The All Progressives Congress (APC) has said what is needed to effectively tackle the Boko Haram menace is new and imaginative thinking, instead of sticking to the same old way of doing things – which is what the FG’s US$1 billion loan request represents.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said while no reasonable person will argue against procuring modern weapons and other needs for the military, it is absolutely important to complement the military campaign against Boko Haram with political, social and economic measures, especially because a sustained military campaign dating back to 2009 has failed to end the crisis.
The party said: “Between 2010 and 2014, a total of US$14 billion has been allocated for defence, security and the police. This year alone, the total sum is US$4 billion. Now, if US$14 billion has not clipped the wings of Boko Haram in five years, what difference can US$1 billion make if thrown into the crisis in the same old way?
”If the FG has not accounted for how it spent US$14 billion allocated to the security, defence and police in the past five years, why should it be given the green light to borrow another US$1 billion? If the said US$14 billion has not done much in upgrading military and security facilities in five years, what impact can US$1 billion suddenly make? These are some of the questions we want the National Assembly to ask before giving the FG the go ahead to plunge Nigeria into another round of external debts.
”Talking of new and imaginative thinking, it is generally agreed that the root causes of the Boko Haram crisis are deep in the years of bad governance that have created an army of unemployed youth in the North-east, which is the epicentre of the crisis; the years of bad governance that have meant many that millions of youth are uneducated and unemployable; and the years of bad governance that have resulted in dilapidated infrastructure, lack of social amenities, inadequate schools and a total disconnect between the government and the governed.
”Yet, the FG that has only allocated a paltry, insulting 2 billion Naira (US$12.2 million) for its misguided ‘Marshall plan’ for the North-east is asking for US$1 billion to buy new weapons to fight Boko Haram! Imagine what a substantial fraction of US$14 billion can do to the efforts to uplift the North-east, put children back to school, give the youth life-enhancing training and put the army of unemployed beyond the reach of the extremists who recruit and indoctrinate them to kill, maim and destroy?
”Imagine what even US$1 billion can do in making the ‘Marshall Plan’ for the North-east a real Marshall Plan, rather than what it is now: a disappointing lip service to tackling the root causes of the Boko Haram insurgency. Imagine how far US$1 billion – not to talk of US$14 billion – will go in helping to win the hearts and minds of the people in the battle against Boko Haram? This is what we mean by new thinking, instead of just throwing money at an endless and increasingly ineffective military campaign,” it said.
The APC also warned that by continuing to put undue emphasis on military campaign and military campaign alone, the FG is signalling a hardening of position, indicating that the crisis can only be resolved by a military campaign and foreclosing negotiation.
The party said that unfortunately for the FG, nowhere in the world has insurgency been defeated purely by military campaign, not even by the world’s most powerful militaries.
Tuesday’s statement also said: “We challenge the PDP-led FG to name places in the world where terrorism was successfully defeated by military means alone. Events in Northern Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Kenya, etc. have show that there is always a limit to the ability of the military to crush insurgency. Even with some of the world’s best militaries (USA, UK, France, etc.), terrorism is never successfully defeated militarily. The way to go is effective counter-terrorism, which is about winning hearts and minds, not winning battles.
”This is why the National Assembly must show the highest degree of patriotism and commitment to national security by demanding how the billions of dollars thrown at the Boko Haram crisis so far have been spent, what, in specific terms, the FG wants to do with a new loan of US$1 billion and a also demanding a comprehensive counter-insurgency plan that includes measures to tackle the socio-economic undercurrents of the Boko Haram crisis in the North-east in particular.