The challenge of terrorism is a reality that Africa has to grapple with today. 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, President Muhammadu Buhari made it clear that top of his priorities when elected as Nigerian president was his promise to see the end of terror and its attendant evils. That was at the period when Boko Haram was at the peak of its nefarious activities in the north eastern region of Nigeria.
It was on this note that President Buhari gave an unusual order in his inaugural address to the nation on May 29, 2015 for the Military High Command to relocate to Maiduguri with immediate effect, the ancient capital of Nigerian north eastern region, which is also the terrorists’ stronghold. That order has been given different interpretations from 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.
Like I have always said on this matter, 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.
Since the new administration was sworn-in, the terrorists have done their very worst in their intensified assaults against the Nigerian state. In doing all these, the terrorists may only be taking the very chance that the Buhari’s 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!
On my part, I will advocate that Nigeria must wake up to her historical role of providing leadership at the continental level. The formation of the MNJTF is a welcome development, 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 puts its feet down and roars ferociously against the insurgents.
President Buhari must, in his capacity as AU Chairman, 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.
For so long, 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 would 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 must prove to be the difference!
Some may question the workability of our proposal. We would then be quick to point out that Nigeria is on record to have helped funded the powerful OAU organ, the Liberation Committee. The committee, with its secretariat in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, trained guerrilla fighters in their 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 South 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 was 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.