As Nigeria grapples with the Boko Haram insurgency ravaging the North-Eastern part of the country, the option of recruiting and paying “attractive amount of money” to Fulani herdsmen to tackle the insurgents has been recommended to the Federal Government.
The recommendation is contained in a bulky report titled: “Towards a New Dawn in Nigeria post 2015.” It is a compendium of papers, suggestions, analyses, and reports presented by, scholars and policy practitioners assembled by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Mr. Obasanjo assembled the think-tank of experts, as special committees of the Centre for Human Security of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, to provide actionable and “innovative” policy recommendations for President Muhammadu Buhari to tackle myriad of challenges – particularly those of security, economy, education, and infrastructure – facing Nigeria.
The recommendation of recruiting Fulani herdsmen to confront Boko Haram insurgents was made by a team led by Ahmed Joda and consisted of Nuhu Ribadu, Steve Orosanye, Tunji Olagunju, George Obiozor, Yusufu Pam, and Peter Okebukola.
Mr. Joda was also head of the transition committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari before his inauguration while most of the others held various positions during the Obasanjo presidency with Mr. Ribadu being the internationally acclaimed pioneer chairman of Nigeria’s major anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC].
Noting the socio-economic conditions which provide easy recruits for Boko Haram, the team stated that, “a Boko Haram recruit is offered a juicy pay in a milieu where joblessness pervades”.
In its recommendation, the team made a five-point proposition, covering finance, recruitment, accountability, reward, as well as schedule and propaganda.
It asked the Defence Ministry to determine the battle fronts where the herdsmen would be needed and the specific number and duration of service to ensure accountability of the process. This, according to the report, will involve working in collaboration with civilian Joint Task Force.
According to the report, the second step would involve the Presidency and the National Assembly. After the Defence Ministry and Civilian JTF must have concluded issues of finance, personnel, and logistics, the presidency should present the case to the National Assembly for urgent approval of funds needed.
Subsequently, a joint team of defence officials, civilian JTF and heads of Fulani herdsmen would be commissioned to recruit and pay the volunteers with accurate records kept.
The fourth proposal involves saddling the Federal Ministry of Information, National Orientation Agency, as well as public and private media houses with war propaganda.
They are to embark on “intensive broadcast of jingles to the general public and use propaganda to cause panic in the ranks of the insurgents.”
Similarly, the team proposed that agencies of the federal and state governments, vigilante groups, telecommunication companies and non-governmental organisations should dissipate efforts towards massive enlightenment about how the insurgents, not government troops, are killing people and the success stories of government’s efforts. The enlightenment should also include committing religious leaders like the Sultan of Sokoto and other Islamic scholars to condemn terrorism and “preach true tenets of Islam”.
In its last proposition on the use of Fulani herdsmen to confront Boko Haram, the team proposed that the National Intelligence Agency, State Security Service and the media are to provide “random monitoring of the Fulani herdsmen especially during pay period to ensure they are getting their agreed payments”.
Use hunters too
In another recommendation off conventional military deployment, the think-tank also asked the federal government to adopt the “Mubi Model” of supporting, rewarding, and arming hunters to fight Boko Haram.
The Mubi model refers to the incident in November 2014 when a group of hunters and local vigilante mobilised and successfully liberated Mubi and other towns in Adamawa State hitherto occupied by the Boko Haram sect.
The think-tank therefore urged the federal government and governments of the insurgency-ravaged North-Eastern states to “review the vigilante strategy and support volunteer hunters with generous welfare, military training and light weapons” and provide “corruption free reward system to the vigilantes that is sustainable and competitive to Boko Haram financial offers.”
The committee’s recommendation of using herdsmen and hunters to fight Boko Haram is to supplement the efforts of the Nigerian military.
It urged the consolidation of the military campaign, as well as motivation and provision of adequate equipment for the military to be able to defeat the insurgents whose actions have caused the death of about 20,000 people, mostly in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states since 2009.