Why Northern Leaders Must Support Nigeria’s Armed Forces

By Abdulsalam Mahmud

Biting unemployment and sheer illiteracy among a teeming population, have been identified by stakeholders and experts, as canon fodders for the Boko Haram insurgency, which has lasted over a decade, in the North East.

They are also the architects of menacing banditry and other sundry crimes, ravaging other parts of the North.

Research works carried out by academics, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), have clearly established a correlation between poverty, insecurity/terrorism, especially as it relates to the northern part of Nigeria.

According to the 2010 National Bureau of Statistics (NBS’) poverty profile, though poverty permeates the entire country, it is more profound in the north.

The report showed that among the six geopolitical zones of the country, the Northwest and Northeast recorded the highest poverty rates of 70 per cent and 69 per cent, respectively.

The projection of the Bureau for 2011 was also gloomy with predictions of 71.5 per cent, 61.9 per cent, and 62.8 per cent poverty rates for North-Central, Northeast and Northwest, respectively, according to the Punch Editorial of 8 May 2012.

Also, the U.N. 2008–2009 human development report rated the north as the poorest region of the country, using such indicators as child mortality, maternal mortality, and the presence or absence of diseases like polio and measles, which have been nearly eradicated in southern Nigeria.

On the other hand, a feature story published by The Guardian in 2017, has it that States in northern Nigeria, for many years, lagged behind in education among the 36 states of the federation. Though, it was not due to lack of funding.

“The data on literacy index recently published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed that the huge gap in the educational development between the southern and northern Nigeria is yet to close up, nearly sixty years after independence.

“According to the data, the states where majority of people can neither read nor write are those in the Northeast, Northwest, and North-central. The data shows that Yobe State has only 7.23 per cent literacy level, the lowest in the country,” part of the report indicated.

While the north may still be grappling with not only poverty and unemployment, but other socio-economic woes, it is one region that is tremendously endowed with both natural and human capital resources in Nigeria.

Yet, the region has since stopped been a haven for man’s habitation, no thanks to the murderous and marauding activities of blood-thirsty Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists and rampaging bandits.

In order to arrest the climate of tension and fear which has pervaded the entire north, owing to rising insecurity, the Nigerian military, it must be mentioned, have been in the fore front of the counter-insurgency operation, anti-banditry war and other fights against daredevil criminals.

And while it will be baseless to assert that Boko Haram fighters and bandits terrorizing the north have been defeated, experts strongly believe that northern elites have not lent their invaluable supports to security agencies, especially troops of the Armed Forces, deployed to tackle internal security challenges. To this end, there is need for northern elites who are often been chastised for displaying insensitivity to their people’s plight to assiduously change the insecurity narrative in their region.

Several ways abound for religious and traditional leaders, together with politicians and other political office holders of northern extraction to complement the effort of the Nigerian military, since they cannot directly join the troops in ‘pounding’ Boko Haram terrorists and armed bandits, in the battle fronts. The need to formulate and also implement beneficial socio-economic policies that will empower abled, but teeming unemployed youths and women in their region cannot be overemphasized.

One thing that governors of the 19 northern states, especially those been plagued by banditry and kidnapping, must earnestly do, according to Comrade Usman Shehu, is to enlist personnel of various security agencies to secure their schools and students from rampaging bandits-kidnappers, who have declared war on education.

Shehu, who is the President of the Northern Youths Solidarity (NYS), a pressure group, argued that the military, alone, cannot do much without the requisite support of every northern leader.

“It is our political leaders that can provide these things that will make our people, especially the youths, remove their eyes from all forms of criminality,” he said at a round-table dialogue, held recently in Abuja.

The NYS President, while maintaining that insecurity in the north has become embarrassing, said it has also hindered the accelerated development of the north, as a ‘promising’ region.

He called on northern leaders to support Gen. Leo Irabor, the new Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), and the Nigerian Armed Forces he is leading to tackle insecurity, in the country. Comrade Shehu, equally expressed satisfaction over the successes recorded in ongoing military operations in the north east, soliciting more support for the military.

The needed support should not be difficult for the northern political class and elites to provide. Their resolve to rescue their troubled region now from the stranglehold of insurgency, banditry and other vices must be unwavering.

Mahmud, an Assistant Editor with PRNigeria, wrote in from Abuja

By Abdulsalam Mahmud

Biting unemployment and sheer illiteracy among a teeming population, have been identified by stakeholders and experts, as canon fodders for the Boko Haram insurgency, which has lasted over a decade, in the North East.

They are also the architects of menacing banditry and other sundry crimes, ravaging other parts of the North.

Research works carried out by academics, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), have clearly established a correlation between poverty, insecurity/terrorism, especially as it relates to the northern part of Nigeria.

According to the 2010 National Bureau of Statistics (NBS’) poverty profile, though poverty permeates the entire country, it is more profound in the north.

The report showed that among the six geopolitical zones of the country, the Northwest and Northeast recorded the highest poverty rates of 70 per cent and 69 per cent, respectively.

The projection of the Bureau for 2011 was also gloomy with predictions of 71.5 per cent, 61.9 per cent, and 62.8 per cent poverty rates for North-Central, Northeast and Northwest, respectively, according to the Punch Editorial of 8 May 2012.

Also, the U.N. 2008–2009 human development report rated the north as the poorest region of the country, using such indicators as child mortality, maternal mortality, and the presence or absence of diseases like polio and measles, which have been nearly eradicated in southern Nigeria.

On the other hand, a feature story published by The Guardian in 2017, has it that States in northern Nigeria, for many years, lagged behind in education among the 36 states of the federation. Though, it was not due to lack of funding.

“The data on literacy index recently published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed that the huge gap in the educational development between the southern and northern Nigeria is yet to close up, nearly sixty years after independence.

“According to the data, the states where majority of people can neither read nor write are those in the Northeast, Northwest, and North-central. The data shows that Yobe State has only 7.23 per cent literacy level, the lowest in the country,” part of the report indicated.

While the north may still be grappling with not only poverty and unemployment, but other socio-economic woes, it is one region that is tremendously endowed with both natural and human capital resources in Nigeria.

Yet, the region has since stopped been a haven for man’s habitation, no thanks to the murderous and marauding activities of blood-thirsty Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists and rampaging bandits.

In order to arrest the climate of tension and fear which has pervaded the entire north, owing to rising insecurity, the Nigerian military, it must be mentioned, have been in the fore front of the counter-insurgency operation, anti-banditry war and other fights against daredevil criminals.

And while it will be baseless to assert that Boko Haram fighters and bandits terrorizing the north have been defeated, experts strongly believe that northern elites have not lent their invaluable supports to security agencies, especially troops of the Armed Forces, deployed to tackle internal security challenges.

Surprisingly, the various arms of the Nigerian military headed by General Lucky Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff;  Lt-General Ibrahim Attahiru, Chief of Army Staff; Vice Admiral A. Z Gambo, Chief of Naval Staff; and Air Marshal I.O Amao, Chief of Air Staff have performed excellently within a short spell as new Service Chiefs. Verifiable facts abounds indicating the good job they are doing to address insecurity not only in the north, but across the nation.

In collaboration with the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, who coincidentally hails from Borno State, the Army, Air Force and Navy’s new leadership have deployed portent strategies and intensified inter-agency military cooperation, which has led to daily annihilation of terrorists in the North East.

Nevertheless, there is need for northern elites who are often been chastised for displaying insensitivity to their people’s plight to join hands and assist the military change the insecurity narrative in their region.

Several ways abound for religious and traditional leaders, together with politicians and other political office holders of northern extraction to complement the effort of the Nigerian military, since they cannot directly join the troops in ‘pounding’ Boko Haram terrorists and armed bandits, in the battle fronts. The need to formulate and also implement beneficial socio-economic policies that will empower abled, but teeming unemployed youths and women in their region cannot be overemphasized.

One thing that governors of the 19 northern states, especially those been plagued by banditry and kidnapping, must earnestly do, according to Comrade Usman Shehu, is to enlist personnel of various security agencies to secure their schools and students from rampaging bandits-kidnappers, who have declared war on education.

Shehu, who is the President of the Northern Youths Solidarity (NYS), a pressure group, argued that the military, alone, cannot do much without the requisite support of every northern leader.

“It is our political leaders that can provide these things that will make our people, especially the youths, remove their eyes from all forms of criminality,” he said at a round-table dialogue, held recently in Abuja.

The NYS President, while maintaining that insecurity in the north has become embarrassing, said it has also hindered the accelerated development of the north, as a ‘promising’ region.

He called on northern leaders to support Gen. Leo Irabor, the new Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), and the Nigerian Armed Forces he is leading to tackle insecurity, in the country. Comrade Shehu, equally expressed satisfaction over the successes recorded in ongoing military operations in the north east, soliciting more support for the military.

The needed support should not be difficult for the northern political class and elites to provide. Their resolve to rescue their troubled region now from the stranglehold of insurgency, banditry and other vices must be unwavering.

Mahmud, an Assistant Editor with PRNigeria, wrote in from Abuja

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