Vice President Kashim Shettima on Saturday said both kinetic and non-kinetic approaches must be explored in tackling the various security challenges across Nigeria.

Shettima stated this at the graduation ceremony of the National Institute for Security Studies’ Executive Intelligence Management Course 16 which was held in Abuja.

He said the agitation by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in the South-East, the banditry in the North-Central, and terrorism in the North-East and North-West need to be tackled using not just a kinetic approach but also non-kinetic means.

He attributed the current insecurity in parts of the country to poverty and unemployment and stressed the need to improve governance in the country.

By this statement, the Vice President has added one more conflict zone to the list on which a change of strategy needs to be effected, the new flower in the bouquet being the agitation by IPOB in the South-East.

Kinetic military action is a euphemism for military action involving active warfare, including lethal force. The phrase is used to contrast between conventional military (kinetic) action and “soft” force increasingly used against enemies, including diplomacy, sanctions, cyber warfare, information warfare, psychological operations, among others.

The Vice President also touched on the essence of the need for a change of strategy in the armed conflicts troubling the nation as attested to by military strategists and others – that is, that the prolonged application of brute force or kinetic warfare over the years has not solved the problem and that the root of the insecurity challenges can largely be traced to poverty and unemployment.

The Islamic insurgency perpetrated by the Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) groups in north-eastern Nigeria over the years has been costly in terms of loss of lives and livelihood, displacement of citizens, cost of military operations, loss of faith in government and governance, and loss of face to the Nigerian state, to mention but a few.

Northeast Nigeria’s conflict with Islamist insurgencies had killed nearly 350,000 people as of the end of 2020, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The toll, given by the UN agency in a study on the war and its impact on livelihoods, is ten times higher than previous estimates of about 35,000 based only on those killed in fighting in Nigeria since the start of the conflict about 14 years ago.

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“The full human cost of the war is much greater,” the UNDP said in a report released with Nigeria’s Ministry of Finance.

“Already, many more have died from the indirect effects of the conflict,” said the UNDP, citing damage to agriculture, water, trade, food and healthcare.

According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM, 2015), the Boko Haram insurgency has displaced over 2.1 million people in Nigeria.

The United Nations in February appealed for $1.3 billion to provide assistance to six million Nigerians who are suffering the impact of the long-running Islamist insurgency in the northeast of the country.

Strangely, the Nigerian government has been speaking of a change of strategy to non-kinetic warfare for upwards of five years, yet beyond the words, there is little or no follow-up action.

Former Chief of Defence Staff, Major-General Lucky Irabor (rtd), announced and endorsed the purported change of strategy. So did former President Muhammadu Buhari. So also has incumbent President Bola Tinubu and the present military brass.

On Saturday, Vice President Shettima likewise added his voice to the commitment without action.

Stronger commitment and a cohesive plan need to be rolled out for the effective execution of this change of strategy, as the unending flow and ebb in the tide of the insurgency, armed agitations and the war against it are getting too protracted, costly and disturbing.

Furthermore, this portfolio must have a superintending officer who reports back to the commander-in-chief.

These conflicts are lingering, the costs are high and painful, and Nigerians have a right to periodic progress reports.