•Senate screens ex-service chiefs
The immediate past Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin (rtd) and the erstwhile service chiefs yesterday explained why security challenges facing the country could not be surmounted during their over fives year tenure as security chiefs.
This is just as the former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai (rtd), claimed it may take Nigeria 20 more years to crush the Boko Haram insurgency ravaging the North-east geo-political zone.
The former military helmsmen who appeared for screening as non-career Ambassadors before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs attributed their inability to solve the myriad of security problems facing the nation to logistics and insufficiency of funds.
First to appear before the committee chaired by Senator Mohammed Bulkachuwa was Olonisakin who attributed the problem to the nation’s over 1,000 forest reserves that are not well managed and secured by the respective state governments.
According to him, the problem at hand requires well- galvanised national approach for it to be surmounted since it is more of an asymmetric cum hybrid warfare as against the conventional ones that can easily be confronted and defeated.
His words: “I want to say that the solution to insecurity is multi-pronged. We talk about conventional warfare and asymmetric warfare. We are talking about hybrid warfare where everyone is involved. It is not about kinetics. “Kinetics gives only a 35 per cent success rate in any war we are fighting. It is a national approach that must be properly galvanised for us to actually surmount the insecurity. I will say three years ago, I conducted research on the forests in the country. I realised we have over 1,000 forest reserves. I sent the team to Kenya. They went to Kenya and brought out a paper and I said then, three years ago that our next crisis will be in the forest.
“Some governors were invited and we told them because most of the forests are the prerogative of states. The states took over all the forest reserves. I told them that we have to protect the forests. We have to send troops to protect the forests”.
Also advancing reasons for the unabated problem of insecurity in the country particularly the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East, Buratai while appearing before the committee reiterated that it may take the country 20 years to eliminate Boko Haram Insurgency.
He said: “Unless certain things are done, this insecurity will continue because the truth must be told it may take another 20 years for the country to surmount the problem of Insurgency and that is the truth.”
According to him, the Boko Haram insurgents through indoctrination are winning more and more communities to their side, aside from the problem of ungovernable spaces in the area and across the country.
His words: “My state (Borno), is an epicentre, where this indoctrination has penetrated so deep. They (insurgents) have won the communities to their side. That is why they (communities) keep Boko Haram. So, it is complex, it requires a whole of government approach to solving this, military action or activity is just one aspect. One mistake that we have been making is that only the military can solve this. It is not. There are political, social, economic aspects that need to be addressed.
“Development should be progressive, there should be road everywhere, there should be employment, schools, hospitals all over. Yesterday ( Wednesday), I counted five Local Government Areas in Borno State that do not have a good access road to those places. In North-west, North-central, there are so many ungovernable spaces, which the insurgents are penetrating. The places don’t have schools, hospital and so on and education is very fundamental.
The story was not different when the former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Abubakar Sadique (rtd); former Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok – Ete Ibas (rtd) and former Chief of Defence Intelligence l, Air Vice Marshall Mohammed Usman (rtd) also appeared before the Committee.
Specifically , the former Intelligence Chief identified lack of synergy among the various security agencies, as one of the reasons for the lingering security challenges the country is facing.
Usman told the committee that the military was in possession of an intelligence report on the planned kidnap of Dapchi schoolgirls in February 2018 but the information was not well managed.
After the screening of all the five nominees, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Bulkachuwa, said the committee will submit its report to the Senate at plenary next week.