Wanted: A war cabinet, By Dele Agekameh

Dele Agekameh
Dele Agekameh

‘By now, I believe the security agencies should have the list of suspects who are collaborating with these terrorists in one way or another to wreak havoc on unsuspecting Nigerians, but, perhaps, because of political expediency, nobody wants to touch them.’

It was a catalogue of deaths and destruction last week when the Boko Haram terrorists went on a killing-spree in the three Nigeria’s northeast states of Yobe, Adamawa and Borno. The attacks started on Tuesday at the Federal Government College, Buni Yadi, Yobe State, where no fewer than 43 students were killed. From there, they moved to Shuwa, in Magadali Local Government Area of Adamawa state where a Teachers’ College, a secondary school and a Catholic Covenant were attacked. By Saturday, it was the turn of Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, where a twin-bomb explosion tore through the heart of the city, killing more than 50 people. Mainok, a village about 50 kilometers from Maiduguri, also had a taste of the orgy of violence and blood-letting.

The attack on the Government College, Buni Yadi, bore the full imprimatur of a similar one on Saturday, September 28, 2013 at the College of Agriculture, Guijba, in the same state. In that attack, more than 50 students of the school met their untimely death. The terrorists attacked the College at midnight when most of the students were deeply asleep. That also, was not without precedence. In June 2013, the terrorists killed eight pupils and a teacher during an attack on Government Secondary School, Damaturu, capital of Yobe state. They also killed 29 pupils at Government Secondary School, Mamudo, also in the state.

On Saturday, April 13, 2013, an unspecified number of students of Monguno Secondary School, in Monguno Local Government of Borno State, were killed as they returned home on foot and bicycles from the centres where they wrote the West African Examination Council (WAEC) Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE). Before that daylight massacre, six secondary school teachers, including a principal, were also hacked down by the terrorists in the same local government area.

It is sad that our so-called security forces have always been caught napping each time these marauders come calling. In the killings of the school children who were accosted on their way from their examination centres in April 2013, no security agent was sighted at the scene of the slaughtering until more than three hours later. The same scenario has played out again and again. It was the same story at the School of Agriculture, Gujba. In the recent incident at FGC, Buni Yadi, the killers did not only have the luxury of time to carry out their devilish act, they also proved that they were out to destroy the hopes of tomorrow by separating the girls from the boys. While they mowed down the boys, they simply drove the girls away from school and advised them to go and get married instead of wasting their time at school. That is true to their name Boko Haram, which means “education is bad.”

What is more sickening in all these, especially in last week’s incident, is the fact that the security agents who were stationed within the proximity of the schools left their checkpoints shortly before the terrorists came calling. Now, the security agents are running helter-skelter to unravel those who might have been complicit in the attacks among the local populace. Talk of medicine after death. By the way, why is it that these security agents, with the hordes of intelligence officers in their midst, have never for once nipped these attacks in the bud while the so-called rag-tag terrorists are daily giving them a bloody nose?

There must be something wrong somewhere. It is either a failure of intelligence or non-intelligence at all, as the case may be (if I am permitted to put it that way). It is obvious that some people are aiding and abetting these criminals within the local population and among the security agents as well. For how long will the blood of our children be spilled like rotten milk on the altar of greed, selfishness and vaulting ambition of our overfed politicians both in uniform and babaringa? Every time, you hear about a fleet of vehicles consisting of more than 10 or 15 attacking a particular location. Why is it impossible for the security forces to pick them as they move along? I am quite aware that because of the dry season, almost everywhere in the affected areas is motorable at this time, but if the security forces are doing their work well, these terrorists should still be spotted.

It is rather superfluous that while the brigandage and blood-letting that have been going on in the northeast of the country in the last four or five years (2009 – 2014) continue to spiral out of control, up till this moment, no single person has either been fingered or arrested on account of being the sponsor of this brazen terrorism against our fatherland. The other day, a former governor of one of the states in the Northeast was allegedly arrested in Cameroun by a Camerounian security officer who said he was convinced that the former governor is one of the financiers of the Boko Haram insurgency. The former governor was arrested on his way to see the governor of Northern Cameroun.

Although the former governor in question was later released by an order from the Vice-President of Cameroun, after he quickly reached out to people, he is strongly suspected to have played a role in the rise of Boko Haram in the first instance and so, it will be difficult to isolate him from the unrelenting assault of the criminal gangs on the country. There is also this belief that this former governor may not be a Nigerian as he is said to hail from neighbouring Chad Republic, where he currently operates an airline and maintains a mansion. After his tenure as governor many years back, it was to Chad that he went to cool off and observe developments in Nigeria from the sideline until his recent visit to the country which sparked off a wave of violence in his native state.

By now, I believe the security agencies should have the list of suspects who are collaborating with these terrorists in one way or another to wreak havoc on unsuspecting Nigerians, but, perhaps, because of political expediency, nobody wants to touch them. That is why some people think that if the President announces today that he will not be contesting the 2015 presidential election, the whole Boko Haram brouhaha will die a natural death. Since the President has an inalienable right to contest as President a second time as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution in use in the country, if he wishes, the onus is on the security agencies to do their work properly and contain this avoidable carnage that has continued to cast a dark spot on the image of the country. The only way out of this quagmire in which the country has been enmeshed all this while is the urgent need for the President to form a war cabinet.

In the first instance, the troops which were deployed to the theatre of war in the Northeast went there purely for peacekeeping operation. Now the whole scenario has snowballed into a real war situation. Therefore, the strategy must change. A senior cabinet minister must coordinate the ‘war’. As things are now, it may be impossible for the National Security Adviser, NSA, the only person who probably performs the role of coordinating the military interventions in the Northeast, to summon any of the head of the services to a meeting – I mean summoning someone like the Chief of Army Staff or the Chief of Air Staff that are both involved in managing the crisis to a meeting – not to talk of the Chief of Defence Staff. They will just ignore him because the NSA is more or less a Staff Officer to the President. That is why there is need to quickly put a war cabinet in place.

The war cabinet, as envisaged, will consist of seasoned Generals, both serving and retired, as well as some respectable and responsible civilians, whose duty will be to take care of the political angle to this festering crisis. It is time to end this genocide!


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