry.
It is our last request that you also share a copy of this letter with MR. President.
Senator Ameh Ebute CON
Former President of the Senate
Federal Republic of Nigeria.