The uptick in kidnappings in the north of Nigeria, where the insurgency perpetuated by the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and Boko Haram armed groups is ongoing, is drawing attention to the need to follow through with the avowed commitment of the Federal Government to a change of strategy in its engagement in the crisis.
There has been a recent resurgence of kidnappings, especially of students from their campuses and hostels in the north of the country where the struggle with insurgents, bandits and sundry miscreants has been on for upwards of a decade.
Gunmen abducted at least 20 students, mostly females, in northwestern Nigeria during an attack late September.
There are likewise frequent and ongoing reports of armed engagements between the military, the insurgents and sundry miscreants.
Little is being heard however, of the follow through of the said change of strategy know as the “whole of society approach.”
The strategy was adopted following the slowness of head on military engagements alone to bring an end to the insurgency.
Former Chief of Defence Staff, Major-General Lucky Irabor (rtd) under whose watch the new strategy was drawn up had said, “National security in Nigeria is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach from all sectors of the society. The country has been grappling with various forms of insecurity in the past decade which includes terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, communal clashes, oil theft, piracy, drug, and human trafficking, illegal unregulated and unreported fishing, and cyber crimes amongst others.”
Irabor advocated an “All Of Society Approach” comprising multi-sectoral and specialised efforts and involving all of society.
The administration of President Bola Tinubu confirmed it would follow on with this new strategy to the war against insurgency.
The approach involves the participation of the government, security agencies, civil organisations, religious leaders, traditional leaders, the press and the general public, it is said.
The military says it involves a non-kinetic approach by developing a policy framework and National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (NAPPCVE).
They further attest that the Non-Kinetic military operations involve the use of psychological, diplomatic negotiations and economic sanctions to achieve military objectives.
They add that it includes civil military operations, cyber warfare, covert intelligence operations and media operations, among others.
The operations, they say, can be used in combination with each other or with traditional military action to achieve specific objectives and are often used in situations where traditional military activities are either not feasible or not appropriate.
Key to the strategy, is winning over the local communities under siege of the insurgents by empathizing and cooperating with them and providing for their needs, including in the provision of food, medication, potable water, as well as rendering training in enhanced farming methods and artisanal skills and carrying them along in the visioning for a stable society.
The essence being that poverty is one of the main drivers of insurgency and that people who are gainfully engaged and self sustaining would have less motivation to participate in antisocial conduct or cooperate with vagrants.
Northeast Nigeria’s conflict with Islamist insurgencies had led to the death of nearly 350,000 people as of the end of 2020, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) says.
The insurgency has likewise seen about 2.5 million Nigerians internally displaced people