The National Publicity Secretary of the North’s apex socio-political group – Arewa Consultative Forum, Anthony Sani, in this interview culled from PUNCH, explains why the region rejects the state of emergency declared by President Goodluck Jonathan last Tuesday.
He explains: “The state of emergency might not work because of our past experiences when state of emergency was applied in Plateau State, and later in some local government areas in the North-East that never worked.
“Moreover, what happened in Baga was actually the use of force, which did not go down well with many Nigerians and the international community because they thought excessive use of force tends to inspire more extremism than solve the problems of insurgency. ACF thinks that since state of emergency amounts to mere increase in the use of force, it may not work concurrently with dialogue. The forum prefers that the committee in place be given a chance by both governments and Nigerians.”
On the belief in many quarters that the use of military force in quelling the activities of Boko Haram is the best option, Mr. Sani says, “Those who believe military option can work are too quick to forget the fact that military was used in 2009 and 700 members including the leader of the sect were killed. Yet, the sect has remained unbowed.
“They also forget the experiences of Baga and the controversy that has come with it. But since the government, which has more facts than those of us in the ring side, believes the fight against terrorism is multidimensional and has gone ahead to declare state of emergency amid dialogue, I think Nigerians have no choice but to support government’s efforts to succeed in both the state of emergency and the dialogue that now exist side by side. This is more so, if it is true that the sect has overrun some local government areas in those states, thereby making the situation a conventional conflict with the state. This may be easier to confront formally by the authority.”
The ACF spokesman reiterated his belief in the Nigerian Army to avoid use of disproportionate force in line with their rules of engagement reminding them of the public outcry that greeted their incursion into Baga.
Mr. Sani, who frowned at the use of military personnel in internal security operations, blamed it on a situation “where democratic institutions are overwhelmed” and added that for the trend to change Nigerians “should strengthen the democratic institutions for performance, as well as make judicious use of their democratic rights as a way of promoting purposeful leadership.”