By Abubakar Adam Ibrahim
The Nigerian government and its security agencies have been struggling to contain an insurgency that is into its 5th year and has claimed thousands of lives in attacks across the north of the country.
Along the way, the security forces have lost the little aura of invincibility years of dictatorship has conferred on them due to some basic and very embarrassing blunders by the government and its agents in a classic demonstration of how not to fight insecurity in your country
So here I make prescriptions. Nothing genius about them but at least you would think the authorities should know these, right?
- Don’t Use a Sledge Hammer to Kill a Fly
This is very, very basic, not so? But no, not so with the Nigerian security agencies who have always had the idea that every challenge is best tackled with brutal force. Consider the 2009 uprising by the Boko Haram sect and the brutal force the police and military used to quash it. Given that the group even then exhibited some of its brutal antics, videos of the Nigerian military extra judicially killing crippled members of the group and of course the extra judicial murder of the group’s founder, Mohammad Yusuf, was really, really bad PR and gave Boko Haram the impetuous to go underground and re-emerge more deadly than ever, driven by a lust for vengeance, before too much blood got to their heads and drove them totally bonkers.
- Don’t be Such Lousy Liars
Seriously the Nigerian security operatives have, during the cause of the fight with Boko Haram, shown themselves to be really, really bad liars. Some of the lies weren’t so obvious. Others were epic in Titanic proportions. One example: then army spokesperson Colonel Sagir Musa (whatever happened to that guy anyway?) told the world with a straight face that the army had killed the face of terror, Abubakar Shekau, even when Shekau was busy updating his internet profile by posting videos online. The army insisted they had killed the man without a single shred of evidence. Since there has not been any retraction, we will assume the military still thinks it has killed Shekau.
But they did retract after an even more disastrous lie when Col. Sagir’s replacement, Brigadier General Chris Olukolade (a whole General) told the most shame-faced lie ever when he announced that the Nigerian Army had rescued 108 female students abducted by the Boko Haram. And it did win the military some good will. Just check Twitter and Facebook after Olukolade’s statement. Such blatant lie from a General!
Let’s not talk about Marilyn Orgar’s many lies on behalf of the SSS. How could one-handcuffed suspect disarm a trained SSS operative and 21 unarmed suspects end up dying as a result?
And don’t say you spent N3bn on CCTV when not even one is functioning two year after.
Seriously, just don’t be such lousy liars!
- Don’t Dance While Innocent People are Dying
Don’t. Even if you’ve got a really bad itch or a mortal plague of krorkror that only dancing can cure, don’t. Just sit down and take it like a man. Two images of President Goodluck Jonathan playing a guitar or dancing just hours after many innocent Nigerians have been killed by the Boko Haram really makes you wonder what on earth is wrong with that man and his advisers. Of course if it important to show that the insurgents aren’t winning, that they aren’t making you live in fear, but seriously, don’t just dance, even if the election is at stake. It’s really, really insensitive.
- Say Something More than Just “We Condemn this and that”
And this goes to every government official. Stop condemning insurgents attack and say something that will show you are outraged and you won’t let the perpetrators get away with it. Say something authoritative like, “we will ensure that justice is done on the perpetrators of the crime”. And don’t mumble or slouch when you say that, you simply have to exude confidence. Seriously, everyone is tired of hearing you condemn this and condemn that. Just get over it already. It makes you look really weak and dumb. You don’t want that when you are facing a serious enemy.
- Stop Exuding Fear
It is important to secure potential terrorist targets, but when all roads passing by police stations are cordoned and blocked off in very ways that exude obvious fear, it just give the wrong vibe. It’s like saying, well, we are afraid so we are hiding behind our fortresses, pick on a market or a school or even a bus park. That is not the message you want to send to heartless murderers like that. When you run into Aso Rock to hold Independence Day parade and other such national ‘celebrations’ seriously it makes you look like a dog with its tail between its legs.
- Don’t Punish Innocent People
This is related to the previous. Frankly, those phony checkpoints you set up on the roads that only worsen traffic situations, they are just really, really inconveniencing people. Imagine spending hours crawling through traffic only for you to get to the checkpoint and a fierce soldier, whose brain has been cooked by the sun, looks at your face and waves you on just like that, even if you might actually be carrying a truckload of bombs in your boot. It just makes you look like a bully, period. Frankly, no one likes a bully. And God forbids some maniac detonates a bomb in the traffic hold up you create.
- Know Your friends
It may be hard to know exactly who the enemies are since Shekau’s men aren’t exactly in the open, but you should know that the Nigerian people are your friends and it just won’t do to enemise them. Don’t go to a village and shoot down everyone in sight, don’t massacre law abiding squatters in an Abuja building and call them Boko Haram just because their landlord asked you to evict them. And don’t treat people like garbage just because you are carrying a gun. They are as much targets of Boko Haram as you are. That’s the honest truth and you really need to get them on your side. That is what sane people elsewhere do.
- Don’t Play Politics with Deaths
I know the temptation is high. This is your opportunity to sell your self, to blame the insecurity on your potential opponents, to create a Wendel Simlin to link anyone who questions the corruption in government to terror groups but let me tell you why it is a bad idea; because people are actually dying.
Don’t prioritise campaign rallies in Kano when blood hasn’t been washed off the street in your backyard and school girls are being abducted. And when you say things like, “they promised to make the country ungovernable” or sell crap notions like, “it’s because a so and so person is president” it just makes you look like a cry baby. You are not the victim. The people being killed are. People like bold leaders so just man up.
- Remember Nigerians Don’t Want the Baddies to Win
Be assured that your country men don’t want the bad guys, which explains why the baddies are killing everyone, so show them you care when something bad happens, say something, do something that will show that you actually care even if you are pretending. Just pretend well enough and you are good to go. In simple English; be the good guy.
10.Actually Get the Bad Guys
I can’t emphasize this enough. You really need to get these guys. You have battle-hardened military, you have the facilities, right? And you have the resources. So actually get the baddies and get over it already.
But the most sacred thing of all is this: NEVER LEAVE A GIRL BEHIND. You can’t allow people abduct 200 girls from a school and not do anything about it. Bring the girls home!
No kidding, if this doesn’t work, then I will be damned and we will all be lost in shit creek without a paddle, as they say.