Saturday, 13 December 2014

‘There Is Possibility Of Boko Haram Insurgency Spreading Beyond The North’

The Executive Director of Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Barrister Anyakwee Nsirimovu spoke with ANN GODWIN in Port Harcourt on the way out of the consistent attack by the insurgents ahead of 2015 polls. 

WITH the consistent and unfettered attack by the insurgents ahead of 2015 polls, what do you think should be the way out?

I have always maintain the view that the political state is completely responsible for what is happening in the Northeastern part of the country; as they did in the Niger Delta region. It is therefore important in my estimation to use the  “weapons of mass salvation” to address structural violence. Efforts should forthrightly be put in place to institutionalise a just economic policies that will give the ordinary peoples of this country, that has for long been dehumanized by their leadership a fair chance to survive.

  The political leadership should engage in serious deliberate economic, social and political action that must lead to vast improvements in the quality of life in the communities across the country, especially in the affected region, which in turn affects population levels and the environment and quite frankly reduces the likelihood of people’s feeling so much desperation and frustration that they are willing and ready to join or support terrorist movements that threaten national security. 

  Fact remains that human needs are being frustrated on a large scale in Nigeria through horrendous governance. The more illegitimate law and order methods are used to enforce and to control frustration, the more frustration will enlarge.  

  This country has never been so divided as in recent times. Government should engage in policies that will contribute to the development of understanding, solidarity and tolerance among individuals and among ethnic, social, cultural and religious groups etc. Our educational system should deliberately promote knowledge, values, attitudes and skills conducive to respect for human rights and to an active commitment to the defence of such rights and to the building of a culture of peace and democracy.

  Furthermore, I think that the government should review its strategy thus far. Whatever it is; is not working, not bringing any desired results. It is important that amongst its other military strategies, believing strongly that the military should be effectively equipped and its leadership reorganised.

  The whole idea of rewarding failure by way of dishing out ranks and positions to undeserving personnel, is in furtherance of government’s extremely poor records on corruption and political leadership, which no doubt has become all pervading, including the military. There is also the critical issue the political leadership to act decisively.

  It is the absence of this that the insurgents are exploiting daily in their attempts to take territories and create uncertainty in the polity.

 Talking seriously with the insurgents is a critical option. Talking must be based on well-grounded credible intelligence report, that would enable the government know the structure and reach of the insurgents including what their fundamental objectives are.

  Presently the government knows no better than the ordinary citizen on the street. The appalling manner in which they handled the Chibok girls issue to date is most instructive. Some citizens have more deep understanding of the problem, but because the government is not responsive, it has failed to tap into this opportunity. 

Are you not worried that the ugly trend may spread to other parts of the country?

The possibility of it spreading beyond Northeast Nigeria is real, because the conditions prevailing in the northeast, is also happening in full measure in other parts of the country.

  Extreme poverty, sense of helplessness, frustration make the affected ones in some cases most vulnerable. Merchants of violence within and without could take advantage of the uncertainty and begin to recruit and create havoc in other parts of the country. This is also possible because thus far, the military has continued to show through performance that it is unable to protect our internal and external borders, and the police is unable to show due diligence on law and order issues.

Do you think that the government and major stakeholders in the polity are doing enough in the fight against the insurgency?

The government quite frankly has failed completely in its primary responsibility of protecting life and property as required by the constitution. A political leadership that does not adhere strictly to the ideals and principles of constitutionalism cannot by its disposition encourage other elements including insurgents to play by the rules, and or even offer hope to the hopeless and frustrated.

Do you think there is need for the extension of emergency state in the face of all these, considering that the previous ones have not yielded the desired results?

I don’t think that state of emergency which for me is a process, is key solution. State of emergency may not yield any positive result until the Mr. President shows clear leadership, by way of understanding and appreciating why the military and other law enforcement agencies are not performing the way they should, and be open about it, to garner public support for the cause.

  I think that the military for instance should be reorganised in order to get the kind of military leadership and followership that a big player in the global community, like Nigeria deserves. It should be qualitatively equipped and repositioned. Those who enjoy unmerited ranks and are enmeshed in corruption ought not to be commanding others, because the moral ground is not on their side. 

With the level of Boko Haram insurgency, do you think 2015 polls will be a reality?

2015 polls that are free, fair and credible  is absolutely necessary to enable citizens chose a president who can competently make democracy work by building citizens trust and confidence and  run their affairs in an open and transparent manner, and enable rule of law and not rule by law at the federal government level, that will serve as a living values that is worthy of emulation by all others.

Guardian Newspaper