APC suggests that FG should look for other ways aside from military campaigns in tackling Boko Haram.
The opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, on Tuesday said what is needed to effectively tackle the Boko Haram menace in Nigeria, is new and imaginative thinking, instead of sticking to the same old way of doing things.
The party cited the Federal Government’s recent request for a $1 billion (N162 billion) loan as representing the “old way.”
President Goodluck Jonathan had last week forwarded a request for approval to obtain the loan to the National Assembly.
Mr. Jonathan said the loan was needed to procure additional weapons in order to effectively prosecute the war against insurgency in the northern part of the country.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the APC said while no reasonable person would argue against procuring modern weapons and other needs for the military, it was, however, absolutely important to complement the military campaign against Boko Haram with political, social and economic measures.
He pointed out that a sustained military campaign dating back to 2009 had failed to end the crisis.
”Between 2010 and 2014, a total of $14 billion (N2.27 trillion) has been allocated for defence, security and the police. This year alone, the total sum is $4 billion (N649 billion). Now, if $14 billion has not clipped the wings of Boko Haram in five years, what difference can $1 billion make if thrown into the crisis in the same old way?” Mr. Mohammed asked.
He said that if the Nigerian government had not accounted for the $14 billion, why should it be given the green light to borrow another $1 billion?
“If the said $14 billion has not done much in upgrading military and security facilities in five years, what impact can $1 billion suddenly make? These are some of the questions we want the National Assembly to ask before giving the FG the go ahead to plunge Nigeria into another round of external debts,” he stated.
Mr. Mohammed cited bad governance as the root cause of the Boko Haram crisis.
”Talking of new and imaginative thinking, it is generally agreed that the root causes of the Boko Haram crisis are deep in the years of bad governance that have created an army of unemployed youth in the North-east, which is the epicentre of the crisis; the years of bad governance that have meant many that millions of youth are uneducated and unemployable; and the years of bad governance that have resulted in dilapidated infrastructure, lack of social amenities, inadequate schools and a total disconnect between the government and the governed.
”Yet, the FG that has only allocated a paltry, insulting N2 billion for its misguided ‘Marshall plan’ for the North-east is asking for US$1 billion to buy new weapons to fight Boko Haram! Imagine what a substantial fraction of US$14 billion can do to the efforts to uplift the North-east, put children back to school, give the youth life-enhancing training and put the army of unemployed beyond the reach of the extremists who recruit and indoctrinate them to kill, maim and destroy?” he asked.
Mr. Mohammed suggested that “new thinking” would mean channelling the $1 billion into winning the hearts and minds of the people in the battle against Boko Haram rather than “just throwing money at an endless and increasingly ineffective military campaign”.
The APC also warned that by continuing to put undue emphasis on the military, the Nigerian government was signalling a hardening of position, indicating that the crisis could only be resolved by a military campaign and foreclosing negotiation.
The party said that unfortunately for the government, nowhere in the world has insurgency been defeated purely by military campaign, not even by the world’s most powerful militaries.
”We challenge the PDP-led FG to name places in the world where terrorism was successfully defeated by military means alone. Events in Northern Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Kenya, etc. have shown that there is always a limit to the ability of the military to crush insurgency. Even with some of the world’s best militaries (USA, UK, France, etc.), terrorism is never successfully defeated militarily. The way to go is effective counter-terrorism, which is about winning hearts and minds, not winning battles.
”This is why the National Assembly must show the highest degree of patriotism and commitment to national security by demanding how the billions of dollars thrown at the Boko Haram crisis so far have been spent, what, in specific terms, the FG wants to do with a new loan of US$1 billion and a also demanding a comprehensive counter-insurgency plan that includes measures to tackle the socio-economic undercurrents of the Boko Haram crisis in the North-east in particular.
”As we have warned in our earlier statement, putting more money in the hands of an incompetent and massively corrupt Administration can only encourage more incompetence and corruption. Giving a blank cheque to this Administration, without asking it to account for the past budgetary allocations for the security and defence, will not help the nation’s fight against terror,” Mr. Mohammed said.