IN the search for solutions to the security challenges Nigeria faces, government should not rule out any options. Government’s openness would win it new friends and partners in a fight that is proving increasingly more daunting with the opposition so desperate that it aims at taking more lives.
Nothing can justify the wanton loss of lives and property and the shrinking control of government over parts of the country. What began in Bauchi almost four years ago as attacks on police and civilians, has spread to almost every State in the North, claiming thousands of lives.
Arsons, bombings, killings, prison breaks, kidnappings have become routine; hardly a day passes without killings in parts of the country. Damaturu, Gombe, Maiduguri, Mubi, Potiskum, Yola, have held headlines for bombings. The incidents spread to Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kogi, Niger, Sokoto States, joining the perennial killings in Plateau State. The most embarrassing of the incidents remain the bombing of the nation’s 50th independence anniversary in Abuja and the targeting of elite military and other security offices.
Places of Christian worship, entertainment centres, schools, markets and most recently the motor park in Kano have been targets. The attacks on the Police Headquarters, the United Nations offices in Abuja and storming of the police detention facility in Abuja to free detained Boko Haram members all emphasise the extent of the insecurity.
Government’s efforts at halting the insurgency have met with varying degrees of successes, coupled with the inevitable criticisms that flow from allegations of human rights abuses in areas security agencies have mounted operations against the attackers.
Doubtlessly, government has to do more. People would measure the success by the stop in the loss of lives and the ability of Nigerians to move freely in all parts of the country. More collaboration is required with various interests in the country to achieve peace. External assistance could be required as cross border interests appeared involved in escalating the fight.
The President’s recent visit to the North East, the epicentre of the attacks should be followed up with more actions that can assure Nigerians that the war against terrorism is being won. The President should be seen as offering more than warnings and threats to the terrorists.
As he fights, he must be willing to embrace those who want peace. He has to strengthen the security systems to ensure that suspects are secured for trials. The spates of prison breaks to free criminals and suspects are embarrassing. The bids to explain the breaks are repulsive.
Where else do they explain persistent jail break that are freeing terrorists suspects in the North East and those arrested for kidnapping in Warri? The 2010 Bauchi jail break freed more than 700 inmates; more than 100 were members of the Boko Haram awaiting trial.