Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has again expressed worries over the frightening security situation in the North-east zone of the country, occasioned by incessant Boko Haram attacks. The former vice president yesterday warned against blame trading by the political class, as he noted that “ex-pending endless energy on hand-wringing and the trading of blame” would not signal an end to the bloodletting.
Last Tuesday, the Boko Haram sect murdered in cold blood, 29 students of the Federal Government College in Buni Yadi, Yobe State, while they slept in their hostels. The attack has since attracted widespread condemnation.
Proffering solutions, which, he believed, would go a long way in curbing the security challenge, Atiku called for creation of what he called a ‘civilian JTF’ – already at work in Maiduguri – to collaborate with security agencies in intelligence gathering and fighting the sect.
“As a father and grandfather, I am deeply saddened, not just by the latest murders, but by every single life that has been lost to the activities of these murderers.
“Every life lost is one life too many. It then occurred to me that as a country we are not doing enough of focusing on and implementing solutions.
“We are all guilty of expending endless energy on hand-wringing and the trading of blame, none of which is able to save lives or change the status quo. In the light of this, I have got some suggestions, focusing on solutions.
“First is regarding the use of local militias. When the President, in his most recent media chat, spoke about the government’s successes at pushing Boko Haram to the ‘fringes’ of the North East, it immediately occurred to me that some of the credit for that should go to the ‘civilian JTF’ – the band of youth in and around Maiduguri who have taken it upon them-selves to act as a vigilante force to fight Boko Haram.
“I acknowledge that talk of a government-backed civilian militia is a controversial matter, but I do not think that should stop us from debating and seriously considering the matter, including it in our list of possible measures. Especially as we have seen it work in flushing the militants out of Maiduguri.
“My suggestion is for the military to be more actively engaged with the civilian JTF, and train and support them to be its eyes and ears in the battle against Boko Haram. No doubt the military is operating in very unfamiliar terrain, and needs all the local support it can get. There’s a lot that both parties the military and the civilian JTF can gain from collaborating”.
The former vice-president further called for sustained collaborations among all levels of government and social groups in the country as he further noted that in fighting the Boko Haram menace, “no one has a monopoly of wisdom”.
“My second suggestion has to do with something I’m quite familiar with. In January 2012, the American University of Nigeria (AUN), which I founded many years ago, established a Community Peace Council in Adamawa State.
“Spearheaded by the AUN Council Chair, Ahmed Joda, and the University President, Margee Ensign, the initiative assembles a wide range of stakeholders, from government (law enforcement agencies, including the Police and SSS), civil society, religious organisations, and market associations, to collaborate on activities aimed at maintaining an atmosphere of law and order in Adamawa State.
“Like the ‘civilian JTF’ the Community Peace Council speaks to one fundamental truth: the Boko Haram crisis will not be solved without active local involvement and support.
“Abuja has a critical role to play, no doubt, in providing and controlling the military and ensuring that it is capable of fighting and winning, and also in supporting state governments to tackle the under-lying issues of poverty and underdevelopment, but the role of local stakeholders can never be overemphasized.
“We need to throw everything we have got, local and national, military and non-military, at this crisis. And we must also realise that no one has a monopoly of wisdom; we need all the solutions we can lay our hands on”.