Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Sacking Service Chiefs May Not Be Our Solution To Ending Insurgency… Aduwo

Olufemi Aduwo Is the permanent representative of the Centre For Convention on Democratic Integrity (CCDI) to the United Nations, and president, Rights Monitoring Group. In this interview, he speaks on insurgency, #ENDSARS protest and the army engagement, among other sundry issues...

The country's biggest challenge has been insecurity, fueled by insurgency. What is insurgency and how did we get here?

The distinction between terrorism and insurgency is blurred. As a consequence, significant misunderstanding exists in the relationship between the concepts of terrorism and insurgency, terms often used interchangeably by policymakers, non-governmental organisations and the media. The terms are not interchangeable. Not all insurgencies employ terror, and not all terrorists are insurgents. Insurgencies have an alternative vision of how to organise society, and they use various instruments, ranging from public service to terror, to realise that vision. Terrorism may be embedded in and subordinate to insurgency. But terrorism may also exist outside of insurgency, animated by sheer revulsion toward the status quo, without offering or striving for an alternative.

The insurgent activity is designed to weaken government control and legitimacy using guerrilla warfare, terrorism, political mobilisation, propaganda, front and covert party organisations and international activity. Significantly, a common characteristic of insurgent groups is the intent to control a particular area and or population. This objective differentiates insurgents from terrorists, whose objectives do not necessarily include the creation of an alternative governing authority capable of controlling a given area or country. Thus, an insurgency is a contest with the government for support of the people and control over resources and territory.

insurgents exploit and manipulate societal trends and populations through non-violent as well as violent means. They often use propaganda to recruit and promote their cause among potentials. They seek to infiltrate, manipulate, and disrupt discredit government and societal institutions in their effort to gain control. Most insurgent strategies involve attempts to provoke over-reaction by security forces, exacerbate ethnic or sectarian divides, and engender violence.

How did we get here?

It’s an unfortunate but preventable incidence. As we were being told, the late Mohammed Yusuf founded the group around 2001 and 2002.When Boko Haram first started, their actions were non-violent. Their main goal was to purify Islam in northern Nigeria. Things changed after the killing of Yusuf in July 2009.The killing of Yusuf did not escalate the group action; we all know with such religious ideological leaning, definitely the government must intervene. Any discerning person should know that the level of poverty and illiteracy across the north is a time bomb. The leadership of the entire north, both past and present should take the blame.

While many have applauded the army, others feel they have not performed so well in ending it. How will you rate the efforts of the Nigerian Army so far?

Let me answer with a simple illustration. The United States needed only three and a half years to defeat the Axis in World War II. During that war, Germany alone fielded more than 20 million soldiers. So, when U.S. Admiral John Kirby, the spokesperson for the most powerful military force the world has ever known, was asked how long it might take to defeat the modest threat posed by ISIS, he said that it could take five years, six years or even more. It’s well known that fighting insurgencies is challenging. The war against the Taliban started in 1994.

The achievements made so far to weaken these terrorist groups was by United States support. If such assistance were available to Nigeria military, Boko Haram would be a thing of the past within a year.

Regardless, the cowardly attack of Boko Haram in the past four years the military has achieved a lot. When you compare the territory controlled by Boko Haram before 2016 and what they control now, the military has done a tremendous job by taking over more territory from them.

Removal of Service Chiefs would not provide the arms and fighter jets needed. l think the reason why the Chief of Army Staff is selected for attack is probably because he is a professional who doesn't believe he must lobby any political leaders or politicians to retain his position. And, l notice, in Nigeria truth is bitter; insurgency cum terrorism war is a long war. l think the Federal Ministry of Information and National Orientation Agency have a role to play; people must be informed and understand the difference between fighting insurgency and civil war.

There is a general saying that terrorism war is difficult to end. Why is this so?

Insurgencies can be categorised in a number of ways; two of the most common ways are to distinguish insurgencies by their goals or by the primary method they employ. These categories are archetypes, however, and many insurgencies exhibit characteristics combining multiple types, or their goals may evolve during the course of the conflict. In some conflicts, multiple insurgent groups may operate simultaneously, either competing with one another or setting aside the fact that they may have differing views on post-conflict governance to form temporary alliances against the government.

Nevertheless, at the broadest level, the goals of an insurgency most often fall into one of five categories. Revolutionary insurgencies seek to replace the existing political order with an entirely different system, often entailing transformation of the economic and social structures. Reformist insurgencies do not aim to change the existing political order but, instead, seek to compel the government to alter its policies or undertake political, economic, or social reforms. Separatist insurgencies seek independence for a specific region. Resistance insurgencies seek to compel an occupying power to withdraw from a given territory. Commercialist insurgencies are motivated by the acquisition of wealth or material resources; political power is simply a tool for seizing and controlling access to the wealth.

Another way of categorizing insurgency is to focus on their organizational structure and whether the insurgents stress the political or military aspects of their struggle.

Insurgents, of course, may adjust their organization during the course of a conflict. With this background, to defeat Boko Haram, will depend on our military capability, identify the foreign financiers and how well prepared the civil populace are willing to assist the military.

There are clamours for the removal of service chiefs as a way of changing strategy. What is your take on this?

I said it earlier, the service chiefs’ removal would not add arms and weapons needed to defeat Boko. l read it many times, where people talk of fresh ideas.    It seems many people who are asking for service chiefs’ removal do not have full knowledge on how military policies developed, which is bottom-up method. No service chiefs sit alone and develop policies and strategies on military operations.

Lekki Toll Gate shooting became an international discussion that attracted condemnation. What category of people would you blame for the escalation of the protest and its attendant fallout?

I will restrain myself a little on Lekki Toll Gate alleged shooting, but let me make a disclosure. During the ENDSARS protest, l visited both Alausa and Lekki Toll Gate protest centres. Centre for Convention on Democratic Integrity (CCDI) organisation has the consultative status of ECOSOC/United Nations, which make me the permanent representative of the organisation to United Nations. We are permitted to deploy five persons yearly to attend meetings at United Nations, New York, Vienna and Geneva, and we are allowed where necessary to embark on political assignment on behalf of United Nations. l am an affiliate member of Amnesty International, regardless l don't know the Nigeria Office.

The army engagement on the last day of ENDSARS was due to curfew imposed by Gov. Sanwo-Olu, and he made the curfew announcement around 10 a.m. when people had left home for work, and he wanted the curfew to start by 4 p.m., which is not possible, considering the traffic in Lagos state. The governor said he shifted the curfew imposition from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and he relay it around 6 p.m., when the curfew had commenced. That was a suicidal blunder on the part of Lagos Government. The Lagos State governor is culpable and those who removed the lights at toll gates should be treated as murderers. Like l said, we are working with the United Nations Human Rights Commission. Both the civil society organisations and government officials are being economical with the truth on Lekkigate shooting. For example, if ten military men were at Lekki Toll Gate, each would be there with two magazines and each magazine contains between 20 and 30 bullets; l hope that would give you a clear picture of the narrative going around.

Nigerian economy is seriously on the downward curve. What is the way forward?

I started attending the World Bank & IMF boards of governors’ meetings since 2012 as a returnee. At the Civil Society Forum and meetings with World Bank executive directors l have consistently argued that the bank must engage the people before loans are given. No country that borrows for consumption the way we are doing could survive the economic disgrace as being witnessed now. l raised the alarm and published in many newspapers. Thank God governor El Rufai has joined the crusade. As President Obasanjo, a friend and a father said, l called for a stronger synergy between the federal government and the citizens in addressing the issues affecting the country. With the current insecurity, economic instability, the citizens must be resolute and proactive in addressing the logjam. These challenges are not really new except that they have taken a different dimension.

Are you still advocating for restructuring?

Of course. But l don't want either Biafra or Oodua Republics. l am a federalist. We must go back to the 1960 constitution and where it’s necessary, to amend the constitution. The arrangement whereby states get allocation for what they don't work for negates the ideals of federalism our forefathers agreed upon. Only a few oil producing states and Lagos State are fiscally sustainable; many of the states are parasites and Almajiris.

2023 is here, and both the North and the South are clamouring for the slot. Do you think power should shift to the South?

Ideally, l care not where who rule comes from, but for the sake of equity and self-belonging, l will advise the other tribe, apart from the North and South West produce the next president, possibly South east; l hope they would be serious. During President Obasanjo’s eight years in power, lbo was allotted senate presidency. Within eight years, they produced four senate presidents from four states out of five. You can draw a conclusion from that trend.

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