How Tinubu Can End Insecurity In Six Months .. Retired Generals


Following the spate of killings and kidnappings across the country, Saturday Vanguard got some retired generals of the Nigerian military to bare their minds on the unending menace and what should be done to tackle the scourge. The retired Generals and their equivalent in the Navy and Airforce agreed to speak only on conditions of anonymity. we obliged them.

One retired Airforce Generals said: “One of the reasons insecurity is not going away is because since 1999 when democracy was re-birthed, no President, no commander in chief has given a direct, definitive order for terrorists or bandits to be decisively dealt with. What we usually get is open-ended directives. No timeline to get things done and no consequences for not getting things done.

“What President Bola Tinubu should do as C in C is to give a definitive order to the Minister of Defence, the CDS, the Service Chiefs and the Inspector General of Police, that this insecurity should end in three or four or six months. If after the time frame given, the criminals are not cleared out, the Minister, CDS and Service Chiefs should be asked to go. I bet you, you will see a change”.

A retired army general said alternatively, President Tinubu and the Chief of Defence Staff/Army Chief can direct a “Scotch Egg Approach” operation where the adversaries, criminal elements will be boxed into a dead end and taken out. In the military, from the rank of the highest general to the least personnel, everybody is a soldier. Take Birnin Gwari forest for example, in one division area of responsibility, which is infested with terrorists, bandits/kidnappers. It stretches from Kaduna to Niger and parts of Plateau state. The government can order everybody in 1 division, Kaduna to close the office, give them arms and enough ammunition, led by the GOC to move from the Kaduna axis, the GOC of 3 division, Jos will also move with everybody from the Jos axis, any terrorists or whatever they call themselves within sight should be taken out since they would have been circled from all angles. This is because it is unacceptable that these terrorists and bandits are not only killing innocent Nigerians in droves, our officers and soldiers are being killed with little or no consequences. Since the terrorists have said they are mad, our men should be enabled to clear their doubts. If the President takes such steps, I give you six months, insecurity will go away.”

Speaking on kinetic efforts, an Airforce general said: “A mistake was made a long time ago and we keep making the same mistake with the military. Originally, the role of the military is to defend the territorial integrity of the country. The police are meant to handle law and order. It is not true that the police and other para-military agencies can’t handle internal security, law and order. What we need is a comprehensive reorientation of the police. The word ‘Force’ should be removed, it should be called Nigerian Police Service like their counterpart all over the world because they are there to serve the people. There should be joint combat training for the lower cadre of the police, the military, NSCDC, Immigration, Customs and others for them to know themselves and to be able to work together. A Joint Counter Terrorism Training Centre for all Para-Military personnel can be established in the country for this purpose. This is because the officers of the military, police and para-military have always had joint training sessions at their levels beginning from the armed forces command and staff college and other senior institutions, so the officers can easily work together but it is not the same for lower ranked personnel. Moreover, right now, the military is very weak because of too much involvement in internal crises and taking over police duties. Consequently, discipline is going down every day.

Another retired Airforce general called on President Tinubu to consider applying the Operation Sweep Strategy employed by Brigadier General Mohammed Marwa (rtd) when he served as governor of Lagos state whereby every nook and cranny of the state was reached and criminals smoked out by the joint security operatives. He said, “The problem of insecurity is caused by political vendetta and economic empowerment. You are somebody because you want to get to a position and after achieving your goal, you turn your back on them. Now, with those weapons, they go back and everybody becomes their enemy including their opponents. They become emboldened and go to mineral areas to capture lands for tapping solid minerals and kill citizens for refusing to be pushed out of their lands.

“We need political will, as well as the will of the people. Nigerians should start seeing the kidnapping or bandits’ attacks on their neighbours as something that can happen to them and therefore join hands in fighting, resisting the menace.

“As a young officer, I worked with ‘Operation Sweep’ in Lagos which was successful because the then military governor, Buba Marwa, identified what was needed to contain and curtail the insecurity. He provided the required logistics, equipment and communication to get the job done. Response time to criminal attacks was real-time, and when criminals were caught, there was no escape from prosecution and going to jail. The intelligence aspect was taken care of because people were asked to volunteer information about criminals on lines that could not be traced or linked to anyone for vendetta. Under Marwa’s ‘operation sweep’, there was nothing like one godfather or a sponsor somewhere coming to intervene or facilitate the release of any criminal. With ‘Operation Sweep’, a robber knew that if he went out to steal, he would most likely not escape to enjoy his proceeds of crime, that he would be caught. Another thing we did was that we advised people living in housing estates on certain measures. Everybody staying in an estate must have an alarm system which should be placed outside and once it was triggered, the whole estate would come out and act. At the same time our patrol teams in the location would be alerted and would move immediately. This will stop the trend today where kidnappers and robbers will go to people’s houses, spend hours, do whatever they like and still get away. The day Nigerian citizens will say enough of these kidnappings, it will end. We know what the problems are and we know what to do but the politicians will not allow the right things to be done”.

Yet another retired general in his contribution called for the total overhaul of the security architecture of the country, noting that non-state actors, particularly terrorists, bandits and kidnappers have studied and understood the modus operandi of security operatives, and they can pre-empt our strategies and even use our strategies against us. According to him, “the criminal elements have studied and discovered our weaknesses which they are exploiting and using our tactics such as ambushes, IED, night strikes traps and many others against our troops. It shows we have to go back to the drawing board. Importantly also, before policies are initiated and put in place for implementation, the federal government should also think of the consequences of such policies on the society.”

A retired Navy Rear Admiral and an Intelligence Chief said, “The situation we find ourselves can easily be tackled by bringing insecurity to a manageable level. One, you need the right persons at the right place. At our level of patriotism and experience, we should allow professionals do the work while the politicians should restrict themselves to providing the leadership for the country to develop. Also, we need more boots on the ground. For now I can tell you without mincing words that the personnel are overwhelmed. We need to recruit more (both military and Police). I don’t think they are lacking funds but I believe there are duplication of both duties and equipment. I think we have more than enough equipment to monitor and follow these criminals. All we need is collaboration with dedicated personnel. The operations can be divided into six zones representing the geopolitical areas because each zone has similar security challenges. The governors of those states can have a pool where their contributions will go into for common utilization to minimize fraud. Let them allow villages and towns to have local vigilantes (equipped with Dane Guns and Double Barrels Guns) to defend their localities to prevent a repeat of the Plateau scenario”.

Asked to proffer the way out of the security debacle, a retired Air Vice Marshal said, “Everything in life has a foundation. You cannot use the same foundation you used to build a house in a dry land to build another house in a marshy, swampy terrain. The foundation of our democracy ab initio was faulty. They got it wrong from the start. We took the American Constitution hook, line and sinker without minding our diverse social, and cultural environment and differences. The constitution never considered our traditional rulers. The issue of States/Local Government Joint account which was unheard of in any democracy anywhere in the world is the order of the day in Nigerian democracy.

“The local governments in the past who were closer to the people in the villages and grassroots are no longer functional. These days traditional rulers, and emirs are put under the authority of the local government chairman, to the extent that before an emir travels, he must seek permission from the local government chairman, who most times are in the cities. Again, the basic ingredients of democracy which are free, fair and credible elections are no longer there. If the foundation is weak, what follows are the consequences and their implications which are an increase in violent conflicts, erosion of human dignity, high inequality in society, corruption as well as manipulation and control of the public. What we are practising is what I call Kakistocracy or Kleptocracy. To worsen matters we have now graduated to Judiciocracy. This has brought us to a system of quantity, no longer quality or merit, job for the boys, where you see 50, 100, 200 Special Assistants etc. They are not providing service for humanity but jobs for the boys. This has led to corruption and electoral fraud among others”.

Speaking on solutions, a retired general said, “One way out is to apply a soft approach by embarking on deliberate provision of sporting facilities to engage the energy, intelligence and smartness of our youths. An example of soft approach success is Morocco where despite the fire of the Arab Spring in Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia and other countries in that area, Morocco experienced peace and progress because the youths had facilities to engage their energies which is why they are doing so well in sports today. Our youths are idle and have nowhere to direct their energy, that is why they engage in drugs, criminal acts and illicit sexual escapades. There should be youth inclusiveness. Technical and vocational schools should be built. If we really want to move forward as a country, we must apply meritocracy. We must go back to the drawing board. But if we don’t want meritocracy we can then look at militocracy.



Chris Kehinde Nwandu is the Editor In Chief of CKNNEWS || He is a Law graduate and an Alumnus of Lagos State University, Lead City University Ibadan and Nigerian Institute Of Journalism || With over 2 decades practice in Journalism, PR and Advertising, he is a member of several Professional bodies within and outside Nigeria || Member: Institute Of Chartered Arbitrators ( UK ) || Member : Institute of Chartered Mediators And Conciliation || Member : Nigerian Institute Of Public Relations || Member : Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria || Fellow : Institute of Personality Development And Customer Relationship Management || Member and Chairman Board Of Trustees: Guild Of Professional Bloggers of Nigeria

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