The federal government said on Monday that arrangements have been concluded to confront “merchants of violence” threatening to tear the country apart.
It said it will use kinetic approach to stop those planning to destabilise the country.
The Minister of Defence, retired Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi, stated this in Abuja at a one-day National Defence and Security summit with theme ‘Promoting Kinetic Operations as a Major Plank for Counter-Terrorism and Counter-Insurgency in Nigeria’.
By definition, kinetic approach is military action involving active warfare, including lethal force. The phrase is used to contrast between conventional military force and “soft” force, including diplomacy and sanctions.
General Magashi lamented that Nigeria was in a critical situation occasioned by terrorist attacks, banditry and kidnappings.
This is as the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, said the military will neutralise non-state actors and other agents of violence in communities, forests and countryside to stabilise the security situation across the nation.
According to Magashi, the federal government was committed to ensuring safety of lives and property of the citizenry in line with the presidential directive to the service chiefs to nip the challenges in the bud.
He said: “This summit is coming at a sobering time in the life of our dear nation. A time when merchants of violence are threatening to tear the very foundations of our nation; a time when diverse manifestations of security threats dot the landscape and impact individuals, communities and almost all subnational entities in disconcerting ways; a time when fear and uncertainty pervades the land; and a time when global indicators of national insecurity give room for serious concern.”
The minister added that the presidential directive to the Nigerian Armed Forces and other security agencies underscored the use of all the instruments of power to stabilise the security situation in the nation and provide good governance as well as promote peace, stability and development.
“The focus and objective use of kinetic operations therefore become very obvious.
“The armed forces and other security agencies in league with strategic Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are critical to this security initiative.
“We are in a critical situation that requires the understanding, buy-in, support and collaboration of important stakeholders and key players in this strategic option and national task.
“This is important to minimise distractions and maximise civil support in order to facilitate operational success and mission outcomes,” the minister said.
He added that the insecurity manifesting in different shades was aggravating political instability, economic under-development, social inequalities, food insecurity and cumulative environmental degradation.
General Magashi said the federal government had over the years applied a multilateral approach, working closely with its neighbours and multi-dimensional efforts at home.
He said: “In Southern Nigeria, the security approach includes, but not limited to: the convening of various stakeholder dialogues in the Niger Delta; mounting of Single-Service, Joint and Special Task Forces; establishment of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC); establishment of the Ministry of Niger Delta; declaration of the Presidential Amnesty Programme for repentant Niger Delta militants; proscription of the Independent Peoples of Biafra (IPOB); and the establishment of the Multinational Maritime Coordination Centre Zone E in the Gulf of Guinea.”
We will kill all non-state actors in forests – Irabor
Speaking at the summit, Gen. Irabor said the military will ensure peace, and that peace returned to the country through the use of kinetic operations in dealing with the prevailing security challenges.
He specifically said the military has concluded arrangements to neutralise non-state actors and other agents of violence in communities across the nation.
“Our strategic objectives are manifold and imbued to neutralise non-state actors and other agents of violence in our communities, forests and countryside to stabilise the security situation across the nation, to facilitate law and order; and lastly to provide the enabling environment for peace and development.
“These presuppose that the military would need support from other security agencies during the operations and would be required to give support to others at different stages of the internal security effort,” he stated.
The Guest Speaker, Amb. Abdullahi Omaki, who presented a paper titled ‘Kinetic Operations as a Major Plank for Counter Terrorism and Counter Insurgency in Nigeria’, said the current challenges could only be addressed through all-government and all-society approaches.
Omaki, who is the Director-General, Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, said there was the need to assess kinetic operation for redressing the dislocation of the nation’s security.
He said it was time for the military to engage in full kinetic approach in tackling insurgency and banditry, adding that public engagement and enlightenment were needed for the kinetic operations to be successful.
According to him, kinetic operations were often associated with collateral damage, especially on the side of the civilian population owing to the fact that war against terrorism is not a conventional warfare.
“In the case of Nigeria, experience shows that the military, with its air power and specialised weaponry, is best equipped to handle counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency roles to secure the country,” he said.
Daily Trust reports that the ministers of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio and Petroleum Resources, Chief Diorite Silva, as well as Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, among others attended the summit.
Quit if you can’t tackle insecurity – Afenifere
The apex Pan-Yoruba sociocultural group, Afenifere, said the Minister of Defence and those in charge of security should go if they can no longer secure the country.
Acting leader of the group, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, also accused the president of “shedding crocodile tears” on insecurity, saying he has not been firm in dealing with the perpetrators of insecurity.
In an interview with Daily Trust, Adebanjo asked the president to allow governors to take charge of the security of their states, warning that issuing statement of sympathy after every attack was not the best.
He said the best thing for the government, which is in charge of security, is to go if it can no longer provide insecurity. Adebanjo also challenged governors in the country to stop being political about the state of security and tell the President the truth.
“What does the minister mean? What does he want us to do when he said Nigeria is in a critical situation? Is he not the minister of defence? The best thing for them is to go.
“Throughout the country today, if we are not living in denial, there is evidence to say the attackers are Fulani and those Fulani have not come out openly to say to the criminals amongst us, don’t give us a bad name. Stop it. They have not said that,” he said.
He stated also that it was the failure of security that gave rise to activists like Sunday Igboho and other secessionists across the country, adding that people were now resorting to self-defence.
Stop scaring us, provide solution – ACF
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), on Monday, called on retired Major General Magashi and other top government officials to stop painting a gloomy picture about Nigeria’s security situation and instead provide solutions that would reassure the citizens.
The ACF National Publicity Secretary, Emmanuel Yawe, in response to General Magashi’s statement that Nigeria was in a critical situation, said: “Give a solution instead of raising alarm.”
“The way they are talking, everybody is scared. Well, we were all scared before anyway, but they should reassure. There was one of them who even said we should confront bandits.
“How can a responsible person talk like that, these are people who are heavily armed, who have even killed our armed soldiers, yet they are asking us to confront them,” Yawe said.
He said by painting gloomy pictures of the security situation in Nigeria, top government officials who have the mandate to ensure the safety of citizens were making the situation worse and also playing into the hands of the criminals.
“When you are in a certain position, there is a way you should comport and talk to people that will reassure them.
“But the way they are talking is scaring us and they are playing into the hands of the people who want to destroy Nigeria; people who are seeking for ways to finish with this country, they are playing into their hands,” he said.
“If the Minister of Defence is giving us the impression that the situation is hopeless, then who do we turn to, who do we hold?
“They are not giving us hope, instead they are making the situation worse and this is very sad because if the person who is in charge of defence is painting a hopeless picture, it is sad.”
Situation sign of weak, ineffective governance – NEF
Reacting to various threats across the country, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) through its Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, maintained that the weakness and ineffectiveness of the President Buhari administration are aggravating various threats in all strata of the country.
“It is no exaggeration to say that our country has never been so threatened by a combination of weak and ineffective governance and a determined effort from many quarters to capitalize on this weakness to attack the foundations which give all citizens and communities some comfort that we are not headed for almost certain, irretrievable disaster,” the forum said.
“It appears that many groups and persons who have public standing, political adventurers and upstarts believe that it is open season to intensify attacks on the foundations of our co-existence through acts that provoke, frighten or otherwise cast doubts over the capacities of those who have sworn to protect the nation and citizens.
“These groups’ activities suggest that they perceive a vacuum which provides a perfect setting for questioning the legitimacy of the Nigerian State, its ability to fight against subversion and other acts of hostility and its commitment to uphold the rule of law.
“The only voices being heard are those which demand the balkanization of the country, or encourage dangerous politics and other acts that pitch some communities against others.
“The disturbing silence from responsible Nigerians and the capitulation of hitherto influential groups to politics of the gutter is creating a dangerous space which further erodes the chances that a rational approach to the triggers to these provocations can be found,” the forum said.
Governors worried – Ganduje
Governor of Kano State, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, said all governors “are worried” over the assassination attempt on the life of Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State and the frequent attacks on ordinary Nigerians.
Ganduje said this while fielding questions from State House reporters Monday after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja.
The governor, who described the attack as “unfortunate”, however, said the country will soon overcome the killings and attacks associated with the security challenges across the nation.
He said the situation would improve with the new service chiefs settling down after their appointment.
Ganduje said: “The attack is unfortunate, but I believe with the appointment of the new service chiefs, new strategy will be developed and Mr. President has always been serious on this issue, but is rather unfortunate.
“Not only governors are being attacked, anybody who is attacked in Nigeria, one should be worried because life is life.
“Certainly we are worried because a governor is supposed to have some security with him; what of an ordinary man who has no security. So you can see how serious the situation is but we believe we will get over it”.
Ganduje said Kano stood out as the most peaceful state in the federation because of the security measures put in place by his administration.
He said: “All that I know as of today, Kano is the most peaceful state in the federation and this is not by chance, there must be some security measures that we have taken, like full cooperation among the security agencies in Kano State.
“We introduced the command and control centre; the CCTV where we are viewing the whole Metropolitan Kano, we have the most powerful tracker vehicle, equipment in Kano.
“Falgore Forest where bandits usually inhabit, we said no, not in Kano State.
“We established a military training ground in Falgore Forest and therefore bandits cannot inhabit it.
“Our border with Kaduna, we have a forest and where we are establishing a Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) programme, we discussed with nomadic Fulani, they agreed to be settled there. In fact, other Fulani are even coming.”
According to him, “we also established a security training institute where we are training our young men and women for community policing.
“Just yesterday [Sunday], we graduated 200, while 500 are undergoing training there, with the advice of the security agencies in Kano. So, all these efforts are in order to keep Kano in peace.”