A daring attack by Boko Haram fighters last Saturday on the convoy of Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, along the Jakana-Mainok Road in Borno State is calling to question strategies for combating insurgency in Nigeria.
Two security personnel attached to Mai Mala Buni, the governor of Yobe State, were reportedly killed in the ambush while six others were injured.
According to Zagazola Makama, a counter-insurgency publication focused on the Lake Chad region, the insurgents fired at the security operatives in the governors convoy from both sides of the road in an ambush.
Governor Buni who had attended the convocation of the University of Maiduguri earlier on Saturday, was not in the convoy. He had departed Maiduguri by air for Abuja for a meeting.
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 known as the “whole of society approach,” to which the Federal Government and the military have made repeated commitments.
The strategy was adopted following the slowness of head-on military engagements alone to bring an end or appreciable lull 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 emphathising 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.
The strategy also involves the establishment and expansion of local vigilantes and making provision to adequately reward them, so as to provide a channel for the flow of actionable intelligence to official quarters and to drain the source of recruitment into the insurgency.
Northeast Nigeria’s conflict with Islamist insurgency has 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.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army reports it has graduated a new set of battle-ready troops to confront insecurity in the country, after months of rigorous training at the Nigerian Army Training Centre, Kachia in Kaduna state.