Okupe: Your Suggestion Is Belated, Go Home And Make Peace.
Further to his suggestion that local militia should be used to address the increasing insurgency by the Boko Haram sect, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, Monday urged the federal government to adopt the Maiduguri Concept of the use of the Civilian Joint Force (JTF).
He further explained that the civilian JTF concept has become necessary because the Military JTF might not make the necessary impact because they are unfamiliar with the communities under attack by the Boko Haram attack.
According to the former vice president, “My suggestion is for the military to actively engage the civilian JTF, train and support them to be its eyes and ears in the battle against Boko Haram. No doubt, the military is operating in very unfamiliar terrain, and needs all the local support it can get. There's a lot that both parties – the military and the civilian JTF – can gain from collaborating.
“The soldiers and other security agencies that are being drafted to Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States are alien to the communities and therefore don't understand the terrain much like the local militia understand the terrain very well because they are part and parcel of the community.”
On whether the would be local militiamen would bear arms, the former vice president said: “Of course, they would bear arms essentially for their protection, but their major function is to pass information to the military JTF because they are part of the system and know who is who and also monitor every movement in the community and will therefore report strange movements within the community to the appropriate JTF officials.”
He said the civilian JTF is very much like the community policing system. He therefore called on the federal government to adopt the civilian JTF concept that is currently operating in Maiduguri and ensure that it is duplicated in other states under attack by the Boko Haram insurgenty.
However, in a swift response to the Atiku's advice, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, faulted the former vice president's call for a civilian JTF. He said: “It is already belated and it is too late to proffer that suggestion.” Okupe advised Atiku to rather go home and talk to the Boko Haram militants.
The president's aide said the activities of the Boko Haram might not be unconnected with the unguarded utterances of some northern leaders, including the former vice-president.
According to him, “It will be difficult to resolve the insurgency crisis quickly as long as leaders from the affected areas compete with one another to gain personal political capital from the crisis that is claiming the lives of hundreds of innocent Nigerians.”
In buttressing his point, Okupe said, “We have not forgotten that Atiku himself, ever before this crisis boasted in December 2010 that 'those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable.'
This statement came more or less to reinforce an earlier one by a close ally and associate of Atiku who said 'they will make the country ungovernable if Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan wins the 2011 presidential election'.
“The insurgency occasioned by the Boko Haram cannot be isolated from the utterances of some Northern leaders. If Atiku is really concerned, he should go home and initiate peace.”
Okupe said there was nothing new in the suggestion of the former vice president to use the local militia to combat the Boko Haram insurgency, as already there is the civilian JTF operating in Maiduguri.
The president's aide said Atiku became vocal since Boko Haram threatened his American University of Nigeria in Yola and with the threat by some parents to withdraw their children from the school.
“He is talking now because his business interests like the American University have been threatened,” Okupe alleged.