A 'SOFT APPROACH' TO DEALING WITH RELIGIOUS ZEALOTS & SAVAGE TERRORISTS
In March 2014, National Security Adviser Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd.) presented to Nigerians, at a well publicized briefing replete with media glitz, a National Counter Terrorism Strategy (NACTEST) where he outlined a new strategy called 'Soft Approach' for dealing with the Boko Haram terrorist group which has for years unleashed the full measure of murderous carnage across parts of Northern Nigeria in murdering policemen and soldiers, bombing churches and other places of worship, murdering innocent men and women, slaughtering hundreds of children in cold blood and more recently abducting hundreds of innocent young school girls.
Only a month before Colonel Sambo Dasuki's presentation (in February), Boko Haram militants had attacked the Federal Government College in the town of Buni Yadi, Yobe State at 2a.m., hurling explosives into residential buildings and spraying bullets into the hostels. Students (who were sleeping) were burnt to death. Some others were horrifyingly hacked to death.
All of the school's 24 buildings were then burnt to the ground.
The next morning, hospital officials recovered the bodies of some of the students who had escaped with bullet wounds but died in the bushes from their injuries.
Last year, on September 29, 2013, Boko Haram elements had attacked the male dormitory of the College of Agriculture in Gujba, Yobe State and murdered 44 defenceless students and teachers in cold blood. The attack took place at about 1a.m. in the night.
It was therefore with shock that many Nigerians welcomed the ludicrous sounding 'Soft Approach' to a savage terrorist bunch by a National Security Adviser at a time when Nigerians expected a more systematic engagement process that will focus on the improvement in our military and intelligence architecture by training, equipping, motivating, encouraging and rewarding the gallant soldiers and paramilitary personnel who put their lives on the line and keep us out of harm's way.
In his presentation, National Security Adviser Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd.) was pretty quiet, like many others from his neck of the woods, in acknowledging that Boko Haram remains what it was - religious zealotry.
How then can a National Security Adviser proffer to us a Counter Terrorism Strategy that they claim will assist them (or us?) to understand the root cause of terrorism when we all know that Boko Haram represents the fullness of religious zealotry and founded on unfortunate religious indoctrination?
As we continue in this festival of denial of the violent, expansionist and supremacist nature of these religious zealots, these nasty little Jihads will continue to grow and spread.
A 'Soft Approach' that avoids blunt and honest discussions of what is rotten at the core of the religion of these zealots and terrorists is no approach at all.
A 'Soft Approach' to terrorism is like a 'Soft Approach' to Armed Robbery, Rape, Arson or some other crime. It is as effective as fighting cancer with aspirin.
When men gleefully kill and abduct innocents for their cause, there is only one way to stop them. It is the same way you stop a poisonous snake. You stamp on its head. Boko Haram will not stop until they are wiped out.
Annihilation is the only way forward and it remains to be seen how the Nigerian Government will build the strategy to enforce this annihilation which can only be by ensuring that our Armed Forces are well trained and equipped to protect the sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
I do not know how much billions that the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) has appropriated for this reckless and ill sounding 'Soft Approach' Strategy but I recommend that all of that should be channelled to supporting all those courageous young men, drawn from across the country who dedicate every minute of their lives to keeping us safe.
Those billions should be channelled to protecting our Troops and Para Military personnel, insuring their families through increased funding for Military Cooperative Societies, providing Health coverage for the troops and their families, Supporting Small and Medium Scale Enterprises owned by their families as well as Free Education of their families (even if it means awarding immediate scholarships for the families and children of the troops who go to war!)
It is after all this is done that we can now talk about adopting any 'Soft Approach' to manage the capacity and tendency of some 'radical' to transform to a zealot or Jihadist or terrorist.
In the fight against Boko Haram, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan GCFR has deployed a careful, methodical and meticulous process to manage the insurgency in the North.
From the engagement of Northern traditional, religious and political leaders to engage other stakeholders and build an understanding with the group down to the setting up of a Committee to manage possible amnesty and open channels for dialogue.
Yet again, it was President Jonathan's government that rolled out the establishment of improved schools for Almajiri across key centers in Northern Nigeria to ensure that they acquire the knowledge they require to access a good life.
On the economic angle, it was President Jonathan that rolled out the resuscitation of the textile industry in Northern Nigeria backed up with an ambitious agricultural transformation agenda that brought back cotton farming in the North.
Roads and railway infrastructure is being revitalised across Northern Nigeria. The construction of dams and the reviving of irrigation infrastructure has long commenced across the states of Northern Nigeria.
What more 'Soft Approach' could be better than all these?
Nigeria needs to learn from the follies of Pakistan and its soft approach and come up with firm action against Boko Haram.
Any action that is not founded on building the capacity of our troops to fight terror and terrorists will not work.
Nigeria must not spoon-feed terrorists.
Written By George Kerley