NIGERIA – WHERE EVERY PROBLEM IS TOO HARD TO FIX – GWYNNE DYER

Colonel(rtd)Sambo Dasuki, National Security Adviser

Colonel(rtd)Sambo Dasuki, National Security Adviser

NEWS ZEALAND HERALD
2 January, 2013

It is not known if the word “dysfunctional” was invented specifically to describe the Nigerian state – several other candidates also come to mind – but the word certainly fills the bill.

The political institutions of Africa’s
biggest country are incapable of dealing
with even the smallest challenge.Indeed, they often make matters worse. Consider, for example, the way that the
Nigerian Government has dealt with the
Islamist terrorists of Boko Haram. Or rather, how it has failed to deal with
them. Boko Haram (the phrase means
“Western education is sinful”) began as
a loony but not very dangerous group in
the northern state of Bornu who
rejected everything that they perceived as “Western” science.

In a BBC interview in 2009 its founder,
Mohammed Yusuf, claimed that the
concept of a spherical Earth is against
Islamic teaching. He also denied that
rain came from water evaporated by
the sun. Bornu is a very poor state, however, and his preaching gave him enough of a following among the poor and ignorant to make him a political threat to the established order. So hundreds of his followers were killed in a huge military and police attack on the movement in 2009, and Mohammed Yusuf himself was murdered while in police custody. That was what triggered Boko Haram’s terrorist campaign.

Its attacks grew rapidly: by early last
year Boko Haram had killed 700 people
in dozens of attacks against military,
police, government and media
organisations and against the Christian
minorities living in northern Nigeria. So last March Nigeria’s President, Goodluck
Jonathan, promised that the security
forces would end the insurgency by June. But the death toll just kept climbing. In September, an official told the Guardian newspaper, “There is no sense that the Government has a real grip.The situation is not remotely under control.”

Last week alone, six people died in an
attack on a church on Christmas Day,
seven were killed in Maiduguri, the
capital of Bornu state, on December 27
and 15 Christians were abducted and
murdered, mostly by slitting their throats, in a town near Maiduguri on
December 28. President Jonathan’s response was to visit a Christian church on Sunday and congratulate the security forces on preventing many more attacks during Christmas week: “Although we still recorded some incidents, the extent of attacks which [Boko Haram] planned
was not allowed to be executed.” If this is what success looks like, Nigeria is in very deep trouble.

Part of the reason is the “security forces”, which are corrupt, incompetent,
and brutal. In the murderous rampages
that are their common response to Boko
Haram’s attacks, they have probably
killed more innocent people than the terrorists, and have certainly stolen
more property. But it is the Government that raises, trains and pays these security forces and even in a continent where many countries have problems with the professionalism of the army and police, Nigeria’s are in a class by themselves. That is ultimately because its politicians are also in a class by themselves.

There are some honest and serious men and women among them, but as a group
they are spectacularly cynical and self-
serving. One reason is Nigeria’s oil: 100 million Nigerians, two-thirds of the population,live on less than a dollar a day, but there is a lot of oil money around to steal, and politics is the best way to steal it.

Another is the country’s tribal, regional
and religious divisions, which are extreme even by African standards. In
the mainly Muslim north, 70 per cent of
the population lives below the poverty
line; in the mostly Christian south, only half do. Now add a ruthless Islamist terrorist group to the mix, and stir. Boko Haram’s support does not just come from a tiny minority of religious fanatics and from grieving and angry people turned against the Government by the brutality of the security forces. It also comes from a huge pool of unemployed and demoralised young men who have no hope of doing anything meaningful with their lives. Democracy has not transformed politics dramatically anywhere in Nigeria, but the deficit is worst in the north, where the traditional rulers protected their power by making alliances with politicians who appealed to the population’s Islamic sentiments. That’s why all the northern states
introduced sharia law around the turn
of the century: to stave off popular
demands for more far-reaching reforms.

But that solution is now failing, for the
cynical politicians who became Islamist
merely for tactical reasons are being
outflanked by genuine fanatics who
reject not only science and religious
freedom but democracy itself. Nigeria only has an Islamist terrorist problem at the moment, mostly centred in the north and with sporadic attacks in the Christian-majority parts of the country. But it may be heading down the road recently taken by Mali, in which Islamist extremists seize control of the north of the country and divide it in two.

And lots of people in the south wouldn’t
mind a bit. Just seal the new border and
forget about the north.

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About beegeagle

BEEG EAGLE -perspectives of an opinionated Nigerian male with a keen interest in Geopolitics, Defence and Strategic Studies
This entry was posted in ARMED CONFLICT, BOKO HARAM ISLAMIC STATE MOVEMENT, COUNTERINSURGENCY OPERATIONS, GLOBAL DEFENCE NEWS, JOINT SECURITY TASK FORCE, NIGERIA, NIGERIA POLICE FORCE, NIGERIAN ARMED FORCES, NIGERIAN MILITARY HISTORY, NIGERIAN PARAMILITARY FORCES, NIGERIAN SPECIAL FORCES, RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM, RISK ANALYSIS, SPECIAL TASK FORCE, STATE SECURITY SERVICE, TERRORISM, U.S. AFRICA COMMAND, WEST AFRICAN STANDBY FORCE and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to NIGERIA – WHERE EVERY PROBLEM IS TOO HARD TO FIX – GWYNNE DYER

  1. Saints says:

    I dont understand..why?..i mean why are this western people suddenly concerned about nigeria.why are they not writing about the estrajudicial killings.why are they not writing about the economic challenges. the country is currently facing.why are they not writing about. The wicked acts of this insurgent groups instead of blaming the innocent people for illiteracy and wretchedness.do they intend to sell to the world that this militants are fighting for the interest of the people. Well if thats their plan.i guess they shouldnt ve talked about the anti western actions of the sect.because it becomes clear to all of us.that if its is not the US that is fighting terrorist then no other nation is acredited by the western media to fight terror.not to talk of a third world african country that is trying to sell itself as the giant of africa and is also at the same time combating a regional threat boiling withing its territories..i dont know sha.but sumhow it feels like this BH issue is giving us too much attention..

    • @ Saints…..The “Western”people are not concerned about us. They are only interested in our Crude oil and ridiculing us in the process of stealing it. Seriously i dont know why Gen Beeg would put up such nonsense. I think this blog should represent thing Nigerian and African. If its not any of these it should be left where it is. This guy is clearly delusional and bereft of reasonable thinking. Imagine him saying that it is the high handness of the military that started BH. Where was he when they(BH) went on rampage killing people and destroying neighorhoods. I guess he was in Burger King with his girlfriend having fun. Abeg i no get time for such rubbish!!!

  2. gbash10 says:

    International conspiracy maybe.

  3. They are jealous of us ! They probably don’t understand why we haven’t ask them to base troops in our beutiful country! But this is for the as***** in new zeland if your SAS are so tough why are you guys running away from afghanistan? You guys may have fancy gadgets but our MOPOL units are more couragous and have more balls than your military which plays houseboy to the USA!

    • wocon45 says:

      @ Gen. Kassim please temper your response with mercy, we all know this is not the first time reports like this have surfaced. Monkey no fine but em mama like am. Nigeria is not a perfect country, but we like am sha….if anybody thinks they ate better than us, then that’s their problem. Long live the federal republic of Nigeria.

  4. Sorry guys have to learn to keep my temper in check! Gen Beeg my apologies sir!

  5. Sorry sirs! Have to learn to keep my temper in check! Gen Beeg, my apologies sir!

  6. triqqah says:

    It pains me to say this but though the truth is bitter but it must be said. In every lie there is an element of truth I am a Nigerian both in body, mind and believe. And I only wish for the best for my beloved country I do have to support the views in the article. look past your denials and look around us and you will see how correct they are. Our military is Currupt, brutal and careless with the lives of civilians, we’ve all had one or two harrowing encounter with our security operatives.
    I’m not saying they’re incompetent, far from that they are very capable but our government is clueleSs on how to handle this menace. It seems that outsiders know more about us than we claim to do because they have nothing to lose or fear or try to favour.
    Let’s do what is right now so our future will be secure.
    Remember Mali is just a few kilometers from here let’s learn from their mistakes.

    • @Triqqah…U must be leaving in timbuktu or in Benghazi to even contemplate supporting the above article. Irrespective of how bad Nigeria is we are not as bad as the writer potrays…and that includes the Military. Imagine him making light of GEJ speech. The reality is that the intensity and bravado of the BH attacks have lessened. Evidence? Compare Christmas 2012 and Christmas 2011….Thats enough evidence to any sane person that the present administration is doing something. Oga Peccavi says we should fight BH by improving the economy which would in effect deplete the ranks of BH(as most of them are unemployed)GEJ recently commisioned the Lagos-Kano rail line. That move alone would reduce the cost of goods both ways by over 30%. Abeg if you wan talk in future talk better or at least make sense

  7. Deway says:

    Not minding the fact that I may be setting myself up for bashing here, it’s not news that our country finds it very difficult to fix problems. The boko haram issue should have been nipped in the bud a long time ago. For political, ethnic and other unknown reasons it was allowed to flourish until the government tried crushing them with our usual fire brigade approach only after they attacked and killed soldiers or policemen (can’t remember now), killing hundreds of them, the demolish of their worship center and the killing of their leader under funny circumstances. Result: escalation of violence though a mixed bag with northern ethno-political undertone. Unbundling this mixed bag should be through a multifaceted approach.However, this remains to be seen. Though a patriotic Nigerian and hate these terror acts with all my heart, I will not be among those celebrating the elimination of militants in trickles when more are readily taking up arms and joining the insurgency with the promise of virgins in paradise. Military solution alone is not enough to defeat an idealism (considering we presently do not possess such military might as the US or UK) and will certainly not be Nigeria’s solution for those who have already made up their minds to face death, unless of course it comes with torture before death (to extract info?). Serious political will is lacking and please correct if I’m wrong. The president once mentioned that Boko haram had infiltrated his cabinet. Who are they? What steps have been taken to bring them to book? Ali Ndume who is an alleged prime suspect based on available evidence is allowed to walk freely in and around Abuja and travels out of the country and still serves in the senate? Sad to say the least. Evidence is also available that the former governor of Bornu state gave the terrorists full support and financial backing. What has been done? The SARS HQ attack in Abuja was reasonably an insider collaborative effort. What has been done, any investigation apart from the promises on newspaper? And nobody should tell me about secret investigations which have not anyway contributed a dime to anything. Why risk the lives of men of the armed forces when politicians are dining with financiers of boko haram? The military is increasingly taken up crime fighting roles of the police force. Result: drain on scarce military resources, drain on the military’s ability and strength to defend against external aggression considering the poor budget, and increase in the use of military force to crush crimes with resultant backlash from civilians. its bound to happen and of course the media looks for juicy news, that’s their job. So, who fixes the police, how do you develop a people oriented police force, are steps being taken in this direction?. let me not go into the supposed government “anticorruption fight” and the deep silence on corruption in our military.

    • peccavi says:

      Well we can go to church/ mosque/ shrine and pray and invoke the blood/ protection of our deity or deities of choice

      Or spend billions lavishly and end up with the same result.
      Its the Nigerian way

      • At least we are doing something. Whenever i see such response from Nigerians i get so pissed. Why? Its because they fail to reason. Do you need a foreigner to tell you your problems or its solution? Do you need a foreigner to make deductions for you based on evidence churned out everyday? If BH wasnt a political tool used by a section(note the word section) of the Northern politicians, BH would have died by now. Its obvious that BH has fragmented into various groups, each pursuing various agenda’s. The religious BH is gradually dying, its more or less dead meat. Its the political one we should be worried about now. GEJ has done a lot to contain this group, and it has worked to an extent. The number of attacks that usually occur has been reduced. If the west are truly worried about Nigeria let them (especially Britain) talk to their goons in the North to desist from their nefarious acts. I am beginning to suspect that maybe the UK in its bid to garner back lost influence in Nigeria are working covertly with the political BH to make sure their goal is achieved. The goal being the return of power to a select few in the North. So that if it returns they would begin to exert influence in Nigeria once again. It might sound far-fetched but it has happened before. If you doubt ask Harold Smith. Abeg fellow citizens we have come of age and can think for ourselves. Lets not allow disgruntled Nations dictate our history for us.

        Ps. Oga Henry…thanks for your chronicles. Person wey get sense go use am wisely.

  8. Bigbrovar says:

    The above report smacks of the condescending attitude towards Black Africa.. It’s like a way to justify racial stereotypes.. Yes non of the issues raised by this article is untrue if we get to the chase. We have horrendously corrupt politicians.. Our security forces can be over zealous.. We have under achieved given our emense potential.. And we struggle with grinding poverty…

    However the article choose to ignore the positives.. The slightly growing middle class.. A growing economy.. And the fact that despite about 3 decades of brutal military rule.. Democracy is gradually taking root and actually working in some part of Nigeria.. And also the fact that every were terrorist organizations like boko haram have taken root.. They have been difficult to deal with tool Algeria over 10 years.. Russia had to practically level the capital of chechnya before the uprising there was brought to an end. Even then the rebels still were able to stage bombings and hostage situations from time to time..Same story in India, Pakistan countries with a much equipped and trained military than Nigeria.. Yet there still struggle to cope with Islamist insurgents..

    The comment of GEJ was made in context of what happened last Xmas where we all were recovering from the massive bombing that tool place. Yes boka haram are still on the prowl but non can deny that they have been weakened and now resort to soft targets .. It is not yet uhuru but at the same time one has to appreciate the progress that have been made.. Abuja, Jos, kaduna, kano were mostly peaceful no bomb blast.. That IMHO is progress given where we are coming from.

    Anyway everyone has the right to put fingers to keyboard and type whatever. It is our obligation to spread our own story.. Am glad beeg is doing this with this blog.. Spreading the Nigeria story for all to see. He always tells it as it is.. The good the bad the ulgy.

  9. Henry says:

    Oga optimus prime thank you. I believe nigerians suffer from severe “short term memory”. How can anybody support an article such as this, which clearly plays into the narrative of how africa/ nigeria should be portrayed.

    Most times, I don’t bother reading these articles, the writer opens his dirty mouth to write this rubbish and nigerians are supporting him, compare this time last year to the same period in 2011/2012, and nigerians support when they we’ve seen no improvement. In the news this evening on ait, dangote cement industries said that they have shut down their gboko plant over excessive supply of cement to the market. Supply has surpassed demand, we’ve seen what GEJ has done with the re vitalization of the kano lagos rail line, power, agriculture, electoral freedom and security. Yet we say no progress. We choose to see, and believe what we want to believe in this country, and not what is actually written.

    The reporter is blabbing about nipping an insurgency early in the bud, the nigerian government is dysfunctional, complete gibberish, here are a list of countries with long term insurgencies, you’ll see clearly that nigeria has performed well above these countries and their functional stable(governments) democracy, at this same stage as nigeria(2yrs) when compared.

    Philippines- over 40 yrs
    Colombia- over 40 yrs
    U.S.A. – over 200yrs( domestic terrorism)/ international terrorism 18yrs
    GB. – over 27yrs (still ongoing)
    Pakistan- over 20 yrs
    Brazil
    Mexico- 80,000 known deaths in 6yrs
    Turkey-over 20yrs
    India
    Afghanistan
    Israel
    Jordan
    Yemen
    Algeria
    Uganda
    Spain
    Etc etc etc…………

    So how have these afor mentioned countries dealt with terrorism within there territories, when compared to nigeria at this same stage?

    I’m not going to even bother read any foreign reporters blatant show of stupidity, follow follow attitude anymore without the reporter making smart ,feasible, workable contributions to the report. All I see from these reporters are constantly recycled garbage, meant to smear the nigerian people.

  10. Saints says:

    Bros.optimo.is it not the same northern villages that they pay some students to go to school..my brother served there and he made reference to the fact that nigeria is trying for this people…i no want talk sha.but if we say illiteracy and bad economy na im cause boko haram attacks..then wetin cause PKK..i no say una go talk say na some kind of religeous or political grievance..na only nigeria na im iliteracy dey cause insecurity. .

  11. Henry says:

    Counterinsurgencies require an interconnecting system of actions political, economic, psychological, and military. That aim at the insurgents intended at overthrowing of the established authority in a country and its replacement by another regime. Thus far, efforts of the nigerian Government to combat insurgencies in the country have been very successful. While the successful military offensives have continued to reduce the number of insurgents over the past 2 years.

    insurgent movements still and will continue to operate in the country, until the deep-seated factors of insurgency and terrorism are dealt with by the government. However, With the president’s current “carrot and stick” approach, the resultant implications should be that moderates can be convinced to see reason for peace while extremists/ renegades(like john togo in the ND) would continue to feel the full military might of the nigerian state. If this present administration can continue to strive, revive our dilapidated infrastructure as it’s currently been done, but rigorously and aggressively our aim of completely annihilating this group in the fastest possible time would not only be feasible, but will also be a method other countries would adopt, as we have seen with the amnesty programinsurgent movements still and will continue to operate in the country, until the deep-seated factors of insurgency and terrorism are dealt with by the government. However, With the president’s current “carrot and stick” approach, the resultant implications should be that moderates can be convinced to see reason for peace while extremists/ renegades(like john togo in the ND) would continue to feel the full military might of the nigerian state. If this present administration can continue to strive, revive our dilapidated infrastructure as it’s currently been done, but rigorously and aggressively our aim of completely annihilating this group in the fastest possible time would not only be feasible, but will also be a method other countries would adopt, as we have seen with the amnesty programinsurgent movements still and will continue to operate in the country, until the deep-seated factors of insurgency and terrorism are dealt with by the government. However, With the president’s current “carrot and stick” approach, the resultant implications should be that moderates can be convinced to see reason for peace while extremists/ renegades(like john togo in the ND) would continue to feel the full military might of the nigerian state. If this present administration can continue to strive, revive our dilapidated infrastructure as it’s currently been done, but rigorously and aggressively our aim of completely annihilating this group in the fastest possible time would not only be feasible, but will also be a method other countries would adopt, as we have seen with the amnesty programinsurgent movements still and will continue to operate in the country, until the deep-seated factors of insurgency and terrorism are dealt with by the government. However, With the president’s current “carrot and stick” approach, the resultant implications should be that moderates can be convinced to see reason for peace while extremists/ renegades(like john togo in the ND) would continue to feel the full military might of the nigerian state. If this present administration can continue to strive, revive our dilapidated infrastructure as it’s currently been done, but rigorously and aggressively our aim of completely annihilating this group in the fastest possible time would not only be feasible, but will also be a method other countries would adopt, as we have seen with the amnesty programme.

  12. Henry says:

    Counterinsurgencies require an interconnecting system of actions political, economic, psychological, and military. That aim at the insurgents intended at overthrowing of the established authority in a country and its replacement by another regime. Thus far, efforts of the nigerian Government to combat insurgencies in the country have been very successful. While the successful military offensives have continued to reduce the number of insurgents over the past 2 years.

    insurgent movements still and will continue to operate in the country, until the deep-seated factors of insurgency and terrorism are dealt with by the government. However, With the president’s current “carrot and stick” approach, the resultant implications should be that moderates can be convinced to see reason for peace while extremists/ renegades(like john togo in the ND) would continue to feel the full military might of the nigerian state. If this present administration can continue to strive, revive our dilapidated infrastructure as it’s currently been done, but rigorously and aggressively our aim of completely annihilating this group in the fastest possible time would not only be feasible, but will also be a method other countries would adopt, as we have seen with the amnesty programme.

  13. peccavi says:

    @optimusprime: doing something is not a solution. And praying is not something.
    Anyway na una dey worry yourselves about these articles.
    Waiting for other people to tell your stories as you want them is the same as giving your wife to the houseboy and complaining when the pikin resemble am

  14. Max Montero says:

    Yes, my country (the Philippines) has been having insurgency for quite a long time (as Henry listed above, its around 40 years). And for 40 years we’ve learned a hard pill to swallow: that military power alone cannot defeat insurgency. This has been our government’s mistake for the past 30 something years, and our government has been able to gain the fight in less than 5 years. Military action should be followed up with a very good civilian government action and trusting governance as well. Every rebel you kill to lessen their numbers, you need to make sure his children will not follow their father’s footstep by providing a reason why he does not need to take up arms in the future. Every enemy camp you retake, you follow up with infrastructure, education, livelihood and good governance. And that’s one of the reasons why the muslim rebellion in our southern islands dramatically stopped (only the nuisance communist rebels still continue although their numbers are far too less now than before, and it continuously gets smaller with the same military-government tactics). They saw hope in our new government. Now the former rebels are happy with their new lives, new homes, new livelihood, improved infrastructure, access to education, and a civilian friendly military & police to standby to their security needs.

    Just sharing what my country has been into recently, maybe it can help Nigeria too.

    Max.

    • peccavi says:

      Max no country ever seems to learn from others experience or even their own. The UK has decades of COIN and urban terror experience from Northern Ireland but it didn’t much help in Iraq or Afghanistan. The Russians caught hell in Afghanistan yet less than 7 years later went straight into Chechenya and messed up.
      Its good that the Philippines is dealing with the MILF etc and things are calming down, hopefully Nigeria will catch up

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