“The federal government is a fire fighter; it does not own any constituency in the 19 Northern states.”
Following the recent bomb blasts in some states across Northern Nigeria, Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, has said the governors of the 19 northern states, are not doing enough to win the war against terror.
Mr. Maku also said grandstanding and altercations some of the governors were having with the federal government were creating grounds for terrorists to operate. He added that the governors needed to go back to the basis.
The minister was speaking while briefing journalists after the weekly meeting of the Executive Council of the Federation, FEC, presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan.
He said the northern governors must do more than criticise the federal government’s decision to extend the current state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe; by doing everything necessary to re-organise its social structure, including grassroots mobilization and information gathering.
“We need the kind of work that will enable every preacher, every religious leader, to speak to their followers to be able to sensitize people to give support to what is going on (anti-terror efforts).
“Every state in the North needs to go back to the basis, which means that today to deal with terror every of the 19 Northern states must reorganise their people from the smallest unit of the smallest village to hamlet, to wards, to towns, to districts,” he said.
Mr. Maku said “there must be a proper organisation of communities for proper information about movement of people and activities that could lead to destruction of lives and property.”
“The federal government is a fire fighter; it does not own any constituency in the 19 Northern states.
“The FG only sends soldiers and policemen when there is fire on the roof to put out that fire. But the real ground where terrorist is operating is at the local level, at the unit level, at the state level. And until we have every state government determined, not rhetorically but practically, to sit back and organise their people and to take proactive measures in terms of information gathering, in terms of preparing people to be able to report, to confront, to organise themselves; we will not be able to defeat terror,” he said.
The minister said if the Boko Haram terrorists are to be defeated, every community in Northern Nigeria must be prepared by the state governments to attune their minds with their neighbours, communities, town unions, religious organisations, and so on.
“We need to be able to reorganise ourselves to prepare for the new challenges we face,” the minister said. “We have not seen this preparation going on and we need it.”
Mr. Maku said terrorism was a psychological war, which thrives on wrong ideology, and not conventional wisdom. He said the governors must use mass mobilization methods to track down their movement and pass relevant information to security agencies for a more effective military operation
“It is not the weaknesses of the armed forces, it is the same way the Americans are getting frustrated in Afghanistan.
“If the terrorists were to stand against the Nigerian armed forces, they will not last 30 minutes and will be completely destroyed” he said.
The minister said despite the emergency rule in the three most affected states, President Goodluck Jonathan left the political structures there in place to assist the security agencies in mobilizing people at the grassroots to create the necessary support to defeat the terrorists.
He said such synergy has not been witnessed despite the persistent attacks on the communities.
“We have not seen this preparation going on and we need it. And that is why it is so sad that in spite of terror operating for this period of time there are still lapses like we saw in Chibok. It should never have occurred at all, there was no reason for it to occur, but we are now confronted with the ugly situation that has developed.
“If we are organizing our people, I believe we would have defeated terror by now. You need the cooperation of every little unit to expose these people who are terrorizing the people.
“The entire north must prepare its traditional rulers, each village head, each religious leader, and the people to create the necessary synergy and mobilize the people against Boko Haram.
“We need to speak with one voice against terrorism. But the right political mobilization must be put in place and I think that this is what the media should support.
“When people tell you that because we have sent troops we can win the war, it is not true. It is a war between a few ideologically programmed individuals. You need the right networking. We do not have to wait a long time if we do what we are supposed to do and without this cooperation, these people may continue to waste more blood.”
The minister also warned against sensationalizing media reports on the activities of Boko Haram stating that “terrorists currently cherish such publicity more than the politician standing for election in 2015.”
“If we destroy our armed forces, we do not have alternatives. These are the people being killed daily and they are doing a lot for this country. These are people whose children are being turned into orphans.
“This is a guerrilla warfare and we believe that Nigerians can help to win it if we prepare ourselves and organise ourselves to defeat terrorism by mobilizing our people to give information about the terrorists,” he said.
Mr. Maku condemned what he described as ‘grandstanding’ by politicians who are trying to score cheap political points by airing opinions that do not help the war against terror.
“We need greater unity to be able to break into what is going on and defeat it, and that is why the grandstanding and politicking that is associated with the fight against terror is increasing the tempo of the activities of terrorists.
“The variety of opinion amongst the political class feeds into the confidence of terror groups because their objective is to divide public opinion and continuously penetrate the Nigerian society and destroy it. And so we continue to plead that all of us in the politics of this country we need to think again to understand that the challenge we face is not to the advantage of anybody, we need to understand that politics aside we need to save our country first.
“It is the Nigerian efforts that can bring this terror to an end. We need every religious leader to be able to speak to their people,” he said.
Mr. Maku had earlier noted that the FEC took time to make a thorough assessment of the latest bomb attacks in Jos, Kano and Borno states; describing them as “senseless”.
He said FEC supported efforts by President Jonathan to stem terrorism including the setting up of a joint centre for intelligence sharing between coalition of countries in West and Central Africa.