Security experts and public affairs analysts in the north have expressed divergent views on security plans presented by the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Tinubu.
In separate interviews with PREMIUM TIMES, the analysts unanimously agreed that the security situation in the North needs to be tackled headlong.
The north, comprising 19 states, has been battling issues of insecurity and poverty.
In the North-east zone, a 13 year old Boko Haram insurgency has devastated the region leading to the deaths and displacement of millions of people.
In the North-west, terrorists loosely called bandits, have been wreaking havoc on residents, farmers and motorists for close to a decade. Humanitarian crisis has been on the rise as residents continue to flee their communities due to incessant attacks on the communities in the region.
The North-central part has also been witnessing clashes between herders and farmers as well as ethno-religious crises.
In the policy document titled, “Renewed Hope,” Mr Tinubu pledged to prioritise security, if elected in the 25 February presidential election.
“We will mobilise the totality of our national security, military and law enforcement assets to protect all Nigerians from danger and from the fear of danger. We will expand and improve upon the use of technology, enhance recruitment of personnel, and bolster existing agencies and systems to achieve this fundamental national security goal,” he said in the policy document.
Mr Tinubu promised to provide a trained and disciplined anti-terrorists battalions, upgrade tactical communication and transportation for security agents, upgrade weapons systems to ensure security agents are capable of addressing security threats and recruitment of people who possess the technical skills required for today’s military.
He also plegded to reduce dependence on imported foreign military equipment, exploit aerial technological superiority, improve salaries of security agents, rehabilitate economic systems affected by violent groups, secure national infrastructure, seek international collaboration and reposition the police.
Yusuf Anka, a security expert with knowledge of banditry, said the issue in the North-west requires a political solution.
He said the steps being proposed by most of the presidential candidates have been used by the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari with no appreciable results.
“These military plans have all been undertaken by President Buhari. From my own perspectives, the issues need political approach and not to militarise the situation again. Military approach will just be the continuation of what is happening now; the terrorists will continue killing people while security agents continue hunting down for the terorrists. So there could be no end in sight. There are defined political ways to tackle the situation,” Mr Anka, an indigene of Zamfara State, said.
He said the military aspect especially ensuring the borders are well manned to stop weapons from being taken into the country, is a good plan but may not solve the situation.
“Soldiers are now overstretched; we’re just using them in the wrong direction. This is the eleventh year of banditry and there has been no weapon that was not used by this government to no avail,” he added.
Baba-Bala Katsina, a historian, said the security provisions are nothing short of political rhetorics to win elections.
“The issue of fighting crime especially of banditry type could not be executed successfully with only military strategy or equipment, because it’s a syndicated crime where the active criminals, community, politicians, business people, the judiciary staff, some security agents and others are also involved,” he said.
He said the plans didn’t capture the issue of corruption in the security circle which he believes hinders the fight against banditry.
“The Immigration service, Customs, and NDLEA should have been captured in the plan too because it’s a transborder crime and hard drugs are being supplied and consumed along the line.
“Community based approach should also be involved, because it started as a communal conflict, and we can see how communities are deeply involved in it as vigilantes, informants, negotiators, suppliers of arms, food and drugs,” he said.
On his part, a senior lecturer of Political Science and International Relations, Jamilu Abdussalam, said the security plan of the APC standard bearer was well articulated and could work towards addressing the problems.
He said if Mr Tinubu can stick to the plans if elected, there would be positive results in the fight against banditry though if there are other plans that need to be included.
“When we’re talking of national security, it goes beyond military and police. There are other things like poverty. You can’t have a secured country without tackling poverty. Poverty and insecurity are friends,” he said.
The lecturer at the Umaru Musa Yar’adu’a University said Mr Tinubu should have included the issue of tackling the problem of inequality among citizens.
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“Even the bandits, most of them feel they’re not being tested equally. Politicians don’t share government resources equally. So, I think he should pay more attention to the issue of inequality not only on the side of the bandits but nationally,” he said.
Mr Abdussalam said what the presidential candidate should do is to look at the root causes of the issues and tackle them because military plans would only work for some months and that might not bring the desired solutions.
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