The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Rev. Mattew Hassam Kukah has called for a more intelligent and scientific approach towards the fight against Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria.
Kukah made this call at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, on Thursday while speaking as the University’s 43rd Convocation Lecturer.
He spoke on the topic, “After the Insurgency: Some Thoughts on National Cohesion”.
Addressing a large crowd at the Princess Alexandria Auditorium of UNN, Bishop Kukah said, “ideologically, that the Federal Government decided to see this as a military solution was the first problem”.
While noting that Nigerians made a mistake of mistaking the Boko Haram members as illiterate people who never knew what they were looking for, he added that the country had dribbled itself to a corner by believing that the Boko Haram had military solution.
“Terrorism is science; if the military will solve it, it must have proper diagnosis”, he stressed.
In a further ex-ray of the Boko Haram menace, he said, “Nigerians have been praying for an end to the insurgency. But what signs will be in the skies to show us that the insurgency is over? Is it when the guns go silent and victory has been declared by the Joint Task Forces, JTF? Is it after Mallam Ibrahim Shekau has been captured or killed in battle and his body shown to us? What if another leader steps forward? How will we know where arms have been stored and what arms have been retrieved? As the Bible says, is it likely that this devil could go away temporarily only to come back accompanied by other devils more deadly than him only to wreck more havoc.
“The objective of insurgents is to threaten, subvert or weaken the government of the day. It often manages to control a particular area that serves as a base and often seeks greater expansion and consolidation with a view to staking its claim for territorial control. Their eventual objective, no matter how farfetched it may seem, is to take over the machinery of government and create a new government in the image and likeness of its ideology. Thus, its aims and objectives can include:
“Limit the ability of the government and enhance their capability to provide public services. They often do this by sabotage of public utilities such as destruction of oil installations, sources of power and transportation, poisoning water supply, and so on.
“Obtaining the support of neutral but critical segments of the population (Media, Academia, Security agencies, other leaders).
“Increase its own visibility and publicity at the expense of government.
“Destruction of the confidence of government in its legitimacy.
“Neutralise the coercive power of the government (attacking or sacking Police or Military formations)[Note:9].
Given what is before us, we can pose the question: Is it possible to identify an insurgency before it manifests itself? In other words, are there symptoms that a vigilant society can detect or identify? If so, what institutions bear the responsibility? Federal government, State governments, Individuals, Security Agencies, or the Media? The answers to these questions are hypothetical and contingent on other factors. For example, how seriously do ordinary citizens feel about their country and one another? What is the relationship between the ordinary citizens and the security agencies such as the Police? Are there channels of communication that can be used and if so, by whom?”
He added that “on the whole, it really depends on the mechanisms that a government has in place to feel the pulse of the people.