Counter-insurgency and role of Nigerian Army in creating conducive environment for Nigeria’s economic development
A lecture presented by the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai, at the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers First Annual Conference held at the Renaissance Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos on August 10, 2017
1. I feel greatly honoured to be invited as Guest Speaker at the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers first annual conference with the topic ‘’Counter-Insurgency and Role of the Nigerian Army in Creating Conducive Environment for Nigeria’s Economic Development. I believe this is based on the premise that there is a clear nexus between security and development since development can hardly take place without security being in place. According to Robert Mc Namara, “Security means development, security is not military hardware, though it may include it. Security is not military force, though it may involve it. Security is not traditional military activity, though it may encompass it. Security is development. Without development, there can be no security. A developing nation that does not develop simply cannot remain secure.” If the most essential security needs of a society cannot be assured, there is simply no way that economic development can take place. Nobody invests in a war zone since people with empty stomachs are often faced with the temptations of grabbing an AK 47 to join organized crime or migrate.
2. Let me start by acknowledging the widespread internal security challenges that have permeated almost all the geo-political zones of the Nigerian nation. Need I recall the fact that we had barely overcome issues of militancy in the Niger Delta and threat to our critical national infrastructure before the Boko Haram terrorism and insurgency reared its ugly head in 2009. As if these were not enough drain on our national and economic resources, the agitation for secession by the MASSOB/IPOB in the South East also became a challenge to the Nation’s security. Other security challenges that the country has to contend with in recent times included kidnapping, armed robbery as well as cyber related crimes, which directly affected investment and economic development in Nigeria.
3. It is also worthy to note that the challenges facing the country are not limited to those stated above but extends to the widespread cases of the nearly ubiquitous cattle rustling and clashes between herdsmen and farmers. Extrapolating from these myriad challenges and its effect on the economy as well as the life of the average Nigerian, the Armed Forces of Nigeria was tasked to come to the aid of the civil authority in line with constitutional provisions encapsulated in Section 217(c) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as Amended which states that “the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic shall be employed in suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the President, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly” and by extension the promotion of economic development. Consequently, the military has had to place its men and equipment at the disposal of nearly all state governments to support internal security operations under the umbrella of Operation MESA. The aim of these deployments is to assure a secured environment that would allow citizens to go about their activities without let or hindrance thus providing a conducive environment for economic activities.
4. Furthermore, outside OP MESA, the military has also created special response outfits to combat specific cases of insecurity in areas with special needs. These include outfits like Operation LAFIYA DOLE to deal with the insurgency perpetrated by the Boko Haram terrorist group in the North Eastern part of Nigeria. Others are Op SHARAN DAJI to deal with the issues of cattle rustling in the North West and North Central as well as Operation DELTA SAFE to deal with cases of militancy and pipeline vandalism in the South South and South Eastern parts of the country. In the same vein, Operation AWATSE was set up to deal with cases of pipeline vandalism and oil theft in the Lagos general area.
5. In all these cases, the involvement of the Nigerian military assisted other security agencies deal with security issues that created conducive environment for businesses to thrive. Let me say at this juncture with all modesty that the involvement of the Nigerian Military and particularly the Nigerian Army has led to a more secure Nigeria. Nigerian Army in close collaboration with other security agencies has been working assiduously to provide the enabling environment for economic activities to thrive.
6. The aim of this paper is therefore to discuss Counter-insurgency and the role of the Nigerian Army in creating conducive environment for Nigeria’s economic development.
7. The paper will cover the following:
a. Overview of Boko Haram Insurgency in Nigeria.
b. Appraisal of NA Counter-Insurgency Campaign.
c. Role of the NA in creating conducive environment for Nigeria’s economic development.
OVERVIEW OF BOKO HARAM INSURGENCY IN NIGERIA
8. An insurgency is a rebellion against a constituted authority while Counter-Insurgency (COIN) can be defined as “comprehensive civilian and military efforts taken to simultaneously defeat and contain insurgency and address its root causes”. Boko Haram started as a local religious sect as far back 2009 with the name Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad in Arabic, which means “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad” later metamorphosed into ‘Boko Haram’ – which literarily means ‘Western education is a sin and forbidden.’ The new ideology makes social and political activities such as wearing Western attires and voting in elections, a sin. Secular education is also considered ‘haram’ – forbidden.
9. Consequently, as the narrative goes, the activities of the group which was inimical to national security necessitated the Federal Government to take decisive action to halt their activities resulted in the arrest and death of its founder, Mohammed Yusuf. This led to the rise of the violent and erratic Abubakar Shekau, Yusuf’s deputy who in July 2010, released a video statement claiming to be the new leader of the group. The new leadership apparently gave the terrorists renewed vigour to confront the state and its citizens in the North East and beyond.
10. On May 29, 2011, during the inauguration day of the former President, Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja, Boko Haram terrorists detonated three Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) near the Eagle Square in Abuja killing up to 10 people. Quite a number of other attacks followed thereafter. By 2013, Boko Haram operations assumed an international dimension as it was reported to have began operating in neighbouring Republics of Cameroon, Chad and Niger inflicting unprecedented loss of lives and properties. In May same year, the Federal Government declared a state of emergency in the three North Eastern States of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe where Boko Haram attacks had been more prevalent.
11. Furthermore, the Boko Haram activities continued its bloody campaign in urban cities through the use of improvised explosives and bombing with FCT being the first target in April 14, 2014. Also, the group engaged the military and in some cases, took over some Nigerian territories. Many people, mostly women and children were taken as hostages and forced into being child soldiers and concubines, with some married to BHT commanders. Significant of mention also was the abduction of over 200 school girls at Chibok which attracted an international outcry.
APPRAISAL OF NA COUNTER-INSURGENCY CAMPAIGN IN THE NORTH-EAST
12. Nigeria, like many African countries has continuously revamped its counter-insurgency strategy to decisively nip the scourge of insurgency and indeed terrorism in the bud. As it is widely known, no state can effectively progress when such levels of insecurity pervade the land. As such, the NA has consistently over the years, devoted resources and manpower towards the Counter Insurgency campaign in the North-East, to ensure that the Boko Haram insurgency is defeated and peace restored to the region. I will briefly evaluate the NA Counter Insurgency campaign in the North East.
13. The NA introduced Operation ZAMAN LAFIYA in Aug 13 as the successor operation to Operation RESTORE ORDER and Operation BOYONA which hitherto were the prevailing operations at the time. This was as a result of the emerging insurgency and the need to put in place effective mechanisms to arrest the situation. The introduction of this operation subsequently led to the creation of 7 Div in Maiduguri to curtail the spate of killings and destruction. Since the inception of Operation ZAMAN LAFIYA, 3 and 7 Divisions have made commendable efforts to recapture all the territories that had fallen into the hands of the Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs). Additionally, there was creation of 8 TF Division in Mongono in order to dominate the area. Air operations were also conducted by HQ NAF in support of the Divisions’ offensive.
14. To further confront the strategy of the BHTs, on 16 Jul 15, Operation ZAMAN LAFIYA was replaced with Operation LAFIYA DOLE by the COAS, Lt Gen Tukur Yusufu Buratai, in order to infuse a renewed vigour and a rejuvenated spirit into the counter insurgency effort in the NE. Accordingly, in order to meet with the changing nature of the operation in the NE for the desired result, the Theatre Command North East with HQ at Maiduguri was created on 16 Aug 15. Since the creation of the Theatre Command North East, concerted efforts have been made to achieve the HQ’s mandate of coordinating and overseeing the operations of 3, 7 and the newly established 8 Task Force Division, the 3 Logistics Bases, and the Air Component under Operation LAFIYA DOLE. These strategic initiatives have further sustained the momentum of various operations in order to finally bring the overall mission to the desired end state. Presently, all recaptured locations are being consolidated upon while still pushing to clear the remnants of the BHTs.
15. In the entire crisis that had taken place in Nigeria necessitating the deployment of NA troops, the NA was able to restore peace and prevent further escalation of violence. It is therefore necessary to take a cursory look at the efforts of the NA in curbing terrorism and insurgency in the country, which includes but not limited to the appropriate deployment of equipment and modern war arsenals in the NE. Various combat and support units were also established to support the operation. Others included the training and welfare of personnel, which is one major instrument that led to the current success in the fight against insurgency, coordinated media communication strategy, as well as robust civil-military activities were some of the factors responsible for the successes recorded.
OPERATION LAFIYA DOLE IN PERSPECTIVE
16. The activities of the BHTs have resulted in the following:
a. Estimated 20,000 people killed and over 2 Million displaced.
b. Economic impact on the North East estimated at $9 Billion with Borno State bearing the brunt of $5.9 Billion.
c. Loss of agricultural production of $3.5 Billion.
d. Over 400,000 housing units damaged with Borno State having 95 percent of this.
In July 2015, Operation ZAMAN LAFIA transmuted to Operation LAFIYA DOLE with more aggressive posture. Along the line, the NA restructured its Counter Insurgency efforts in the North East with the establishment of Military Command and Control Centre in Maiduguri (MCCC) to coordinate Counter Insurgency activities in Borno State under 7 Division and Yobe and Adamawa States under 3 Division. Subsequently, 8 Task Force Division was established in January 2016 in Northern Borno and the Lake Chad axis. This restructuring changed the Counter Insurgency strategies by adopting aggressive posture, effective command and control, efficient use of weapon and logistics with particular attention to welfare of the troops.
17. This new strategy has culminated in the recapture of all territories, which were hitherto lost to BHT. From Mallam Fatori, Damasak, Kareto, Munguno, Baga, Marte, Gamboru Ngala, Dikwa, Mafa, Bama, Bitta, Pulka, Gwoza, Limankara and Madagali in October 2016 which is the last territory occupied by Boko Haram Terrorists. This degraded the capability of the terrorists. By January 2017 a large percentage of the much talked about Sambisa Forest has been captured, 24 Chibok Girls rescued, while about 300,000 hostages and displaced people have been secured. Furthermore, not less than 1,009 Boko Haram Terrorists have surrendered voluntarily while 1,140 others have been arrested while another 1,500 confirmed Boko Haram Terrorists are currently under investigation. It is worthy to note that the concept of clearance operations of BHT enclaves and camps to reduce challenges of holding grounds by troops as well as conducting ambushes along BHT crossing points has led to destructions of over 200 BHT camps and enclaves.
18. In ensuring the capture of Sambisa forest, Operation CRACKDOWN was launched in April 2016 and this decimated the capacity of Boko Haram Terrorists as weapons and equipment were captured. The efforts of own offensive mounted pressure on the terrorists which led to their factionlisation. The faction loyal to Shekau occupied Sambisa Forest while that loyal to Al Barnawi/Mammar Nur are at the fringes of Northern Borno and Lake Chad. Although, at the period of Operation CRACKDOWN, the weather condition’s effect on terrain and mobility, culminated to laying of siege on Sambisa with blocking positions by units which created condition for Operation RESCUE FINALE.
19. The climax of Operation RESCUE FINALE was the capture of Camp Zero which is regarded as the heartbeat of Boko Haram Terrorists activities in Sambisa on 22 December 2016. The troops are currently on exploitation of other camps to prevent escape of fleeing BHT from Sambisa and its fringes. Nevertheless, based on antecedent of BHT, they have intensified attacks on soft targets through infiltration of Person Borne Improvise Explosive Devices. Therefore, all efforts, especially, effective vigilance by troops, community awareness, information gathering, Civilian Joint Task Force, Police and all stakeholders should intensify efforts to defeat Boko Haram by being aware of their environment and promptly reporting suspicious activities around them.
NIGERIAN ARMY STRATEGIES IN THE COUNTER INSURGENCY CAMPAIGN
20. The Nigerian Army has re-strategized its operations in the North East leading to the restructuring, introduction of new platforms and equipment which has considerably changed the tide against the insurgents and has led to so many successes recorded in the theatre of operations. Some of these strategies include:
21 Coordinated Strategic Communication and Information Operations. This is the integrated employment of media and psychological operation during military operations in concert with other Lines of Operation. This is done to influence, disrupt, corrupt, or usurp the decision-making of adversaries and potential adversaries while protecting own troops and allies. In line with this, the NA has aggressively pursued a media strategy that focuses on timely dissemination of information that reflects operational priorities and objectives. These strategies include periodic briefings and interviews, press releases, publication of Soja Magazine, formation journals and regular updates of NA social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter accounts), as well as embedding journalists in some of its operations. The purpose is to identify the target audience, and develop key narratives/messages that support mission priorities and disseminate such through the most appropriate medium. Other information activities to dominate information space over the terrorist include:
22. The Establishment of Media Campaign Centre. At operation LAFIYA DOLE to provide real-time and accurate information on military operations in the North –East and serve as a venue for proper coordination of military-media activities. Similarly, the NA has established the LAFIYA DOLE FM to bolster its information and media operations drive. The radio station which broadcasts in English, Hausa and Kanuri, and other major local languages with a view to sensitize them on the danger of the BH ideology as well as reorient the locals on the tenets of the 2 religions which both uphold peaceful coexistence, love and denounce violence of any sort. Furthermore, active online media (social media) is continuously used by the Nigerian Army through various social media platforms. The essence is to reach the whole world and to bring down the Boko Haram propaganda machinery using social media. As the COAS has once said “we have defeated Boko Haram physically and we follow them to social media and defeat them as well”.
23. Robust Utilization of Psychological Operations. Psychological operations (Psy Ops) are an essential component of military operations, having the specific goal of influencing perception. Psy Ops are organized operations to broadcast information targeted at influencing the “sentiment” (e.g. emotions, motives, objective reasoning) of large masses, such as a population or the policies of government. It is a planned operation to convey selected truthful information and indicators to audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately, their behavior. Nigerian Army has used different physiological operations in its narrative through leaflet, jingles, clips, posters etc, this instrument has helped to open doors of opportunities for some BHT to surrender which many have done through the introduction of Operation Safe Corridor. The capture of Camp Zero as well as the decimation of the ranks of the group was exploited for Psy Ops purposes through the upload of pictures and videos to the media space to play down the assumed superiority of the terror group.
24. Utilization of Cyber Operations. Boko Haram terrorists for instance use computer-generated intelligence to execute their atrocities. In response to this, the government, security agencies and the general public now use the same medium to provide access to critical, real-time information, as well as crucial and timely location of the insurgents proactively to stop them before they unleash terror on unsuspecting citizens. To achieve this, the government in 2011 mandated the NCC to register all mobile telephone lines in the country in order to enhance the security of the state and its citizens and to enable operators to have predictable profile about the users in their networks. With this information, the intelligence gathering capability of the Nigerian Security Services was remarkably enhanced, and a number of key Boko Haram commanders were captured, including Sani Mohammed, Kabiru Sokoto and Shuaib Mohammed Bama to mentioned but a few. Another instance was on 23 May, 2013, when the Government shut down mobile communications in the three Northeastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. The objective of the shutdown was to limit Boko Haram’s communications capabilities, restrict their ability to regroup and reinforce and also limit their ability to detonate improvised explosive devices. Although, this action had its adverse effect on social, economic and security situation in those areas, the success of the action led to the sect being driven from Maiduguri and its environs to the vast and treacherous Sambisa forest where the Army recently captured their main base and is also carrying out methodical clearance operations to put a final end to their activities.
25. Exploitation of Open-source Intelligence (OSINT). OSINT has been used by the NA to gather publicly available information on specific targets. The NA employs several modern techniques available in today’s highly sophisticated operations environment to conduct OSINT operations on certain targets which has helped the operations in the North East and other parts of the country in the arrest of many terrorists and economic saboteurs in the theatre of operations.
ROLE OF THE NIGERIAN ARMY IN CREATING A CONDUCIVE ENVIRONMENT FOR NIGERIA’S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
26. The popular saying that no meaningful development can take place in an atmosphere of insecurity, conflict and war encapsulates the role of the Nigerian Army in the nation’s economic development by creating the enabling environment for this to be achieved especially in crisis areas.
The visible role of the NA in creating a conducive environment for economic development is often seen in the activities of the NA in the on-going counter insurgency and terrorism operations in various parts of the country.
27. These roles are very important in ensuring that economic life in affected conflict areas return to normalcy. At a time when the federal government is vigorously pursuing the diversification of the Nigerian economy, the North East which is very rich in agricultural and solid mineral resources is embroiled in a counter insurgency and terrorism crisis which if not tackled is capable of affecting the positive plans of the government in diversifying the nation’s economy.
28. The NA realizing the importance of peace in economic development of the federal government and in keeping up with its constitutional mandate of offering aid to civil authority, has embarked on a number of measures aimed at restoring peace and economic activities to the areas it is currently involved in internal security. The measures embarked upon by the NA include:
29. Stabilization Operations. Stabilization operations encompass various military missions, tasks, and activities conducted in coordination with other instruments of national power to maintain or re-establish a safe and secure environment. It also provides essential government services, emergency infrastructure reconstruction, and humanitarian relief. The mechanisms of stability and stabilization are the primary methods through which friendly forces affect civilians in order to attain conditions that support establishing a lasting, stable peace. Whenever the NA conduct stabilization operations, it generally focuses initially on securing and safeguarding the populace, re-establishing civil law and order, and restoring public services and key infrastructure.
30. Supporting Economic Stabilization. The NA enables the economic conditions that usher in the nascent stages of growth, allowing for the resumption of commercial activities. These conditions include re-opening and operating businesses, the increase of or the reversal of downward trends in private sector employment, and re-establishing or maintaining functioning markets. The NA is currently involved in several interventions to facilitate economic growth and rebuilding of affected communities in the North East. This it has done by reconstructing and re-opening some roads such as Gamboru-Ngala, Maiduguri-Gubio – Damasak and Maiduguri-Mungono – Baga roads), it has also done same for bridges and re-opening some local markets hitherto disrupted by the activities of the Boko Haram Terrorists. The crisis in the North East according to United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) resulted in the displacement of over 3 million persons while about 8.5m people require life-support humanitarian aids. The decimation and degrading of the insurgents since the beginning of 2017, has led to substantial voluntary repatriation of the refugees and IDPs back to their localities that were certified cleared of Boko Haram insurgents. The success of the military led counter-insurgency operations in the North East has created enabling environment for economic development through improved socio-economic activities by both States and Federal government. For instance, in Borno State, the State Government constructed the Benisheik General Hospital, Kaga Local Government that was inaugurated by Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu in 2017. The government then commenced work on the 40km Miringa-Gunda and other drainage/road projects in Biu; completed reconstruction of four towns and villages destroyed by Boko Haram within Kaga Local Government Area, while those in Bama, Gwoza and Askira Uba and Gamboru-Ngala are work in progress. Most public schools remained closed since March 2014 due to insurgency until October 2016 when many were reopened as a result of improved security. It was observed that oil exploration activity also commenced in the Lake Chad basin before the recent killing and abduction of some explorers/lecturers from University of Maiduguri. In Adamawa State which also suffered from the menace of Boko Haram before they were flushed out, the government successfully embarked on the construction of 46 roads within one year among other projects occasioned by improved security. Currently, the World Bank is to spend 150 million USD on 9 sectors of the state economy over a 4-6 years period. These projects will enhance the economic development of the State and the country at large. Dangote’s reopening the Sugar factory in Numan Adamawa State among other investments in Nigeria is an investment made possible due to a more secured environment.
31. Create Security Conditions Needed to Facilitate Employment Creation. The Army on realizing the importance of gainful employment in the actualization of lasting peace especially in the operations environment, has been able to provide security for employment activities to take place. Establishing an environment where the local population is able to move to and from potential employment is essential.
32. Employment Generation. Employment generation is both an immediate peacekeeping and post-conflict objective, and a means of establishing the foundation for future economic growth and political stability. The primary emphasis in the immediate post-conflict period is to provide employment quickly, even if those jobs are temporary and not sustainable. The Army in collaboration with other agencies often engage the services of youth in the operation areas to carry out some reconstruction and provision of some basic services to effectively engaged them. Even though the military focus will be on quickly implementing short-term quick impact project, it contributes to the longer term economic and political development strategies. The NA contributes to economic development as it also keys into the development agenda of the federal government by coming up with various schemes to improve the economic growth and development of its personnel and host communities. The Barracks Investment Initiative Programme (BIIP) initiated by the Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Tukur Yusufu Buratai where personnel of the NA and their spouses are supported with the enabling environment and financial assistance to go into farming and life stock agriculture is also a way of promoting economic development especially in agriculture. Similarly, the establishment of the Nigerian Army Institute of Technology and Environmental Studies in Biu, Borno State has created a boost to the local economy of the community and has also generated employment.
33. Civil Military Operations. Civil-Military Operations (CMO) is a broad term used to denote the activities by military commanders to establish, maintain, influence or exploit relations between military forces and civil authorities, both governmental and non-governmental and the civilian populace in a friendly, neutral or hostile operational area. CMO may include activities and functions which normally falls under the responsibility of the local government. These activities may occur prior to, during or subsequent to other military actions. The NA has provided medical assistance and schools to IDPs in the NE and other parts of the country. It has also engaged key stakeholders in affected communities toward the restoration of peace and constantly disseminate information to the public especially in the aspect of ensuring normal economic activities return to liberated communities affected by crisis.
34. Ladies and gentlemen, in conclusion, the paper has made efforts to critically highlight Counter-Insurgency and Role of the NA in Creating Conducive Environment for Nigeria’s Economic development. There is a positive relationship between peace and the actualization of economic development. The Nigerian Army in keeping up with its constitutional mandate of defending the territorial integrity of the nation, is also kin on ensuring that the right atmosphere to promote economic development is maintained all over the country. Thank you for the invitation and singular opportunity to speak to this highly respected audience.
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