Caging Insecurity: Situating Gen. Buratai’s New Recipe
By Olorunfemi Adejuyigbe
As guest lecturer at a recent symposium on National Security, organised by Arewa House in Kaduna, former Chief of Army Staff and current Ambassador to the Benin Republic, Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, pitched for negotiation as a resolution option with armed non-state actors. Louis Achi examines the new recipe
For three tough years, Rome had besieged the City of Carthage which was the only existential threat to the Roman Empire thereabouts 142 BC, until the coming of the Vandals several centuries later.
As the battle-hardened Roman General Scipio Africanus who took the city finally in 146 BC watched it burn in complete destruction, he suddenly broke down and wept. It was a shocking spectacle for his troops to behold. Crying for a defeated enemy or pitching for some benign accommodation was an indulgence unknown in that era.
Scipio’s emotional reaction to this particular conclusion of a historic, bloody campaign stemmed from a deep philosophical apprehension that all cities, nations, and authorities must, like men, meet their doom.
In a fundamental sense, General Scipio’s tough exploits and later philosophical sentiments about the enemy echo that of Nigeria’s former Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and current Ambassador to the Benin Republic, Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai. By boldly proposing an alternative engagement modus with non-state actors who have actively sought and are still seeking to bring the nation to her knees and fracture her sovereignty, General Buratai presents a compelling case deserving specific interrogation.
It could be recalled that following his appointment in July 2015 as COAS by President Muhammadu Buhari until he exited in 2021, Lt. Gen. Buratai had besieged the Boko Haram terrorist group and other potent armed non-state actors who posed considerable existential threat to the nation. He led from the front, amidst grueling, multifarious challenges and left with head held high.
Lt. Gen. Buratai had on June 11, 2022, called for dialogue between governments and armed groups, saying a growing practice of engaging in dialogue with all parties to a conflict had emerged since the mid-1980s. He observed that there must be concerted efforts that there are no ungoverned spaces in the land.
He urged state and local governments to establish their presence in their areas of responsibility. According to him, negotiation and dialogue are integrated approaches that can end insecurity by involving traditional and religious leaders, media, security and intelligence agencies.
The former Army boss spoke as a guest lecturer at a one-day symposium on National Security, organised by the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Centre for Historical Research and Documentation, Arewa House Kaduna, with the theme ‘Politics and Insecurity in Nigeria: Way Forward’.
Significantly, he further noted that he aligned with the approach being promoted by a revered Islamic cleric, Sheikh Gumi, seen by many as controversial. His words: “This is where I commend Sheikh Gumi for his initiative. One-third of the fight is military; others should be non-kinetic, through dialogue. We must get this solution and this is the right time to get it done.”
Buratai further suggested the revitalisation of the Defense Industries Corporation of Nigeria, better welfare and equipment for police, as well as the establishment of a national border force as done in other parts of the world.
According to him, the issue of the carrot and stick approach can be used to explore ways to end some of the conflicts confronting Nigeria, counselling the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) to collaborate and employ all means to block off supplies to terrorists.
He also held that “the ongoing reforms of the Nigerian Police, procurement of modern platforms for intelligence gathering, and effective control of Nigeria’s porous borders will go a long way” in curbing various forms of insecurity in different parts of the country such as insurgency in the North East, banditry and kidnapping in the North West, agitations in South East and crude oil bunkering in South-South.”
The one day event was graced by heads of military and paramilitary organisations, the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar who was represented, university dons, religious leaders, serving and retired military office and prominent Nigerians from diverse walks of life.
Is it conceivable that General Buratai’s diplomatic tour of duty may have mellowed the tough soldier’s appetite for frontal confrontation, or on the other hand, tweaked his philosophy of engagement? Big question!
According to Italian-American Professor of International Relations, Angelo M. Codevilla, “By their very nature, diplomacy and military force are means to the ends of statecraft as well as channels by which governments press their agendas on others. Neither is inherently more or less useful than the other.
“Far from being antithetical to one another, diplomacy and military force are complementary insofar as they serve the same political ends. “What are we after? What are they after?” These questions are as central to warfare as to diplomacy.”
In dissecting General Buratai’s new recipe of caging bloody insecurity, it needs to be stated that current armed conflict in Nigeria is characterised by an abundance of non-state armed groups who compete with the state for control over people, resources, and territory. The composition, areas of influence, and alliances of these groups tend to be fluid and subject to rapid change. This essentially captures the strategy of Boko Haram insurgents.
Beyond this, the internal dynamics within them are often opaque, providing limited opportunities for outsiders to develop an understanding of their interests and to identify opportunities for negotiation. Humanitarian actors, diplomats, and mediators must nevertheless engage these groups if they are to succeed in reducing levels of violence, bring an end to the conflict, or provide humanitarian assistance to vulnerable communities.
Before these negotiations can begin, however, opportunities have to be found or created to bring armed groups to the negotiating table – whether literal or figurative. But then these groups need to be first incentivized.
The most effective incentive for armed groups to negotiate usually relates instead to legitimacy. But careful analysis is needed to ensure these groups enter negotiations in good faith rather than being content to simply appear to negotiate. Opportunities are likely to be scarce for engaging armed groups that derive their legitimacy by violating international norms. Armed groups may also be compelled to negotiate over their desire for humanitarian assistance to substitute for their own responsibilities.
Positive inducements, then, are usually a more effective means of getting armed groups to the negotiating table. The most effective incentive for armed groups usually relates to their need for legitimacy. Many armed groups serve as de facto governments often overseeing a range of government-like services, such as health or education departments. Others have even established putataive sub-national governance structures and often aspire to hold post-conflict leadership positions.
In a significant sense ‘conference diplomacy,’ a term coined by the defunct League of Nations, can contribute to conflict prevention by providing a forum for negotiation over the terms of a conflict’s conclusion, as well as laying the ground for the development of sustainable peace.
As part of the diplomatic toolbox, it allows focused attention to the issue at hand, brings together all relevant actors – ideally in a neutral setting and by a trusted convener – and fosters both momentum as well as a clear deadline for action.
At press time, it cannot be disputed that the nation badly needs an end to the current bloodletting, brazen banditry and kidnapping daily going on. Today, food insecurity, direct fallout from the rampaging banditry, is glaringly real. Is Gen. Buratai the man who saw tomorrow?
Could the tough Roman General Scipio Africanus’ fleetingly gripping insight into the core of the human condition have influenced his Nigerian counterpart, General Buratai, eons later, to reconsider the traditional kinetic engagement with enemies. Has General Buratai, peering into the twilight zone of his eventful life, morphed into a statesman or become a soldier-statesman? Time will tell.
Buratai assures Nigerians that President Buhari Will Surmount Insecurity
Buratai assures Nigerians that President Buhari Will Surmount Insecurity
The Nigeria’s former Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and Ambassador, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai (Rtd), on Tuesday expressed confidence that President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration will surmount the new security challenges facing the country and called on Nigerians to exercise patience.
Besides subsiding terrorists attacks in the North East, banditry, kidnapping, and terrorism have led other criminal activities in other parts of the country.
Speaking in Abuja when Security Watch Africa (SWA) Team led by its President/C.E.O., Mr. Patrick Agbambu, paid him a courtesy visit, Amb. Buratai, pointed out that President Buhari brought the rampant activities of terrorists in the North East before his tenure under control when he assumed office in 2015.
He said “But a new challenge has emerged in other parts of the country which is a fall out of what happened in the North East.
“But I believe government is concerned and is not sitting idle, its not resting.
“Things are being done and I believe the current state of fear, the sense of despair in some quarters will soon be resolved,” he stated.
Recalling the situation in the country before President Buhari assumed office in 2015, he said “The security situation continued to deteriorate. But we give glory to God for the change in 2015.
“We contributed our little quota to stop the drift into anarchy. People tend to forget where we were.
“When we were in the office, we responded immediately there was any attack and we were always ahead of them.
“I believe we have done our country proud as members of the Armed Forces and we are still doing our best,” he added.
With so much conviction, the former COAS concludes, “The situation now will soon be tackled just like we did with the Boko Haram issue. President Buhari has the will and requisite capacity to surmount these challenges.”
NAOSRE Monthly Security Review: Nigeria At The Mercy Of Tactless Security Chiefs
NAOSRE Monthly Security Review: Nigeria At The Mercy Of Tactless Security Chiefs
In late July and barely few hours after terrorists threatened to abduct Nigeria’s President and Commander-in-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari and Kaduna Governor Nasir el’Rufai in a viral video, troops of the elite Presidential Guards Brigade were ambushed and attacked by terrorists along the Bwari-Kubwa road where a Captain, Lieutenant and six soldiers reportedly lost their lives in the capital city of Abuja.
An aspect of the narratives indicated that one of the terrorists’ targets, in that major onslaught against the Nigeria government, was the campus of Nigerian Law School in Bwari.
For fear of further attacks, management of schools closed down schools and communicated parents on the urgent need to take their children home.
Veritas University, a Roman Catholic owned university, located in Bwari Local Government Council of Abuja, shut down academic activities following security reports indicating that terrorists could attack and abduct students of the school after foiled attempt at the Nigerian Law School, sited some few kilometres apart.
In like manner, the Federal Ministry of Education, for fear of impending bandits and terrorists’ attacks, directed the immediate closure of all unity schools domiciled in Abuja, while ordering immediate evacuation of students.
Before then, Islamic State West Africa Province militants,a breakaway faction of Boko Haram, attacked the Presidential Advance Team to Katsina State before the last Sallah Holidays.
In addition and within the same period under review, specifically in the first week of July, ISWAP used explosives and guns to attack Kuje Prison in Abuja.
About six cars and buses were damaged during the attack. Four prisoners and a security official were also killed.
Over 800 prison inmates escaped during the attack with about half of them still at large. Those still at large include over 60 Boko Haram suspects.
Without doubt, the fall of Abuja to terrorists is the peak of humiliation as a country.
The tactless and amoebic defence and security arrangement, implemented by security chiefs have advertised Nigeria as the most retrogressive in the comity of countries in the world.
Shutting down of schools because of insecurity is very worrisome and the lowest a country can descend as nonexistent.
Banditry sector has been created. Within the last few months, the banditry sector would have done over a billion dollar from ransom taking.
So bad has the situation been that Governor Mohammed Matawalle of Zamfara State directed citizens in the state to obtain guns to defend themselves against bandits, a move many see as a sign of final collapse of Nigeria.
Zamfara government equally gave orders for immediate closure of markets in three senatorial districts as a result of the escalating activities of terrorists in various parts of the State.
To demonstrate its seriousness, governor Matawalle has concluded arrangement to distribute 500 forms to each of the 19 Emirates in the state for those willing to obtain guns to defend themselves.
Reacting to the development, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN described it as “A free-for-all affair,” adding that “These are all signs of imminent collapse of the Nigeria state.”
With all these, it is instructive to note that whenever armed gang controls the instrument of violence, then the state has collapsed or is about to collapse.
The enormity of the security challenges across Nigeria is the best definition of a failed state.
In the face of all this, the Islamic State West Africa Province, ISWAP and Boko Haram seem to be in perfect control of the entire Nigeria system.
Where are the Service Chiefs made up of the Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Chief of Navy Staff and the Inspector General of Police?
In the 2022 budget, passed and signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, Ministry of Defence is to spend the sum of N1.52billion on security operations as well as various sums for capital expenditure and welfare packages for officers.
Despite this humongous sum at the disposal of service chiefs, soldiers are deployed into terrorists’ enclaves blind with double-barrel guns even when technology is the ultimate instrument in modern warfare.
No single intelligence is deployed into operations.
What sends jitters into the spines of innocent citizens is the way ISWAP kills and captures Nigeria’s elite soldiers like chicken.
If elite soldiers from the presidential guard are on a mission to rescue people in distress, aren’t they supposed to be ready for trouble? How come they just got captured and killed by a so called rag-tag army of vandals?
If elite soldiers can be routed so easily, where are the helpless and hapless civilians to turn to?
Over time, the National Association of Online Security Reporters, NAOSRE, has lived up to its billing by encouraging citizens, through numerous editorial persuasions, to co operate with military personnel in the fight against insurgency.
But it does seem that service chiefs who are at the commanding heights to co ordinate all supporting channels for result driven operations are square pegs in round holes.
The failure of the security chiefs partly informed the reasons the once cohesive administrative posture of the legislative and executive arms of government at the federal level has been punctuated with Senators baying for the blood of President Buhari with impeachment threats.
The Senators are of the conviction that the ambush and killing of a platoon of the elite Brigade of Guards in Abuja are enough warnings that the terrorists are possibly planning to overrun the federal capital, adding that the Commander in Chief is a failure.
Indeed, insecurity is spreading fast. Those very close to the seat of power and perceived safe areas in Abuja are afraid.
Abuja residents are scared. Some are already relocating to other places and countries. The situation at hand is that bad.
Available information on insecurity indicates that terrorists on the rampage across the country have attacked about 16 military bases since mid 2022.
In most instances, the attacks led to the killing of about 800 soldiers have been killed in different parts of the country.
Despite huge funding and incessant presidential directives to the military and other security agencies to deal decisively with terrorists through bilateral and multilateral arrangements to tackle the trans-border and maritime crimes, given that some of our security challenges are imported into Nigeria by foreign elements, the Nigerian Army, Navy and Airforce under the command of service chiefs, have been lame duck.
This ugly development may have informed the reasons the House of Representatives’ Committee on Defence urged the Federal Government to engage mercenaries to tackle the growing insecurity.
Chairman of the committee, Honourable Babajimi Benson, who is in the vanguard of this option, got an upvote from a retired Brigadier General, John Sura, who described as unacceptable the way soldiers are being killed by terrorists, pointing at lack of cohesion and synergy among the security agencies.
Looking at it differently, a security consultant, Mr Jackson Lekan-Ojo, enthused that the bandits have become brazen, saying, “The bandits or terrorists are fighting offensively and the military are fighting defensively. These terrorists have brought the battle to our doorsteps. They are no longer waiting for us to cross to meet them. Imagine being confronted on one’s doorstep and being defeated. Our security system and apparatus are very weak and that is what gives them the audacity to come and fight offensively in our military bases.”
Corroborating Lekan-Ojo’s position, Mr Yemi Adeyemi, another security consultant, lamented saying “How can some miscreants say they want to kidnap the President? For you to know that they were not joking about it, they attacked the presidential guards brigade which is supposed to be the most fortified brigade of the Nigerian Army and killed some officers and men. They went again to Zuba and killed a man there. All the blame should go to the service chiefs who should implement presidential directives to the letter in line with national interests.”
Notably, the spate of insecurity in Nigeria has reached an alarming stage. It has become all encompassing.
From the north to the south; from the east to the west, from one geo-political zone to the other, there’s always a scary story to tell. And the story is that insecurity is spreading like wild fire.
It has become such a dastardly situation where no one is safe and the problem is escalating and totally getting out of control.
Travel in Nigeria, whether by road, rail, air or sea has become a nightmare. Homes and places of business are not safe because the bandits are on the prowl.
To be in prison is not safe either. Terrorists are invading prisons and releasing prisoners across states in the federation.
The consequence of such action is that criminals released from prisons increase the numerical strength of those already in the bush.
Having a retinue of guards does not guarantee safety.
In the south-west, there’s a surge in armed robbery, kidnapping, herder-farmer conflicts and banditry.
The Ondo State Church experience happened not too long ago.
The agitation for Biafra with its now accompanying killings, commercial crime, kidnapping, herder-farmer clashes, attacks by unknown gunmen, and banditry is now holding sway in the southeast.
In the south-south, kidnapping is not completely over.
Boko Haram insurgency and the Islamic State of West Africa Province have been holding sway for years in the northeast.
Ethno-religious killings and banditry are known to have taken a centre-stage in the north-west.
From all indications, the escalating rate of insecurity has cost Nigeria over 11% of its GDP worth N119 billion and projects worth N12 trillion were abandoned across Nigeria due to insecurity and other challenges.
The global peace index for 2021 compiled by the Institute for Economics and Peace ranked Nigeria 146th out of 163 countries with a score of 2.712, while among sub-Saharan African countries the country was ranked 39th out of 44 countries examined in the region.
According to experts, insecurity affects economic growth by drying out investments, increasing unemployment, and dwindling government revenue, among others.
To a very large extent, nothing is new. But what is required is new strategy to keep the county safe.
For instance, after the amnesty by late President Yar’ Adua, a militant leader backed out. His name was John Togo.
He went back to the creek and started a massive campaign of violence against oil installations and the Military.
John Togo was highly trained and intelligent.
But Yaradua will have none of it.
He gave the Military clear directives to get John Togo.
The military went after John Togo. There was no hiding place for him.
He was first smoked out of his hideout and shot but escaped. His men took him to a hospital, the Military came after him but again he escaped narrowly before they came.
He ran to the creeks but the order from the President was clear.
Get John Togo! It was a clear order. There was no in-between. The Military never relented.
Thinking he was safe in his fortress, his new location was found and fighter jets dropped bombs on his camp. He and his men perished. That was the end of John Togo.
No terrorist or bandit is bigger than the might of the Nigerian military or federal government.
If this was achieved by service chiefs at that time, it can be achieve now.
Therefore, the problems, really, are the service chiefs who are tactless and ineffective.
Nigerian Army Troops Neutralizes Boko Haram’s Attempt To Attack Bama
Nigerian Army Troops Neutralizes Boko Haram’s Attempt To Attack Bama
The Nigerian Army troops have fought off attempts by Boko Haram fighters to attack Bama Local Government Area of Borno State.
Military intelligence said the terrorists made an attempt to attack the town located about kilometres (45 miles) southeast of the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, at about 2:30 a.m.
According to a counter-insurgency expert and Security Analyst in the Lake Chad region, Zagazola Makama, the troops respondent with heavy fire power forcing the terrorists to withdraw and abandoned their mission.
“He said that an attack by a band of terrorists on parts of Bama was this morning quelled by the Nigerian troops.
“There is no cause for alarm. We chased them and troops are currently in pursuit of the fleeing terrorists, said one military source, speaking on condition of anonymity.
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